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Preparing for the Boat Show
January 29, 2016 11:52 AM | Tagged as Boat Show Tips, Central Illinois, Springfield Boat Show

In central Illinois January, February, and March are the hardest months to get through. The holidays are over and the cold weather has set in. Most people rarely leave their homes refusing to face the bitter cold. I have a solution to get you out of your house and dreaming of the warmer days ahead. Head to the Springfield Boat Show at the Illinois State Fairgrounds February 26th, 27th, and 28th and browse the latest and greatest boats local dealers have to offer.
 

As we, at the Lake Springfield Marina, prepare for the boat show on our end, I thought I might offer you, the consumer, some tips to prepare as well!
 

Boat shows can be overwhelming! Every dealer has “exactly what you need.” So before the show, do your research so you know exactly what you and your family needs actually are. The following questions may help you narrow your search:
 

- What types of boating activities are you interested in?
- How many passengers do you expect to have?
- What type of propulsion do you prefer?
- What boat length best accommodates your needs?
- What is your price range?
- Where will you be storing your boat? Will you be trailering it or keeping it in a slip?
 

After answering all of these questions, you will have a good idea of what type of boat you are interested in. At the show you can feel relaxed knowing what you’re looking for. Then, you can ask the dealers to get a closer look at the boats that interest you and they can answer any remaining questions you have.
 

Once at the show, many “sales people” will approach you. Many dealers bring ‘fillers’ to take up space. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are an expert on the brand you are interested in. Another point of interest would be if they have been to the company’s training or if they have been certified. A boat is a major purchase. You should have confidence that your salesperson is able to give you credible information about the boat and brand you are looking at. A certified, trained, specialist will be able to easily guide you through the boat buying process and ease any concerns you may have.
 

So what’s the deal with these “only at show” deals? Most customers don’t realize that manufacturers give incentives to create a sense of urgency. These incentives are only offered to the dealer for the boat show. If you are unsure if you are ready to buy at the boat show, talk to your salesperson. They will be able to tell you which incentives are manufacture based vs. which incentives are dealer based. If you decide to buy the following week, you will know what offers will still be available to you.
 

I hope these tips will help you be relaxed and enjoy your experience at the boat show. We look forward to seeing you February 26th, 27th, and 28th at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the 23rd Annual Springfield Boat Show!

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August 28, 2012 7:01 PM
Running out of water to boat in? That's not an issue if you own a Yamaha Boat! Low water not only cuts seasons short but it can also cause boat owners time and money because of costly repairs. Because of their minimal draft and lack of exposed propeller....You can operate a Yamaha Boat safely in just 18' of water! That's almost half of the water needed compared to other brands. And with much of the central U.S. experiencing much lower than normal water levels this could be the year you give some extra thought to purchasing a Yamaha boat. Why cut your season short when you can be on the water longer with Yamaha!

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Preventative Maintenance Saves You Time and Money
April 10, 2012 11:57 AM | Tagged as Boating Industry, Preventative Maintenance, Service

Preventative maintenance may be more expensive in the short run but is significantly less expensive according to a report published in this month’s Boating Industry magazine. They make the obvious point that you can spend $5,000-$8,000 on replacing an engine while you could instead have just paid a couple hundred dollars to replace your water impeller. And even if your water impeller doesn’t ruin your entire engine, when your water impeller goes it tends to take a lot of parts with it costing you time and money. Most major motor manufactures for example suggest you replace your water impeller either every year or every other year. But the point that I think captures why preventative maintenance is so useful is when they mention the down time associated with mid-season repairs. Most problems on a boat come to light while you’re actually trying to use your boat. And once you have identified a problem while you’re on the water it’s already too late. You have at this point lost at least the weekend and maybe a couple weeks depending on the repair needed. And with only 13 weekends in a season with an average boating climate, 2 or 3 weekends is a large price to pay for most boaters. With such a short time to spend on the water spending a few extra dollars in the spring could save you money and time down the road when you actually want to use your boat.


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Springfield Boat Show
February 15, 2012 11:00 AM | Tagged as Boat show, Boating, Lake Springfield Marina

Many boat shows around the country have already begun but the Lake Springfield Marina is gearing up to attend The Boat Show in Springfield, Illinois from February 24-26. About 9 dealers from all over Central Illinois will be attending this year. The show is located on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in the Orr building. Hours are: 5 P.M.-9P.M. Friday, 10 A.M.-7 P.M. Saturday, and 10A.M.-5 P.M. Sunday. The Lake Springfield Marina will have both new and used boats and PWC’s at the boat show this year. One boat we are very excited about this year is Starcraft’s brand new SCX line of boats. We will have a 22’ SCX I/O at the show this year complete with a sports graphics package which makes this boat a must see! Another must see is Yamaha’s 242 Limited S. This stunning boat comes with a forward swept tower which makes water-skiing or wakeboarding an ease. Another thing to think about when it comes to the Yamaha sport boats is their relatively low cost compared to other industry boat manufacturers. Let’s compare the Yamaha SX240 and the Four Winns Bowrider H240….while these boats match up almost identically when it comes to features…The SX240 has an MSRP of $44,999 compared to the Four Winns Bowrider which has an MSRP of $71,293. That’s a difference of price of over $25,000 in favor of Yamaha. So if you’re in the market for a 24’ sport boat Yamaha is one of the great options the Lake Springfield Marina will have at The Boat show in Springfield, IL Feb 24-26!


Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Boating IS Affordable
February 8, 2012 3:15 PM | Tagged as Affordable Boating, Fuel, Maintenance, Storage

Boating IS affordable and there’s a boat out there for every age, lifestyle and budget. Most people don’t realize how affordable boating actually is: in some instances, you can buy a brand new boat financed for around $250.00 a month, like a car. Let’s talk about fuel costs first. The average boater only operates his or her vessel about 75 hours a season. And the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) estimates people use their boats about 15 times per year on average. So that makes the average time spent per trip roughly 5 hours. Nearly 95 percent of boats on the water today are less than 26’ in length. These crafts do not require large amounts of gas, so any impact would be negligible. In fact, 64 percent of boaters say they purchase less than fifty gallons of gas per season—roughly two trips to the gas station to fill up your SUV or Minivan. (NMMA/RMRC, July 2005) Boating is an activity that unlike driving you don’t always have your motor running the entire time you’re on your boat. In fact, when a person is boating, they may be fishing or swimming and not using the motor at all or at least a minimal amount of time. Higher fuel prices present a marginal increase in the operating cost of your boat. For owners of $500,000 boats that use 100 gallons in a weekend, a 50 cent increase in gasoline means that a weekend of fun on the water will cost $50 more, while owners of smaller boats that use 20 gallons of gas will end up spending $10 more on gas. The small increase in operating cost isn’t expected to limit boaters’ time on the water. Next let’s take a look at insurance costs associated with owning a boat. Boat insurance costs vary by boat length and type, cost of the boat and level of coverage. Consult your insurance agent for quotes or compare rates online. Some smaller boats can be insured for a nominal sum as a rider on a homeowner’s policy. One way to try and cut your insurance costs is to take a boaters education course. Not only will this help you become more confident with your vessel but it will in some cases also lower your insurance premium. Maintenance is also a major factor in the affordability of boat ownership. Boat, trailer, and motor maintenance can be as simple as a freshwater wash down after each use and keeping them covered between adventures, helping to keep maintenance costs at bay. Costs for routine maintenance vary by region, but for more involved services, such as oil changes and winterizing, expect to pay what you would for your car on an hourly basis. And don’t forget to do your research when choosing your service provider. Make sure that where you take it is certified to work on your boat. Also check reviews of how their service has been in the past which will in turn help save you time and money if your boat breaks down mid-season. Pre-owned boats can require significantly more maintenance. One good way of choosing a pre-owned boat is try to find out as much about the boat history as you can before signing on the dotted line. Another key issue in regards to the affordability of boating is your storage costs. You have several options depending on the size of your boat. You won’t find a less-expensive way to keep a boat than storing it on a trailer in your driveway or backyard. Another alternative for smaller boats is rack storage. A typical rack storage facility keeps your boat in a covered shed with trailer-like cradles. For owners of larger boats, and owners of small boats who crave convenience, a marina slip is the best way to go. Costs vary by state/region as well as by the size of your boat. Also some marinas offer dry land storage which is an alternative to both slip rental and storing it at your house. Your boat is already on the marina property you just hook up and drop in the water. While this is still more expensive than just keeping it at home it does make it much more convenient.


Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Boat Covers...an essential item for all boaters
August 14, 2011 6:36 PM | Tagged as boat cover
by Terry Price Protecting your investment with a boat cover, whether it is a brand new sailboat, canoe or the family ski boat is a wise choice. Boat covers for the most part are easy to use and they are designed to protect your boat from the elements. Whether you are mooring, storing in your garage or dry-docking your boat, a good cover will actually extend the life of your boat. If you tow your boat behind your vehicle, the sun and chemicals from road spray can all contribute to the breakdown of the exterior finish. Boat covers come in many different shapes and sizes and can offer protection for your Deep-V Cuddy cabin, Jet boat, pontoon boat or the family ski boat. Boat covers come in a variety of materials including lightweight material such as DuPont Tyvek which is a lightweight, bonded polyethylene This tyvek material actually weighs 70% less when compared to canvas material and is extremely durable, definitely worth looking at. Did you know that microscopic pores trap moisture in and around your boat and cause mildew? A good water-repellent cover is going to prevent this annoying moisture from deteriorating your boat's surface. The sun's UV rays are another enemy of your boat's surface. The Tyvek cover once again does its job and blocks out 99% of these rays, thus protecting the interior of the boat by keeping it cooler. This great boat cover comes with reinforced seams, specially designed loops for secure tie-down, adjustable shock cord locks, and is machine washable. This great cover also has strong double-sewn center seam construction that eliminates leaking and ripping problems common to boat tops and covers. Most boat manufacturers will make a cover that exactly fits your make and model of boat. Even if you have aluminum fishing boat, a good boat cover is going to prevent the aluminum from oxidizing and deterioration will be less. After all, your boat is not a cheap investment and you want to get as many enjoyable years as possible. Boat covers are an essential item that all serious boaters should consider.
Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Winterization Tips
May 29, 2011 7:58 PM | Tagged as Winterization

Winterizing Your Boat

It's the end of the season and time to put away the Hawaiian shirts and water skis. The days are getting shorter. There's a chill in the evening air. Days on the boat will soon be precious memories, it's time to winterize your boat. Fall lay-up is quite possibly the single most important maintenance duty a boater will perform. Proper winterization will prevent costly damage that can result from freezing, dormancy, corrosion and moisture, and will allow for a smooth launch come springtime.

Without fogging the cylinders with fogging oil, severe rust may occur. Without flushing the cooling system or draining the gear oil case, trapped water can freeze, expand and destroy the expensive housing. It's important to get the job done right.

Here is a fairly comprehensive list of the process that needs to happen. Depending on what type of boat you have, some of this may not apply, but for most boats, following these steps will provide safe haven for your boat and all of its parts throughout the winter. All of the materials are available at your local boating supply store.

Clean

  • Clean the boat and apply a rust inhibitor on the metal hardware and on the steering and control cables.
  • Use "No Damp" or other mildew control bags or buckets throughout the cabin and any enclosed lockers or compartments
  • Drain
  • Drain the fluid from the engine block and manifolds, water pumps and coolers. Make sure you get to all of the drain plugs.
  • Drain and fill the gearcase with gearcase lubricant. Check for water and, if present, determine how it got in there.
  • Drain Porta-Potty and fresh water system. Add freshwater antifreeze to water tank and Porta-Potty
  • Fill
  • Fill up the gas tank and stabilize with additives. Run the engine for approximately 15 minutes to ensure that the additive reaches the gasoline in your fuel lines.
  • Pump antifreeze into the supply lines that lead to the faucets and shower.
  • Fill block, manifold, and circulating pump with propylene glycol antifreeze. AN environmentally friendly bio-degradable antifreeze is best for engines).
  • Backwash the cooling system and lower unit of the sterndrive to get rid of salt, sediment and rust flakes, by using an earmuff style flushing kit that clamps onto the water intake. Use a winterization kit to pull antifreeze into the cooling system.

Change

  • Replace the fuel-water separator.
  • Change oil and oil filters.
  • Inspect belts and hoses, replace if necessary.
  • Replace any sacrificial anodes (zincs in saltwater, magnesiums in fresh water) that are less than half of their original size.

Lubricate

  • Grease the sterndrive gimbal bearing and engine coupler.
  • Inspect and lubricate steering and trim.
  • Grease your trailer bearings.

Fog

  • Test run the engine and spray fogging oil on the cylinders until the engine stalls. This protects the inside parts from corrosion.

Paint

  • Sand down and repaint the lower unit to prevent rust.

Take Home

  • Disconnect and remove the battery and store it in a safe dry place fully charged. Check battery fluid levels.
  • Remove interior cushions and jumpseats and store in a cool, dry place. Otherwise, place the cushions on ends to allow for maximum ventilation, thereby reducing mildew damage.
  • Be sure to remove any food or drink from the boat. Rodents cannot refuse that Snickers bar and love to rear their young in boats. Also remove any charts, linens, electronics that could be damaged by moisture.

Also

  • Store boat in a garage or other temperature controlled facility if possible. If not, cover the boat with shrink-wrap or a large tarp.
  • If your boat is stored on a trailer, block the wheels so they are off the ground and loosen tie-down straps to reduce stress on the hull.
  • Store your inflatables away from rodents, who love to eat hypalon and PVC fabrics. Also, do not leave the inflatable exposed to the elements.

Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Why Boating?
May 29, 2011 7:55 PM | Tagged as Family

Why Boat?

Do you remember your first fishing or boating trip? Ask anyone to tell the story of who first took them boating, water skiing or fishing - chances are good the story is deeply personal and meaningful.

Over a dozen studies have shown that being with family and friends, relaxing and being outdoors and close to nature are the primary reasons people spend time on the water. A family doesn't have to spend a fortune on a theme park vacation to have an experience that everyone will enjoy. Although your first meeting with Mickey Mouse will probably be memorable, chances are it will pale in comparison to memories of spending time on the water with the people you love.

Time spent boating connects family and friends.

You know how important it is to spend quality time with family and friends. Many of us have seen how outdoor recreation strengthens the family as a unit and children as individuals. So it comes as no surprise that studies have consistently shown that involvement with family members and friends is a primary reason people go boating, ski and fish.

On the water, there are no cars, no rush hour, no deadlines and a chance to relax.


There are news stories every week about the stress and time crunch felt by working Americans and their families. People are searching for ways to escape the daily routine, be closer to nature and focus more on family and relationships. Studies show that people who participate frequently in outdoor recreation are more satisfied with life overall. For a weeklong vacation or just a quiet Saturday morning, recreational fishing, water sports and boating are great ways to "get away from it all."

Boating activities enhance appreciation for the natural world.

Many Americans see outdoor recreation as one of the main reasons to protect the environment. Nearly nine in ten Americans say outdoor recreation benefits the environment because it gives people a reason to care about the resources upon which their activities depend.

By participating, boaters provide vital funding.

Fewer than 10 percent of recreational anglers and boaters are aware that their participation plays a vital role in sustaining resources and promoting safe and responsible use of our nation's waters. On average, 83 percent of state fish and wildlife agencies' total freshwater fisheries/aquatic resource management budget is supported by fishing license sales and Sport Fish Restoration funds. These funds are derived from motorboat fuel taxes and a special excise tax on fishing tackle and equipment. Sport Fish Restoration funds also support boater education and safety programs around the country.

Get Involved - Your family will thank you for it!

The Lake Springfield Marina can help answer your questions about boating and water sports. You can reach them by calling 217-483-DOCK(3625).


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When To Buy
May 29, 2011 7:53 PM | Tagged as Buy

Should You Buy A Boat Now?

With the stock market whipsawing investors, and a degree of economic uncertainty in the air, is now the time to buy a new boat?

Having been an observer of boat sales--and prices--since 1969 I have seen a pattern repeated no fewer than four times during the last 30 years. It is simply this:

In difficult economic times many consumers typically delay new boat purchases. That drives prices down for inventory in the distributor pipeline.

New Boat Prices Are Dropping
Now, and for the next several months you will be able to make the best deals on a new boat purchase. There will be a window of great deals, and we are in it right now.

...But They Will Go Higher
Great deals won't last more than several months. Why? Because boat builders have already cut back on production for next year, and once the boats in the pipeline are sold, the new boats will be more expensive. Elastic production and white-collar staff have been or will be laid off, leaving fixed expenses that cannot be contracted. That overhead expense will now be spread over fewer units. That will force prices up.

After every recession boat prices end up being higher than before. And the people who delayed their boat purchases simply waited to pay more.

Buy Low....Sell Higher Than If You Waited
Rising new-boat prices lift used-boat prices for the same brand and type, so when you buy in times like these you get the benefit of low prices now, and the higher new boat prices in the out-years pull up the value of your used boat more than would have happened otherwise. In times like these you can make out on both ends of the transaction!

I'm sure over the years you have heard some boat owners brag that they sold their boats for more than they paid, or who owned boats for five years or so and sold for nearly what they paid. Invariably those are boatmen who bought when others waited.

So, if you are in the market for a good deal on a boat, or if you want to minimize your boat's depreciation over four or five years, there is no better time to buy a new boat than right now.


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What To Do If You Run Aground
May 29, 2011 7:52 PM | Tagged as Run aground

What To Do If You Run Aground

It’s a beautiful day. You’re happily "afloat", then suddenly you’re "aground". You immediately put the engines in reverse, back off the rocks and find that something is wrong. What a way to ruin your entire day!

There's an old saying that, "If the draft (depth) of your vessel exceeds the depth of the water, you are most certainly aground".

However with that being said, there are only two types of boaters, those who have already gone aground and those who are going to go aground sooner or later.

OK then, let's go over some "Do's" and "Don'ts" when it comes your turn to run out of water under your keel. 

  • Put your engines in neutral and shut them off.
     
  • Check on your crew to see if there are any injuries.
     
  • If someone needs immediate medical attention, call for help.
     
  • Have your crew put on their PFDs.
     
  • Check your engine spaces and other bilge areas for any signs of water coming in. If you have put a hole in the hull, the last thing you want to do is to back off into deep water and sink.         
               
  • If wave action is driving you further aground or into a bank, deploy an anchor out towards deep water and set it. “How do I do that”, you ask? Good question. If you can, toss the anchor towards the deep water and set it. Or, if you are lucky enough to have somebody nearby in a small boat or on a jet ski, ask them to deploy the anchor for you.
     
  • If you have gone aground on sand or mud, and if you’re sure there are no holes in your hull, restart the engines and try to back off. However, if the boat does not come free quickly, SHUT THE ENGINES DOWN! The cooling water intakes for the engine are on the bottom of your boat right in the mud and sand. So, if you continue to run your engine, the entire cooling system is going to quickly fill up with mud and sand. It has been my experience that a marine engine that gets overheated because it has been totally plugged with mud, sand or debris is never quite the same after the fact.
     
  • If you do successfully refloat your boat, be aware that if you have a damaged propeller shaft or strut the vibration can and will cause further hull and drive train damage if it's run for a long period of time. Get to the marina and have it looked at immediately before you do further damage. When you start the boat, listen for signs that it is operating properly. If you are not sure, turn it off and call for a tow.    
     

Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Wetsuits
May 29, 2011 7:48 PM | Tagged as Wetsuits

Finding the right wetsuit (Or wetsuits)

"What do I really need?"

It is a question watercraft riders the world over ask about wetsuits. Full suit or combo? Shorty or full length? Or do I need a wetsuit at all?

The answer, as it is with so many questions, is, "It all depends."

