Blog March 2019


Posted On: March 29, 2019

A lightning-protection system is not designed to prevent a lightning strike, but rather to provide a safe discharge path for the lightning. This is the only viable solution for lightning protection (short of going back to wooden ships, kerosene lamps, and sextants). The technology to prevent lightning strikes does not yet exist.

Lightning-protection systems actually function by acting as the "best" short circuit between the cloud and the water, one designed to lead the lightning harmlessly to ground. The system accomplishes this in two ways: by attracting lightning away from more destructive pathways between cloud and ground, and by sending the charge around, instead of through, what it is protecting.

Surge-protective devices (SPD) or transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS) should be installed on all equipment that's mission critical, expensive, difficult to replace, and/or prone to lightning damage.

TVSSs are the most exciting development in the field of lightning protection FOR ELECTRONICS.

A lightning-protection system is not designed to prevent a lightning strike, but rather to provide a safe discharge path for the lightning. This is the only viable solution for lightning protection (short of going back to wooden ships, kerosene lamps, and sextants). The technology to prevent lightning strikes does not yet exist.

Lightning-protection systems actually function by acting as the "best" short circuit between the cloud and the water, one designed to lead the lightning harmlessly to ground. The system accomplishes this in two ways: by attracting lightning away from more destructive pathways between cloud and ground, and by sending the charge around, instead of through, what it is protecting.

Surge-protective devices (SPD) or transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS) should be installed on all equipment that's mission critical, expensive, difficult to replace, and/or prone to lightning damage.

TVSSs are the most exciting development in the field of lightning protection FOR ELECTRONICS.



Posted On: March 25, 2019


 One important thing you can do to boost your catch rate is to reduce the amount of noise you make. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, your own boat may be sabotaging these efforts. Some boats alarm fish more than others. But take heart, savvy angler: once you know about these five common fish-scaring flaws, you can institute corrective measures. Here's how:

  1. Engine Noise

Engines scare fish. But all engines are not equally noisy. The biggest offenders are two-stroke outboards. Particularly when in neutral, they create a real racket. You can hear the clickety-clack of metal parts hitting one another, right? That sound travels through the water, too. In shallow waters and calm conditions, when stealth becomes imperative, the best workaround is to plan your approach to hotspots so you can shut down the engine while it's still in gear, then drift into position.


When putting fishing rods in the bed of a pickup to trailer down the road, always lay them with the butt end toward the front of the truck. Laid tip-first, they may break if you have to slam on the brakes and momentum carries them forward.

One of the loudest sounds made below the waterline by most other engines — electric trolling motors included — is prop noise, directly related to prop speed. In other words, slow down. You can significantly cut the level of noise simply by backing off on the throttle. Another noise no-no you create with your power plant is the "thunk" of shifting in and out of gear. Again, this metal-on-metal sound travels well underwater, and fish don't like it. Though I haven't experimented with the new shift-dampening props (such as the SDS by Yamaha) or smoother-shifting stern drives (like the new Mercury 4.5L, which incorporates a new lighter flywheel for smoother shifting), I've observed firsthand how many species flee when boats are shifted into gear.

It's worth noting that in some cases, specifically with large inboard diesels, the deep thrumming of the motor may actually bring fish to your boat. There's more than mere anecdotal evidence to support this claim; according to marine biologist and author Daniel Bagur (Where the Fish Are, International Marine Press, 2009), certain predators are attracted to some long-wavelength vibrations. A few years back, I recorded the underwater sounds made while trolling on a 50-foot sportfish, and I sent the recordings to Bagur. He confirmed that many predators should find the type of sound created by the big diesels swinging large props attractive, as opposed to scary.

  1. Chine Slap

The sound of water slapping against a hull, particularly one with reverse chines, can be so bad for fishing that a few boatbuilders actually design "quiet" chines. Of course, if your boat doesn't have specially designed chines and you can't get a bite while listening to that slap-slap-slap all day long, you're more interested in finding a solution than in what some boatbuilders may or may not do.

