Today's lake level: 1,071.42
Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Feb. 6, 2016
3:25 pm


Captain's Comments

News and notes from the boating world and beyond

Bertram is introducing the Bertram 35’, which is the replacement for the much enamored 31’ “Moppie.” The Moppie was made famous in the ’60s and ’70s as one of the best all-around fishing boats as well as the hull being one of the best for offshore powerboat racing. The hull’s sea keeping abilities were renowned.

The new 35’ takes all the qualities of the 31’ Moppie and adds some new features. The fiberglass hull is now built with up to date techniques and materials. The 35’ fly bridge is a great improvement over the small F/B on the 31’. It has a 12’5” beam and a draft of 2’6” so you can go in those shallow gunkholes for a swim or relax at anchor. Top end speed is 40-plus knots.  No news as to the price, but it will be in the showrooms by May or June. Go to: to view the photos. It looks like a real winner.

Bertram has changed hands recently and was purchased by Beniamino Gavio, who also owns Baelietto and CCN Yacht Builders.  He is a successful entrepreneur and boat builder who promises nothing but the best in the Bertram’s future.

Bertram has always been one of my favorites. A 46’ was the queen of the Miami Boat Show in 1970, and I sold it to a client. After that I sold and delivered quite a few Bertrams in various sizes. One of my last deliveries was a 46’ Bertram from Pompano Beach to St. Petersburg, a great two-day trip.  Look for more new models out of Bertram in the near future.

Boat shows
I hope everyone enjoyed the Atlanta Boat Show. Those of you who purchased a new boat and have not taken the boating safety course, you should do so before you hit the water. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary course dates are in this publication, for your convenience.  You can also have your new boat inspected by them, it doesn’t cost anything, and you will feel safer.

The Miami International Boat Show will be February 11-15. This is probably is the largest boat show of the year. There are 600,000 square feet of exhibitor space, and 1,200 boats on display. Make sure you’ve got your best walking shoes on. This show has also taken over the Miami Marine Stadium Park and basin. We use to have heat races at the stadium, and the Miami-Key Largo-Miami marathon race started and ended at the stadium. The show will have demo docks, so you can take your dream boat for a ride. You will probably view parts of the show online, check for details at:  Remember, you need two or three days to see the whole show.

Young angler earns scholarship
In previous columns I’ve reported how high school and college fishing teams have grown in popularity. Now there is a high school graduate who made good grades, but also did well on his schools fishing team. Cody Stahl a graduate of Crosspoint Christian Academy in Pike County, Georgia along with his fishing teammate Tate VanEgmond dominated the Georgia High School Fishing circuit the last few years. They won first place trophies in Georgia Bass Nation High School Fishing Tournament action. The two also took their talents to the Bassmaster High School National Championship this past July and finished 10th in the nation.

Stahl’s scholarship at the Savannah College of Art and Design will help him in his major of industrial design and minor in marketing. In his spare time he’ll be fishing on SCAD’s college team.
Stahl will join local angler Noah Pescitelli of Buford on the SCAD fishing team. Pescitelli, 18, recently received an athletic and academic scholarship at the college as well.

We wish them luck. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about them in Bassmaster Tournaments in the future. Hey, high school students that want a fishing team, get a teacher to be a coach and start one.

New safety equipment
It seems like it takes a tragedy like the loss of those two boys in Florida last July to create new and less expensive lifesaving electronic gear. One of the parents is working with Florida legislators to offer boat registration discounts to those who show proof that they carry registered EPIRBS and/or (depending on vessel size) PLBs onboard.  ARC Electronics is already donating to the non-profit foundation aimed at keeping kids safe on the water.

There may come a day when all boats will be required to carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon). Ocean Signal has a new affordable unit if it becomes law. It’s ideal for boats up to 25’ in length. You activate it manually or it automatically activates when immersed in water to send an emergency signal to a rescue response center anywhere in the world. The 66 channel GPS helps responders home in on your location. It also has two high intensity strobes which maximize visibility at night or in a fog. The unit has a 10 year battery life, and will broadcast at 12 watts for 48 hours when activated. Cost is $399.95 at:

ACR offers a “ResQLink+” PLB (personal locator beacon) that is designed to secure onto your life jacket. In rough seas or a catastrophic situation people can become separated and the PLB will help locate them. They sell for $250 and it’s a good idea to have one on each PFD in use onboard. I know from experience a lot of boaters will say, “I don’t need that, I just boat on a lake.” But they forget the one or two trips to the Gulf or the Atlantic shore. Don’t be a statistic; if you are going off shore you need U.S. Coast Guard Approved devices such as these.