Now, before you go screaming "cop-out" and head to the next article, bear with me a moment. While "it all depends" may not be the initial answer you're looking for, finding a definitive, helpful answer isn't all that hard. It just requires asking and answering a few more questions. If you do, the perfect wetsuit will be right at your fingertips. Well, that might be a bit of a stretch, but at least you'll know what to look for.

First off, accept the fact that you do need a wetsuit. Even if you're a fair-weather watercraft rider and only hit the water when the sun is shining and the mercury is above 80, you can benefit from a wetsuit. One of the enduring myths about wetsuits is that they're just for cold weather. On the contrary, a wetsuit will not only keep you warm in the water, it will also protect you against wind and spray, two things that can rob your body of warmth even on hot summer days - and remember, water conducts heat away from your body 25 times faster than air. A wetsuit can also provide protection against the normal bumps, bruises and chafing you get from extensive riding, making you more comfortable when riding anytime during the year. In addition to protection, a wetsuit also provides some (though fairly minimal) floatation.

However, that doesn't mean you need to wear a full suit year round. In fact, more often than not, a full suit will be overkill when riding.

Which brings us to wetsuit types, probably the most important factor to consider when looking for the right suit. Essentially, there are two basic types of suits on the market - one-piece suits and combos - though there are variations with each type.

One-piece suits are generally warmer and less expensive than combos, but the drawback is that you sacrifice some versatility. With a two-piece suit, you can leave off the jacket or the john depending on the weather and water conditions, which in turn increases the suit's comfort zone.

As a result, most of the one-piece suits sold in the personal watercraft market are of the shorty design, featuring legs cut above the knee and sleeves cut above the elbows or in a john style. These suits are particularly ideal for warmer weather, and some riders will even find them suitable for cold-weather riding because they still cover the most important area of the body when it comes to staying warm - the trunk. Because, as we all know, the body generates approximately 60 percent of its heat from the torso/chest cavity area - right? Only the arms and legs are exposed, two areas of the body that are not as sensitive to cold.

Combos are two-piece suits - a zippered jacket combined with a john (which is styled something like overalls) or pants or shorts. The two parts can be worn together or separately, adding to their versatility.

Jackets are usually waist-length and closed with a zipper in the front, back or side. Front zippers are easier to get in and out of, while back zippers are usually more comfortable. Most jackets are long-sleeved, though you can find some short-sleeved versions. A john or Jane (which is a women's version) covers the legs and trunk, providing a double layer of insulation in the trunk when worn with a jacket. Pants and shorts are used mainly for warm-weather riding, and can also be combined with a jacket for greater warmth.

Most manufacturers make complimentary johns, jackets, shorty johns and regular shorts, so you can mix and match throughout the year. Certainly, cost becomes an issue because you're buying so many pieces, but the various combinations ensure you'll have the right suit for the conditions.

Most wetsuit manufacturers suggest wearing a full or two-piece combo only when the air and water temperatures are both fairly low - usually 70 degrees and below for both. As the water temperature rises, your need for insulation lessens.

Water temperature is the biggest factor when determining what type of suit you need, and most wetsuit manufacturers provide a minimum water-temperature figure for their various styles of suits.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Tips On Getting a Great Deal
May 29, 2011 7:45 PM | Tagged as Getting a great deal

Used Boat Savvy  - Top 10 tips for getting a great deal on a used boat


1. Take the values in any price guide with a grain of salt, and don't base your negotiations solely on these books.

2. Make sure that you remember to add in the values of engine and trailer on outboard boats (all books).

3. If you have an upgraded stern drive engine, be sure that you have found the correct listing (BUC) or added the extra value (NADA and ABOS).

4. Be sure to factor in the condition of your boat (all books).

5. Be sure to tally up all your optional equipment (NADA) or determine a total dollar value on the options (ABOS).

6. Make sure that you and the other party (dealer, insurance agent, surveyor) clearly understand how to use the price guide. For example, the NADA guide is based on boats used in fresh water, and suggests depreciating saltwater boats by 10-15 percent. The BUC book has a geographic adjustment, which can add or deduct 5-35 percent in value.

7. Do your own market research and find out the current prices of comparable boats in your area. A little comparison shopping can save you big bucks.
8. Be sure that you are checking the right year for your boat, i.e.: a 1994 model may have been sold in late 1993 and, even though it shows 1993 on your registration papers, you should use the 1994 model year for finding the value.

9. Take a small ruler to help you read across the rows of fine print, and be sure that you are in the right year and boat category when checking prices.

10. Negotiate a deal that is right for you. If you think too much reliance is being placed on a price guide value, walk away. In today's market, missing out on a boat is like losing a watch in Switzerland - there's always another. Whatever price you decide, you need to be happy about the decision.


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Sunburn & Skin Cancer Prevention
May 29, 2011 7:44 PM | Tagged as Sunburn Suncreen Skin cancer

Protecting Against Sunburn and Skin Cancer 

A combination of clothing, modern skin-care products and common sense can go a long way in keeping cancer-causing rays at bay.

In the half hour or so it takes you to peruse this web site, odds are that at least two people will develop a melanoma, a sun-induced cancer in the form a mole, which could be fatal.

During the boating season, chances are at their highest that one of those afflicted is an outdoor-type like you or me, who pays the ultimate price for enjoying a pastime that takes place under the unforgiving rays of the sun.

Sobering thoughts indeed. Here's one more bit of bad news for boaters: Here in the northern hemisphere, those rays are at their deadliest during the summer season when most of us are out on the water for long hours.

That's it for the bad news. But before you trade in your boat for a bowling ball, consider that there are ways to avoid becoming one of those sun-stricken statistics. And while the "solution" to skin protection from the sun may not be as easy as it seemed in the days when you simply coated your nose white with zinc oxide and paraded around the pool playing lifeguard, a combination of modern skin-care products and common sense can go a long way in keeping cancer-causing rays at bay.

The Problem

A person's skin can only tolerate a fixed amount of sunlight over the years, after which the sun's rays start doing real damage. That amount varies with the individual, based on factors like skin color and genetics, but we are all susceptible. What's more, we now know that a sunburn suffered decades ago can come back to haunt you today as a skin cancer, which is why there is so much attention being given to the protection of children from the sun's rays today.

We also know that several other variables affect the amount of damage the sun can do to your skin. Reflected light off the water around a boater can aggravate the problem by pelting the body with rays from all angles; angling in higher altitudes reduces the amount of automatic screening the atmosphere accomplishes. Time of day is an important UV variable. The hours between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. are the worst for being out in the sun. Even geography is a factor, and boaters across the Sun Belt states are more susceptible to contracting skin cancer than those in less-sunny states like Michigan or Washington. But don't think clouds protect you from those damaging rays -- they don't. Neither does a common, loose-weave cotton t-shirt, which a recent study showed offers a SPF equivalent of about an 8, which dropped to only a SPF of 4 when the shirt was wet!

The part of the sun's light that does the damage is invisible to the eye in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum and is generated by the sun in two types of rays: UVA and UVB. The former penetrate the skin the deepest, causing wrinkles and, according to the most recent studies, may play a much more significant role in melanoma formation than previously believed. UVB rays create the classic signs of sunburn and, until recently, were believed responsible for causing most skin cancers.

It's important to realize that any long term exposure to the sun damages the skin, causing pre-cancerous growths that can develop into minor skin cancers of two types. Basil cell cancers usually occur on the face and destroy healthy skin tissue; squamous cell cancers can form anywhere the skin is exposed, but send out "roots" to spread the disease to other parts of the body.

The Solution

Last year, anglers and other sun-savvy Americans spend $450 million on sun-care products, most containing broad-spectrum sunscreens formulated to screen both types of damaging ultraviolet solar radiation. The products are categorized by how well each blocks the sun's UV rays, and are given a sun protection factor (SPF) rating.

Since the mid-1980s, a thick coat of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher was believed to be all one needed to avoid the risks of spending too much time under the sun. For example, if you noticed a burn beginning to form on your forearms after an hour in the sun, you had reason to believe that using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would allow you to keep fishing for 15 hours before burning.

We now know that that's not quite the way it works. Research shows that sunscreens with an SPF of 15 block about 90% of UV rays, while a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 30 blocks about 97% of the damaging rays. Dermatologists now recommend sunscreens with at least a SPF of 15, and advise using a 30. There's no proof that sunscreens with higher SPF block any more than the 97% screened by the 30 SPF products, but there is proof that slathering on any sunscreen at regular intervals throughout the day is what's important to continuous protection, especially for active outdoorsmen like boaters who can quickly sweat, wipe or rinse their sun protection away in the course of their activity.

Several brands of sunscreens claim to be waterproof, sweat-proof, rub-proof or offer 8-hour or "all day" protection. In real life situations, none really do, so reapply whatever sun block you're wearing every three to four hours. And if you've ever hosted a guest aboard your boat who was slick with a PABA-based sunscreen, and she left behind impossible-to-remove tan-colored stains on the gelcoat, rest easy: PABA is falling out of favor as a sunscreen because it was found to irritate some people's skin, and the ingredients in the new sunscreens aren't damaging to protective finishes like those found on boats.

That's NOT the case with some combination sunscreen/insect repellant concoctions that entered the market recently. Stick with those that rely on natural insect-repelling ingredients like citronella or cedar oil if you're worried about damaging those finishes.

Dressing the Part

Sunscreens aren't the only answer for boaters and other outdoorsmen concerned with skin cancer. You've got to dress the part to be fully protected from the ravages of the sun. Closely woven long-sleeved shirts and pants offer the best protection from the neck down; above that, a broad-brimmed hat that shades the back and sides of the head -- as well as the forehead and eyes -- is what's called for. Popular baseball-style caps leave too much skin exposed in sensitive areas to be effective, even when complemented with sunscreen; and remember that your favorite t-shirt may offer only minimal protection -- before you sweat through it! After that it offers the sun protection equivalent of wax paper.

By using a combination of commercial sunscreens, proper clothing and common sense, boaters can enjoy the water during any time of the day or year and avoid an overdose of deadly ultraviolet light.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Slip Rental
May 29, 2011 7:42 PM | Tagged as Renting a slip

 You've made what is , perhaps, the most intelligent decision a boat owner can make - renting a slip! Others will spend a good portion of their boating day hooking up the boat, filling it with gear, trailering to the lake and waiting in line at the launch ramp. But not you! You'll have already spent a good amount of time on the water where you should be. Here's a few more ideas that will make renting a slip at The Lake Springfield Marina even more enjoyable!

1.) Buy or lease a boat lift -  While it will add some cost to your boating budget, a boat lift puts the finishing touch on the most perfect setup. A quality lift will cost anywhere from $4,000  to $8,000 depending on the size and weight of your boat. Pre-owned lifts may be available at a substantial discount. With the price of boats and maintenance today, it is worth the investment. A lift will keep the bottom of your boat from accumulating that nasty scum which is next to impossible to clean off. Keeping your boat out of the water also reduces the chance of fiberglass blistering as well as sinking if you should develop a leak. You also won't have to worry about the boat rubbing against the dock or breaking loose and floating away. Check with the marina office to discuss all your options with regards to lifts. 

2.) Keep a cover on your boat - Even if your slip is covered, use a  cover that is easy to take put on and take off. This will help keep rain driven from strong winds, birds and insects from getting in. A cover also keeps nosey passer-byes from seeing what you've got in the boat! 

3.) Spray for insects at least once a month - Most marinas will spray their docks for insects but they cannot keep them from hiding in your boat. A good water-based repellant and insecticde will keep the spiders from making a mess in and on your boat. 

4.) Use the correct tie-up ropes - Clothes line, ski rope and other non-marina grade ropes will eventually disintegrate or break causing damage to not only your boat but to others next door. Most marinas prohibit these types of ropes. You must use a braided dock line with a minimum of 3/8" thickness(boats over 25' should use 1/2"). In addition, learn how to use the right types of knots when tieing off your boat. Marina personell will be happy to show you how. Remember: Damage caused by inadequate rope or bad knots that results in damage to your or others boat will be your responsibility! 

5.) Consider a dock box - This is a good idea to keep covers, tools, extra life jackets, etc. while you are out on the boat. Do not store flammables such as gas and propane here - it's very dangerous and stricly prohibited by your marina. The more room you can free up in your boat, the happier you'll be during your time on the water. 

6.) Don't invite thieves  - Keeping coolers full of beer, expensive tubes and skis and valuable radio equipment in easy site increase the chance that thieves will target not only your boat, but all the others in the marina. The marina can only do so much to provide security. Help out by being careful who you invite out and keep an eye out for your neighbor who might be on vacation. They'll do the same for you.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Selling Your Boat
May 29, 2011 7:39 PM | Tagged as prepping and paperwork, Pricing

How To Sell Your Boat

Pricing, prepping and paperwork essential to the successful sale of any boat.Most boaters put far more time and energy into buying a boat than they do selling it. While they price shop carefully before buying, they tend to simply slap a price on the windshield and damn the consequences when selling. The result is that some boats are seriously undervalued when it comes to resale, while others are so overpriced that they remain on the market endlessly, eating up classified ad dollars and driving their owners crazy.

Approach selling your boat methodically, and you'll not only get the very best price, but you'll minimize the effort and grief involved as well. There are four crucial areas involved in selling your boat: setting a price, deciding on how to sell it, prepping it, and the final paperwork. Let's take a look at each.

Pricing

Of all the mistakes made by boat owners, the leading error is pricing the boat either too low or too high. Too low and you're giving money away, too high and you can't get rid of it. Here's how to correctly price your boat.

Start by checking your local newspaper classifieds, which may have boats identical to yours for sale, but don't forget that those are simply asking prices.

Clip out appropriate ads and compile a scrapbook to show potential buyers what similar boats are selling for.

The best selection? and where you'll probably find many identical boats offered? is on the Internet. There are a number of sites that list many thousands of boats for sale. Make sure you're comparing apples to apples, because small variations in engines or equipment can make big differences in price.

The Lake Springfield Marina has a pricing service available for boaters which provides price guidelines for specific boats by telephone, fax or Internet.

Use a marine "blue book," which you'll find at your bank, insurance agent, or boat dealership. There are several books available (NADA and ABOS are the most used), but each varies in pricing and methodology.

When using any blue book, be sure you understand how to use it ... and be brutally honest about the condition of your boat. Check for variations for salt or freshwater use and see if the listing includes extra equipment that can raise the value. Also, be sure you use the right year for your boat. A boat sold late in 1993, for example, is probably a 1994 model even though it shows 1993 on your registration papers. Check the VIN number stamped in the hull.

Take blue book values with a grain of salt and don't base your selling price only on these guides. If possible, get a copy of the blue book page with your boat on it to show to prospective buyers.

Finally, if you have a loan on your boat, check to see the exact payoff amount, including any balloon payments or other charges. Use that to set the absolute minimum price you will accept for your boat.

Where and When To Sell

For every boat, you'll have three basic choices: sell it yourself, trade it in, or sell it through a dealer or broker on a consignment basis. The choice will be influenced by the size and value of your boat. 

Selling the boat yourself is likely to net you the most money, but you have to do all the work and it's hard on your ego, too. Trading in your boat is easy when you're buying a new boat, but most dealers won't take trades on used boats. Trade-ins, incidentally, usually earn you the least money, so be sure to shop price since some dealers may offer considerably more trade-in money than others. When deciding on a trade-in, remember that a trade-in may save you tax dollars, since you won't be paying sales tax on the full price but only on the amount less your traded value. This may make it both easier and more cost-effective to trade in.

Try to sell your boat at the beginning of the boating season when buyers are most interested. Off season sales never net as much money. The same is true for trade-ins, because the dealer can't turn the boat over quickly after the boating season ends. If you do decide to sell on your own, plan your advertising campaign. Classified ads in a local newspaper are an obvious choice, but some magazines also draw buyers, especially for bigger boats. Internet sites attract buyers across the country and worldwide. Don't forget to post ads on yacht club bulletin boards and add a "For Sale" sign on the boat if your location permits it.

Consignment sales

Like a real estate agent, a dealer or broker advertises and shows your boat to potential clients, handles the legal paperwork, and takes a percentage of the selling price as a commission, which can range from 5 to the more typical 10 percent. Shop brokers to see who specializes in boats similar to yours, since they are likely to have more serious buyers. Shop brokerage commission, since some brokers may be willing to negotiate a discount. That doesn't mean you should accept only the dealer who has the lowest commission though. A dealer with a great location, on the water or near a boat launch that attracts boat buyers, may be worth the extra money. Understand your listing agreement with the broker. A reputable boat broker can explain the various listing differences and point you in the direction that's best for you.

Expect that the buyer of your boat will ask for an expert opinion from a qualified mechanic. This is usually an  inspection paid for by the buyer to determine the condition of the boat. Buyers often use this process to negotiate the price downwards to compensate for any problems that are discovered. Sellers can either have the problem fixed or discount the selling price. If you agree to make repairs, spell out your obligations clearly and set a limit on the amount you will spend.

Prepping Your Boat

A clean and tidy boat always earns a higher selling price, so invest some time and elbow grease. Scrub the entire boat and deck with mild detergent and a soft brush. If the fiberglass finish doesn't gleam, invest in having it buffed with rubbing compound and polished with wax. On small boats, you can do this yourself using an automotive buffing wheel. If your varnish is tired, at least one coat will restore the shine. If the teak is gray, bleach it so it looks good and perhaps oil it, too. Clean the bilge, because a musty and damp smelling boat suggests rot and decay.

Get rid of the junk in the glove box, and be sure that all compartments sparkle. If you can remove the carpet, shampoo it and let it dry in the sun. Do the same for curtains and upholstery. Scrub the covers and Bimini top and, if the side curtains are hazy, take them off so they don't distract.

Clean the head and shower thoroughly, and add a double dose of chemicals to the holding tank.  Repair inoperative equipment that can turn off a buyer. And don't forget the engine. If it's oily, have it steam cleaned. Change the oil because dirty oil suggests poor maintenance, and touch up any corrosion spots on the engine or drives.

Charge the batteries so the engine starts immediately and the lights shine brightly.

Buyers like originality, so get rid of additions that don't increase the value, such as racks and cabinets, especially if they don't look professional.

At the same time that you're primping your boat, remove the gear that you aren't selling with it. And don't forget to empty the ski locker and other storage areas of all that junk! If you are leaving personal items on board that you want to keep, make sure the buyer is aware of them.

Put together an information kit to show prospects, including photos of the boat in the water (with people having a good time), copies of old brochures, and a neatly typed history of the boat with a list of the equipment included.

For trailer boaters, don't forget to detail the trailer and make sure all the lights work..

Paperwork and Legalities

Once you've got the money in your hands, it's easy to think that you're finished. Not true.

If you sell the boat yourself, be sure that you type up a bill of sale that includes price, buyer and seller names, addresses and driver's license numbers, type and size of boat, registration numbers, and a list of the major equipment included. The bill of sale can serve as a receipt for payment.

If you take a down payment, provide a written receipt specifying all ofthe above as well. It's a good idea to make the deposit non-refundable so that you don't take the boat off the market for an uncommitted buyer.

Ask for a cashier's or certified check for both the deposit and the balance. Set an agreed closing date and stick to it.

Signing the back of the pink slip or the title isn't enough. You also need to send a form (usually included with the pink slip) to the boat registration agency specifying when, to whom, and for how much you sold your boat. Otherwise you may remain liable for accidents or liens caused by the new owner.

Cancel your insurance as soon as the transaction is completed and the boat leaves your control. You may get a refund on the unused portion of prepaid insurance.

While you don't have a legal obligation to volunteer information about the boat, you also can't withhold known information about a defect. If an accident occurs, your failure to disclose may come back to haunt you and selling a boat "as-is" is not always protection. If possible, include mention of any problems or defects in the written contract.