Positioning your boat properly is the first step. If you can keep the stern into the seas safely, you'll eliminate the problem to a large degree. But this isn't always convenient, safe, or even possible. Another measure you can take is to weight down the bow a bit. On some boats, moving a full cooler (or an extra angler) onto the bow is enough to completely submerge the offending chines. And on some others, shifting weight to one side or the other will eliminate the slap.

Another trick that works on certain boats (while adrift or at anchor) is to slide a foam pool noodle under the chine, then push it far enough back that water pressure holds it in place. Be sure to tie a piece of fishing line to the noodle and secure it to the boat so it doesn't float away if a wave rocks it free.

You use a fishfinder to spy on the fish, but it may be alerting them to your presence as well. (Photo: Lenny Rudow)

  1. Fishfinders

I know lots of people will say I'm wrong about this (especially the fishfinder manufacturers), but at least some species of fish can hear or otherwise sense your fishfinder — and may even alter course to get away from the pings. Even though many experts disagree, I say this because I've seen it with my own eyes, when I launched a boat rigged with several fishfinders in the quarter-million-gallon habitat tank at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

While an observer watched from two stories below and we stayed in contact via FRS radio, I tried using the fishfinders in an attempt to differentiate between species. That part of the experiment was a complete failure; I couldn't even tell the difference between a tarpon and a sea turtle. But the surprise lesson was that when the fishfinders were active, some of the fish, and especially the sharks, would go around the boat instead of swimming under it. When all the units were turned off, however, they would swim under the boat without hesitation.

Sure, there are many variables that my less-than-scientific experiment didn't address: power level, transducer frequency, and the artificial environment, for example, could all affect the result. And it stands to reason that in certain situations with certain species, your fishfinder pings could even serve to attract fish rather than repelling them. But the bottom line is this: some fish can sense some fishfinders at least some of the time, and they may even avoid them, so you and I have to consider that a fishfinder may be a potential problem.

  1. Slamming Hatches

While I listened beneath the water's surface with a hydrophone, the loudest of all the potential fish-frightening sounds I heard was a slamming fishbox hatch. The noise created by fiberglass banging fiberglass is akin to a gunshot underwater, and it's certainly enough to scare every living creature within casting distance. Fortunately, this is a fairly easy item to fix. If your boat has a hatch or lid that slams, buy a roll of sticky-back foam rubber at your local marine supply store and make a gasket. Apply it to the offending contact points, and you'll turn that slam into a muted thump.

  1. Electrical Discharge

Some fish can detect even minute amounts of D.C. current, which is harmless to humans. In fact, some species are attracted to certain electrical fields and are repelled by others. There are even a few fishing-tackle manufacturers that have capitalized on this phenomenon by building items (such as the Pro-Troll and the Mako Magnet) intended to bring fish to your boat via electrical discharge. Unfortunately, there's very little reliable science on this subject, and different species of fish seem to react differently to electrical current. Many boats leak a stray electrical current into the surrounding waters, so for all you know, you could be chasing your potential catch right out from under your hull. True, you could just as easily be inadvertently attracting them, but unless you're the marina fishing star, it seems prudent to eliminate all electrical interference.

The safest bet is to test your boat to make sure it's electrically sound. Not only is this good for the fishing; it'll also ensure your running gear doesn't suffer from the corrosive effects of electrolysis. Hook the negative lead of a voltmeter (set to a DC scale of zero to 1 volt, or a scale with tenths of a volt) to the negative terminal of your battery; attach the positive lead to a bare wire. Turn off everything on the boat and lower the wire five or six feet down in the water. Now, turn on your boat's electrical items one at a time while you watch the meter. If it jumps by more than a tenth of a volt, you have a significant electrical leak — and a potential fish problem to deal with. Most of the time, such a leak is due to cruddy connections, bad grounds, and/or bad bonding associated with whatever electrical item causes the voltage change.

Of course, there are other things, aside from your boat, which will still freak fish out. Your own voice at a regular conversational level, for example, can be heard a good 15 to 20 feet below the waterline. Screech like a banshee when you miss a bite and you're going to send the fish scurrying. Even casting a shadow across the water will spook some fish, which live in fear of attack from above via osprey or eagle.

