Posted On: July 20, 2018


Boat fire

Nothing beats food straight from the grill, but each year boats get damaged and even destroyed and people get burned because they don't follow simple commonsense rules when grilling aboard. If using a charcoal grill, only use lighter fluid made for the purpose. Anything else (gasoline, alcohol) is extremely dangerous. Ensure that the grill is clear of the boat when in use, which generally means that it should be hanging over the gunwale so any drips or hot ashes fall into the water and not the boat. The wind must be blowing (if at all) away from your boat so that flames and ashes go downwind and away from the boat. Be alert for wind shifts or boat shifts as the tide turns. Keep in mind that many marinas prohibit grilling on the boat or on the dock, so check with management before lighting up. Always read, understand, and follow the instructions that come with your grill.



Posted On: July 16, 2018

Boating Electronics: Do I Need GPS?

Hear what Capt. Scott Manning has to say.

An experienced skipper thinks that no matter which fishfinder you choose, it should really have GPS and 2-D sonar.

Fishfinder mounted on helm

One morning I headed my boat downstream on a short 4-mile run to my fishing destination. About a mile into the trip, the fog rolled in so heavy I could no longer see. No amount of training, no spotlight, or any device I had on my trailer-sized boat could assist in increasing my visibility. Literally, I couldn't see the bank, the water in front of me, or more important, any oncoming boats or water hazards.

I stopped my boat and immediately turned my fishfinder on GPS mode. This allowed me to see exactly where I was, where navigable markers were located, what the water depth was, and how close to the bank my boat was traveling. I was able to maneuver to a safe location until the fog dissipated. I then continued to my destination at a safe speed while appreciating today's modern technology.

An essential part of any boat is electronics, which are used in locating fish, determining GPS coordinates, and numerous other applications. In today's market, boaters are overwhelmed with many brands and types of fishfinders.

Boating and fishing have embraced 21st-century technology, turning the art of finding fish into modern-day science. These powerful tools allow the resources to check depth, structure, fish locations, speed, and temperature. Humminbird, Lowrance, Raymarine, and Garmin are the main producers of fishing electronics, and all have their pros and cons.

The biggest mistake is to purchase a fishfinder without GPS. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and receives signals from government satellites to determine your exact location. GPS not only allows you to track your course and create mapping of favorite fishing spots, structure, and water hazards, it could also save your life.

Most GPS units come with pre-installed maps. To obtain more detailed and updated GPS data, however, invest in a Lakemaster or Navionics SD card. Also, GPS gives latitude/longitude coordinates that can be added to your float plan or pinpoint your location in case of an emergency. Venturing out too far in the sea or large bodies of water can spell disaster if you get lost and can't find your way back to shore. GPS tracking adds an extra layer of security by tracking your route and recalling the location of your boat.

GPS offers endless possibilities for recreational and angling boaters. Modern GPS technology has the ability to network with radar, sonar, trolling motor, and autopilot systems. GPS will give you more confidence to explore and make the most of your time on the water.

I use a Humminbird Onix with side imaging. This is the top-of-line unit that comes with GPS, 2-D CHIRP sonar, down imaging, and side imaging. The capability to uncover structure and cover with these units is incredible. Whichever unit you choose, make sure it has GPS and 2-D sonar.

A fishfinder is an essential part of any boat and an excellent investment. The higher-end models can be expensive, but the added benefits outweigh the additional cost, provide additional safety features, and maintain value.  



Posted On: July 13, 2018

Choppy Water

How you handle choppy water is a skill that you need to develop if you want to enjoy boating. This article, which I found,  covers the basics of boating safely through chop.

Many boats handle choppy water different, so know your boat type.

Power boats are designed with rough water in mind. Hull designs such as the deep V and even double hulls have made choppy waters less of a problem, but the burden is on the captain, that's you, to get it right. Well designed boats are half the equation; the other half is you.

Choppy Water Basics:

1. Batten down. No matter how skillfully you maneuver your boat, if loose equipment and just plain stuff litters the boat you may be in for an expensive experience, not to mention danger. Debris flying around a boat can damage the vessel and injure the people aboard. Simply stowing things into compartments is a good first step. Some experienced boaters keep a few old towels aboard as stuffing material to keep things in place. Of course there are some Items that you need to keep handy such as binoculars. Velcro fasteners are a great way to keep these things in place. It almost seems that the Velcro people make this stuff for boating.

Good seamanship dictates that you prepare your vessel for rough water even when things are calm. Boats should be ready for the water to turn to chop.

2. Watch your speed. Power boats can go very fast, but sea conditions may dictate the you go slowly. Handling power boats in chop requires careful use of the throttle—and a lot of common sense. There is no clear cut definition of when water turns from chop to just plain rough. In a choppy sea you may not encounter waves that come in regular intervals, just a mess of little waves that don't seem to go anywhere. In a chop you want to add speed; in a rough sea with large waves you want to go slow. If you have a planing hull, that is one that enables your boat to skip or plane across the surface of the water, you should "get up on plane." Planing enables the boat to avoid the worst effects of the chop and can deliver a smoother ride than going slow. Boats without planing hulls, such as trawlers, have it a little tougher. If your boat doesn't plane you handle chop by just gutting through it. This isn't as bad as it sounds because a displacement hull is designed for stability.