If a buyer wants a "lake test", be sure that you have a firm and non-refundable deposit in hand and that the buyer agrees to pay for any costs, such as launching the boat or refueling it. You don't want to go into the boat-ride business.

If a buyer wants to make the sale contingent on getting good financing, set a deadline or face wasting time while other potential buyers get away.


Posted in Recent News | 2 Replies
Securing Your Boat To The Dock
May 29, 2011 7:36 PM | Tagged as Dock lines

Securing Your Boat To A Pier 

Expensive hull damage to your boat is most likely to happen when it’s improperly tied up to the dock. When strolling along the docks of marinas, I’m often amazed by the type and size of lines used (even clothesline!). It's also wondrous to see the ingenious, unrecognizable knots some skippers use to secure their very expensive boats in a slip. If the wind comes up or somebody leaves a large wake, dock lines and fenders are the only things keeping a boat from smashing into the pier or seawall. Here are some basic rules of thumb about dock lines.

Any well-equipped boat should have at least six (6) dock lines: two (2) bow lines, two (2) stern lines and two (2) spring lines. The dock lines should be at least 2/3 of the length of your boat and the spring lines should be at least the full length of your boat.

The size (diameter) of your line depends on the size and weight of your boat. The following is an approximate guide.

Line Diameter
Boats under 20 feet = 3/8"
Boats 20 to 30 feet = 1/2"
Boats 30 to 40 feet = 5/8"
Boats 40 to 60 feet = 3/4"
Boats over 60 feet = 1"

If your boat is heavy for its size, consider going up one size in diameter. A boat cannot be damaged by having its dock lines a bit oversized, but I've seen lots of damage done because lines were too small!

One word about knots in your dock lines: A knot will reduce a line's breaking strength by as much as 50%. Avoid them as much as possible! The only knots a dock line should encounter are those that you tie around cleats or pilings. The art of tying nautical knots is an essential skill all boaters should learn.

Good dock lines are expensive, so wherever your dock line goes through a chock or other hardware, use a chafing guard around it. Chafing guards can be purchased in a ship's store, or you can fashion your own, less expensive models, out of an old piece of garden hose.

Nylon is the best choice for dock lines. In my opinion, it is the only choice! Nylon line comes in two types. First, there is 3 strand twisted, also called "laid" line. This type of line is fine for most purposes, as it is strong and stretches to help absorb shock. It does, however, have the disadvantages of kinking easily and being rough on the hands. Coiling laid line clockwise helps to avoid kinking.

The second type of nylon line is braided line. This type rarely kinks and is much easier on the hands. Its disadvantages are that it tends to chafe more easily than twisted line and it's more expensive.

Polypropylene line (called "poly") is a poor choice for dock lines. Poly does not stretch, it has a very low breaking strength and degrades quickly in direct sunlight.

To illustrate why nylon lines are preferable to poly, here are some of their respective breaking strengths.

Diameter  Nylon Poly
  (Lbs. breaking strength) (Lbs. breaking strength)
3/8" 4,000 2,100
1/2" 7,000 3,900
5/8" 11,000 6,000
3/4" 15,000 8,000

 
[Note: For finding safe working loads for the above lines, calculate 1/5 the breaking strength. For example, the working load of 3/8" nylon line = 800 lbs

The following diagram shows some examples of properly secured boats: 

0

Remember, good dock lines and good fenders are your first line of defense against hull damage. Use nylon line that's correctly sized for your boat's length and weight, and learn how to tie a proper cleat hitch, at the very least.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Reducing Fuel Usage
May 29, 2011 7:25 PM | Tagged as Reduce fuel usage

Quick Tips For Reducing Fuel Usage

  • Slower speeds on the water will reduce use
  • The proper use of trim tabs reduce drag, especially while accelerating up to planning speeds.
  • Minimize the amount of time that you idle at the dock
  • Minimize the use of onboard generators.
  • Use dock-side electrical power in lieu of generators.
  • Have a float plan so you know exactly where you’re going.
  • Make sure the hull is clean. Keep it waxed to reduce drag.
  • Don't under-power your boat. It's important you have enough motor to handle the load.
  • Check your propeller. If your boat is slow "out of the hole" or lacks top-end speed, you might have the wrong propeller.
  • A well-tuned engine uses less fuel. Don’t just winterize this year – get a tune-up!
  • Use the grade of gasoline specified by the engine manufacturer.
  • Don’t load the boat down with skis, extra life vests, coolers, etc., if you are not using them. More weight means more fuel use.

Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
PWC Off-Season Storage
May 29, 2011 7:23 PM | Tagged as Winter Storage

PWC Winter Time Storage Blues

In some parts of the world, the time comes when we must trade in our summer vehicle for another sport. The air temperature is getting lower and the water is colder or frozen.... A time for the polar bears and the die hard racers to stay out in the freezing elements. If you are lucky, and live in a year round warm area, you still might want to take a few months off from the sport to recover and do something else. With that in mind, let's review how to store your watercraft and trailer for the short/long winters nap. Since there are so many watercraft dealers and manufacturers, I can't tell you exactly what to do on your ski, but as a general rule almost everything will apply. We will break this down into specific areas and you can choose what would best suit your needs.

Fuel: Two options.... (1) Drain the tank. Use up the gas in something else, like a Snow Blower! Also take the fuel lines off, remove the carb and drain all remaining fuel. (2) If you choose this option use a good quality fuel stabilizer; available at your marine store/automotive supply Run the ski for a short time to make sure the stabilized fuel gets into the carb.

Battery: Keep me in the house! I hate the cold. Keep me charged and check my water. I'm the pickiest part of your PWC. Without me, you go nowhere! If you have a serviceable battery check the water level once a month or when you charge it. To keep a battery alive a long time, keep at least 11 volts in it. Get a small motorcycle type battery charger and put it on charge once every other week. Make sure the place you charge your battery has vents! When a battery charges it will put off TOXIC fumes. Also, put some kind of catch tray under it for safety in case it leaks.

Cables: Inspect your cables for damage. Pull the throttle and inspect both ends to see if they are frayed. If they are, put some on order and replace them when you can. Check the steering in the same manner, turn hard left then right and inspect. If they check out okay, get some lube in the cable (always a good idea). You can get a cable lube attachment from your motorcycle shop or PWC retailer to make the job easy. Lube the cable until you see it from the other end. That will force any trapped water out and greatly extend the life of the cable.

Cold Climate (freezing): Some special precautions are needed when you drop below the freezing point of water. The main problem is water. When water freezes it expands. When it expands in the wrong places it can destroy your fiberglass/SMC (Sheet Molded Compound)/Carbon Fiber hull (BIG dollars). Check the bottom inside the hull of your PWC for any water left from your last ride. If there is any Get It Out! Use the drains (if equipped), a sponge or rags but get that water out before it freezes. This would also be a good time to clean any gunk and debris from the bottom. Use a BILGE cleaner from any local boat shop to do a superior job in getting up the oil residue from the hull.

Engine: If you are planning to take the motor out to get some work done on it, this would be a great time! Not only will it make it easy to clean the bottom of the engine compartment, but you can be sure of draining all of the water from it. If you don't have plans to work on the motor and are going to leave it in the boat, here is what you have to do.... First before you disconnect anything you need to "FOG" the inside of the engine. This is done with an engine fogging spray available from your watercraft store or boating supply store. Follow the directions on the can. With the motor running spray the fogger into the carb at a fast idle (Take of the air filter first). Spray the fogger into the carb for as long as the instructions say to do so. For my boat, with a 2 cylinder motor, it says to go for 2 minutes. When you must go longer than 2 min. think about adding some cooling for the motor so as not to overheat it. This will also clean out any water trapped in the tail pipe. If you had to cool the engine to fog it, then give it a few sharp revs after disconnecting it from the water supply. This rule also applies after every ride, so that the water does not condense in the cylinder from the exhaust and cause it to rust. If you have a compressed air source your life will be easier. Take cooling lines off the engine and blow them out using the air. You might get water back in the engine compartment so be sure to wipe it up. If you don't have compressed air, you will need to take the cooling line from the top of the motor off and add some type of non toxic glycol (antifreeze) until it spills out from the other line. This step would be wise to do even if you blow out the motor, just to be sure. Also remove the spark plugs and pour 2 stroke oil into the cylinders. About 1/8 to 1/4 cup will do. That will keep the cylinder walls and crank bearings oiled. Put the plugs back in so no crud gets in.

Hull: Once you have cleaned the inside don't forget the outside. Wash it with soap and water then apply a good coat of wax. Those decals don't like the cold weather that much and tend to shrink. Not much can be done about it other than to put your PWC in the spare bedroom.... but then you wouldn't need to winterize it either. The decals should be fine if they have a good coat of wax and are not subjected to hot/cold/hot/cold in a short time span. Also check over the hull with a fine tooth comb to see if there are any cracks/holes or loose hardware. Now is the time to fix it.

Mechanical Checks: We have covered most of the items, but here are a few more to look at. Bushings in the steering joint. Check for excessive play in the handle bar area and the steering nozzle. If you own a "Stand up" type ski, check the pivot bushings. Replace as necessary. Drive coupler.... That rubber thing between the motor and the drive shaft should be checked at least twice a year for excessive wear. Unfortunately that means the motor needs to be moved forward a little or removed to gain access to this part. Check the ride plate and intake grate for loose or missing hardware and severe gouges. The prop should also be checked along with the bore of the pump for any damage. If it is minor they can be repaired. Skat-Trak has a repair option for their stuff, last time I checked it was $75.00 (US) to repair and regrind.

Seat & Pads: If you store your PWC for more than a month it is a good idea to keep your seat and any removable covers that are made of vinyl/plastic, etc. inside where it is warm. This will keep them from shrinking & cracking in the severe cold of winter. Clean them with your choice of any general purpose cleaner. Then treat them once they are clean with a protectant like Armor All to seal out the dust and dirt. When you re-install the seat/covers the next time you ride, wipe off the protectant so you don't slide off.

Water Box: Last but not least, the water box. We have already been through the explanation that water expands when it freezes; so what do you think will happen to the WATER BOX? Take it out and drain it! The water box is hooked up somewhere between your exhaust and the final output of your tail pipe. Remove the hoses from both sides and drain out as much as possible. Most boxes will retain some water due to their construction. If this is the case, you will need to keep it inside and add some antifreeze so the remaining water will not hurt the box.

Project Time: Get a wish list together and start rounding up the parts you want to install in the off season. Make sure that the parts you get work well together. What I mean by that is you can't beef up your motor by 20 hp and expect that your stock ride plate/intake grate and prop are going to work correctly. Almost every part you get is reliant on the other to do its job, so keep that in mind when you make up the list.

Trailer Care: Hey! don't forget about me. If it weren't for me you wouldn't even get your PWC to the water! Take the wheels off and give the tires a good check. Look for cuts, cracks and check the valve stems for serviceability. Bend them over and see if they are cracked. Replace them if they are. Leave the tires inflated with at least 20 lb. of pressure. Then put some kind of tire preservative like you do on your car/truck on the trailer tires. Put the trailer axle up on blocks to that the tires are not sitting on the ground for months. If you leave the tires on the ground for an extended period this will create a flat spot in the tire. When spring arrives and you will be trying to drive with a "Square tire." Don't say that I didn't warn you. Also, take apart the wheel bearings. Clean, inspect, check the seals and re-grease them. If you don't already have them, it would be a good idea to install an automatic grease fitting to help keep the water out.

If you follow these general guidelines and refer to your manufactures recommendations, you will be first on the water next season with a ski that runs. You can have fun right away and rinse away the winter grime.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
PWC Cavitation Explained
May 29, 2011 7:21 PM | Tagged as Cavitation

Cavitation

Everyone's heard of Cavitation, but what is it? Cavitation occurs when pump intake pressure falls so low that the water is pulled apart by suction to form cavities. This is most likely to happen during low-speed acceleration, when there is little forward motion to force water into the pump intake. It can also happen when the engine and impeller are mismatched.

Cavitation causes two related problems: a drop in pump efficiency, and erosion of impeller and/or pump surfaces. Pump efficiency falls during Cavitation because the volume of cavities formed is subtracted from the normal water flow. This drop in water flow translates to a thrust loss.

Cavitation erosion is caused by the implosive collapse of the cavities against interior pump surfaces. The extremely high pressures generated in cavity collapse soon find any defects in metal. At first, Cavitation damage looks like light sandblasting. As the process advances, the metal assumes a porous, spongy appearance. Continued long enough, Cavitation can destroy metal parts.

As an impeller slices through the water being fed to it by the intake grate, there is a pressure difference across each blade. Pressure on the downstream side is high, caused by the fact that the fast-moving blade is accelerating the water on that side. Pressure on the upstream side is much less, because the only pressure acting on that side comes from three sources:

  • The depth of the water at that point, generating about 1/2 a psi per foot of depth.
  • Atmospheric pressure pushing down on the water's surface, equal to about 14.7 psi.
  • The so-called "dynamic pressure" - that caused by the speed of the boat, causing water to ram into the fast-moving intake grate. Dynamic pressure increases as the square of velocity.

Now imagine that you nail the throttle from a standing start, so item (3) equals zero - no dynamic pressure. You have a powerful engine and it spins the impeller so fast that the water flow can't keep up with the demand of the pump. The water on the low-pressure faces of the impeller is physically pulled apart - it cavitates, forming voids in the water which stream back across the impeller face.

What is in those cavities, and why do they form? The first answer is water vapor. The second is that these cavities form because very little is holding water together in the first place. Familiar solids like wood, steel, and bone are held together by strong electrical bond forces, but water stays together mainly because of gravity. If we apply a low-enough pressure to water, it readily forms cavities filled with water vapor.

Water in lakes, rivers and the ocean also contains quantities of dissolved gases (the existence of fish is good proof of this). The tendency of these gases to form bubbles when pressure is removed from the liquid makes Cavitation occur more easily. This is the same action we see when uncapping a bottle of beer or soda. The previously dissolved carbon dioxide in the liquid is invisible so long as there's enough pressure in the bottle to keep it dissolved. When we pop the cap, the pressure is released and the gas comes out of solution to form bubbles. The same happens in the water flowing into your pump if the intake pressure drops low enough. This bubble formation gets the Cavitation process started, and the formation of water vapor continues it.

Strangely, minor Cavitation can actually improve pump performance slightly. This is because the Cavitation bubble just behind the leading edge of the impeller gives the water flow a smooth curve rather than a sharp edge to flow over. But if the Cavitation becomes more general, whole areas of the blades will be covered with cavitated regions, and the result will be a drop in pump delivery. This is because, for full delivery, water flow has to follow both faces of each impeller blade, entirely filling the spaces between.

As a cavitation bubble streams back from its point of creation, it eventually reaches regions of higher pressure, which cause it to collapse. There is a great deal of interest in precisely what happens during such collapse, because extremely high pressures are produced as the water rushes radically inward from all directions and then stops suddenly when the cavity disappears. If this process occurs in the free stream of water, it makes a noise but is otherwise harmless. Many of the familiar sounds made by home plumbing -squeals and roars - are caused by cavitation; fast-moving water cannot follow the sharp turns in elbows and fittings, and cavitation is the result. This can generate a stream of partly cavitated flow. The sounds you hear result from the collapse of the cavities. When pumps are run under conditions of too-low intake pressure, roaring or screeching sounds can result as cavitation occurs.

It is worth quoting a descriptive passage from an old text, "Fluid Mechanics" (R.C. Binder, Prentice-Hall, 1958):
"As (cutoff - the drop in pump efficiency after peak) is approached, the sound emitted by the pump changes. At first it sounds as if sand were passing through the pump (with clear water entering). Then the sound or noise may change (as the discharge is increased) to give the impression of rocks passing through the pump, or a machine-gun barrage. If the pump is operated for any length of time at these conditions, the impeller may be badly eroded and pitted."

If the cavitated region is in direct contact with an impeller blade or water-tunnel surface, noise isn't the only result. The extremely high extinction pressure, as the cavities collapse, is now exerted against the metal itself, and the results are familiar to all. There is actual erosion of the metal, as a constant succession of high-pressure cavitation events hammers it. Over time, the metal can be deeply penetrated by the process, becoming spongy and eroded, looking for all the world like another familiar disaster - detonation damage on an engine's pistons or cylinder heads. As with detonation, a mild case resembles the effect of sandblasting. Because cavitation is speed-dependent, it will be seen most often near the tips of the impeller vanes.

When you hit the throttle from a standing start, your engine begins to spin the pump. It pulls water out of the intake tunnel, and something has to push more in or the pump is going to cavitate. That something is the pressure of the atmosphere, plus the water pressure at the face of the intake grate. Because the boat is hardly moving yet, there is no dynamic pressure.

One point that's easy to miss is this: There is really no such thing as suction. When fluids move, it is always because there is more pressure on one side than on the other, causing the fluid to move toward the lower-pressure region.

"Wait a minute!" you may object. "What about drinking with a straw - that's suction."

It is not. What is really happening is that by "sucking," you reduce the pressure above the liquid in the straw, and the greater pressure below it pushes it up. It is really atmospheric pressure pushing down on the surface of the drink that pushes it up the straw when you suck. You can check this easily with 30 feet of clear tubing. Put one end into the drink, then climb up a ladder to a point 10 feet above the surface and try to drink. You can do it, but it's hard work. Try 20 feet - maybe hard suckers can still get a drink at this level. Now try 25 feet - nothing. You can't pull the fluid that high. Even if you connect a vacuum pump to the top of the hose, you won't be able to lift the liquid 30 feet. When you start the pump, the fluid rises quickly, but it slows down and stops at about 28 feet or so.

Why is there a limit on how high you can "suck" water? The answer is that this is as far as the pressure of the atmosphere can push it up. In theory, the atmosphere's 14.7 psi ought to be able to lift water 32 feet, but two factors prevent this: One is the presence of dissolved gases in the water, and the other is the evaporation of the water itself to form vapor. (Some may ask how water is lifted from deep wells; this is done by placing the pump at the bottom of the well. It pushes the water up.)

When you open the throttle from zero speed, a contest results between how fast the pump blasts the water out the back and how fast the little pressure at the intake can push more water in. The forces present to push more water into the pump are as already noted above:

  • The pressure of the water at the depth of the intake grate.
  • Atmospheric pressure (pressing down on the surface of the lake, stream or ocean).

If this much pressure is not enough to push water in as fast as the pump is throwing it out, cavitation will occur somewhere. The usual location is just behind the leading edges of the impeller vanes, on the suction side, but there are other possibilities as well. In water-jet installations on big boats (in sizes up to thousands of horsepower), the intake tunnels are very carefully designed as smooth S-bends, bringing water in from below the hull, turning it slightly upward to raise it to the height of the pump, then turning it horizontal again to enter the impeller squarely. There is no intake grate and there are absolutely no sharp edges anywhere.

Personal watercraft pump intakes would look just like this in a perfect world, but real-world water near the shoreline is full of things such as swimmers, waterlogged sticks and lengths of polypropylene rope, none of which we want to enter the impeller. Another difference is that large jet-drive craft are not usually beached. Although a perfectly smooth, open intake would be best for performance, our world contains liability lawsuits, which are far worse than polypropylene rope. Because intake grates contain sharp direction-changes for the waterflow, they are rich sources of both drag and cavitation. All the little mismatches where the pump meets the hull are likewise prime sources of this. Smooth is the word on the intake side.

I was forced to learn this from the coolant-water pumps on racing motorcycles, which often have a 90-degree change of direction right at the entry to the eye of the pump impeller. I learned by experience that careful smoothing of this pump-entry region would often earn me a five-degree operating temperature reduction. What was happening was that water, flowing at low suction pressure across sharp edges or changes of direction, was cavitating and partly filling the impeller with emptiness instead of solid waterflow. Smoothing the entry resulted in less cavitation and more coolant flow. The same situation exists on a much larger scale in the intake arrangements of a personal watercraft.