But at least now you know what to do to make your boat less of a fish deterrent — and with a little luck, the next time you hit the water, you'll come home with a full cooler.



Posted On: March 22, 2019

Seamanship: Keeping Your Boat Level

The use and abuse of a listing boat.

BASED ON AN ARTICLE BY By Kevin Falvey March 6, 2018  Boating


If everyone aboard rushes to one side to see the whale, the shoreside mansion or the cool boat about to pass, bad things can happen.

It should be obvious, I suppose, that a boat running level across its beam will ride better. When leaning to one side — listing — a boat is contacting the water on one of the two basically flat hull panels instead of a sharper V shape.

As a result, a listing boat will generally ride harder, and wetter too, because spray will tend to get thrown vertically rather than out to each side.

Listing also induces a turn to the side in which the boat is leaning. This, then, requires more attention to the helm and more physical effort, especially if the boat is equipped with cable steering or is powered by a tiller-model outboard.

A wrinkle involves boats with flat bottoms, which have no water-slicing V shape to speak of. Way back in the heyday of the Jersey watermen, it was discovered that a listing Garvey (the penultimate flat-bottomed boat type) presented its chine corner to the water in a way that tended to smooth the ride. There’d still be the steering issue to deal with, but like boats themselves, techniques of seamanship often prove a compromise of one sort or another.

I’ve seen baymen in my local Long Island waters load a skiff with bivalves so that the gunwales were damn near at the surface of the water. This was on calm days with little boat traffic, and by experienced professionals toiling for their daily bread. Still, listing, even a little, would not have been good. Dipping a rail might have proved tragic.

We recreational boaters have to deal with what might be called a “live load” and therefore need to be at least as careful. A small boat — and I term most boats under about 35 feet as small — with a capacity load of crew aboard pre­sents the opportunity for the skipper to exercise judgment, experience and authority. If everyone aboard rushes to one side to see the whale, the shore­side mansion or the cool boat about to pass, bad things can happen.

First of all, the boat’s going to want to steer to one side — and there’s a boat, a whale or the shore nearby that must be avoided. Second, the listing boat is going to present your crew with a slanted surface on which to stand. Third, the gunwale on the side of the boat to which everyone rushes will get lower to the water. Add in an errant wave or wake of just the right size and at just the right moment, and all three of the boat’s reactions to the movement of live ballast can be affected dramatically, resulting in catastrophe. A tragedy of just this sort occurred aboard a small tour boat in upstate New York some years ago.

I can’t tell you how to speak to your crew. They are your family and friends. And no one can imagine the infinite combinations of wind, weather and situations. What I can say is that good seamanship dictates the need to load our boats with care and see that the load remains secure. That holds true whether the load is a cooler full of ice, bushels of clams, or the people we care about most.



Posted On: March 18, 2019

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Posted On: March 15, 2019

How To Throw A Line ... Properly!

In honor of all you ladies, here's an informative article about the not so subtle art of tossing a line

By Pam Wall

It's all in the preparation. To toss a line accurately, and have it arrive at its destination, follow these four simple steps.

How cool would it be to throw a line ashore, to another boat, or to someone who has fallen overboard and always have it land where you want it to land? It's easier than you think. Here are some simple steps to follow for throwing a line and having it reach what you're aiming for.

  • Photo of coiling and twisting a line

    1. Coil, Twist, Repeat

    Coil the line in a clockwise direction using your fingers to give each coil a slight twist clockwise. Make sure that each of the coils is not too long, about 15 inches, and not twisted.

    Photo of the divided coiled line

    2. Divide And Conquer

    Carefully take half the neatly coiled line in your left hand (if right handed) and the remainder in your tossing hand. Make sure the coils can flow out of your hands in sequence as you toss the line. Left-handed sailors will still coil the line clockwise, but the throwing hand will be the left hand and the second half of the line will be in their right hand.

  • Photo of coiled line in both hands

    3. Look Before You, Um, Throw

    Using your left hand facing forward with half the coil and your right hand with the other half of the line to throw, look at what you are aiming for!