Here are a few more safety devices being offered this year:
  • The Throw Raft TD 2401:  Throwable flotation devices are essential to have onboard, especially for a man over board situation.  Cost $130:
  • Flares are included in most safety units onboard. Aurora flares are a waterproof hand held red flare and should help in a quick rescue or for assistance. Cost is $30.  Contact:
  • The Spot Trace and Gen 3 are widely used by delivery captains and long distance cruisers to keep people informed of their locations when cell phones won’t work.  They also have an SOS button.  Cost is $150. Contact:

When you go boating with these items onboard you and your crew will be much safer in case of an emergency which I hope you don’t have.

PWC update
Bombardier’s Sea-Doo that started the PWC craze in 1968 used engines from their successful Ski-Doo snowmobiles. Both were in their trademark bright yellow which was recognizable on water or land as one of Bombardier’s successful recreation products. The new RXP-X model seems light years ahead of the 1968 models. It still has a Rotax engine, but most similarities end with the logo on the engine. The new model has a 1600 cc engine rated at 300 H.P. - that’s 17 times the original model.  The power is substantially boosted by the combination of a super charger and inter-cooler. Top speed is reached in 1.5 seconds when it tops out at an electronically limited 67 M.P.H. You know some owners will try to disconnect the electronic limiter.

In my opinion I think PWCs are traveling too fast now. I look to see more accidents because of speed and unfamiliarity with the machine.   They now have what is called the intelligent brake and reverse system. It will rapidly slow the craft, ultimately bringing it to a stop in 160 feet which is a shorter distance than comparable makes.  Electronic throttle gives more control, plus a cruise control lets you rest your throttle hand. Check with your dealer for a price and ride.  Sounds like another reliable product from Bombardier.

Anglers Journal
Anglers Journal, which I recommend for all fishermen, will now be on television on Destination America, part of the Discovery Network. The show is hosted by respected angling personality and Editor John Brownlee. The first episode was filmed in Hopedale, Louisiana, home waters of big red fish. Viewers can expect strong story telling from a fast paced show that is really fun to watch.  For more information:  www.facebook/   

Be courteous, practice safe boating, wear your PFDs and I’ll see you on the water.

Mike Rudderham is a veteran marine surveyor with more than 40 years experience in the marine industry.

January 2016 column

Start the new year off right with boating resolutions

I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year! Don’t forget a few boating New Year’s resolutions:
  • Add Stabil or a like additive to your fuel tank. It will save you from costly repairs or being towed.
  • Have properly fitting PFDs (life jackets) and wear them when you are on the water. The USCG states that at least 80 percent of victims who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing PFDs.  Don’t become a statistic. If you’ve noticed recent boat ads everyone on board wears a PFD.
  • Enroll you and your crew in a USCG Auxiliary or US Power Squadron safety course. You will find the dates in this publication.  Remember, course completion could get you 10 percent off on your boat insurance.
  • Join Boat US, it’s the organization all boaters should belong to.  They have a very informative bi-monthly publication and if you need a good answer to a boating problem you can contact them and one of their pros will help you.  Contact: It only costs $24 and it is worth it.

Now’s the time to charter
If you are tired of looking at boating magazines in this cold January weather, why not consider chartering a boat in Florida or the Bahamas. If you are qualified you can bare boat charter, it’s like having your own boat with your crew and you are the Captain. You can cruise the west coast of Florida, the  Keys, or Florida’s east coast where you can cruise to the Bahama Island of your choice. The west coast of Florida has Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor and farther south to Naples and Marco Island. In the Keys you can go diving on one of the world’s largest coral reefs.

Chris Caswell, who writes for many popular boating magazines, says that a new trend taken from European charters is called social chartering or a flotilla of friends chartering numerous vessels. The charter company puts together a package for a particular destination, perhaps the Virgin Islands for a dozen or so boats. The charter company provides a Captain, service technician and a hostess. The Captain meets with the bare boat skippers each morning and goes over the charts and discusses the plan of the day, which could be the perfect cove or beach to have lunch or a dive on a coral reef.

Some think they will miss out on destinations with a social charter. That’s not likely, your lead crew is intimately familiar with the area.  You’ll get more out of your social charter, because you will go directly to your destination instead of searching for it. Perhaps that fun loving crew you hang with at the marina or beach at Lake Lanier might want to do a social charter this winter. Just think of the stories you will have to tell dockside next summer.

For more info on Florida and Bahamas cruising contact: for a cruising directory, it’s only $16.

