Ramp Launching in High Waters: Solo or With a Crew of Two?

It is mid-May and “Sassy” is still in the yard.

Recently, I visited Dick Bell Park to check on the ramp that gives direct access to the marina. Water levels are still very high but the ramp is accessible and it would be possible to use it to launch the SunCat. However, not likely single-handed.

Usually, I launch “Sassy” by myself. A smooth and quick solo-launch requires that at least one of two floating docks be attached at the end of the ramp. This dock is needed to leave the boat moored while removing the trailer from the ramp and then being able to board the boat, start the outboard and undock towards the slip.

Installation of these docks is prevented in high waters by the fact that the ramp structures that support the tilting planks giving access to each dock are several feet under water. Also, anchoring the far end of each dock in waters this deep would require longer chain rodes, which would cause the ramps to drift away from position once the waters subside.

Hence, the docks remain near-by in front of the ramp, floating out of reach – so close and yet so far:

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A third possibility, albeit more time consuming, would be to back the boat to the ramp up to the point where it starts to float on its own while still on the trailer. Then row the tender to the stern of the boat and board it. Drop down the outboard, start it and back the boat from the trailer and anchor it near-by while the trailer is still at the ramp. Then row the tender back to the ramp, drive the trailer away and park it. Walk back to the ramp and row the tender to the boat. Weigh anchor and take her to her slip. Definitely a possibility provided that the ramp is not busy.

Alternatively, the launching may need to be conducted by a crew of two: one sailor launches inside the cockpit of the boat while the other backs the trailer to the ramp. I do know of a sailor who could be perfectly entrusted with either of these responsibilities: the same adventure companion of sixteen years ago (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/sail-cruising-the-ottawa-river-between-lac-deschenes-and-chat-falls-in-the-early-2000s/). However, he is now a successful professional with a very busy life and work schedule.

Hence, more likely, launching would have to wait until water levels return to normal and those small floating docks are properly installed at both sides of the ramp. The water level at the Britannia Station is still 7 feet above datum. However, last week it dropped 2 feet, which means that in three more weeks the docks may be already attached to the ramp.

Here is a picture of that same ramp taken exactly three years ago, with one of the docks in position and “Sassy” on her way to her slip – hopefully an image that will soon repeat itself :

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