    Photo of throwing the line underhanded

    4. Let It Fly

    Using a strong swing with your right hand, if that’s your throwing hand, throw the line underhand to where you are looking and let it fly out of your right hand and then out of the left hand with the remaining line following what has been tossed.

If your right-handed toss is strong enough, the coils in both hands can flow out of your hands easily (sometimes too easily — you may want to tie off the bitter end), provided the lines aren't twisted and, most importantly, your eyes remain on target. I guarantee you will always make the mark. 



Posted On: March 11, 2019

Following Seas

In a following sea, both the vessel and waves move in the same direction. If the waves are moderate, a following sea presents only a small risk for larger powerdriven craft.

But one Coast Guard manual warns boat operators that running before heavy seas is potentially their most dangerous option because it can easily lead to broaching or pitchpoling (see illustrations). Handling following seas requires careful attention by the helmsman and constant use of throttle and rudder. Should you find yourself in this dangerous position, try to stay on the backside of a wave through controlled use of power. Surfing down the front of a wave will cause the bow to bury into the trough and could lead to pitchpoling (see illustration). If you find yourself racing down the front of a wave, immediately throttle back. Should the stern start to yaw, counter this tendency by turning slightly to that side.

Correct a sideslip as soon as it happens, or the boat could broach — turn sideways to the waves — and get rolled (see illustration). Most small planing boats are capable of going faster than the waves and can easily stay on the back of a wave.

Displacement vessels, such as sailboats under power and houseboats, may not be able to outrun the waves.

When the seas are going faster than you are, slow down as the following wave approaches and let the wave pass quickly under the boat, then increase power and chase it until the next wave approaches. And never, never stop in a following sea. When a boat stops, the wave following it hits the transom and splashes up and over into the boat. One big wave can swamp a small boat. The next wave can capsize or sink it.

Many seamanship texts devote several pages to turning in heavy seas, but for most inland boaters it's rarely that big a deal.

For the majority of small power-driven boats in heavy weather, a smartly executed maneuver is all that's required. In extreme conditions, however, it's important to avoid being caught broadside to the seas, which can lead to a rollover.

The critical factor is timing.

As your vessel comes up on a crest, put the helm over hard and punctuate the turn with a burst of power. With most small boats, this will bring you about quickly enough to avoid a rollover.




Posted On: March 08, 2019

Confusion over model years, especially on outboard engines, can frustrate buyers.

Here's how to find that info on the products themselves.

Based on an article by Charles Fort for Boat US

Hull identification numberPhoto: Mark Corke

General Motors introduced planned obsolescence in the 1920s as a way of discerning one model year from another, in order to convince the public that buying the latest model car was fashionable, if not exactly necessary. The tradition set by GM survives today. Eventually, consumers began to rely on the model-year change, which usually happened in the fall, to assure that they were getting the latest and greatest. Car buyers still eagerly anticipate the newest technology, and dealers often offer deep discounts to move out last year's models.

Manufacturers of other big-ticket items, such as boats and outboards, followed suit, hoping to convince buyers that the newer the boat, the better the boat. For years, U.S. Coast Guard regulations required boat manufacturers to use August 1 of the previous year as the cutoff date for the next model year. For example, a boat built in September 2011 could be called a 2012 model, but if it was built in July, it had to be sold as a 2011.

In 2012, boatbuilders petitioned the Coast Guard to change the date to June 1, allowing for an extra two months of production to still be labeled as next year's model. Manufacturers argued that because of marine production schedules, which, unlike automaker schedules, tend to fall at erratic times throughout the year, they needed to have more flexibility in designating the time span of their new model year.

The Coast Guard agreed to make the change, permitting a couple of months of last year's boats to be called this year's.

Fortunately, it's fairly simple to find your boat's build date. (See "HINs By The Numbers") The information with the boat's model year is contained in the hull identification number (HIN), which is a label permanently affixed to the boat. The number includes a date assigned by the builder. This date is technically not the date of manufacture; rather, it's the date on which the boat was certified by the builder to meet Coast Guard regulations.