As the boat gets under way, another source of intake pressure develops: the speed with which the water approaches the grate. This dynamic pressure is why cavitation is much less likely at higher boat speeds.

Because the grate does not squarely face the water, it has to be equipped with one or more vanes whose purpose it is to scoop water up into the intake tunnel. These turning vanes are in effect little wings. Each of them has a high-pressure side (the side facing the incoming water) and a low-pressure side (the opposite). And like wings, these vanes can stall. The flow over the high-pressure side has no choice but to follow the vane surface, but the flow trying to follow around the low-pressure side may "feel" so much centrifugal force as it makes the turn that it can no longer remain attached to the surface. If this happens, the grate vane itself generates a sheet of cavitated flow, which can then cavitate the pump itself.

Impeller and pump specialists point out that leading edges of things like the anti-swirl vanes behind the impeller are rounded for a good reason. The angle at which the water approaches them changes with impeller and boat speed, and round edges are easier for the waterflow to curve around. Knife-edging seems like it ought to be an improvement, but when the water approaches such an edge at an angle, the flow will cavitate behind it on the low-pressure side, reducing efficiency.

Because there can be such low pressure on the pump's intake side, any leakage here can induce cavitation and thrust loss. This is why racers seal the hull-to-pump gaps with silicone, and smooth away all roughness.

Cavitation is an ever-present possibility in pumps and marine propulsion systems. Knowing something about it offers some defense against the problems it can cause.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Prop Selection
May 29, 2011 7:18 PM | Tagged as Propellar

Choosing The Proper Propellar

When you bought your first boat, propeller selection was easy—whatever came with the boat, usually made of aluminum, was fine. Eventually your props stack up some miles and show significant wear. Would changing the propeller material significantly affect boat performance? Of course, the answer is yes. A stainless steel prop is likely to deliver the most speed from your motor because it has thin blades (to reduce drag going through the water) that can be forged into complex shapes to optimize performance. That should also translate into better fuel economy. Stainless props also absorb minor impacts and spring back into shape—most dings can be banged out easily. However, stainless props do have a couple of downsides. Stainless is typically the most expensive prop material and, if you keep your boat in salt water, is most likely to cause corrosion in an outboard or sterndrive leg.

Aluminum props are the common alternative to stainless. They are less expensive and reasonably durable. However, significant dings in aluminum props often cannot be banged back into shape without becoming excessively brittle. Compared to stainless wheels, aluminum props have a lower tensile strength, so they are cast with thicker blades, and they are typically 2 mph slower than stainless at wide-open throttle. For my money, however, top-end speed is less important overall than cruise speed, where the two materials will often perform equally. Since aluminum is similar in material to your outboard or sterndrive’s lower unit, corrosion problems are minimized.

Composite propellers (typically carbon-fiber composites) have some unique advantages. In terms of cost and performance, they rank somewhere between aluminum and stainless. There is no chance they will cause corrosion problems and they bounce back to their original shape even after significant impact. Composite props generally have a multipart hub section that can be fitted with replacement blades. This means you can carry spare blades rather than spare props, or carry one set of blades for heavy loading and another for running light. Composite props are remarkably durable and have the added benefit of being extremely light—so light that if one blade breaks off, you can continue home without causing the kind of vibration that can damage your engine. Cheaper plastic propellers are also available, but they are meant to be used primarily as emergency replacements.

The key to choosing the correct propeller size for your engine is rpm. If your motor is turning to its top-rated rpm at full throttle under normal load, then the prop is probably the right size. If it doesn’t turn all the way up, a smaller prop is required. If the engine over revs, the existing prop could be too big. However, if it does turn above rated rpm, make sure you’ve loaded the boat as you would normally before switching wheels.

For more information on prop selection, visit the Web sites of propeller companies. There are helpful comparisons of propeller options available for your specific outboard or sterndrive.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Pre-Season Checklist
May 29, 2011 7:17 PM | Tagged as Checklist

Pre-Season Checklist Preparing Your Boat for the Season

Here's a break down of the things you need to do before you start up your boat for the season. Many things here you can do by yourself if your at all handy. Others require a professional technician. Most marinas will provide a "seasonal service" package for your boat or PWC. The costs for these services range from around $50to $150 depending on the size and type of boat, plus any needed parts. Here you go!

General:
Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent
Make sure drains and bilge pumps are clear
Put on a good coat of wax
Clean and polish metal with a good metal polish
Clean teak and oil
Clean windows and hatches
Clean canvas & bimini tops
Clean interior including bilges
Check spare parts and tools and replace as necessary
Make sure registration is current and onboard
Check and replace wiper blades if necessary
Add fresh fuel

Hull:
Check for hull abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc. and repair
Check and replace zincs
Check for blisters and refinish is necessary
Check rub rails
Check swim platform and/or ladder
Inspect and test trim tabs
Check lower unit and prop

Deck, Fittings, and Safety Equipment:
Check ground tackle, lines, fenders, etc.
Check deck, windows, and port lights for leaks
Inspect anchor and rope/chains
Clean and grease winches

Engine Compartment:
Check condition of hoses and clamps
Make sure below waterline hoses are double clamped
Check bilges pumps for automatic and manual operation
Check for oil in bilges
Check discharge hoses and make sure they are clear of debris

Electrical System and Components:
Check battery water level -refill only with distilled water
Check/recharge batteries
Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate
Inspect all wiring for wear and chafe
Test all gauges for operability
Check shore power and charger
Check for spare fuses
Check all lighting fixtures (including navigation lights) and make sure you have spare bulbs
Check all electronics for proper operation
Inspect antennas

Required and Recommended Equipment:
Sound signaling device
Check Personal Floatation Devices(Pfds) -minimum of 1 for each person in boat
Inspect life rings and cushions
Check fire extinguishers and recharge/replace if necessary
Check and adjust compass
Check navigation lights
Make sure you have maps for all waterways/lakes you will boat on
Check and replace first aid supplies
Check bailer and hand pump
Check for throw line of at least 50'

Inboard Engine(s):
Change oil & filters
Check and change fuel filters/water seperators
Check and change engine zincs
Check cooling system change coolant as necessary - have extra onboard
Record engine maintenance log, especially date & hours of last oil changes
Check belts for tension
Check transmission fluid, drive oil levels and trim tab fluids
Check and clean backfire flame arrestor
Check impeller
Check and clean water strainer
Check bilge blower

Head System:
Checked for smooth operation - lubricate and clean as necessary
If equipped with treatment system, have chemicals on hand
Y-valve operation checked, valve labeled & secured

Water System:
Flush water tank
Check water system and pump for leaks and proper operation
Check hot water tank working on both AC and engines
Check for tank cap keys on board
Check and clean shower sump pump screens

Outboard Motor:
Replace spark plugs
Check plug wires for wear
Check prop for nicks and bends
Change/fill gear lube
Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks
Lubricate and spray moveable parts

Trailer:
Check for current registration
Check rollers and pads
Check and lubricate wheel bearings
Clean and lubricate winch
Lubricate tongue jack and wheel
Test lights and electrical connections
Check tire pressure and condition
Check brakes (if equipped)
Check safety chains
Check tongue lock

Tired yet?? If you don't have the time or energy to do all the above, Give us a call! We'll make sure that when you turn the key, you'll be off enjoying your boat instead of working on it!!


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Outboard Motor Cooling Systems
May 29, 2011 7:15 PM | Tagged as Cooling system

Cooling System Repair Tips Page

Outboard cooling systems in general are quite reliable. As the size of the motor increases however the complexity also increases and you must check all the components for proper functionality. To and including temperature sensors, thermostat(s), pressure relief/bypass valves, overboard hoses and fittings.

Run without water and the impeller and housings on a modern outboard will be ground into scrap in 30 seconds or less! NEVER START THE MOTOR ON THE TRAILER WITHOUT WATER TO THE ENGINE.

Should you find that the pump has self-destructed due to lack of water, be VERY CAREFUL to be certain that fragments of the impeller have not passed into water tube and block and restricted passages. If you suspect that you have not recovered all of this material, better safe than sorry and remove ALL the covers and clean it out.

IF your motor has suffered a cooling system failure, there are several factors to consider depending on the severity. You MUST replace the head gasket as overheating will turn it into carbon and its sealing properties will be destroyed. Check the exhaust cover gaskets as well. Motors equipped with thermostats, will generally require replacement of the stat as well as the pressure relief bypass valve, a plastic part that will likely be melted. A severe overheating could have damaged the pistons and rings. If removal of the head shows any parallel vertical lines in the cylinders, or worse yet, aluminum transfer to the walls you should remove the transfer covers and the exhaust plate to check the pistons for scuffing.

Many times transferred aluminum can be removed from the cylinder walls with Muriatic acid. Observe common sense precautions when using this strong acid! CAREFULLY, using a cotton swab, apply only to the affected area until it stops fizzing, the aluminum deposits will be eaten away. You must thoroughly neutralize the acid with soda after cleaning off the aluminum! A light scuffing up to remove embedded carbon and restore some crosshatch with some oiled 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper will heal up a slightly scuffed cylinder.

To help the motor heal itself from the distortions caused by an overheat, I recommend you run it on a 24:1 oil mixture for several hours as well as limiting the speed to 1/2 throttle or less. When you finish initial testing on an overheated engine, be sure to retorque the fasteners on all covers removed to check it over as well as retorquing the head gasket.


Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Marine Engines & Automotive Parts
May 29, 2011 7:14 PM | Tagged as Parts

 Using Automotive Parts In Marine Engines
 
Is this a good idea?
Most powerboaters know that their gasoline inboard or I/O engine is basically a GM, Ford or Chrysler block that has been marinized. Many engine parts are, indeed, interchangeable between boats and automobiles. There is one big exception, however. The engine in a boat is located in a closed area, where the engine compartment in a car is completely open at the bottom. Because of this, a boat has a problem with gasoline fumes that a car does not.

Gasoline fumes are heavier than air and, as a result, they sink downward. In a car they vent out the bottom of the engine compartment. In a boat, though, the fumes are trapped in the bottom of the hull (bilge). Because these fumes are highly explosive, all marine electrical components - starters, solenoids, alternators, etc., are sealed and cannot emit a spark or an arc into the engine compartment. The same components, for automobile use, are not sealed because the gasoline fumes have vented out the bottom of the engine compartment. So, will an automobile starter or alternator work on a boat engine? Yes it will - until an open spark from it ignites the fumes in the bilge!

The carburetor or throttle body on your car has an air filter on the top. On your boat, that same carburetor or throttle body must have a device called a flame arrestor on the top. A flame arrestor is a series of baffles that keeps an open flame caused by a backfire from entering your engine compartment. In the United States, this device must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and kept free of dirt and oily deposits.

So when the time comes, and you have a choice between a marine replacement part and an inexpensive automotive part, bear in mind that there is a major safety factor to consider. If you are already using automobile replacement starters or alternators, you are really pressing your luck! If a law enforcement agency discovers you are using automobile alternators or starters, or you do not have an approved flame arrestor installed, they will terminate your voyage right then and there.

Remember, use the correct parts and always run your blower for four or five minutes before starting your engine.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Launch Ramp Blues
May 29, 2011 7:12 PM | Tagged as Launch ramp

Launch Ramp Blues

So there I was, sitting on my boat in the middle of an August afternoon. It had been a relaxing day on the water. A little fishing, a little lunch, a little nap. A little more fishing. I'd had enough fun for one day, and had motored back to the cove where the launch ramp was located.

I was alone, as was frequently the case. It was nice to be able to enjoy the solitude that comes with being all alone in the middle of a lake. Launching my runabout by myself was pretty easy, although it had taken some practice and repetition before I became proficient at it. This particular launch ramp usually was not very crowded, but this afternoon several boaters were lined up to put their boats in. I decided to hang out and idle my boat in the area until things cleared up a bit.

It can be very entertaining to watch all the action at a crowded boat ramp. People get nervous. They get in a hurry. They do things they would not normally do, like yell at perfect strangers, or jump in the water with their clothes on. Or they won't do things they are supposed to do, like put the plug in the stern drain, or remember to bring their boats' ignition key. Every boater has probably seen someone bring their boat out of the water with the stern drive lowered, if they haven't done it themselves.

No one is totally immune from this "excited boater" syndrome. I get pretty anxious when my boat is ready to get wet. And if there are people waiting for me to "hurry up and launch, already", I end up trying to do too many things at once.

So I wasn't at all surprised to be watching this one particular fellow, that afternoon. He was probably new to boating, owing to the fact that atop his shiny, new trailer sat a shiny, new boat. It looked like he had just towed it off the showroom floor. And this guy was moving just a little too fast. I was about to get an interesting lesson in physics.

Now, normally, when any boat is launched from a trailer on an inclined ramp, there is a short but important list of tasks that must be accomplished. Taken in the proper order, the launch will, most likely, be smooth and efficient. Taken out of order, the laws of physics tend to conspire against the boater.

Parked near the top of the ramp, this fellow scurried about, preparing his boat for its maiden voyage. His wife (I assume) and daughter watched from a safe distance, as he hurriedly tossed water toys, food, and other essential stuff into his boat. Next, he released the stern tie-downs, and threw them into the back of his sport utility vehicle. Next, he ran around to the rear of the trailer, and secured the plug into the stern drain.

And then came the mistake. While still parked at the top of this fairly steep ramp, this fellow disconnected both the trailer's winch hook and the safety chain from the bow. Now free of all tethers, his boat was finally ready to launch. And in record time. He climbed back into his vehicle, put it in reverse, and started backing down the ramp.

He might have gotten away with that, if it weren't for one tiny detail (two, if you count gravity). Apparently, he had the idea that the way to look like an experienced boater was to back down the ramp quickly, in order to demonstrate a command of trailering skills. That can be important when your wife, daughter, and other boaters, like me, are all watching.

And he backed down very quickly, indeed. Nice and straight, too. Why he decided to stop twenty feet from the water is a mystery to me. Maybe it was to double check that everything was ready. Physics, however, was not concerned with his motives. As he stopped, the boat kept going, flying off the trailer with impressive speed, and landing squarely on the dry launch ramp.

Now that had to hurt. I remember from my physics class that a "body in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force". I remember the word "inertia" being associated with that principle. I had not, however, recalled being treated to such an outstanding example of inertia at work.

Well, this fellow was understandably upset. His right hand smacked his forehead and stuck there, as if it had been crazy-glued. A crowd of about twenty people had gathered around to generously offer their condolences, and perhaps to suggest clever ways of returning the wounded vessel to its cradle.

Although cruising the lake with his family was no longer an option, this gentleman would, at least, have the opportunity to learn about another important aspect of boating; spending outrageous sums of money on repairs. Thankfully, there is always someone else to blame for such unforeseen misfortunes. After all, there was probably no label on the side of his trailer warning against such a possibility. And how likely was it that the boat dealer took any time with the customer, to explain trailering and launching techniques? How is an innocent boater supposed to know? After all these many years, I am now grateful that my physics teacher insisted that I stay awake in his class.

Sizing up the situation from my vantage point on the water, it appeared that this unlucky chap had assembled plenty of hands to assist him. And, with the ramp now blocked, pulling my boat out of the water would have to wait. I had no choice but to go back out and fish a little more.


Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Launch Ramp Etiquette
May 29, 2011 7:10 PM | Tagged as Launching Loading

Launching and loading a boat can be a simple chore with a little preparation and practice.Launching and loading a boat can be a simple chore with a little preparation and practice.

 In low-water conditions, make sure your tires don't drop off the end of the ramp, sinking into the soft lake bottom. 
 
At first it was an amazing but funny sight. Then it became serious as we watched the automobile being pulled backwards into the water. The elderly lady was yelling at the top of her lungs and trying to get her car door open while her husband kept gunning the big cruiser in reverse without so much as a glance toward his wife. My fishing buddy and I ran into the water, finally got the husband's attention and the lady out just before the car dropped off the end of the ramp into deep water.   

I've seen a lot of stupid mistakes at boat ramps in my years of boating, and I've made many myself, including the usual forgetting to unhook the boat from the trailer as the couple just mentioned. I also forgot to install the drain plug, and even forgot to hook up the winch and safety chain. The latter resulted in having to re-launch the boat, but I was lucky. I've also seen an expensive fiberglass bass boat sitting "dry docked" in the middle of a boat ramp.

Most pro and weekend bass and walleye tournament anglers are pretty sharp at boat-ramp etiquette, mostly because they have to be. I've watched over 400 boats launched within an hour's time during a Charger Owner's Tournament, and watched the efficiency of ramp "sergeants" at B.A.S.S. Tournaments as well. It's usually when you mix in the less-experienced recreational boaters that problems begin. They park on the end of the ramp, then begin getting their boat ready for the water, hauling stuff down from the parking lot, and in general creating a long line of frustrated boaters. Here's how you can make your day easier, and less of a hassle, as well as other boaters happier.

Pre-Launch Preparation

In the parking lot, before you approach the ramp, or in the case of a long ramp access with a waiting line, begin your pre-launch preparations. First, remove tie-downs securing the boat. Make sure, however, you leave the winch line attached to the bow eye. Install or check and tighten all drain plugs. Check livewell drain positions or plugs. Connect fuel lines, and pump the primer bulb a few times to pressurize the fuel line. Turn the motor key very briefly to check the motor-battery charge, but do not turn the motor on. If it fires immediately, turn it off. If I haven't used my boat for some time I install a water-flush hose attachment to the outboard motor water intake, and turn it on for a minute or two before leaving home, ensuring it will start. Sitting on a boat ramp with a motor that won't start can be extremely frustrating to you and everyone around you.

Move coolers, fishing gear, lifejackets or other equipment you may have in your automobile to your boat. Lay out PFDs and make sure you have enough for all passengers. You may also wish to connect the driver's pfd to the engine kill switch if the lanyard is long enough. If your trailer lights are not waterproof, unplug the wiring harness between the trailer and your tow vehicle. This will prevent damage to your lights and blown fuses. Raise your outboard or stern drive so it won't scrape on the ramp. Next, be sure to tie at least one, and preferably two, docking lines to the boat so that anyone helping you will be able to control the boat after it's launched. This is also helpful in case you're doing the job yourself, enabling you to quickly secure the boat to a floating dock or other temporary tie-up while you park your vehicle.

Another step that can prevent a lot of headaches is to check out the ramp situation before you pull onto it. How steep is it? Is it algae-covered, slick or dry? Is it smooth or does it have roughened surfaces for traction? Depending on your tow vehicle, all these factors can be extremely important. Determine if there is a dock to tie to after you launch the boat, or will you need to beach and tie to the bank. You should also check out the parking lot, making sure there is space for you to park. Some ramp areas require parking vehicles and trailers in separate areas.

The Launch

Next to forgetting the drain plug, backing a trailer down the ramp into the water is the single most embarrassing chore for many boaters. Like many other skills, however, it just takes practice. One of the best things you can do is practice, practice and practice some more, in an empty parking lot until you're comfortable backing the boat and trailer. Some ramps are more challenging, to say the least. Some are extremely steep, or have a change of angle where the boat and trailer disappear from view until your tow vehicle drops to the same angle. And some ramps are also multi-lane, which means less space, but make sure you stay in your ramp.

Begin your pre-launch preparations in the parking lot -- before you reach the ramp. 
 
Some ramps have turn areas at the top. Make sure you don't turn so short you jam the trailer tongue against your vehicle. In the case of square-bow boats such as some aluminums, and on short trailer tongues, you can even put a dent in the back of a utility vehicle with the corner on a tight turn. Regardless, the key to success is to take your time and keep your cool.

