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What makes a great ramp site


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Hi everyone,

I'll be working with a few people in an effort to get long needed improvements to The Waukegan IL boat launch site. Yes, I know you don't and may never be there.:lol: Please stay with me and help. You all have a favorite ramp, why is it your first choice. Let's keep location and fees out. Details please! Parking, fish cleaning stations, weather radar or attendants by the ramp? Anything you seen at a ramp and thought "this is great". We may get the big heave ho, but we're going in asking for a 1st class site and your help to get all the best ideas together would be great.

Thanks,

Rod

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I agree with Steve. Also, make sure the launch is deep enough and the ramp long enough to accomadate large vessels as well. That and a deep channel to get you out to the main lake. Not so much on Lake Michigan, but Lake Huron, some of the channels going out were quite shallow with the low water levels and some big boats had some issues getting out. So, keep that channel dredged as well. Fish cleaning station, small store with some simple amenities like bathroom, snacks, beverages and ice are all great things to have a launch. Not sure on what your dealing with, so those last few may be outta your realm. Good luck with the project. Although i doubt ill ever use that launch it would be neat to see it as it comes along. Keep us posted on your project. Who knows, maybe we can implement some of your ideas to our ramps.

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1. Fish Cleaning Station....If you can model the Holland Steelheaders Fish cleaning station you will hit a HOME RUN...This is A+++

2. Ramps that are not too steep that the 2wd vehicles can still haul out

3. A small ramp to the side for Jet Skis and Kayaks etc to not get in the way of the bigger boats

4. Long enough docks that a 30ft boat could launch and still get aboard without scraping the bow keel up.

5. A decent size staging area and area after you haul out to pack up.

6.Potties right next to launch for those last minute gotta go's before the trip.

Good luck, can't be too many nice ramps!

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Location pick a site in a place people will use. Don't have too steep of a ramp or major angle changes. Know for sure what can and can't be launched there. A staging area for guys to prepare the boats prior to launching is a nice plus so people are not preping on the launch. Controlled traffic flow and space to prep will speed up the process and allow more guys to use the launch faster. Fishermens Landing in Muskegon is a great ramp setup but is at the wrong end of the lake so I almost never use it. The reason is it cost me close to 10 gallons of gas extra to run the boat the full length of the lake and back. At 3.00 or more per gal I will use a closer ramp that is not as nice. However it is a great layout for a ramp and has a fish cleaning station, tons of parking and a good flow you can get a lot of boats in and out in a hurry there.

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The biggest things for me are lots of parking, maximum launch docks, fish cleaning station, and a real bathroom that is cleaned on occassion. Having the site deep enough that you can manuever around after you launch and an area for boats to stage as you wait to retrieve would be nice also.

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I launch on the Genny in Rochester NY. It has pemanent wooden cribed docks & is fairly steep. I usually launch solo real early. Amenities are nice but launching the boat is paramount. Don't know if it fits where you are but I'd recomend:

1. a good number of solid cleats to tie boats up to.

2. some kind of permanent bumpers on the docks. (2 levels of horizontal)

3. some kind of step or high curb, parallel the front 15 foot of dock, so when the water goes down in the fall, you can get up on dock without having to walk to the front of the dock. (not as young as I used to be)

4. a ladder or hand rail near the ends of docks to help us old codgers get in and out at low water.

5. Some lights illuminating the dock area

6. grooved concrete, not blacktop within twenty feet of the high water line and extending a little into the water. Grooves should be at at angle to the water line, not parallel & not perpendicular. This will give drainage and help with traction. Blacktop just won't hold up near water.

7. Our ramp is steeped with two angles. Regardless of the water level, the truck is generally on the lesser angle and the trailer goes down the steeper. (maybe 5 deg difference)

8. if dock surface is metal then some kind of non-slip surface. If wood then a 1/8" space between slats for drainnage.

Good luck.

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Just install floating docks and make the lanes wider ;) Also that token system right at the launch is kind of pain, not to mention the angles on the ramps are off since I have to the rear tires way into the water to launch our mako center console. If you want to model a nice ramp, go look at pastrick marina or east chicago, IN. This launch will get out 300 boats QUICKLY with 5 wide lanes(maybe 6?) along with security on duty 24/7. Price is much cheaper than waukegan as well.

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Just install floating docks and make the lanes wider ;) Also that token system right at the launch is kind of pain, not to mention the angles on the ramps are off since I have to the rear tires way into the water to launch our mako center console. If you want to model a nice ramp, go look at pastrick marina or east chicago, IN. This launch will get out 300 boats QUICKLY with 5 wide lanes(maybe 6?) along with security on duty 24/7. Price is much cheaper than waukegan as well.

Hi Steve,

A little more info please. you mention the new gate system for collecting fees. Last years improvements and ask for floating docks. There are 3 floating docks at the ramps. Are you asking for a place to tie up for pre trip or pre retrival prep away from the ramp?

Thanks to everyone, looking foward to more great info.

