Beaching, Docking, and Ramping


Beaching can be easy, you are basically just coasting in and cutting power 20-50′ from the beach depending on wind and speed to simply coast into the beach.  You may want to raise the water rudders just before approaching the shore to prevent them from dragging on the bottom.  If you are at all unsure if there are underwater obstacles, shut down and paddle in slowly to reduce the chance of damaging your floats or hull.  If the winds are pushing you towards the beach, you may consider sailing back into the beach.  Once you have arrived at the beach, the best way to secure the aircraft is generally to spin it around and let the heels of the floats rest on the sand.  Lifting near the tail section of the aircraft can give you good leverage to help the heels up onto the sand.  Always secure the aircraft with rope as a back up as well.


You’ll want to approach the dock at the shallowest angle possible and with the engine off.  Plan to cut your engine 20-50′ prior to the dock, maybe more depending on conditions such as wind (wind blowing you away from the dock generally requires you to keep the engine running longer on your approach to the dock).  Get your headset and seatbelt off early before you get near the dock so you can get out of the airplane easily to “catch” the airplane and dock.  While water rudders give you good authority to make a tight turn, you can turn even tighter when starting the turn with water rudders and then lifting them up once the turn has started to allow the back of the floats to “slip” sideways and turn the aircraft at a faster rate than with the rudders down.  This works great with light to no wind, or when the wind is in your favor.  When docking, remember wind, current, momentum, and obstacles.


Ramping is perhaps the easiest or tied with beaching for the easiest.  We typically do not worry about obstacles as much here as a manmade ramp would hopefully have been placed in an area free of hidden obstacles.  A wet ramp has less friction than a dry ramp.  When ramping, it is normal to add a little power to increase speed as you approach so the floats can “ride up” the natural bow wave they produce.  Once the bows contact the ramp, you can also retract water rudders, add power and hold the yoke or stick full aft and drive the aircraft as far up the ramp as practical before shutting down.  The more of the floats that are contacting the ramp the better the aircraft is held in place as you shutdown and exit.  Most hull type seaplanes do not ramp well, luckily most hull type seaplanes are amphibious and we can generally drive them up or down a ramp on wheels.