Two methods can be used for launching, without power and with power. How far you need to back into the water depends on the method chosen, steepness of the ramp and water depth. With a little experience you'll quickly learn the best positions on ramps you use frequently. A good rule of thumb is to stop when the step in front of the trailer fender is even with the water level. Then set the parking brake on the vehicle and you're ready to launch.

A properly fitted trailer will allow a boat to launch itself. But be careful on steep ramps because a roller trailer might launch your boat before you're ready. Either have a friend hold the docking line as you back into the water, or secure it to your vehicle or the trailer. It's best to stop, loosen and then unhook the bow eye winch hook just before final entry into the water. One dangerous possibility exists if using the winch rope to launch. If you snap the ratchet mechanism open without a firm grip on the handle, the weight of the boat may pull it back off the trailer quickly, causing the handle to spin rapidly with possible injury. In some cases you may need to give your boat a slight shove to get it moving backwards, but in most instances it's easier to simply back a bit farther into the water. In low-water conditions watch that the ramp doesn't end before the boat floats and your tires drop off into the soft lake bottom.

Launching a boat by power is usually the choice, particularly if fishing with a partner--one drives the vehicle and the other the boat. You can even do this single-handed on some ramps. I've found my Chevy Suburban allows me to open the back doors, step through the back and onto the boat bow without getting my feet wet. In any case, leave the winch strap attached to the bow eye until you're actually in the boat, then reach over, snap the switch to off and making sure you hold firmly to the handle, loosen the winch enough to unsnap the eye and you're ready to launch. I usually like to start the engine before this step. Make sure you have the engine tilted down, but there's enough water for prop clearance before a power launch. Then apply power slowly and smoothly, just enough to get the boat moving off the trailer. Once the boat is afloat, quickly tie it to the dock and park the trailer, allowing the next person access to the ramp.

Loading

Loading your boat onto a properly fitted trailer at the end of the day can be a breeze; with an improperly fitted trailer it can be the single most frustrating situation of the day.

Use common courtesy. Don't park your boat on the ramp while retrieving your tow vehicle. Park at a dock, or beach it off the ramp. Loading is basically a reversal of launching. Again two methods can be used, power or non-power. Trailer position is important in both cases. If using power-on the best tactic is to have the trailer in the water just enough that a little power is needed to get the boat in place. This settles the boat correctly on the bunks. If the trailer is too deep the boat can float side to side and when you pull out the boat may have shifted off center of the trailer. If using powered method, center the boat on the trailer as you enter the bunks. This means approaching upwind or upcurrent in those conditions. Use steady but low power for a constant forward motion if possible and you're not approaching too fast. Shifting out of gear lessens your steering ability, often causing the boat to twist or turn on the approach. Make sure there is enough water for prop clearance, and use as little power as possible to move the boat bow eye up to the winch stand. Too much power can cause damage to the winch stand and boat eye, as well as cause erosion at the end of the ramp..

Launching and loading a boat can be a simple chore with a little preparation and practice. It can not only make your fishing day more pleasant, but also more pleasant for those around you as well.
 


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Knee Boarding Tips
May 29, 2011 7:08 PM | Tagged as Knee board

Knee Boarding Tips

The Board
There are two types of boards: Trick boards and slalom boards. A good trick board needs a lot of rocker (curvature) on the bottom and the rails should be thick. While a good slalom board has a flat bottom and sharp rails. Fins are also good for slalom and cutting but not so good for tricks. Some boards come equiped with retractable fins so they are good for just about anything.

The Rope

You can use any type of good strong ski rope for kneeboarding that's at least 45 feet long. Although, a good slalom rope is better because you can change the length depending on how big you want the wake to be where you are. But I think that the best type of rope to use would be the special kind of braided rope made just for kneeboarding because it's braided design lets you twist it all you want and it is also easier to grip while in the wrap position.

The Boat

The only thing you need to look for in a boat is the wake. The wake of a good boat for kneeboarding should be about 12 inches high with a sharp peak while travelling at about 18 mph.

Speeds

Here is a small chart of the approximate boat speeds according to the weight of the kneeboarder.

Weight (lbs) Boat Speed(mph)
40 8
50 10
60 12
70 14
80 16
90 18
100+ 20

Now that you have the basics, you just need to get out there and DO IT!!


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Kayaks - Sit On Tops
May 29, 2011 7:03 PM | Tagged as Sit on top

Sit-on-Tops Make Sense

Sit-on-top? SOT, for short. It's not the most elegant of names, is it? Well, no, it isn't. But names aren't everything. SOTs are among the best-selling no-octane boats today, and for good reason. They're stable, forgiving, and easy to paddle. And they're at home in a wide variety of water, from easy rapids to the margins of the sea.

OK. They're hot, but they're not exactly new. A SOT is just a fancy version of the slab-canoe you'll find described on page 389 of Dan Beard's 1890 classic, The American Boy's Handy Book. And the idea was already ancient when Dan Beard picked it up. Of course, the "giant logs" that got Dan Beard's boys on the water are long gone today. They've been made into chip-board and plywood forms. But we've still got plastic. And plastic makes great boats.

Who'd want to buy a SOT? Just about anyone who likes to fish, picnic, or paddle. And that's a lot of people. Who else? Folks who like the idea of kayaking but aren't turned on by the sometimes claustrophobic feel of a decked boat. No, conventional kayaks aren't traps. In fact, it's harder to stay in one in a capsize than it is to fall out. But some folks still like to be able to see their legs when they're paddling. And there's nothing wrong with that. SOTs are fun, pure and simple.

OK. "Serious" boaters sometimes look down their noses at SOTs and the people who paddle them. Let them. These boaters have a lot to learn. Not one paddler in ten thousand makes his living with his boat. The rest of us paddle because—you guessed it!—it's fun. And fun is what SOTs are all about. So let the "serious" boaters think whatever they want. If you're having a good time, that's all that matters.

Is there anyone who shouldn't buy a SOT? That's a harder question, I admit, but it's got a couple of good answers. Wilderness trippers can find better boats. SOTs are relatively heavy, and they're hard to portage solo. They also can't carry the load that a canoe can. Expedition kayakers, too, can find more suitable craft. Decked kayaks protect paddlers from cold air (and water), and they can be made sleeker and faster. That sort of thing doesn't matter on Golden Pond, and it doesn't matter on a summer day at the seashore, but it does matter if you're planning to paddle around Greenland.

You're NOT planning to kayak around Greenland? Then maybe there's a SOT in your future.

Ready to go shopping? Just remember the "rules". Decide what you want a boat for. Don't be in a hurry. Try before you buy. Make up your own mind. Follow these rules, and it's hard to go wrong.

One caution: When you go paddling in your SOT, take a roll of duct tape or even a couple of pieces of chewing gum with you. Why? Simple. Most SOTs have hollow hulls, and not all of them have any encapsulated flotation. The hulls don't puncture easily, of course, but if they do, water will seep in. The result? You get that sinking feeling. The remedy? If you can get ashore and dry your boat off, duct tape will usually get you home. If you can't dry out, but if you can find the puncture—follow the bubble trail—a wad of bubble gum forced into the hole may buy you enough time to seek safe harbor. Then, once you're home, you can do a definitive repair.

SOTs are great boats to have fun in. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Idling Problems? - Try This First
May 29, 2011 6:59 PM | Tagged as Carbon and varnish buildup

Carbon and varnish buildup from today's fuels is much worse than it was a decade ago. Here's how to deal with it.

The old outboard motorboat I bought was, I thought, starting to bite the dust.

In the driveway, with the garden hose pumping water to the lower unit, I startled my quiet neighborhood as the motor roared to life -- then died. Amid the sounds of barking dogs and glaring neighbors, I tried again and again to get the 115 to idle. I couldn't even get it to run at high speed for more than a few seconds before it died. Finally, it was just too embarrassing to continue, and I succumbed to calling my mechanic and explained the problem I was having. He arrived the next evening , but instead of lugging over a toolbox full of hardware, he walked up from his truck carrying only a small aerosol can in his hand.

"Hop in there and crank her over when I say so," he ordered, ignoring my questions about the absence of real tools. In the time it took me to hop in the boat, he had the intake cover off and directed the can's nozzle into the carburetor, and said, "Let 'er rip."

As usual, the outboard jumped to life and began to falter. But by that time, the mechanic had shot several ounces of fluid into the engine. It coughed, but it didn't die as I kept the RPMs up over 2,000. The motor ran long enough to allow him to empty the can's entire 13 ounces into the engine, before it stalled when I tried to back it off some.

As the breeze carried a cloud of dense white smoke into the neighbor's yard, I was about to re-start the engine when he told me to relax for awhile before giving it another try. Twenty minutes later, after running the engine for five minutes or so (which blew more smoke and left a smattering of black ooze on the garage door) the engine was idling nicely.

He submitted me a bill for $9.75 for parts plus a half-hour labor. The old boat was, once again, ready to provide enjoyment on the water.

I was so amazed at how that single can of magic had "fixed" what I was sure was a major problem with the motor, I visited the boat dealership the next day to learn more.

"We go through this stuff like you wouldn't believe," said the certified mechanic. "It's one of the first things we do when an engine comes in with complaints of poor idling. And many times, a can of this will do the trick," he added, tossing me a can of Engine Tune.

Basically, the "tune-up-in-a-can" products offered by companies like SeaFoam, Yamaha and Mercury contain highly concentrated detergents, similar to what's found in high-test gasoline, but much more concentrated.

The detergents are carried in a solvent of aromatic hydrocarbons, and since the solvent is a petroleum distillate itself, both agents actually break down varnish, carbon and other deposits in the combustion chamber. This cleaning action frees-up pistons and rings that have been gummed-up with the carbon deposits left behind by gasoline.

According to one industry spokesman, and backed-up by my own mechanic and several others I've talked to, the problem of carbon buildup from today's fuels is much worse than it was a decade ago, and not getting any better.

It's more important now than ever to use these cleaners regularly according to my marine technician at the marina where I have my boat serviced. If you're using 87 octane, leaded or unleaded, no matter where you get it or what brand it is, you're layering on the deposits each time to run your outboard. It isn't much better with higher octane either.

Look at all the additives their putting into fuel these days. It just doesn't burn as clean as gas used to. Carbon and other deposit build-up on marine engines wasn't a problem 10 years ago. Now it's major.

The technician explained that the deposits left by the cleaner gasolines of yesteryear were softer, and easier to clean or simply wear off. Now, he said, "it's almost like the stuff is glued to the pistons."

When that happens, the rings clog and don't allow heat to bypass, and the motor won't idle properly. If it gets bad, the rings can crack, scuffing the inside of the cylinder walls, letting pressure bypass them and reducing compression. Eventually, because the heat can't transfer from the piston to the cylinder walls, the piston expands and grinds to a halt in the cylinder. Things tend to shut down fast when that happens.

The “tune-up-in-a-can” products work much like oven cleaner. You apply the cleaner and heat the surface to be cleaned, allowing both the heat and the chemicals to the job. That's why manufacturers recommend letting their cleaners sit inside a warm engine for 15 minutes to a half hour before running the engine for the final clean-out.

Not only are there more carbon and other deposits left over after running modern-day fuels, but the deposits are tougher to clean off due to two factors.

First of all, outboards today are asked to work harder, perform better, yet be smaller and lighter that previous models. As a result, they run hotter. Second, a gallon of modern fuel may contain up to 15 percent chemical additives to reduce emissions.

Combine the extra heat with the extra chemicals and the carbon deposits left behind can practically bond to the cylinder wall. And because carbon attracts carbon, a snowball effect is created; once you get a layer on, it attracts more carbon faster than did the clean surface.

Manufacturers advise that boaters use a can of their product every 50 hours, or at least as part of annual spring maintenance. My local marine mechanic agrees. Even if the cleansing doesn't solve the problem, the technician has a clean combustion chamber to inspect for other trouble.

The products are simple to use, and may be used in both 2- and 4-cycle engines. With the engine running at operating temperature (make sure water is pumping through to cool the system), simply spray the tuner directly into the engine's carburetor throat. The engine should continue to run as you empty the entire can into the engine, during which time you may have to jockey the throttle a little to keep the outboard from stalling. Maintain at least 1,200 RPMs during the spraying process. Once the entire can is empty, turn the engine off for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the chemical cleaners to do their work. Then start the engine as usual, and run at half throttle for three to five minutes.

There will be a lot of smoke, either white or white with a bluish cast, as the engine's running with the tune-up going into its system, so make sure the area you choose is well ventilated.

If the idle problem is carburetor-related, you will need to use a product that is introduced into the gas system. Fuel for idling and low RPM operation flows through very tiny orifices. If these orifices have narrowed, idling will be effected similar to narrowing of the arteries to your heart. If they aren’t clogged, the cleaners in the gas will be able to get through the inside of the carburetor and through these orifices. In many cases, this will open these openings back to normal. If they are clogged completely, the chemical can’t get through and your next step is a carburetor rebuild, a much more costly endeavor.
 


Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Fueling Safety & Fuel Tank Maintenance
May 29, 2011 6:58 PM | Tagged as Fuel Tank

Fueling Safety and Fuel Tank Maintenance 

It's spring again and I don't know about you, but my mind goes to grits this time of year, and the strong longing to go boating is upon me yet again.

Lots of your boats have been laid up for the winter and maybe we need to take a good look at the fuel system before the fun begins.

Let's start where this fossil fuel gets into your vessel above deck. Is you deck fill-cap marked "gasoline" and how about the O ring or seal? Does the fuel fill drain overboard if you overfill?

Unmarked deck fills account for lots of trouble at busy marinas. Any spilled gasoline will spread to lowest places if your fuel-fill does not drain overboard. I've seen boaters mistake water and 2 cycle oil fill caps for fuel tank openings. What a mess and boy, could this be dangerous !!

Does your tank vent terminate outside the hull? Is the tank vent-flame arrestor clean or has it become fouled with corrosion, mud daubers or possibly paint? If there is a restriction, the vent can't properly do its job.

Now lets look at the below deck components. Is the fuel-fill hose U.S.C.G. Type A2? Using the wrong replacement hose could result in failure and, once again, fuel going directly into your bilge. Does the hose appear cracked? What condition are the clamps in? Aged cracked hose and deteriorated clamps need to be refitted now, not later.

How about the ground wire! You'd be surprised at how many boats don't have a proper ground wire. These wires are to carry static electricity from the dock hose to ground without causing a spark.. The ground wires should not be clamped between the fill pipe and hose because this could be potential leak. They need to be attached to the fill plate with a bolt and at the tank with an attachment tab.

Now let's look at the delivery hose. Is it U.S.C.G. Type A-1 or B-1? A-1 is preferable because it is fire resistant and will withstand a 2-1/2 minute exposure to free burning fuel without leaking. Are the hoses firm, or are they cracked or have swollen ends and feel sticky? If so, replace them and properly secure them. Fuel feed lines are a cheap replacement.

Is the fuel filter or filters securely mounted? If not, you need to address these deficiencies now.

How about your blower hoses? If they are starting to look like they have taken a close range shotgun blast or been run over by a truck?  Let's get those boys replaced. Remember they need to draw air from the lowest point but be above normal bilge water. Make the most direct runs possible as more bends and twists cause them to lose efficiency. If your blower is starting to have bearing scream, it's probably singing for replacement, and now is the time to get one that sings in tune.

Are the components such as fuel pumps and carburetors "marine" equipment? Automotive fuel pumps and carburetors can leak fuel in your boat. Any reputable mechanic would use only "marine" parts. Is your distributor, starter and alternator "ignition protected?" Lots of after-market parts aren't safe and could cause sparking.

Now about the fuel tank. If your tank is a portable type, check all connections to make sure there are no leaks. Replace fuel line and/or primer bulb-type hoses every 3 years or whenever they look cut or start to get hard and crack.How about tank-top connections? Are they corroded and are the hoses securely fastened to the tank spuds? If your tank-top is above the carburetor inlet, you need an anti-siphon valve on an electrically operated shut-off valve.

Before fueling, turn off the ignition, radio, all pumps, cell phones and any other electrical device. Certainly there should be no one smoking within 20 feet of your boat while fueling!! Fuel your boat yourself or have it done by a crew member who knows and understands the dangers of fueling. A boat is not like the family car and any fuel spilled can cause problems. Operate the blower for five minutes after fueling and use the best fume detector ever made, your nose, before starting your engine(s).

Don't overfill your tank because gasoline expands with heat and it can fill vent lines which need to be unrestricted. If you have a fuel spill in your vessel (while under-way), turn off the ignition and battery switch, which should be vapor proof. You and your crew don life jackets and call for service. If at dock, evacuate your crew and guests and get the problem looked at immediately. Major leaks will need to be reported-call your local fire department!

There is a wonderful explosion on gasoline powered boats, but that one belongs inside the cylinder walls of your engine. It is designed to propel you and your friends into the realm of boating enjoyment and not into sky diving without a parachute!

Let's all have a safe and fun boating season.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Filing An Insurance Claim
May 29, 2011 6:56 PM | Tagged as Insurance

Filing an Insurance Claim
 
Here is some advice on what to do if you have a loss or suspected loss of your vessel, and want to place a claim against your marine insurance policy. First and foremost, read your policy when it is initiated and understand what is and what is not covered.
 
Notify your agent or underwriter now, not later. Describe the incident when, where and how. It’s always good to sit down and put it in writing while it’s fresh in your mind. This is especially important if another vessel was involved and you have sustained collision damages. Make a simple sketch with wind direction, tidal flow, vessel’s relative position pre and post incident. This will help all parties involved acquire a clearer picture as to what transpired. If another vessel was involved, get the operators name, address and his or her insurance company’s name. Make no statement of liability. If the damage is over $500 or a fatality has occurred, notify the State Department of Natural Resources. If there were witnesses, solicit a statement from them now, while it’s fresh in their minds and you can find them.
 
If your regular service facility or repairer advises you that you may have a claim. Notify your carrier now and not after your boat is repaired. Insurance Companies have the right to investigate the cause and origin, and if repairs are completed, the evidence is gone and your claim may very well be in peril.
 
Always approach these situations as if you were not insured. All too often boat owner’s take the attitude that this is not their problem, it’s the insurance companies problem. You are the owner of your vessel and it is your responsibility to care, maintain, and protect your property. If your vessel was sunk, contact your agent or underwriter for instructions. It’s better to settle the salvage price now and not later when things may get amplified. The salvage claims made these days are outrageous for the most part and have played a key role in escalating the cost of recreational boating and increasing premiums.
 
The cost of salvage is usually separate from the vessel’s policy value, as is any steps taken to preserve equipment such as engines. This is called Sue and Labor and is usually separate from the policy. If your motors have been submerged, hire a reputable mechanic to drain, flush and preserve this valuable equipment. I have seen engines that have been submerged run for years if attended to quickly. A series of short oil and filter changes and running the engines can in most cases prevent any serious internal damages. Even if your carrier totals your vessel, operational machinery will increase the salvage value and reduce the claim. Also, if there happens to be a coverage issue under the terms of your policy this one step could save you thousands of dollars. We all pay into the insurance pool, and if we all work together, maybe our grandchildren will be able to afford insurance.
 
Your underwriter will assign a surveyor or adjuster to your claim. Their purpose is to report on the cause, origin, equipment affected, and approximate cost of the loss to the underwriter. Your insurance company will then reserve monies to cover your loss. You, as the boat owner are responsible for procuring a “reasonable” estimate from your chosen repairer. Here is where there could be a hazard to navigation in the claim’s process. If your repairer tells you he can write his estimate to cover your deductible to make the deal attractive to you, run, don’t walk from this individual. If there are maintenance issues that need to be addressed on your vessel, and your repairer suggests that this be incorporated into your estimate to repair your vessel, refuse this offer. These types of insurance fraud is unfortunately all too common. A claim can go as smooth as you want it to, but playing with deductibles and added non-loss related items may give you a bumpy ride. The people that access your claim have a good handle on how much it should cost to make your vessel whole.
 