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A few things that I like:

Double length docks - gives room for 2 boats to be at the dock Nice because you can drop in your boat and move it to the end and another boat can put in. Seen so many times where people spend too much time sitting at the dock getting ready to get underway and other people can only sit and wait. It is also nice when returning, as you can at least be docked up instead of idling while the boat in front of you is loading up. Gives you time to get your trailer ready to drop when the other pulls out. (Pt. Sanilac)

Wider docks - so people don't have to hug the poles when others on on the dock too.

Ample parking is a must.

Fish cleaning stations are nice IF they are well maintained and cleaned.

Plenty of tie down lanes.

And good restrooms that are also cleaned! (although sometimes I wish otherwise, seems my one buddy always occupies the facilities while I prep and launch the boat. Always returns after in the water and ready to go - makes me wonder if that is his strategy???)

Would be nice if there was an ice machine on site - always a pain to have to stop at 0 dark thirty at a store to get ice before heading out.

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Hi Steve,

A little more info please. you mention the new gate system for collecting fees. Last years improvements and ask for floating docks. There are 3 floating docks at the ramps. Are you asking for a place to tie up for pre trip or pre retrival prep away from the ramp?

Thanks to everyone, looking foward to more great info.

Yes I've used their floating docks, they are fine but the ramp angles are a pain. Like I said the concrete in some areas is torn up and it takes far too much distance to get depth of water needed to launch our boat. The gate system is kind of a pain compared to the old attendant on duty. Not to mention there is no jet skier only lane and several times last year there were jet skiers blocking 2-4 lanes of launches while they were at their vehicles. They should only be allowed to launch at the shallowest area and stay out of the boaters way. Also there is a lack of parking while setting up before launching, if you go to patrick there is probably a mile worth of area where you can pull around in their lot and setup. Like I said on a busy spring day when coho are in at patrick marina, there will be hundreds of boats and it goes much smoother than waukegan. Also I was stopped by the sheriff's boat last season for going 3.4mph out of the harbor in 2-3 footers, they yelled at me for creating barely a 6" wave behind me while I was getting pounded pulling out. Waves were bouncing me around and that was the bare minimum speed to control my boat and stay in my lane while boats were returning. He stopped us, was extremely rude asking me immediately if I could read english on the signs. Then pointed out that I was to maintain a speed under 5mph, when I told him about the 3.4 mph being the lowest to maintain safe control I was told that next time he sees me speeding like that he will write me a ticket. He was extremely rude and put a bad taste in my mouth for that harbor at the get go.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to help! We had our first meeting with the port district today. The help you provided gave our efforts the direction and support needed. Time and available money will tell how productive the meeting was, but great comments and a good turn out of supporters has made the piont, gotten there attention and the ball rolling.

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To the Harbor Master, Port District authorities, the City of Waukegan and other local stakeholders, we want to bring your attention to the need and interest for repairs and upgrades to the Waukegan boat launch facility. Below is a list of complaints and suggestions we would like you to be aware of. We request the repair; safety and convenience issues are addressed ASAP and our other suggestions considered for inclusion in future plans.

§ We would like to have all ramps in good safe condition; this would require dredging, ramp repair - replacement and 2 new floating docks.

§ During peak periods of launch a person to direct traffic to avoid arguments.

§ A setup area / lane separate from the launch lane to let boats get configured for launching, wait for passengers, ect… without being "in line" to launch.

§ Try dedicating some ramps as launch or retrieve when things are busy. If it’s primarily a launch time period, have one ramp for retrieval so there is one available for the boater who has an emergency or problem.

§ Add help - rescue system. Many launch at night or very early in the morning. Often no harbor or launch personnel are in sight. Maybe a 2-way radio system, direct too harbor security and a very visible sign with emergency instructions and contact numbers.

§ The new Gate system backs up the traffic, add an exit gate to leave the ramp to the North for use during peak periods and when overflow parking is necessary. This would eliminate congestion. Have a machine to dispense passes in the prep area so boaters don't have to wait for people to fumble with cash, cards and waiting for approvals in the launch line.

§ Add or have a separate on water dock or tie up area available that would allow boats to go to warm up, load passengers... and/or for temporary mooring. It would be good for all if bathrooms, bait, lunch and ice cream shops could be visited without taking up a ramp dock.

§ Improve maneuverability around the docked large boats as you come out of the ramps. Now it’s very tight.

§ Marine radar – satellite weather monitor at prep- launch area

§ Add a fish scale at the cleaning station.

§ The opportunity to re-launch free the same day if there is a need to recover for repairs, lunch, etc…

§ If you launch and get out to find conditions too rough, the option to come back within a reasonable timeframe and get a voucher to launch again at a later date for free.

§ If you can't give the fishermen the parking or a path to drive by the fish cleaning stations, can you make an area for boats to clean up for the ride home and supply carts that can be used to carry our coolers and gear there?

§ Winter storage at main parking lot set up to remove boats from the north side first and sooner.

This area has the potential to be a destination of choice instead of the increasingly avoided site it is. We hope that all involved will work together and with us to expedite the repairs and improvements

Thanks again, I couldn't put everything in but it's a good list!

Time and available money will tell how productive the meeting was. We will keep posting with updates.

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