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"Patience, man": Punta Gorda to consider 20 minute time limit at Ponce de Leon Boat Ramp

Experienced boaters can do it in less than a minute, but new boaters can have trouble getting their boat unloaded into the water quickly.
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 03, 2024

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — On Wednesday, the Punta Gorda City Council will consider adopting an ordinance that would put a 20 minute time limit on loading and unloading boats at the Ponce de Leon Park Boat Ramp.

If approved, the ordinance gives the city authority to install a “sign restricting the loading and unloading of boats within the Ponce de Leon Park boat ramp to 20 minutes.”

According to the City, the current ordinances “do not presently adequately address conflicts that have been found to arise” at the boat ramp, and aims to stop slow boaters from holding up the boat launch on busy days.

Fox 4’s Punta Gorda Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk went to the park to speak with boaters and measure how long it takes them on average to get their boat in the water and move their trailer from the boat ramp.

“The ordinance for 20 minutes seems over excessive,” said William Davis, who along with his friend Fritz Sobol were able to launch their boat in under a minute. “We don’t need that kind of time.”

William Davis
William Davis speaks to Fox 4's Alex Orenczuk at the Ponce de Leon Park Boat Ramp in Punta Gorda.

Queston Irons with On-Site Boat Repair told Orenczuk he launches his boat 20-30 times a week. He was able to get his boat in the water in under a minute by himself.

“It takes about five or ten minutes at most,” said Irons. “Even right now I had to take a little bit of extra time and I'm in and out of here in a couple minutes.”

Queston Irons
Queston Irons unloaded his boat into the water at the Ponce de Leon Park Boat Ramp in Punta Gorda in under a minute.

For inexperienced boaters, it can take longer, which can cause traffic back ups on busy boating days.

“I've seen them, and I've seen people videotaping people who can’t get their boats in and out of here,” said Roy Wathen after loading his boat onto his trailer, telling Orenczuk he supports the proposed ordinance. “If you can’t get your boat in and out in 20 minutes you probably should take some lessons or get some more practice.”

Roy Wathen speaks to Fox 4's Alex Orenczuk at the Ponce de Leon Park Boat Ramp in Punta Gorda.

If approved, citations could be issued for time limit violators. First time offenders could receive a $25 citation, $50 for second offenses, and $100 for subsequent violations.

Irons told Orenczuk being able to use a boat ramp quickly, and safely takes practice.

“The proper training is coming out here and practicing, especially on days like right now where we’re not so busy, come in and out of here and do your practicing and what not else so that if you do come out here on the weekend you’re in and out,” said Irons.

If a boater does find themselves stuck at the boat ramp, Davis said having patience with them and lending a helping hand is more useful than being frustrated.

“Patience, man, were all in the boating community,” said Davis. “Calm down and help each other instead of complaining about it. We want to give an inviting atmosphere to the community. Patience is definitely the way to go.”