If the chop turns to heavy waves, slow down. You can't plane along the surface of eight foot waves at 20 foot intervals. You can kill yourself.

Boating through chop, like most things in boating, requires a strong dose of common sense.



Posted On: July 09, 2018

A leak around deck hardware is not only annoying, it is probably damaging your boat. With today's effective sealants, making deck hardware watertight is not all that difficult. Here's an excerpt from an article from Don Casey to help you avoid a costly repair.


Special Precautions for Cored Construction

Most decked boats are constructed with a wooden core in the deck to stiffen it. Smaller powerboats use a similar construction technique for the transom. If water is allowed to penetrate, rot in the core is the usual consequence. Repairing saturated or rotten core is a very big job, the cost often exceeding the value of the boat. More boats "die" from core problems than from any other single cause.

Water would never reach the wood core if we didn't drill holes in the deck (and transom) to mount hardware items. But we do, and as good as marine sealants are, it is a high-stakes gamble to depend on them to keep water out of the core. Anytime you bore or cut a hole in the deck, seal the exposed core with epoxy before mounting any hardware. If you are rebedding old hardware, be certain that the core has been properly sealed, or follow this procedure before reinstalling the fitting.

  1. Drill all fastener holes oversize. It isn't necessary to oversize cutouts.
  2. Remove all core within 1/4" of the hole or cutout. A bent nail chucked into a power drill is an efficient tool for chipping out the core. Vacuum the pulverized core material from the cavity. Whatever you can't remove will act as a filler.
  3. Saturate the exposed core with epoxy. On horizontal surfaces, seal the bottom of the hole with duct tape and pour catalyzed epoxy into the top. When the cavity is full, allow a minute or two for the unthickened epoxy to saturate the core, then puncture the tape and let the epoxy run out back into your glue container. For vertical surfaces you will have to inject the epoxy into fastener holes. Use a brush to "paint" the core around cutouts.
  4. Mix colloidal silica into the epoxy (the same epoxy you have already poured through the holes) to thicken it to a mayonnaise consistency--stiffer for holes in vertical surfaces. Retape the bottoms and fill each cavity level with the deck.
  5. Allow the filler to cure fully, then redrill the mounting holes through the cured epoxy. Sand and clean the area that will be under the fitting and you are ready to bed the hardware as detailed above.




Posted On: July 06, 2018

Making Sure The Boat Is Prepared

If you are asking a surveyor to come to your boat to perform an insurance survey, make sure that the surveyor has access. Don't expect him or her to empty out lockers of heavy anchors, bags of sails, and boxes of spare parts. The surveyor needs to look at the mechanical parts of the boat, and it causes delays to have to move tons of stuff out of the way. If in doubt, ask the surveyor what he needs before he arrives. He won't expect everything to be off the boat, but he will appreciate reasonable access. One client asked me to survey his 33-foot sailboat, but it turned out that the entire contents of a small apartment seemed to have been crammed aboard. If that wasn't bad enough, the boat also had a Great Dane aboard!

Surveyor checking hoses

The condition of hoses and rigging are just a couple of things that the surveyor will check. (Photo: Mark Corke)

Don't Get In The Surveyor's Way

Most surveyors like it when the buyer is at the survey. They can answer questions and point out things of interest on the boat that may not find their way into the survey report. That being said, it makes the job slower if you hover. Allow the surveyor to do his job — you'll get a complete written report about everything he sees.



Posted On: July 02, 2018

The Fourth of July was almost the Second of July

Americans have been celebrating independence from British rule on July 4 for more than two centuries, but a more accurate date to celebrate may actually be July 2.

While Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, it made the formal call for freedom on July 2. The Declaration of Independence became official only on Aug. 2, 1776, after members of Congress signed the document, according to the National Archives.

President John Adams  wrote a letter to his wife that July 2 should be celebrated by future generations as the "great anniversary festival" for the new nation. He almost got his wish.

Famous hot dog eating competition started as a fight over who was more patriotic

Four immigrants arguing over who was the most patriotic on the Fourth of July decided to settle their dispute with a hot dog eating contest. That contest became the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest — one of the best-known competitions in the realm of "competitive eating." More than 100 years later, competitors and about 30,000 fans flock to Coney Island in Brooklyn every year to watch the spectacle and celebrate America's birthday.

Three presidents have died on July 4 (and one had an Independence-Day birthday)

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on July 4. Adams and Jefferson died the same day and year, in 1826 — exactly 50 years after Congress declared independence. Adams, the second president, is rumored to have whispered "Thomas Jefferson survives" just before dying, according to the White House. Little did he know that Jefferson had died a few hours earlier, 500 miles away in Virginia.

