A slipway, also known as a boat slip or simply a slip, is a ramp that connects the land to a body of water and is used to transport boats in or out of the water. It can be constructed of wood, concrete, gravel and other materials, or can even be a natural formation that is used as a slipway out of convenience. Boat slips can also be used as a place to repair, build, or deconstruct boats and are often located along shipyards, where they are constructed with keel blocks – lined up lengths of wood that hold the ship in place until it is ready to either be launch into the water or hauled away down the road.
Slipways can be built on practically any body of water, such as rivers, lakes and oceans. The ideal locations for their construction are those with calm waters as well as easy access from the road. Alternating tides can have an adverse effect on the ability to use a boat slip, since a low tide can render it unusable if it stops sloping into the water too soon. Slips can be either public or private, the latter of which can be owned by a private organization and can offer access either via some sort of membership or through charging boaters a fee for access.
Small watercraft can launch and exit the water via a slipway at any time the tides allow. The trailer for the boat is either moved into the water and down the ramp until the craft floats, or the procedure is reversed when the boat is being brought onto the shore. Large ships can also be built and launched on slipways, but cannot usually exit the water the same way, since a ship that is too large could potentially destroy a slipway’s construction due to the high amount of force it would take to pull it ashore. This would even happen despite the use of grease that is often employed to lubricate a slipway when transporting boats on and off of a boat slip.
One type of boat slip that is used by emergency boat rescue crews is a lifeboat slip. These are typically constructed of steel, with an emergency lifeboat resting on the slipway until it needs to be in the water. When ready to be used, the boat enters the water quickly at a high angle, and can be pulled back up afterward by the use of a winch.