Boat Ramp Disaster

Nathanvg

Cadet
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
10
Below is a rare video of a tow vehicle going down the ramp and sinking. I know these events happen from time to time but how they happen never seems to be well explained. Maybe this group can better explain but my thoughts below.

This example has a couple clear factors:
  • The ramp was slick, due to low tide
  • The jeep was likely over it's towing capacity.
Maybe that is all there is to it but that would have to be a really slick ramp, especially since the boat was at least partially floating and therefore was not pulling hard on the jeep. Things that are less clear include:
  • Is it just me or does the trailer appear to be floating? From 43-59 seconds in the video the back of the trailer appears to float to the left several feet. If the transom tie down straps were in use that would make sense but watching the video it seems clear straps were not in use. I can't explain the floating but if the trailer was floating, it could have lifted the rear of the jeep reducing traction. Maybe the M shaped hull somehow got caught on those bunks.
  • Some of the you tube comments reference a failed clutch (or other drivetrain component) which is possible. Unfortunately the video isn't clear enough to tell if the wheels are spinning backwards, forwards or locked at that point but I suppose it's possible the driver was slow to hit the break once the car started going backwards.
  • The driver leaves the vehicle and the car rolls again. It's clear the front wheel spins which I think is clear evidence that only the front wheels were holding the jeep at that point and letting off the break resulted in the final failure. It's also possible that the driver's weight was keeping the back wheels on the ground but once he exited they floated and since they were the only locked wheels, the jeep rolled.

 

Lou C

Fleet Admiral
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
8,043
Operator error all over the place there. When he first stopped the boat was in far enough to back it off. All he had to do was leave it in gear engine off set the parking brake and put a chock behind the wheel.
 

Stinnett21

Petty Officer 1st Class
Joined
Jun 24, 2012
Messages
285
Looks like he didn't have it gear. You can hear it rev but nothing was spinning at least on left side. Also rear brake apparently didn't work.
 

robert graham

Admiral
Joined
Apr 16, 2009
Messages
6,798
A public boat ramp is a very special place….I’ve often thought of making a movie about these misadventures….maybe call it “Ramp Fever” or “Clowns at the Ramp” or similar…
 

JASinIL2006

Rear Admiral
Joined
Feb 10, 2012
Messages
4,923
I’m not sure if that occurrence (or videos of same) are all that rare… unfortunately.
 

GA_Boater

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 24, 2011
Messages
48,038
In this case no boats were harmed while making this video. Can't say the Jeep fired right up
 

matt167

Commander
Joined
Sep 27, 2012
Messages
2,759
The guy that made the video, hangs out at the ramp weekly to watch the show that unfolds.
 

Mark ofs

Seaman
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
57
Looks to me like it was the slippery ramp...that combined with the "wide" tires on the jeep...means no traction for the jeep, and even a guy falls just trying to walk down the ramp. Those tires are good for sand and mud, but are bad on wet pavement. Did appear the boat held the jeep up as the back of the jeep didn't fully go under until the driver cranked the winch down...bad ending to a probably a great day, that's too bad.
 

Bt Doctur

Supreme Mariner
Joined
Aug 29, 2004
Messages
18,352
Before you use any ramp you should inspect it, pay close attention to any slime at low tide. Avoid the slime at all costs, wait for a higher tide to keep the tow tires on the dry area.
back down slowly using you parking brake and foot brake . set out the chock, and load or unload
A full size Chevy truck floats for 6 minutes then sinks to the bottom
 

KJM

Chief Petty Officer
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Messages
577
When towing the jeep up out of the water the owner got right behind the jeep, if that rope let go he would likely have been killed. Could have ended much worse.
 

Hoppi84

Seaman
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
69
So you leave your vehicle in gear and parking brake when launching?? I've always put it in park with parking brake but I hope to never have this occur.
 

Sprig

Chief Petty Officer
Joined
May 2, 2016
Messages
439
The driver made numerous errors/mistakes that caused the disaster. The boat was still attached to the front bow stop of the trailer. It was the weight of the boat and trailer that dragged the Jeep back into the water. The flotation of the boat attached to the boat lighted the weight of the rear of the Jeep and in not being able to stop. He should have detached the bow strap when the trailer wheels were in the water and before the rear Jeep wheels entered the water.
Next he backed the Jeep to far into the water. He didn’t try to stop the Jeep before the rear wheels were almost completely under water.
Looks like the ramp was slippery/slimy and played a part in the Jeep not being able to stop. He should have taken that into account when launching.
The tires on the Jeep were very aggressive and not great traction on surfaces like he was on.
I’m sure that boat and trailer exceeded the vehicle tow capacity.
Getting between the boat and Jeep as it was sliding as beyond stupid.
I could go on but I’ll just add the park ranger that was there was totally useless.
 

GA_Boater

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 24, 2011
Messages
48,038
What do you expect the Ranger to do? Ask if anyone is hurt and call for a tow, that's about all he can do.
 

Sprig

Chief Petty Officer
Joined
May 2, 2016
Messages
439
What do you expect the Ranger to do? Ask if anyone is hurt and call for a tow, that's about all he can do.
He should have taken control of the situation, been a leader. He stood there with a dumb look on his face just watching. He could have had a rope or tow strap and attached it to the Jeep and the back of his car to stop the Jeep from sliding further. (left his car top of the short ramp on dry ground and hooked it up). If he didn’t have rope he should have asked people around there if they did. He should have jumped in and helped the guy detach the boat from the trailer or if too dangerous tried to get the guy out of the water away from danger. Should have got the crowd off the dock. Should have been on the radio almost immediately requesting assistance.
I don’t know what his background is or what his training is but I know from being in LE you quickly assess and take control of a situation, especially when you are the only authority there.
 
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