Keep the channels of communication open between the repairer and your surveyor or adjuster. Remember that you have one boat that you are dealing with, your boat; Your surveyor may have many losses that he or she is dealing with at one time, and your repairer is in the business of repairing many boats at one time, not just yours. Be pro-active in the repair process. This is your boat. If you have concerns or questions, address them to your surveyor or adjuster. If additional items are discovered damaged during repairs, notify the surveyor or adjuster so they can document them for the benefit of all parties.
 
Your surveyor, adjuster or underwriter are not in the quality control business. Your surveyor, adjuster or underwriter does not supervise repairs nor do they specify particular repair procedures. Your repairer is responsible for making adequate and proper repairs for the type of damages sustained. Make frequent visits to your vessel during repairs to insure that the repair work is satisfactory and done to acceptable marine standards. If your vessel has sustained serious damages requiring substantial re-construction and gear replacement, it is a very good idea to carefully document the re-construction as this disclosure will be necessary if and when you sell the vessel to prevent future liability. Before you accept your vessel from the repairer, perform a stringent sea trial testing all equipment affected to insure that it is performing as designed.
 
If we all work together and be reasonable, a marine claim will be only a small bump in the road of life.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Ethanol - Is It Good For Your Boat?
May 29, 2011 6:54 PM | Tagged as Ethanol

Ethanol may not be a boater’s best friend!  

Ethanol is a term everyone in the country is becoming more and more familiar with each and every day. Although it is most popular in the midwest, it has become the additive of choice for gasoline. It  acts as an oxygenator and octane booster in fuel, taking the place of other additives that have been found to harm our environment. It is less popular on the east and west coasts where corn is not being grown extensively and few ethanol plants have been built. The prescribed amount of ethanol mixed with gasoline is 10%, but in California, the amount is only 5.6% due to the short supply. With new government rules looming, soon it may be hard to find any gasoline without ethanol. That means it could be at marina gas pumps - not ony at corner or highway stations. 

What does ethanol do? Ethanol helps to clean up a car engine’s exhaust by making it easier for the catalytic converter to do its thing. At a 10% blend, it doesn’t decrease mileage much, even though it has only 60% of the heating value of gasoline. Cars, outboard motors, and marine engines – at least for the last 10-15 years - have been modified to accept 10% ethanol fuel. Many car manufacturers are offering models that can run on 85% ethanol fuel, as a way to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and clean up the air even more. However, marine engines will not run on a mix of over 10% ethanol. The jury is still out on whether it takes more fossil fuel energy to make the ethanol and grow the corn than you get back when you burn the ethanol. 

One other point worth noting is that adding ethanol was supposed to reduce the total cost per gallon of gas. But in the last few years, the price of ethanol has risen from less than $1.50 to more than $2 per gallon. Transporting ethanol from the plant where it is produced to points thousands of miles away is not easy, adds to the cost and burns up diesel fuel in the tankers that deliver it!

Ethanol in the boat
Most boats have either metal, roto-molded plastic or fiberglass fuel tanks. Ethanol is a form of alcohol. Alcohol absorbs water & tends to collect moisture in the tank, either from condensation in the air or if introduced with the gasoline when it comes out of the ground at your local gas station. When this occurs, it has the potential to cause some internal corrosion in metal fuel tanks. There is one other problem, potentially a serious one, created in boats with fiberglass fuel tanks, particularly those in older boats. One thing that has surfaced is a rash of fiberglass fuel tank leaks and structural failures where ethanol has been introduced in the gasoline blend. Testing and chemical analysis by polyester resin experts have discovered that ethanol attacks and weakens the fiberglass resin, something along the same lines of the process that causes blistering of fiberglass boat bottoms. There have even been a few reports of epoxy resin tank failures. Many underground tanks at gas stations are also made of fiberglass. 

 As stated earlier,  marine engines were designed to tolerate gasoline containing 10% ethanol, but what about gasoline with ethanol that also contains some of the chemicals leached out of the fiberglass fuel tank resin? In their investigations, the experts found some peculiar engine failures involving a black carbonaceous build-up on intake valves that ultimately resulted in bent pushrods when the valves seized.  Analysis of the black substance on the valves and along the intake manifold passages showed that some of the component parts of the tank resin were present.  The tank and engine failures were a result of this chemical breakdown of the underground fiberglass tanks by the ethanol-gasoline mixture.

Closer to home, our service department is finding more and more cases of contaminated fuel. Much of this has been linked to ethanol fuel that has absorbed water from the air along with condensation from leaving fuel tanks less than full while in storage.  Just as you can see condensation form on your windows during warm days/cool nights, a fuel tank does the same thing. This has a tendency to clog fuel filters and water seperators as well as the small orifices in carburetors, fuel pumps and fuel injectors. Boaters should have thier marine mechanic take a fuel sample before the beginning of each boating season or if engine performance is sluggish or hard starting.

Boaters with older boats should avoid ethanol completely as it will deteriorate fuel lines, seals, squeeze bulbs and other rubber parts.

You should also avoid ethanol fuels during the hottest days of the summer. Ethanol(alcohol) has a lower boiling temperature than gasoline. As temperatures rise in a very hot engine compartment, ethanol will turn into a gaseous state causing "vapor lock". These air bubbles in your fuel lines may prevent fuel from getting to the engine. This will cause the engine to die or not restart after turning the engine off for awhile.

 Ethanol is probably here to stay, and fuel without ethanol is getting harder and harder to find every day. Our marina, as well as many others, are not selling ethanol blended fuel even though the cost may be as much as 15 cents per gallon more. Marine engines will run better without it and will avoid the problems mentioned in this artice.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Engine Maintenance Tips
May 29, 2011 6:50 PM | Tagged as Engine

Engine Maintenance
An internal combustion engine needs four basic ingredients to run efficiently and last a long time. They are: clean Oil (lubrication), clean Fuel, clean Air and a Cooling system to remove excess heat.

Oil: Let's start with the oil. You should check your oil level with the dipstick on a regular basis, say every time you get fuel. If, however, you are on a trip, you should check it at least once a day. You must change both the oil and the filter at regular intervals recommended by the engine manufacturer. If that information is not available, then every 100-engine hours is the next best thing. Engine hours, on most boats, are recorded on the tachometer. Good oil does not wear out, but it does get dirty, so use the right oil for your engine and change it often.

Fuel: There are two things that can mess up the fuel supply on a boat: Water and Dirt.

Invest in a good filter/water separator and make sure that you always carry a spare replacement cartridge. On marine engines, many problems are fuel related. If you store your fuel for an extended period of time (3 months or more), you should consider adding some type of fuel stabilizer to it.

Air: Your engine requires lots of air. Check your flame arrester located on top of the throttle body or carburetor, if you have a gasoline engine, for oil grease or dirt. Remove the flame arrestor if it is dirty. Clean it with a non-explosive cleaning solution. DO NOT run your gasoline engine without the flame arrestor!

Cooling: Engines use the water that they are sitting in to remove excess heat created by the burning of fuel during operation. You should find out what type of cooling system your engine uses (Direct or Closed). However, no matter which system you have, both use the water around them for cooling. Each engine has a water pump that pulls water from the lake, river or sea and sends it through the cooling system. Knowing where the pump is located and how to install a new impeller is a necessity. The pump is usually installed on the outside of the engine and is belt driven. Carrying a spare impeller can save much time and money when you really need it.

While your engine is doing its job by pushing you through the water, check your engine monitoring gages regularly and learn what they read when everything is normal. If your oil pressure starts to fluctuate or go down, SHUT your engine down, check the oil level and look for signs of oil where it doesn't belong. If your temperature gauge starts to climb, STOP your engine Immediately and look for the problem, most probably a broken hose or the water pump. DO NOT try to coax an engine, that has little or no oil pressure, or one that is overheated, back to the dock or the launch ramp. If you do, you can plan on probably buying a new engine! Listen for a change in the sound of your engine. This is generally a sign of engine trouble.

The days when you could tune-up your own engine are mostly gone. Today's engines with their black box computers require a trained technician, with his own computer, to fix them. Develop a good relationship with your marina and/or boat dealer. Let them do this imprtant work unless you really have a good handle on it yourself.

My experience shows that when boats that break down they are just getting even for the neglect that they've received. Take care of your boat and it will return the favor.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Choosing The Right Cover
May 29, 2011 6:42 PM | Tagged as Covers Tops

These days, there's a cover for every condition you and your craft are likely to face.

You've just made one of the top three investments of your life to date -- and depending on your priorities, that 20 feet of gleaming new fiberglass or aluminum boat out front may just be your most expensive purchase so far, perhaps even eclipsing expenditures for shelter and tow vehicle.

If the boat came with a custom cover, great -- at least good. If it didn't, the next purchase you should consider is a proper top -- something to cover your investment in more ways than one.

Unless you've dug into it lately, you probably have no idea how many types of tops there are from which to choose these days. Like everything else, specialization has entered the boat top marketplace, and there's a cover for every condition you and your craft are likely to face. That's why the top that came with the boat may be only "good" news -- it may not be the best cover for you. But hey, at least you got one.

Any cover is better than no top at all. Without a cover of some type, a boat left out in the elements will begin to age immediately, mostly from exposure to the sun, although moisture can be just as damaging. Even aluminum suffers from the powerful UV rays from above, and when water enters the picture, followed by dust and dirt, things start breaking down fast.

And that's while the boat's sitting in the driveway. Once you hit the highway with your new craft, a whole new set of threats enter the scene.

Top Protection

In all, there are five major reasons you want to have your boat covered. They include:

Protection from UV rays. The sun is merciless in its attack on just about everything under it. Fiberglass hulls and vinyl upholstery and consoles take the worst beating. The rays damage and dull the gelcoat finish on fiberglass and breakdown the plasticizers that keep vinyl supple.

Protection from water. Water breeds mildew, mold and rot. When water is allowed to stand for any amount of time, organisms breed, including bacteria that can attack parts of the boat, especially carpet, wood and vinyl. Mold and mildew actually feed on natural fibers in carpeting, such as cotton, and while they won't eat man-made materials like nylon or polyester, they will eat through dirt and other organisms that are left between the fibers, which can be just as bad.

Protection from dirt and debris. Dirt, dust, airborne seeds, leaves, twigs and critters all damage a boat if left to their own ways. Leaves and seeds are a problem to clean out, and will decompose, causing dampness, mold and mildew. Debris can clog drains, causing the boat to retain water that causes problems noted in reason #2 above. While being trailered, covers can offer some protection to both the interior and exterior from flying rocks and gravel.

Protection from critters. Rodents like mice, rats and squirrels leave waste and can make meals or nests out of wire coatings, vinyl seats, carpeting or seat filling. Gulls, sparrows, starlings and other birds can do that and more.

Protection from vandalism. Covers represent a barrier to would-be thieves. They can't see what's in the boat, and they have to physically remove the cover to access it.

Types of Tops

There are about a half dozen materials of various weights that the majority of modern boat covers are made of these days, and each is suited for a particular set of needs and budgets. These include 100 percent cotton canvas in weights from 6 to 15 ounces; cotton/polyester blends in weights of 6 to 15 ounces; 100 percent polyester in weights of 6.5 to 11 ounces; coated polyester, in weights of 6.5 to 10 ounces; vinyl-coated acrylic in weights of 6 to 16 ounces; and 100 percent acrylic in weights of 7.5 to 10.5 ounces.

In addition, mass-marketed (and a few custom) tops are also available in 100 percent nylon, polyethylene and Tyvek. The latter is a rather new material for boat covers that has become popular as a cover for bicycles and automobiles. Perhaps know best as the "tearproof" paper-like material used in Federal Express envelopes, Tyvek is a lightweight fabric made of spun-bound olefin, with properties that allow air to pass through, while remaining water- and vapor-proof.

However, most of the covers sold for bass and walleye boats today are made from the first six fabrics in the weight ranges given.

Each type of cover material is capable of offering protection in the five areas already noted. Some are simply suited to perform better in certain circumstances.

Selecting the Proper Top

According to a spokesman for one of the leading boat cover manufacturers, the four most important features offered by a boat cover are strength, durability, water repellency and breathability.

When deciding upon what type of top should go with a particular style of boat, you need to ask yourself what type of boating are you going to do, and where. For example, if you live in Illinois, where it rains a lot, then water repellency will be most important, and a vinyl-coated cover will be best. It may not breathe as well as other materials, but it will do the best job of shedding rain, and you can vent it for breathability.

If you live in southern California or Florida, where the sun is more of a threat than rain, a top with cotton content simply won't hold up for very long to the intense UV rays. And because water repellency isn't as much of an issue in those types of locations and climates, your best choices are going to be acrylics or polyesters.

If you intend to trailer your boat at highway speeds over long distances, then durability is most important. In that case, polyester or vinyl will hold up better than canvas. And you definitely don't want an acrylic like Sunbrella for long distance trailering, because of its low resistance to abrasion.

If you're trailering your boat only four or five weekends a season, and on short trips, then canvas will probably do the job and save you some money.

Another factor that can be considered when selecting a boat cover is ease of handling, especially if you are boating alone. A canvas cover for an 20-foot open bow boat will weigh about 18 pounds; the same top made from Tyvek will weigh about 2 pounds. A top made of Sea Mark, which is a high-priced, vinyl-coated acrylic, will weigh nearly 30 pounds for a 20-foot boat.

Cover Costs

Cost is an important factor in some cases, especially if you've just blown your wad on a new boat. Here are general price ranges you can expect to pay to cover an 20-foot open bow boat with the various fabrics, which are listed in popularity among boat owners:

1) Acrylic ("Sunbrella"): $350-$600

2) Cotton ("Canvas"): $125-$275

3) Polyester ("Top Gun"): $300-$475

4) Vinyl-coated Polyester ("Aqualon"): $300-$425

5) Vinyl-coated Acrylic ("Sea Mark"): $375-$550

6) Polyethylene (plastic tarp): $10-$75

7) Nylon (mass-produced under several names): $25-$95

8) Tyvek ("Tyvek"): $100-$150

For the money, the best all-around boat cover material for the average boat owner is 100 percent polyester. A lightweight poly of, say, 6.5 ounces is going to be twice as strong as 10-ounce canvas, as strong as a 9.5- to 10-ounce acrylic, and has the best abrasion resistance of them all. And cost-wise, it's not outrageous. A polyester cover would be $300 or less for a 20-foot boat.

Cover Color and Quality

If cover color is important, and you need a good selection with which to match your boat, you'll probably have to turn to an acrylic top, which are offered in 40-some hues. At the other end of the color spectrum is cotton canvas, which comes in green, gray or tan. You can find some colored canvas out there, usually red or blue, but the UV rays of the sun break down the pigment and quickly fade the top. In between the two is polyester, which comes in about 15 colors. More important than cover color is cover quality. It can be confusing to shop a market where you can find two 10-ounce canvas covers for the same length of boat, and one is priced at less than $100 while the other costs $250. There's a good reason for that.

When shopping for a cover, look for things like raw edges, which have not been hemmed and stitched and may fray, and simple "lap" seams, where adjoining edges are simply laid on top of each other and stitched. Not only are lap seams weak, if they are layed out incorrectly, they can actually draw water into the seam rather than helping to deflect it off the cover.

Quality boat tops feature rotproof, 100 percent polyester thread and seams that are reinforced with webbing to distribute tension at tie-down points. They have four-ply overlocked seams that are in the shape of an "S" when looked at from the end, like those found on your jeans. When the fabric panels are properly laid out, water runs with the grain of these folded seams, which shed water like roofing shingles. Some of the better boat tops have an adjustable draw rope sewn into the perimeter of the cover to draw it tight around the boat's hull, and all feature plenty of tie-down points.

Cover Care

Once you've got that boat under wraps, what's the best way to care for the new cover? Again, it depends on the fabric. For cotton canvas tops especially, UV rays are the biggest threat, but you want to re-treat most tops periodically with a good UV protectant spray such as those made by manufacturer “303” fabric protectant.

Dirt can attract mildew and break down the fibers of any cover material, especially the cotton materials, so washing is important. Use only a mild detergent such as dish soap, and a light-bristled brush. Even then, you'll remove some of the water-repellency treatment off the surface, which will have to be replaced. Acrylic tops are especially prone to wash wear, but all tops will need to be re-treated with a waterproofing agent after a period of time.

There are several products on the market with combine both UV and waterproofing qualities, specially made for such treatments. 303 High Tech Fabric Guard is one of the more popular among boaters, as is Waterproofing & Fabric Cleaner and 3M's Scotchgard Protector for Outdoor Fabric. Several others are available as well. Check with your local boat dealer or custom canvas shop for their recommendations, especially if they sold you your cover.

It's also important to keep snow or rainwater from accumulating or pooling on the boat's cover. Use support bows or poles and dust off any snow or drain any standing water as soon as possible. Water left to sit will stain the cover and organisms which can damage the material will begin to form almost immediately, especially in warm conditions.

While trailering a covered boat, make sure you secure the top properly. This means anchoring the cover to both the boat and the trailer. Tie-down points should occur at least every two to three feet along the entire length of the boat and cover, alternating between straps attached to the boat that pass completely under the hull, and tie-downs to the trailer. Without securing the cover to the trailer, the top can shift, which could cause the material to tear and can damage the boat if portions of the cover are allowed to rub or flap against the boat at highway speeds.

Several accessories to guard against cover wear are available as well, including rub strips to put around windshield edges and stern covers, and after-market tie-down systems, but that's a whole other story. Besides, a good boat cover that fits right and is secured properly needs nothing more than a little routine maintenance and some common sense to beep your baby safe and secure under wraps.


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Buying quality reduces the cost of boat ownership
May 29, 2011 6:38 PM | Tagged as Ownership

Getting the most out of your boat purchase

If you are a longtime boat owner, you know that owning a boat can be a costly affair. Making decisions that keep not only the cost of your initial purchase, but also the long-term cost of ownership, well within your financial means is one of the critical factors of keeping the pleasure in boating. It is very hard to enjoy your boat when it becomes an unexpected drain on your financial resources. The following are some important points that should carefully be considered that will help you achieve maximum enjoyment from your purchase. 

Initial Cost
One of the most important considerations is keeping the total cost of your purchase well within your financial means. One of the considerations often overlooked when purchasing a new boat is what the vessel will be worth a few years later in the event that you suddenly need to liquidate. We all know that the moment we drive a new car out of the dealership, it immediately looses 25% or more of its value. And although the immediate depreciation rate of most new boats is not quite so bad, the owner of a newer vessel is going to take a serious hit in the event that he has to suddenly sell. There's a good reason why banks want a 20% down payment on financing. One of the worst positions you can be in is to have to liquidate and finding that your liability is more than your equity. We call this being "upside down". Bank repossessions have hit an all-time high and the majority of these are younger, first-time buyers.

Quality -vs- Quantity
We seem to be living in an age when price and quantity are more important to consumers than quality. First time buyers in particular are often more interested in finding the largest size vessel for the least cost. This is a mistake.  The effects of  water, sunlight, ice and snow, rain and the rough conditions of oceans, lakes, and rivers take a toll on boats. In other words, boats float in a rather hostile environment, a factor that should make getting the best quality for the money a primary consideration.

Increasingly, boat builders are succumbing to marketing fads, sacrificing quality for appearance, style over safety and function. More and more builders turn to designers of fashion in an effort to snare the inexperienced into keeping up with the Joneses with the latest stylistic offerings. Succumbing to style over substance can be a costly mistake when, a few years later, when the trendy design is out of style and all that showroom glitz and gloss turns to rot and rust under the effects of the harsh marine environment.

