Two boats and a truck on an outdoor dock.

Outdoors in RI: Boat Ramp safety, Brown Tail Moth update, don’t be Shark bait – Jeff Gross

by Jeff Gross, contributing writer

Top photo, courtesy Joe Malachowski

One can see numerous boat ramp accidents on YouTube. These accidents are most often caused by drivers’ negligence, but often, too, they are caused by mechanical failures.  One way to avoid such a disaster is to test your emergency brake on an incline.  Pull up the incline, put the brake on, and put your truck in neutral.  If the truck rolls back, there is a problem that could show up on the boat ramp.  If your truck is parked on the ramp with this defective emergency brake, and pops out of gear, the truck will roll into the water and disaster sets in. Before you launch your boat, test that brake. 

Another ramp problem is the Rhode Island saltwater ramps have a coating of Algae on them.  Apparently, a truck slid down the ramp in East Greenwich, RI due to the Algae growth, and the truck ended up submerged to the roof. Trucks and SUVs can really get rolling on these ramps due to the angle of the ramps virtually making the vehicle unstoppable.

There are a couple of ways to combat this Algae problem. One is to put your truck in 4WD; that way if it slides backwards, you have the front wheels to dig in and stop the slide. The other is to take a heavy-duty road broom like the ones that have the thick red plastic brush or heavy bristles. Sweeping the Algae off the ramp will help alleviate the slick problem.  If you frequent a ramp often with friends, you can rotate going down the night before at low tide and cleaning the ramp. One final thought is on a moon low tide someone with a self-contained power washer could power wash the ramp.  Just a reminder:  Double check your boat tie down straps when departing the ramp before you head home.

Best Boat Ramp Fails of the Summer, 2020

Brown Tail Moth update

The Brown Tail Moth problem is expanding in Maine.  As a result citizens, like those in Belgrade, are taking matters into their own hands.  A Belgrade resident told me last week the residents have lost faith in the Maine government. (Seems there is a lot of that going around as there are now 5 RI legislators that have brought shame upon RI, to digress for a moment.) The resident told me that the Belgrade residents held a meeting about the Brown Tail Moths and will now try to eliminate the insects themselves. 

If you folks are not comfortable with using bug spray on the moth congregations, there are other methods.  A campground on Toddy Pond in Maine uses an old vacuum cleaner and collects the moths where they seem to congregate. I was told by an eyewitness that the vacuum is filled every day with moths as the situation is that dire in the Toddy Pond area. 

This writer left a metal handle fishing net in his truck with the sole intention of finding out whether or not the Brown Tail caterpillar hairs and toxins adhere to the metal.  Well, they do adhere to the metal.  The net was left in the cargo deck of my truck for 3 weeks before it was removed and allowed to deliberately contact my skin on my left wrist. 12 hours later my wrist broke out in the rash.  Worst of all, my enclosed cargo deck was left in the sun frequently and reached temperatures inside of 155F.  Apparently, the bio chemicals in the Brown Tail caterpillar’s hairs and toxins are immune to high temperatures and do not degrade as a result over time. The statement that the Brown Tail caterpillars hairs and toxins survive for 3 years in the environment is accurate.

Don’t be Shark bait

Great White Shark eats fisherman’s Tuna

Right at this moment of writing the Dew point in Tiverton is 74F. The Dew point in Waterville, Maine is 74F.  The Warwick, Rhode Island Dew Point is 75F.  That is Tropical weather. When I was a youngster the highest Dew Point I remember was 71F.  Last year, RI had Dew Points of 76F. 

It is of no surprise that there are Great White Sharks all over Cape Cod and Nantucket. In 2020 Maine had the state’s first fatality from a Great White. Sooner or later a Great White will enter Narragansett Bay. There have been sightings of Great Whites on the cape with 20 individual sharks.  I bring these facts up as when one is wading in the surf for stripers, they resemble a harbor seal that is vertical on its hind flippers.  If one has green waders on, then that person can be easily mistaken for a seal by a shark.

Once in a while, Jaws mistakes a human for a seal, and we have a tragedy.  Be aware of your surroundings while fishing or enjoying yourself in the water as there is no guarantee the lifeguard will see the shark, as he may be distracted by the blond in the thong bikini (my editor is struggling to leave this sentence in…). A Great White can show up at any time as seals hang out along the shore. As the water in the Western Atlantic continues to warm, the Great White and other shark species will be sighted more often. 

Sleep well.  Stay safe.


Jeffrey “Jeff” Gross spent 21 years as an Analytical Chemist at the USCG R&D Center in Groton, Connecticut, Woods Hole Laboratories, and Helix Technologies. Changing careers is a “great learning experience for everyone”, Jeff says, and I’m an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, a student of the sciences, and the world. The US holds too many wonders not to take a chance and explore them”.Jeff is the Model Train and Railroad entrepreneur. Proud Golden Retriever owner. Ultra strong Second Amendment Advocate and Constitutionalist. “Determined seeker of the truth”. Jeff is a RIFGPA Legislative and Legal Officer, Freshwater Chairman, NRA Liaison.His subjects include Outdoors, Second Amendment, Model Railroading, and Whimsical.

1 Comment

  1. Mary on July 28, 2023 at 11:32 am

    Sorry, your editor was right. Lots of lifeguards are women watching for sharks!