A slipway, also known as boat ramp or launch, is a ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the water. They are used for building and repairing ships and boats. They are also used for launching and retrieving small boats on trailers towed by automobiles and flying boats on their undercarriage.
The nautical term ways is an alternative name for slipway. A ship undergoing construction in a shipyard is said to be on the ways. If a ship is scrapped there, she is said to be broken up in the ways.
As the word "slip" implies, the ships or boats are moved over the ramp, by way of crane or fork lift, prior to the move the vessel's hull is coated with grease, which then allows the ship or boat to "slip" off of the ramp and progress safely into the water. Slipways are used to launch (newly built) large ships, but can only dry-dock or repair smaller ships. Pulling large ships against the greased ramp would require too much force. For dry-docking large ships, one must use carriages supported by wheels or by roller-pallets. These types of dry-docking installations are called "marine railways". Nevertheless the words "slip" and "slipway" are also used for all dry-docking installations that use a ramp.
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