There is no more instructive exercise than by taking a tour through a marina or boat yard and observing what boats look like after they're a few years old. Their age can be easily determined from the hull number on the stern. Take a look at how those glittering showroom finishes are holding up in the real world. Has the gelcoat turned chalky after only a few years? And what about those fancy graphics? Is the paint fading or is the taped-on feature striping peeling? How about molded plastic parts: are there numerous plastics that are cracked, chipped or broken? Look out for plastic trim and particularly window moldings. Are they painted and is the metal under the paint starting to corrode? Look at the hardware. Is it quality stainless steel, or cheap cast aluminum or "pot metal" parts that are corroding badly? Is some of the hardware painted and the paint starting to come off?

And what about styles du jour, the marine equivalent of the bubble car? Are you willing to invest good, hard-earned money on a brief fashion statement that, in a few years, will leave you holding the bag because the style is passé when you go to sell?  Is the open cockpit the equivalent of leaving the 1972 Cadillac convertible outside with the top down, an upholstered lounge sitting out in the rain, salt and sun? How is all that vinyl covered plywood and plastic going to look a few years hence?

This is one of the best ways that I know of to find out how any particular builder's models will hold up over time. Remember that inferior materials such as molded plastics, vinyls, plywood, decals, cast aluminum and other painted metals can rapidly degrade, and once degraded cannot be restored. Poorly constructed boats are a lot like particle board furniture: once it deteriorates, there's no bringing it back. The costly investment turns into a painful loss. Remember that the reason why quality boats like Chaparral, Cobalt, Caravelle or Sea Ray cost a little more is because of the quality materials that go into their construction. There's a good reason why they don't put interiors on the exterior! A 10 year old Chaparral can still be easily resold because its quality components have not turned to dust. If you want to avoid taking a big hit on resale, remember that the glitz and glitter today is less important than how your purchase will look at the time you go to sell.

When we track the depreciation curve for many of the most popular builder's models by determining the net annual loss in resale value, we find that the higher the vessel quality, the sooner the depreciation curve will flatten out. That means that higher quality boats proportionately loose less value than lower quality vessels. For the above mentioned builders, the flattening out usually starts around five years, so that by the time a vessel is 6 years old, the annual loss of value is only a few percentage points.

A general rule of thumb is that a new boat purchase works out better for the owner who keeps a boat longer than the average four years, or at least through the bottoming out of the depreciation curve. Obviously, the longer a boat is owned, the less the annual cost becomes. However, that doesn't help much as far as residual value is concerned unless we consider the original cost versus anticipated resale value. Once we do this, we understand that what they told us was really true: paying a litttle more for a boat from a quility manufacturere will be a better buy in the long run.

Older Vessels
While used boats can represent good value, this is true only up to a point. The problem with some boats once they get beyond 10-12 years is deferred maintenance. It is an unfortunate fact of life that many boat owners cut a lot of corners when making repairs, additions or improvements. This is particularly true when it comes to mechanical, electrical and plumbing. While the interior may be beautiful, major systems may have been ignored. Repairs are often done to a much lower standard than the original, so that by the time a decade has gone by, there may be a lot of substandard maintenance and jury-rigging.

On older boats, these problems can accumulate to the point where it is no longer economically viable to restore the vessel when considering the cost of refurbishment versus market value. Nothing can take the pleasure out of boating faster than to get in over one's head financially by underestimating restoration and maintenance costs. When experienced boaters make reference to repairs always costing double what they think it will, they're not kidding or exaggerating. Estimating marine repairs is extremely difficult, even for professionals. And nowhere is the statement, "You get what you pay for," more true than in the marine business.

Be wary of vessel's with excessive amounts of deferred maintenance or jury-rigging. Hire a reputable marine mechanic to do an inspection of any used boat you are looking to purchase and ask for an estimate for repairs. If they can't do it, or are having a hard time estimating, chances are that you'll have a hard time paying when the bill comes due.

Cost of Ownership
In addition to purchase price, interest and depreciation, the cost of ownership includes maintenance and repairs, something owners rarely consider. For new boats, maintenance is low for the first three to five years or so. But after that time, costs start increasing significantly. Regardless of type, major machinery will often require major repairs in years 5-7. There's a reason why warranties expire when they do, and that's because that's when the breakdowns begin to happen. If you buy a new 20' bowrider and sell it after 3-4 years, annual maintenance is likely to average around 4%. The longer you own it, the more it will increase as things wear out and breakdown. The first big hit usually comes when an engine or drive goes bad.  Obviously, if you own the vessel this long, suddenly the annual average takes a big leap. If you're buying used, then you have to be prepared for this, whether it's an unexpected blister repair job, or some other problem that's not covered by insurance. Of course, with a used boat, hopefully that $2,500 you saved off the new price more than makes up for the "big bill."

The point is that in compiling averages, over time we know that costs can be reduced to annual percentages for which an owner should be prepared. A new boat owner should expect those costs to average in the 2% to 4% range if you buy quality and 6% to 10% if you buy "junk". If you're getting into a used boat with considerable deferred maintenance, that annual average can increase dramatically, especially when serious problems gang up on you all at once.

Get an Inspection

Most marine technicians universally recommend used boat inspections because they often turn up  many defects. Not only can the technician tell you a lot about the quality of the boat you're buying, but he can help you get those problems fixed before you take delivery and head off  problems before they ruin a good boating day.

In Summary:

  • Make quality a major consideration. Don't try to get the largest vessel that your budget will allow. Better to take a step down in size and a step up in quality.
  • Calculate the full cost of ownership, including depreciation, interest, insurance, dockage, fuel and repairs. Figure maintenance as an annual percentage over the period of ownership.
  • Look beyond glamorous interiors, luxurious upholstery and racy designs: the beauty may only be skin deep.
  • Once you've decided on several possibilities, take a tour of a marina or boat yard and see how the products of those builders hold up over the years. Talk to marina and boat owners and see what they have to say.
  • Consult a technician before you buy used. Have an inspection done on any used watercraft.
  • Take the time to find the best marine technician and service dealership in your area. When you find someone that does a good job, reward them with loyalty and recommendations to your friends who are involved with boating.

Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Boat Theft - How To Prevent It!
May 29, 2011 6:34 PM | Tagged as Stolen

Prevent Marine Theft - Learn To Think Like A Thief
Approximately 27,000 boats are stolen each year in the United States. Over 95% of all boats stolen are package thefts, that is the boat, motor and trailer are all stolen, and 90% of all boats stolen are less than 20 feet in length. Thieves target motel parking lots as well as unfenced or unsecured self-storage areas.

Boats are costly and represent a sizable investment of your dollars and time. Don't become a victim. Become security conscious. Although nothing is theft-proof, there are three key factors in discouraging theft:

TIME - Do things to increase the time it takes to steal your boat.

NOISE - Do things that will force the thief to make noise in order to steal your boat.

VISIBILITY - Keep your boat and trailer parked where it is visible to you or a neighbor and if possible, a location that is lighted at night.

Simple and effective security measures often just requiring a little extra planning and knowledge. Here are a few suggestions we hope you will find useful:

  • Burglars are usually looking for the easiest job. Make it as difficult as possible for them to steal your boat. Use theft-warning decals, locks and alarm systems. Anti-theft devices aren't fool-proof, but they can make a boat burglary difficult enough to discourage many crooks. And remember, NOISE!! TIME!!
  • If you leave your boat on a trailer, keep the trailer tongue locked and use a wheel lock or remove one or more of the wheels. If you remove a wheel, place a locking lug nut on the lug bolt of the trailer to prevent a wheel from being put on the trailer. Remove the spare trailer tire and store in your garage or car trunk.
  • Keep records of all boat, motor, trailer and equipment serial numbers. Verify that the actual numbers match the numbers on your paperwork. Keep receipts for major equipment purchases, serial number records, and photos of your boat and its equipment on shore in a secure place.
  • Engrave your name, social security number, or drivers license number in a concealed, hidden area of your boat, motor, and trailer.
  • Engrave your name, social security number, or drivers license number onto or inside your marine equipment (i.e., radio, GPS, depth sounder, etc.)
  • Remove valuable items, such as electronics, especially if you plan to be away from your boat for a long time.
  • If possible, store your boat and trailer in a locked garage or inside storage area.
  • If you store your boat in your yard, store it in a back or side year, out of sight from the street.
  • If you must store the unit in a driveway, carport, or open side lot or yard, park another vehicle or large object in front of the trailer. Lock the trailer to the object, fence post, tree, or any other stationary object available. Remember NOISE!! TIME!!
  • When purchasing locks and chains, don't skimp!! Buy good quality hardened chains and locks.
  • Never leave the key(s) in the boat.
  • Installing an ignition by-pass switch in a hidden area may prevent a thief from starting your engine, adding TIME and NOISE.

If your boat or any of its equipment is stolen or vandalized, report the incident quickly to the local police and your insurance company. Quick reporting improves the odds of recovery.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Boat Smart
May 29, 2011 6:31 PM | Tagged as Operator Safety

Boat Smart

Play by the Rules. Carefully read and understand your operator’s guide and safety handbook as well as all on-product warning labels. Learn and obey all applicable federal, state/provincial and local laws and regulations before operating your boat. Boating isn’t just serious fun, it’s a serious responsibility.

Establish A Long Distance Relationship. When you keep your distance from swimmers, boaters or personal watercraft, you prevent problems.

What’s Your Sign? Obey ALL posted signs, such as: "NO WAKE," "RIGHT OF WAY," "IDLE" and other navigation signs. Steer clear of all restricted areas.

Idle Time is Time Well Spent. Whether you’re heading in or out, always maintain slow speed until you’re in a clear area, away from the shore. Obey all "no wake" areas.

SEA-DOO® Watercraft Safety Checklist

Please keep this safety checklist in your watercraft at all times and share with other that ride your watercraft. It is important that you and others know and understand these rules prior to operating any personal watercraft.

  • Securely attached engine cutoff lanyard to your wrist or life jacket. Keep attached at all times.
  • All riders must wear a properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Protective clothing such as wetsuit bottom, eye protection, footwear and gloves are recommended.
  • Look in all directions constantly for other boaters, skiers, divers and swimmers, and other personal watercraft. Stay alert, and be aware of your surroundings!
  • Avoid wake jumping, splashing and passing close to any other vessels. Keep a safe distance!
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs before or during operation.
  • All operators must be a legal age to operate the craft you will be riding. Bombardier recommends a minimum of 16 years of age to ride alone.
  • Always operate at a safe speed and be prepared to stop or alter course in emergencies. Ride within your limits, and allow sufficient distance to stop.
  • Know and understand Right-of Way rules: Generally, keep to your right and safely avoid other craft.
  • Remember you need throttle power to steer.
  • Stay in sight of shore, but avoid operating too close to residential and congested areas. Be considerate of others who share the waterways.
  • Observe all federal, state and local boating laws. A boating safety course is strongly recommended.
  • Know the waters you will be operating in, and observe all navigational marks and signs.
  • Know and understand all operational features of the craft you will be riding – read and follow your operator’s guide.

Be aware. Show you care.

We must all do our part to protect our natural resources. Take a moment and learn how to be more environmentally responsible. Here are a few tips;

  • Be a courteous boat operator. Be aware that sound and movements of boats may disturb wildlife and local residents.
  • Refuel carefully to reduce any chances of spilling oil or gas into the water.
  • Check and clean your engine well away from shorelines. Oil can harm the water’s delicate micro-organisms and the animals that feed on them.
  • Do not operate in water less than two feet in depth.
  • Ride at controlled speeds so that you can see any wildlife ahead of you.

Wash off your boat after you use it to prevent the spread of exotic plants to other lakes and rivers. Exotics have no natural enemies and spread easily, killing off native species and decreasing important plant animal diversity. 


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Boating/Camping And Other Related Links
May 29, 2011 6:29 PM | Tagged as Camping

Boat Trader Online - www.boattraderonline.com/dealer.html?829650   This is one of the best - if not the best - boating sites for those looking to buy a boat. As an affiliated dealer, you can  see pictures of all of the boats for sale on our web site. Also a good source for finding marinas, boat insurance and financing.

Boating World - www.boat-world.com   A wonderful site for boaters full of tech tips, new boats, PWC's and accessories

Double J Campground & RV Park - www.doublejcampground.com  Jerry & Jeri Francis operate this clean and friendly RV park located less than a mile from the marina. In addition to Campground and RV space, they offer sales, service, parts and accessories. Thier phone numbers are as follows.

Camping: 217-483-9998           RV parts and service: 217-483-5900

Uscity.net directory - links to find any other marina or water-related business in any city in the U.S.!


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Boat Buying Tips
May 29, 2011 6:27 PM | Tagged as Boat shows

Boat Buying Tips

Which type of boat is right for me?
Since you are thinking of joining the 18 million Americans who enjoy recreational boating, you probably have an idea about the kinds of fun on the water that your boat will provide. One of the terrific things about boating is that there are boats designed for different activities, and there truly is something for everyone.

To narrow down your search, simply ask yourself what will the boat be used for. Fishing and generally enjoying local waterways? Waterskiing, wakeboarding and exciting watersports? Cruising with family and friends? Racing? A little of everything? There is a boat that’s right for you.

How big a boat will I need?
This depends on several things: how many people will be boating with you? Where will you use it? Every new boat has an "NMMA capacity plate" that tells you how many people you can safely have on board. If you want to enjoy the boat in different places, the boat should be 26 ft. or less, for easy trailering.

What will it cost?
There’s a boat for every budget. Boat owners are often surprised that their dream boat cost less than they’d expected! New boats and pre-owned boats bought at a reputable dealership can be financed, so you can take advantage of monthly payments. As with cars, pre-owned boats typically cost less than a similar new model.

What is the best time of year to buy?
The best time is when you are ready! You can find a great deal on a boat at any time of year. Boat shows provide excellent opportunities to find "show specials." At a boat show, you can also comparison-shop among a wide variety of brands and dealers.

How do you find a good dealer?
Boat shows are ideal for finding the dealer that suits you best. You’ll want to look for a dealer who is Marine Industry Certified, and one that is convenient to where you’ll be using your boat. Depending on your needs, your dealer may also service and store your boat. The dealer who is open about his facilities, and who offers to take you for a test drive is probably a good choice.

Where can I learn the waterway rules?
Boaters’ education courses are available through City, Water Light & Power in conjuntion with the U.S. Power Squadrons, and on the Internet. Call CWLP to get dates for this years courses.

Should I buy new or used?
We recommend shopping new first. You will gain insight into whch type of boat is best for you and the market price. You can comparison shop for similar pre-owned models. Think about warranties when comparing new and pre-owned. Then you can zero in on your perfect boat!

If I buy used how do I know the boat is in good condition?
Get a qualified marine surveyor’s inspection. Surveyors will check all systems, as well as the hull structure. Call several insurance companies in your area for recommended surveyors.


Posted in Recent News | 0 Replies
Boating = Better Kids
May 29, 2011 6:25 PM | Tagged as Kids

Can Boating=Better Kids?

There's no sure-fire way to make sure your children grow up just right. I think my parents -- and a few of my friends -- would point to me as evidence of that.

But, having grown up a boater, and having many close friends who are boaters, it has always seemed to me that families who boat have a better time with life than those who golfed or beached it or bummed it. I've seen kids who couldn't otherwise talk to their parents over dinner strike up a conversation over two rags and a can of fiberglass wax. Parents who couldn't instill enough responsibility in their kids to get them to park their bike suddenly find delegating the responsibility of docking the boat -- or heck, just dropping the anchor -- a lynchpin in turning the tide toward making their namesakes productive citizens.

It seemed the coolest kids I met growing up hung around boats, water-ski clubs and marinas. Maybe it was just having a common quest with adults. Perhaps it was the coolness of boats bridged the gap with them. Whatever it was, every Monday they came to school with better tales of their weekends and seemed to enjoy school more than those who didn't boat.

Does enjoying this one activity intensely help people enjoy other activities more? To eye unpleasant tasks with less loathing. Maybe it's just that when families set aside time specifically for boating, leaving home and chores behind, the act of committing to recreation for a finite period actually does refresh and revitalize the ability to attack responsibilities with more enthusiasm -- and better results.

My theories about why boaters and their kids seem more hooked up with life are not proven, but a recent survey by Impulse Research Corp. leaves no doubt that boating kids get ahead faster. If your kids are boaters, the survey indicates they're getting a head start over nonboaters in many important developmental characteristics. They are more likely to be outgoing, leaders, physically active, healthy, happy and demonstrate a more responsible nature.

If it were possible to put that into pill form, would you bet your kids would swallow it? Not on your life. But parents who boat find their kids eager participants. Which leads to some additional and startling benefits of the game.

Kids who boat spend an average of one hour per week more quality time with their parents than nonboaters -- even in the winter months.

If you're hoping your kid will be a Heisman Trophy winner someday, the survey shows boating kids are much more involved in other sports than nonboaters. And here's the real kicker: Even though they spend more time in recreational pursuits, academically they fare as well as other kids. Your boater may graduate from high school with honors!

What else do boaters do better? They're 18 percent more likely to participate in household chores, 13 percent more likely to help with cooking, 10 percent more likely to help with gardening and 15 percent more likely to have a paying job. In fact, boating kids were more likely to participate in all of 30 different daily activities, except one -- watching TV. On average, boating kids regularly participate in 8 activities, compared with only 4 to 5 activities for non-boating kids.

I've always been sold on boating. With this evidence, you should be too. Concerned about the cost of getting in? I guarantee it will be cheaper than therapy or drug-rehab! 


Posted in Recent News | 1 Reply
Boat Trailer Maintenance Tips
May 29, 2011 6:24 PM | Tagged as Trailer

Boat Trailer Maintenance Tips

You are on your way for a  long-overdue family boat trip when, out in the middle of nowhere, you're trailer breaks down!! Nothing is more frustrating - especially if the breakdown is at night or on a Sunday when help may not be readily available !!!  While most boaters provide regular service for their boats, trailers often go neglected until bad things happen. Here's some maintenance tips that will help avoid these headaches.
 
Appearance: your trailer will look better and last longer if you wash the trailer with fresh water after each use.

Lubrication: use a good grade of oil and lube for your trailer. The small difference in cost is money well spent. Lubricate all moving parts: rollers, jack, coupler, and winch.

Bearings: if your trailer is not equipped with bearing protection or "bearing buddies", we recommend installing them. This will keep water out. Pump a good grade of chassis lube with a hand grease gun. If it comes out of the back you have a bad seal which needs to be
replaced. Check the lube level before going in the water, not after. Note: do not use a high pressure gun!!!

Tires: the most common cause of tire problems is under inflation. Be sure to inflate to the correct psi found on the sidewall of the tire. We also recommend that tires are balanced.
Note: be sure all tires have equal pressure!! Failure to do so may cause sway problems,
especially true on tandem trailers.

Springs: we recommend applying an undercoating to the springs, axles, and to the underside of
fenders. This will prevent salts from collecting and rust from starting. This will also
lubricate the springs for a quieter, softer ride.

Axle: overload is a common problem for axles. Pot holes, curbs and launching ramps all take their toll. Check frequently for uneven tire wear this could mean the axle is bent.

Rollers: be sure to oil roller shafts before use. Replace any rollers that appear bent or deteriorating.

Winch & jack: oil all moving parts regularly. If the winch has a steel cable, spray with cable spray or a heavy penetrating oil.

Brakes: It's estimated that as high as 50% of all boat trailer brakes do not function properly! Try to flush out brakes with fresh water after every launch in salt water. Disassemble brakes before prolonged storage and clean by spraying with a light spray like wd-40. Check brake lines for rust and fittings for tightness. Check fluid level often. Have you're brakes adjusted at least every 3 years or whenever they appear to be disfunctional.