Some boats, especially large ones, may be on the floor for months before completion (even straddling the June cutoff date), while others may be finished in a matter of days. To be consistent, the Coast Guard uses the date the manufacturer says the boat meets federal regs. Once the HIN is assigned and affixed, that date becomes the boat's model year, regardless of when it was actually finished.

Once a HIN has been put on the boat, it can't be changed without permission from the commandant of the Coast Guard, which rarely happens. New boat buyers should look at the HIN and verify that the boat in which they're interested actually belongs to the model year that the dealer claims for it. Used-boat buyers should also decipher the HIN and make sure it matches what the seller and paperwork state.

What About My Engine?

Outboard motor systemThe month and year of engine manufacture can usually be found on a sticker near the engine's serial number.

The Coast Guard has no model-year regulations for outboard engines, making it harder for consumers to determine the year in which they were built. In 2007, Yamaha stopped designating model years for its outboard engines entirely. Though the reasoning is sound, it creates a challenge for consumers.

Unlike cars, in which engines are built into the product, a selection of engines usually can be fitted on outboard boats. Dealers have struggled for years to make sure that the engines bought from an engine manufacturer during one year get sold that same year on new boats.

If a boat on the showroom floor comes with a 200-hp engine but a buyer wants a 250-hp engine, the dealer may have to order the bigger engine and keep the smaller one in stock. If it takes a couple of years to finally sell that 200-hp engine, a buyer may be reluctant to buy it if the model year isn't current, and the dealer may have to subsequently discount it. Buyers typically want a 2017 engine, for example, on their 2017 boat.

Eliminating the model year solves the problem for the manufacturer and dealer but can be confusing for buyers. Other outboard manufacturers, including Mercury and Honda, adopted Yamaha's practice, and most outboard engines today don't have model-year designations. Outboard manufacturers say that until they make a significant change to an engine, the year it was built is irrelevant. While that's true, buyers are concerned that if there's no model-year designation, they don't know if they're getting the newest technology.

Fortunately, there's still a way to determine when an outboard was built. After discontinuing model years, engine manufacturers replaced the model-year designator on the engine's serial number with a code that signifies an "era" in which all engines are supposed to be the same, with similar upgrades. Consumers, however, are concerned that with computer controls, mechanically identical engines could have electronic updates applied to a batch of similar models, and earlier ones might not benefit.

What's considered an upgrade?

In the end, the engine manufacturer gets to decide what it is and when there's enough of one to create a new model. Fortunately, dealers usually know which engines in their stock have the most current changes, and you should ask before buying.



Posted On: March 04, 2019

Based on an article by Laura Poppick for Scientific America

A warming ocean loses oxygen for two reasons: First, the warmer a liquid becomes, the less gas it can hold. That is why carbonated beverages go flat faster when left in the sun, Oschlies says.

Second, as polar sea ice melts, it forms a layer of buoyant water at the sea surface above colder, more saline waters. This process creates a sort of lid that can keep currents from mixing surface water down to deeper depths. And because all oxygen enters this habitat at the surface—either directly from the atmosphere or from surface-dwelling phytoplankton producing it during photosynthesis—less mixing means less of it at depth.

Some coastal regions around the equator naturally are low-oxygen hotspots because they contain nutrient-rich waters where bacterial blooms consume oxygen as they break down dead marine life. But shifts in ecosystems elsewhere—including in the open ocean and around the poles—especially surprises and concerns Oschlies and others because these regions were not considered as vulnerable. Climate models projecting future change have also routinely underestimated the oxygen losses already observed around the world’s oceans, he and his colleagues reported in Nature last year—another reason why this trend calls for more attention, he says.

As oxygen-rich regions become scarcer, current fish habitats will also shrink and force economically important species—such as tuna, which globally generate an estimated $42 billion annually—into new ranges. In the northeastern tropical Atlantic researchers have found habitat for tuna as well as billfish fisheries shrank by 15 percent from 1960 to 2010 (pdf) due to oxygen loss.