Florida summer air temperatures, calm waters, and diverse recreational opportunities beg boaters to get out on the water! The first step is to check the operation of your vessel, trailer and safety gear. The next step, deciding where to launch, can be just as daunting.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding where to launch:
- What is your primary boating activity? Fishing? Diving? Beachgoing?
- How long do you want to be out?
- Are there any concerns about the weather forecast?
- What is the draft of your vessel? What are the tides?
- For what sea conditions is your boat intended?
If you plan to go diving, you will probably want to go offshore and therefore want a ramp with deepwater access and a shorter travel time to the Gulf of Mexico. If your boat is a Carolina Skiff, you are probably planning to enjoy your recreation in the calm, shallow waters of Tampa Bay.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a great, interactive Boat Ramp Finder. The Boat Ramp Finder provides descriptive information, maps and photographs for hundreds of public boat ramps throughout Florida. The Find-A-Boat-Ramp menu on the left side of the webpage provides several options to search for the particular type of boat ramp you want to visit.
The online tool provides information about both publicly and commercially maintained boat ramps. Some of these boat ramps might require a user fee. As the condition and operation of boat ramps can change rather quickly, boaters are advised to check ahead before making a trip to an unfamiliar boat ramp. Staff of the FWC and collaborating agencies continuously update this information. However, no warranty is made as to completeness or accuracy of this information. Boaters are encouraged to report updates or corrections via email to BoatRamps@myFWC.com. Our region has been the fortunate recipient of several state grants. You might be pleasantly surprised to find a boat ramp you haven’t visited in a while is new and improved!
Find more on safe boating at this archived blog.