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Too many boats, too few ramps

December 10, 2011
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I was waiting in line at the ramp in Matlacha this past week surveying the scene unfolding in front of me. The first thing that hit me was why am I waiting in line?

This is Florida, aren't at least 40 to 50 percent of us here to boat and fish? Why are there so few ramps?

When I moved to Florida years ago I thought there would be at least a ramp on every street, after all there are almost as many boats as cars. The fishing and boating center of the USA? Waiting in lines? I was shocked.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

I finally was able to back down the ramp to launch, then stood outside my truck to wait for the previous boater to return from parking his truck.

The left dock was of course full and I had nowhere to dock my boat. Five more trucks waited in line to launch. The right ramp still blocked for now 20 minutes while the unlucky boaters tried to start their dead motor.

I heard a door slam and the next thing I know a visitor from another country was upon me yelling "why are you standing there? "Why don't you launch?"

I suppose he was completely unaware the dock, hidden by bushes, was full and I had nowhere to dock, while I parked. Ramp Rage!

Try launching at the Yacht Club for a real circus. Last time I was forced to hold up traffic trying to make a backwards circle turn to get the boat backed to the ramp with pedestrians hopping over my trailer tongue between the boat and the truck as I backed up. This is a ridiculous and dangerous situation and eventually someone will be injured or worse.

Not recommended for the novice just learning how to back a boat trailer. Watch carefully for foot traffic and other cars as you back up.

For a real thrill try the Midpoint Death Slide Ramp, a ramp designed by an engineer that also designs Olympic ski jumps. This near seemingly vertical double ramp can be a very dangerous place to launch especially when coated with grease-slick algae. Each and every year the front page of the Breeze shows an underwater vehicle and trailer (or two or three) with the unlucky driver standing on the dock shaking his head.

Many times I've been forced to plead with strangers to get in the back of my truck to be able to get enough weight, to get enough traction in the algae, to pull the boat out of the water.

Between the algae issues and the way-to-steep incline, I don't recommend this ramp for the inexperienced as it can be dangerous.

The reasons for the lack of ramps are, of course, political and environmental. Typically environmental takes years of paperwork, impact studies, permitting and other forms of red tape, driving costs through the roof and the finished product years away, if ever, which suits the environmental zealot crowd and hamstrings the taxpayer simply wanting to take the family out for a Sunday boat ride.

We can't seem to get anything done efficiently anymore in the good old USA. It took 410 days to build the Empire State Building. I heard it's going to take two years to add a span to the 100-yard long Matlacha Bridge.

We need ramps badly and I'm not sure we will be getting any soon. Put a bug in your representative's ear.

If trailering, hook up the boat to a hose at home and see if it starts. Don't load or unload your boat at the ramp.

Get in, launch, and get out as you are not the only boater in Florida that wants to get on the water. Be courteous and use common sense.

Inshore fishing remains very good with big trout, reds and snook in very shallow waters all feeding heavily in response to the cooling water temps.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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