By Adam Hjelm

There are few places in this world that entertain and anger people as much as public boat accesses. Public accesses can be a necessary evil or a delightful entertainment stage, it all depends on your mood and your definition. We live in the land of lakes here, but not everybody has lakeshore property. We also have a herd of tourists that come from near and far to enjoy all the splendor of the lakes. So, we have public accesses for folks to get on the water.

Over the decades of using public access I have come up with a general naming system for many access users. This is not a fool-proof naming system by any means, and there can be overlap and blending of terms in certain situations. And most, well the majority at least, are quite successful watercraft launchers. I do like to think I am in the majority too, well most of the time. It is the few other times that are humorously and sympathetically listed below, and yes I have been in a few of these categories.If we can’t laugh at ourselves, are we even really even trying?

Fish-tailers are the most common category of backer-uppers. Many times these folks are quite successful in their boat launching, they just tend to over-correct on the backing approach. They use the WHOLE access, zigging and zagging on the backing approach. They remind me of my approach to golfing – might as well use the whole fairway, right?

Every once in a while, a fish-tailer also becomes a dock driver. Dock drivers are the folks that either put a trailer tire up on the dock as they are backing up or the back tire of their vehicle. Only once in my life I have seen a combo of a trailer and truck tire up on the dock at the same time. Skills indeed.

Motor untippers are the folks that forget to tip up their boat motor either going in the lake or upon exiting the lake. You usually can track these folks by the gouged lines they leave in the cement at the access or the line in gravel. Other times you can hear these folks before you see them. The deafening noise of metal on cement and severe bouncing and rattling of a motor’s lower unit is unmistakable.

Bubble blowers are the folks that back into the water too far with their vehicle. I am not talking about the folks that legitimately have to back in due to low water or a bigger boat. But, rather the ones that are so far in that exhaust pipes are bubbling away, sometimes taillights are under water, and in extreme cases water is in the vehicle. Usually these folks need moral support and a pull from kind bystanders on shore to remedy their situation.

Dapper unstrappers are by far my favorite category. These are the folks that forget to unhook the straps that are holding the boat to the trailer. Usually they are in way too big of hurry and overlook simple things. They tend to forget to put the plug in the boat too. Dapper unstrappers often can be spotted from a distance. They are the ones on the dock unsuccessfully pulling their guts out on the rope attached to the boat. They tug and pull, but the boat doesn’t move off the trailer. They legitimately look confused and perplexed. Stage two dapper ustrappers will hop in the boat, kick the motor in gear and spray water and sand everywhere as the rev the boat up in reverse to no avail. Sometimes dapper unstrappers will turn into bubble blowers thinking the boat needs to be further in the water.

The last and most all-encompassing group at access are the religious leaders. I am not necessarily talking about a specific denomination or faithful followers. Rather these tend to be preachers. Often loud, animated, and boisterous public profaners. They are shouting things like GD it! They are also wordsmiths and will use Jesus’s name in complicated and clever sentences. I would suggest not becoming a follower of their faiths and rather give them some adequate distance to spout and simmer down.

When you are at the access and waiting in a never-ending line of vehicles and trailers, see if you can spot some of these folks. Maybe you will be able to watch and learn. Maybe you can help. Maybe you are the one that needs the help. Like Red Green said, “I’m pulling for ya. We are all in this together.”