Overall: tighten all bolts like u-bolts and lug nuts before any trip.

Visually inspect your boat to make sure it's in the proper position.

Use a transom and bow tie down. Do not depend on the winch line.

Be sure all lights are functioning properly.

It's a good practice to always carry a spare tire and wheel.

If going on long trips, we also recommend carrying a complete spare hub with bearings, a grease gun, spare light bulbs and fuses and, of course, a tool kit. 


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Bilge Pump Maintenance
May 29, 2011 6:20 PM | Tagged as Bilge

THE LOWLY BILGE PUMP
SOME HELPFUL TIPS
 

A good friend of mine once told me about water in boats. He said that he didn't mind too much if his boat leaked a bit from the top down, but it was a different matter altogether if it leaked from the bottom up.

Few of us boaters do our bilge pumps the honor of regular service. These wonderful devices are designed to evacuate normal bilge water accumulation. When I say normal, I mean a small amount of water ingress, not something that looks like a dike let loose ! Someone once said the best bilge pump is a frightened man with a five gallon bucket. How many of us have been there'! You can put your hands down now.

This is the school of hard knocks. Well, enough of this, let's get down in the deep dark recesses and have a look at this wonderful device. I always look at the float switch to see that it's mounted on the centerline. Are the bilges clean and debris free, or is there years of old paint, hair, dirt and lost tools just hoping to penetrate the usually wide open picket fence normal bilge pump strainer basket. Are the wiring connections in good order or are they starting to be as green as St. Patrick's day. Lift those wet boys up and consider installing a proper terminal strip in lieu of those gummy black taped connections. This also helps when it comes to replacing this wondrous device.

Recently I attended a boat that took a deep drink of water and discovered that a plastic tie  wrap had wrapped itself around the impeller rotor which locked and caused quite a mess. You need to get on some grubbies and muck that stuff out occasionally. You'd be surprised how sweet your little boat can smell with a properly cleaned bilge area not to mention retrieving your long lost favorite tools that were mysteriously eaten! Snap the pump off its strainer and check to see if the rotor is clear. Hair will foul a rotor and eventually lock it up. Look at your hoses and clamps to see if replacement is in order. That old hose with the cuts and holes in it may be  pumping more water in through perforations than it is pumping overboard. It just sort of recycles the stuff you want to get rid of.

Here's a few rules and suggestions for caring for your bilge pump.

A. Bilge pumps shall be mounted in an accessible location to permit servicing and cleaning of the intake and/or screening.

B. The bilge pump inlet shall be located so that excess bilge water can be removed at normal boat trims.

C. Pump intakes shall be protected to prevent ingestion of debris that are likely to cause pump failure.

D. Intake tubing, if used, shall not collapse under maximum pump suction.

E. Pump discharge systems shall be as nonrestrictive as practicable.

NOTE: Pump discharge capacity as installed may be reduced by such factors as:

-length of discharge piping.
-number and radius of bends.
-roughness of the interior surfaces of piping and fittings, and
-reduction in cross-sectional area of discharge system components such as check valves and thru-hulls.

F. The discharge location shall be above the waterline.

EXCEPTION: The discharge may be located below the waterline if the discharge line is provided with a vented loop to prevent siphoning into the boat. A check valve shall not be used for this purpose. 

G. A check valve may be used, if necessary, to prevent an automatic bilge pump from cycling on-and-off due to backflow from the discharge line.

H. Hose connections shall be secured with a non-corrosive type of clamp.

I. Motors of non-submersible bilge pumps shall be located above the maximum anticipated bile water level.

J. Automatically controlled pumps shall be installed with an overriding manual switch which is readily accessible.

K. Manually controlled pumps shall be installed with a switch which is readily accessible.

A 1" hole 2' below the waterline will allow in approximately 3,500 gallons per hour(GPH) in, and the most moderate sized vessel's we look at do not have the pump capacity to void that much water. The bilge pump coupled with a visual or audible device can give you enough time to preform damage control before your good ship starts to experience negative buoyancy and starts down like a greased safe. Look at your vessel's plumbing system with a critical eye and if in doubt, replace the questionable component. You won't regret it.


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Battery Maintenance
May 29, 2011 6:15 PM | Tagged as Battery Maintenance

Battery Monthly Maintenance and Storage

Perform Monthly Maintenance

A battery only requires a little monthly maintenance to perform perfectly. Keep the battery charged to 100%, recharging when the lights dim, the starter sounds weak, or the battery hasn't been used in more than two weeks. Other than that, follow this simple check list every month:

  • Check the electrolyte level
  • Keep the top free of grime
  • Check cables, clamps, and case for obvious damage or loose connections
  • Clean terminals and connectors as necessary
  • Check inside for excessive sediment, sulfation or mossing
  • Make sure the exhaust tube is free of kinks and clogs
  • Replace caps firmly

Finish up by testing the battery with either a hydrometer or voltmeter. If you make monthly maintenance on your battery part of your routine, your battery is guaranteed to live a long life.

Storing Your Battery

If the vehicle is in storage or used infrequently, disconnect the battery cable to eliminate drain from electrical equipment. Charge the battery every two weeks.

For extended storage, remove the battery from the vehicle and charge to 100%. Charge the battery every month if stored at temperatures below 60° F. If stored in a warm area (above 60° F), charge every two weeks. Make sure batteries are stored out of reach of children.

Proper Clothing

  • Always wear a face shield or safety goggles.
  • Wear plastic gloves to prevent acid burns. An apron or smock will protect your clothes.

Working With Acid

  • Clean up acid spills immediately using a water and baking soda solution to neutralize
  • ( 1lb. baking soda in 1 gallon of water).
  • Make sure the acid container is clearly marked and the work area is well-lighted and well-ventilated.
  • If sulfuric acid is swallowed or splashed in the eyes, treat immediately. Sulfuric acid in the eyes can cause blindness. Serious internal injuries or death can result if swallowed. Used as an electrolyte, sulfuric acid can burn the skin.

ANTIDOTES: For acid on the skin, flush with water. If acid is swallowed drink large quantities of milk or water, followed by milk of magnesia, vegetable oil or beaten eggs. Do not induce vomiting. Call a poison control center or doctor immediately. For acid in the eyes, flush for several minutes with water and seek immediate medical attention.

Charging Safety

  • When charging conventional batteries, loosen vent caps and ventilate charging area. A buildup of hydrogen and oxygen in the battery or in the charging area can create an explosion hazard.
  • If the battery feels hot to the touch during charging, STOP. Allow the battery to cool before charging again. Heat damages the plates, and a battery that is too hot can explode.
  • NEVER put the red sealing cap back on the battery once you take it off. If you do, gases will become trapped and could explode.
  • Make sure the vent tube isn't kinked or blocked. Otherwise, gases could build up and explode.
  • Properly connect the charger to the battery: positive charger lead to positive battery post and negative charger lead to negative battery post. Unplug the charger or turn it off before you disconnect the leads, which will cut down on the chance of sparksABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING, SPARKS OR FLAMES AROUND CHARGING BATTERIES. Charging gives off hydrogen and oxygen, which explode if ignited.
     

SULFATION AND FREEZING
Two of the biggest battery killers - sulfation and freezing - aren't a problem if the battery is properly maintained and water level is kept where it should be.

Sulfation
This happens because of 1) continuous discharging, or 2) low electrolyte levels.

Let's back up just a minute: we said earlier that discharge turns the lead plates into lead sulfate. This lead sulfate is actually a crystal. If the discharge continues uninterrupted, the sulfate crystals grow and blossom into sulfation - and a problem.

Much the same happens if the fluid level is too low, which exposes the plates to air. Then the active lead material oxidizes and sulfates, and it doesn't take long before it won't hold a charge. (Low electrolyte levels cause another problem, too: acid in the electrolyte becomes more concentrated, causing material to corrode and fall to the bottom. In sufficient quantity, it will short out the battery.)

Keeping a battery charged, pulling the battery cable during storage, and keeping electrolyte levels up eliminate the problem. For added protection, YUASA"s YuMicron, YuMicron CX and GRT batteries are treated with a special chemical formula called "Sulfate Stop." This dramatically reduces sulfate crystal buildup on plates. The result: longer battery life.

How good is Sulfate Stop?

We simulated a constant discharge condition on two batteries with a 10-watt bulb. Even after being totally drained for a week, the battery with Sulfate Stop made a 90% recovery.

The untreated battery: useless.
 

Electrolyte Freezing Points

Specific Gravity of Electrolyte
Freezing
Point
(degrees F)
1.265 -75 F
1.225 -35 F
1.200 -17 F
1.150 +5 F
1.100 +18 F
1.050 +27 F

It shouldn't bother you - unless a battery is inadequately charged. Looking one more time at the discharge process, remember that electrolyte acid becomes water as discharge occurs. Now, it takes Arctic temperatures to freeze acid. But water...as we all know, freezing starts at 32° F. A sign of this is mossing - little red lines on the plates - but it's tough to see unless you've got great eyes. Freezing can also crack the case and buckle the plates, which means the battery is shot.

A fully-charged battery can be stored at sub-freezing temperatures with no damage. As the chart shows, it takes - 75° F to freeze electrolyte in a charged battery. But as just a couple degrees below freezing, at +27° F, a discharged battery's electrolyte turns to ice. That's a difference of more than 100° F between the low temperatures a charged and discharged battery can stand.

At temperatures such as these, incidentally, the self-discharge rate of a battery is so low that a recharge usually isn't needed for months. But to stay on the safe side, test.


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Anchoring Tips
May 29, 2011 6:02 PM | Tagged as Anchoring

How to Drop an Anchor

  • Select your ideal anchoring spot and proceed steadily but slowly toward it. Look for an area that's at least 100 feet away from other boats. Remember that your vessel will swing around its anchor point, and the last boat to drop the hook is responsible for moving if it's anchored too close for comfort.
  • Remove anchor from storage area aand prepare it for use.
  • Make sure the tail end of the rope is secured to the boat.
  • Turn the bow of the boat into the wind.
  • Stop the boat in the water.
  • Release the anchor over the bow slowly until you feel it touch the bottom.
  • Let out an additional length of rode equal to 1/3 the depth of the water.
  • Wrap the rope around the deck cleat and travel in reverse gear to set the anchor. You'll feel the anchor "take a bite," and you may hear the line ring like a guitar string. Don't try to hold the rope with your hands as you do this step, or you may experience rope burn.
  • Release the wrap on the cleat and continue releasing the rope as you motor backward slowly.
  • Release enough rope so that it's equal to at least four times the water's depth in calm conditions, and seven times the water's depth in wind or current. For example, play out 32 feet of rope in 8 feet of water in calm conditions, or 56 feet of rope in rough water.
  • Stop the boat and wrap the rope around the cleat. Secure with a cleat knot.
  • Travel in reverse until the boat swings around and the anchor is set.
  • Take a mark on the shore by lining up two stationary objects, such as light poles or trees. If one of the marks moves away from the other, your anchor is dragging and you need to reset.

Tips: 

  •  Avoid throwing an anchor over the side. Although this is a common practice, the chain and rope may catch on the flukes of the anchor and cause it to drag. 
  •  If the boat turns sideways to the wind, you're dragging anchor and need to reset. 
  •  The key to successful anchoring is having enough rope for the water depth. 

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All About Vinyl
May 29, 2011 5:59 PM | Tagged as vinyl mildew

What is Vinyl?
Vinyl is a plastic made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Vinyl is manufactured in different ways in a number of forms and in varying qualities for thousands of uses.  A vinyl's topcoat holds in plasticizers, softening agents which keep vinyl supple.

Vinyl is a UV-sensitive material which degrades when exposed to sunlight. Maintaining the integrity of the topcoat and protecting against UV damage are the keys to keeping vinyl looking and performing "like new".

An enlarged sideview of common vinyl fabric would show raw PVC (polyvinyl chloride) covered by a thin layer of plastic called the "topcoat". The topcoat is the part of the vinyl you can see and touch. To keep vinyl fabric soft and flexible, manufacturers add agents known as plasticizers to the raw PVC. A major function of the topcoat is to hold in these plasticizers, which otherwise would quickly evaporate. If the topcoat is damaged or degraded, plasticizers begin to escape leading to embrittlement/cracking/failure.

Protecting the topcoat, then, is the most crucial aspect of properly maintaining vinyl, and the subject with which vinyl manufacturers are most concerned. Vinyl manufacturers agree on and recommend the following. 

General Cleaning
Never use household cleaners, powdered or other abrasives, steelwool or industrial cleaners, dry cleaning fluids, solvents (petroleum distillates), bleach or detergents. Use a medium-soft brush, warm soapy water (such as Ivory soap), rinse with cool water then dry.

Mildew Stains
To kill the bacteria creating the mildew, use a medium-soft brush and vigorously brush the stained area with a 4 to 1 mixture of water and ammonia; rinse with cool water.

Tough Mildew Stains
Apply a mixture of one(1) teaspoon ammonia, one-fourth(1/4) cup hydrogen peroxide and three-fourths(3/4) cup of distilled water; rinse with cool water. Note: All cleaning methods must be followed by a thorough rinse with water.

Obviously abrasives should never be used on vinyl. Petroleum distillates are a universal "no-no" for both vinyl and rubber. Waxes should never be used on vinyl because (a) Most waxes contain petroleum distillates, (b) Wax is a build-up product, holding in the heat absorbed from the sun and accelerating heat damage.

Virtually all vinyl manufacturers agree that no type of oil should be used on vinyl. Silicone oil vinyl treatments should not be used for several reasons; 1) Silicone oil formulations typically attack the vinyl topcoat, 2) Silicone oil formulations usually contain no effective UV screening ingredients, 3) Silicone oil formulations are build-up products which accelerate heat damage, 4) Silicone oil formulations are greasy and oily, attract dust, and soil more quickly. READ THE LABEL! Product directions suggesting more than one coat for better cosmetic enhancement are build-up products and are recommended against by vinyl manufacturers.

Clear vinyl
Lacking the topcoat of regular vinyl, clear vinyl is more sensitive to UV light, scratching and "outgassing" of the plasticizers which lead to hazing, fogging, yellowing and embrittlement.

Simple Cleaning
To avoid scratching, always rinse with water before washing.  Wash with soap and water using a soft mitt.  Rinse with water and allow to dry.

Mildew
Dirt and moisture are essential to mildew propagation.  Thus keeping vinyl clean and dry is crucial to preventing mildew.  Dirty vinyl + dampness = mildew.


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6 Reasons Your Boat Doesn't Sell
May 29, 2011 5:57 PM | Tagged as Boat

6 Six Reasons Why Your Boat Isn’t Selling
An insider’s guide to getting your boat sold fast. 
 
Has the algae grown noticeably thick around your boat's waterline? Has the “For Sale” sign turned black from mold? Did you just attend your boat broker’s retirement party? If you answered yes to any of these, chances are the sale of your boat has fizzled.

Don’t despair: Even if your boat has languished on the market week after week and month after month—keeping you from trading up to that new boat—you can still get your boat in the hands of a new owner. We've identified the six most common reasons boats don’t sell—and what you can do to remedy them.

1.   Your boat is overpriced. When you establish an unrealistic price for your boat, it sets in motion a string of events that works against you. Most boat brokers, and thus most qualified buyers, will see that asking price within 30 days. If your boat is overpriced by as little as 10 percent, buyers’ interest in your boat will decline. (This is especially true if you indicated you have no intention of negotiating.) The few buyers who are interested, and intend to finance the purchase, will find the boat’s inflated value doesn’t jibe with the appraisal from their surveyor or financial institution. SO even if you find someone dumb enough to buy at your inflated price, the bank probably won't lend the money.

Also keep in mind that your boat broker may have suggested or approved the higher asking price in order to secure your listing. Even worse: Competing boat brokers often use overpriced boats like yours to help them sell their own listings. “See what they’re asking?” the brokers say. “Now, let’s take another look at that first boat I showed you.”

Let’s say you have a boat that should be priced at $30,000, and you have it listed at $40,000. You’re now competing with boats priced at up to $50,000, and not the boats in your category. If your boat remains on the market for too long, buyers and other agents may begin to wonder if there aren’t other more serious reasons it isn’t selling. Before you know it, the boat has become “shopworn” and no one’s even looking at it, until you lower the price to a realistic number.

2. Your boat doesn’t show well.   Your used boat is competing against shiny new yachts sitting in showrooms, all with attractive new gadgets, warranties and manufacturers’ price incentives. Let’s face it: Even the best old boat needs a little fixing up to attract the right buyer. The good news is that most of the work will be cosmetic and relatively inexpensive; new paint (or a touch-up of existing paint), a few attractive furniture pieces, new throw pillows and bed linens, and a thorough cleaning of floors and carpets often do the trick. Also, be sure to make that engine compartment sparkle. And wow! The boat almost looks good enough for you to reconsider selling it!

An experienced broker can advise you where your time and money will be best spent. Simply put, though, if your boat smells fresh and looks fresh, you’ll have a nice leg up on the competition.

3. You have a lousy listing agent.   Unfortunately, bad brokers do exist, and they’ll mislead, misbehave and misrepresent. Their bad advice can cost you money and time; plus, you’ll have the added annoyance of keeping the boat ready to show seven days a week. The boat broker from hell will encourage you to overprice your boat: “List your boat with me and here’s what I’ll get you for it.” Then, you’ll be disappointed when he fails to market the boat properly, qualify potential buyers or work with other brokers (if a broker sells his own listing, after all, he’ll avoid splitting his commission), keeping you totally out of the loop.

Worst of all, if your broker is abrasive, arrogant and difficult to work with, other brokers may not want the hassle of showing any of his listings to their own prospective buyers. This is one reason it pays to find out ahead of time about your broker and the company they work for.

4. Your engine(s) has too many hours on it.   Many prospective buyers shy away from a boat with high engine hours. Often, however, this needn’t be the case. Do your homework and obtain from the manufacturer the average useful life of your engine, and you may discover they’re less worn out than you thought.

Then, arm your broker with the data, as well as all pertinent maintenance information, so he can inform (and reassure) prospective buyers. (Most reputable dealers of engines keep maintenance records on file for up to 10 years.) Remember, properly maintained high-hour engines often are in better shape than poorly maintained engines with few hours. Be sure to detail the engine with fresh paint, hoses and belts, as well as detail the entire engine compartment.

5. You’re battling sellers’-market and buyers’-market conditions.   In this business, timing really is everything. The state of the market is affected by any number of external, unpredictable conditions: weather, interest rates, local economy and public optimism or pessimism. In a “hot” sellers’ market, chances are your boat will go for the asking price. In a “cold” buyers’ market, where inventories grow and qualified buyers are scarce, you’ll be lucky to find a buyer even at a low price. So, if you’re trying to sell your yacht in a cold, or flat, market, where you’re competing with new inventory in the hands of dealers and builders, be prepared to settle for less than top dollar.

6.   The builder is out of business. When the builder of your boat no longer produces  boats like yours, the market could react unfavorably with respect to your vessel’s resale value. After all, the builder was once advertising, attending boat shows and maintaining a network of dealers or representatives for its boats, but now no such support system is in place. This does not mean all is lost. Did the builder build quality boats and have a good reputation?  If yes, you can breathe a little easier, since your broker can promote these strong qualities in his marketing efforts. Still, be prepared to accept less than your asking price unless you own a piece of history or some well-publicized masterpiece. Custom boats are, of course, works of art, but you can’t expect them to command deceased artists’ prices.

With a fresh approach, a little research and a few cosmetic improvements, your old boat will find a new owner in no time. And there’s only one thing better than selling your boay: shopping for a new one!


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