The Liberty Bell hasn't rung in over 171 years

Instead of being rung, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped 13 times every July 4 by descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, according to Adam Duncan, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

The Liberty Bell last rang on Feb. 23, 1846, to celebrate George Washington's birthday, Duncan said. It hasn't been rung for the 172 years  since then because of fears that it would worsen the crack.



Posted On: June 29, 2018

4 Steps For Coming Alongside A Dock

Great Article By Michael Vatalaro

Too fast and BANG. Too slow and you lose control. Here's how to dock an outboard with finesse.

Docking makes boaters nervous. Throw a little wind and current in the mix, and you can find yourself overwhelmed with things to worry about. Your technique shouldn't be one of your worries. Coming alongside a dock or bulkhead can be accomplished in just four steps. But first, you need to know a few things about your boat.

This procedure is for outboard- or sterndrive-powered boats. Hopefully you've had enough time at the helm to know how your boat pivots when you throw the wheel hard over in either direction. Many beginning boaters are surprised at how much the stern swings or slides out when they initiate a turn. If you're not familiar with your boat's tendencies, to get a feel, practice by approaching a buoy or crab pot marker as though it were the dock. Once you've got that down, choose which side you want to tie up, deploy fenders, and you're ready to make your approach. These instructions are for a portside tie.

Step 1: Line Up Your Approach

When approaching the space on the dock where you want to come alongside, first judge wind and current. If the wind or current will be pushing you toward the dock, a shallow angle will help you keep control and not strike the dock with the bow of the boat. If the wind and/or current are conspiring to keep you off the dock, as so often seems to be the case, you'll need a steeper approach to carry enough momentum to get you into the dock. Start with a 30- to 45-degree angle as you learn what works best for your boat. Aim your bow toward the center of your landing point.

Step 2: Come In Slowly

There's an old saying, "Never approach a dock any faster than you're willing to hit it." Bump the boat in and out of gear to maintain slow progress toward your chosen spot. On twin-engine boats, use one engine at a time to creep in.

Step 3: Time Your Swing

When your bow is within, say, half a boat length, swing the wheel over hard to starboard (away from the dock). This is where knowing your boat becomes important, particularly regarding where it pivots. Turn too soon, and you won't end up parallel with the dock. Too late, and bang. With the wheel hard over, bump the engine into gear for an instant to kick the stern to port. This will
also swing the bow away from the dock (to starboard) so you won't hit it.

Step 4: The Flourishing Finish

As the boat glides toward being parallel with the dock, swing the wheel all the way back to port, and kick the engine into reverse (on twins, use the engine farthest from the dock for maximum effect). This will simultaneously stop your headway and pull the stern of the boat to port and closer to the dock. When the boat has stopped moving forward, put it in neutral. The boat should continue side-slipping right up to the dock, allowing you to simply reach out and grab a
line or piling. 



Posted On: June 25, 2018

Learn five tactics to get away from the dock when the gusts are against you.

5 ways to leave a slip in the wind

Depending on how your boat is docked, here are five different maneuvers for getting out of the slip.

Your boat's hull shape, prop walk, windage, current, and other factors may affect results. Click on image to enlarge. (Illustration: Marcus Floro/BoatUS)

Leaving A Slip In The Wind

From The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere

1. Wind Pushing Starboard Side, Stern Out

Step 1: Hard left rudder. Engine forward will kick out the stern.

Step 2: Reverse engine with left rudder, after releasing line and clearing dock.

Step 3: Forward out of the marina.

2. Wind Pushing Away From Dock, Stern Out

Step 1: Engine forward and right rudder kicks out the stern.

Step 2: Engine reverse with left rudder after releasing line and clearing dock.

Step 3: Forward out of the marina.

3. Wind Pushing Port Side, Bow Out

Step 1: Reverse engine, right rudder to pivot bow into the wind.

Step 2: Remove line and steer into wind.

4. Wind Pushing Away From Dock, Bow Out

Step 1: Release bow line first, then stern and power forward with right rudder.

5. Wind Pushing Starboard Side, Bow Out

Step 1: Reverse engine, left rudder to pivot bow into the wind.

Step 2: Remove line and steer into wind.

A challenging maneuver for any boat (power, sail, big, small) is leaving the dock. Slow speed makes a boat less maneuverable because the rudder isn't very effective until the boat's going fast enough for water to flow over it cleanly. Called "steerageway," that efficient speed can be elusive when the wind's pushing you back or when you make turns, which also slow the boat.

Before heading out, check the wind strength and direction, and then plan your tactics. The illustration shows five ways to cast off from a slip and head out of a marina into a head wind. It's a two-step process. First, clear the slip, using docking lines and the engine to control the boat and prevent rubbing against the pier. Be careful, though. The forces can be larger than they appear. Then point the bow as directly as possible down the channel and get going. On that heading, turns will be gradual, which improves your speed and control.