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Launching and loading a boat is a manly activity

This past Monday the weather was just too nice to sit around the house.

My in-laws were in from North Carolina and we were trying to think of a few things to do.

Finally, about 1 p.m., I said to Cody and his Papa, “Why don’t we go fishing for a while?”

Almost instantaneously the two were up, on their feet and heading to the door.

Cody hopped to the front of the boat that was parked in the garage and positioned the swing-away tongue. I backed the Tahoe up and Papa watched.

I don’t know how most people are, but to me, hooking up a boat, backing up a boat and loading a boat are all activities that fall well within the heading of “man things.”

If anyone of the aforementioned skills are lacking in any area, then a true man shall not participate in aforementioned activities or learn them before he goes out in public.

Cody, falling well within the unspoken understanding of how important these things are, expertly stood by the boat tongue and guided me in with hand signals.

Not a word was uttered between the two of us.

I knew what he was thinking and he could anticipate each move of the tow vehicle.

He stopped me, lowered the tongue and hitched the lights and safety cables like a seasoned veteran.

It was all worth it when I saw his Papa give him an approving nod and hop in the front seat.

We proceeded to the boat ramp where the pressure mounts even more.

I have traveled all throughout the eastern United States and launched boats at hundreds of ramps. It is at this point that one needs to be an expert.

The last thing a true angler needs is to wander aimlessly around his craft looking unsure of himself. It’s simple: remove transom straps, stow the transom-saver from the outboard, ready the bowline and back it in.

This is where the next challenge of being a real outdoorsman comes to the forefront.

My personal goal when backing up a boat is: no matter at what weird angle, no matter the difficulty of the ramp, no matter if an earthquake creates a zigzag crevice that could swallow your whole craft, never, ever, have to put the truck back in drive and try again.


Once you start that truck and trailer heading down the ramp in reverse, there is no going back. It’s all or nothing.

There are people watching!

In a matter of seconds the three of us had the boat in the water and the big outboard idling away.

Ahhh, you have to love the sound of an outboard just purring waiting to be unleashed.

The next couple of hours were right at the top of the charts for horrible fishing. So bad in fact, Cody and Papa both gave up and sat and tried to see who could tell the best fishing lies.

I have to admit, as I stood up front still casting away, I was impressed at both of their abilities to spin a good yarn and stretch the hyperbole to new heights.

Soon, I too gave it up and we headed back to the boat ramp.

This, the last act of being a man.

It is absolutely the most important one when talking about boating.

You have to be able to load your boat on the first try and do it in less than 60 seconds. That of course being once your trailer is backed in, which of course should take no more then 60 seconds.

There is nothing that screams expert like being able to load your boat quickly and efficiently and getting it off the ramp so the next person can use it.

We’ve all had those moments when it doesn’t go that way, though.

Everything seems to go wrong, the boat won’t load straight, you forgot to tie something down, the list is endless.

Those moments are embarrassing. There is no other way to put it.

I am proud to say though that all three phases, hooking-up, backing-up and trailering-up went off without any troubles.

I was proud, Cody knew things were good and Papa again nodded his silent approval. Mission accomplished.

Oh wait; did I strap the transom down?

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