If you are a fisherman, here’s the trip of a lifetime, especially if you are a bass fisherman. How about a trip to Mexico to fish Lake Picachos. It’s full of Florida largemouth bass, the ones that grow the fastest. Fly in to Mazatlán and about a 50-minute ride puts you at the Anglers Inn. They will meet you at the airport. Packages start at $1,695 per angler for four nights and three days. Call 1-800-gota-fish or also check to view the latest fish reports and videos.  They say 10 pound largemouth are average.

Charter resources
Here are some basic charter resources:
Le Boat cruises the canals in France which go through small towns with great wine and food.  These cruises are getting more popular. No rough water, just canals and locks, and great scenery.  If you go on a charter please share your story and photos with Lakeside readers.

Chitwod Charters is a familiar one for me as I captained a 48’ Grand Banks trawler for a client on a week’s charter in the Sarasota to Ft. Myers area, everyone was satisfied. Southwest Florida Yacht Charters will also teach you sailing when chartering.

More on Cuba
Cruising Cuban waters is legal with the proper licensing. General tourism is still not allowed and your trip must fall under one of 12 (fairly comprehensive) categories.  The 12 permitted categories of travel are: family visits, government business, journalism, professional research and meetings, educational activities, religious activities, participation in public performances, clinics, workshops, exhibitions, sports and other competitions, support for the Cuban people, humanitarian projects, work of private foundations and research, exportation, importation, authorized export transactions.  You can also refer to: and you will see some of the frequently asked questions to get your papers.

Since this past September when these regulations were set, sailboat racers have been busy. The Conch Republic Cup will comprise a series of races starting the last part of January 2016. They will go from Key West to Varadaro and then Varadaro to Havana, and then the last race will be from Havana to Key West. Check out: for more information.

Another race was set for Dec. 3, 2015. It was promoted by the Varadaro Yacht Club in Cuba along with the Lake Kegonsa Sailing in Wisconsin. Guess they wanted to get out of the cold. Check out:

The Pensacola Yacht Club is also considering a race to Havana.  The Sarasota Yacht Club has scheduled a race from Sarasota to Havana next April 2-12. Visit: They expect more than 20 entries.  

Meanwhile the charter business is picking up. Check: For the fisherman, the Hemingway Yacht Club is expected to begin tournaments like they had in Hemingway’s famous fishing tournament on “Pilar,” his 38’ wheeler.

An interesting note about Hemingway’s second wife Pauline, who was from the small town of Piggot, Arkansas. Seems like when the kids came along he didn’t like diapers, feeding and colic, so he didn’t stay at the Key West home, he would go to Cuba and fish. So as a lure to keep him in Key West Pauline convinced her uncle to purchase “Pilar.”

National fisherman Roger Fitzgerald has fond memories of Cuba. His father was in the Navy and stationed at Guantanamo Bay. He grew up there and caught the fishing fever as a youngster when he caught a cubero snapper. That’s a red snapper on steroids and they run a pretty good size – 20 to 40 pounds plus. He has visited Cuba many times in recent years with no problem. He would fly to Cancun, Mexico and catch one of 10 or more flights on Mexicana or Cubana Airlines. However if the Cubans got caught talking fishing they might end up in jail. I’m sure things are changing and the spring boating magazines will have many stories of a revitalized Cuba.

An unusual boat
The Galeon 50 flybridge yacht is one of the new yachts that features the euro-style profile and a spacious flybridge. She cruises at 24 knots, but that is just part of it.  When you reach your favorite cove or party destination you push several buttons and the five foot long windows slide forward into the bulkheads, then the aft bulkheads fold down into the balconies just a few feet above the water. There is an alfresco bar on one side and a balcony with a chaise lounge on the other. Quite a party barge. If you were anchored in a cove with other boats, this is the one that would have the party and cookout.  Fold out balconies were originated by designer Tony Castro for his super yacht designs. Galeon is represented in the U.S. by Marine  Max. Check out:

Large electric outboards
Trolling motors are not the only electric outboard motors; Torqeedo introduced an 80 hp and ReGen Nautic, a 180 hp, with a 300 hp model on the way. They have even experimented with a 38 foot cigarette with 2,200 hp. However battery power will only last for 30 minutes, going at 70 mph with a burst to 110 mph. They are very efficient, but only for a short time because of the batteries. The cost would be about three times that of a gas outboard. The problem is the lithium ion batteries, which are heavy, don’t stay on a charge long enough, and they are expensive. When these three problems are solved we will see electric outboards competing in price. Elon Musk (of Tesla electric cars) is now working on this at his new battery factory in Nevada.

If you go out on the water be sure to practice safe boating and I’ll see you on the water when it gets warmer.

December 2015 column

A couple of strange stories from the sea

There are a lot of unusual happenings in this world, but I’ve always thought sea stories were the most unusual. Here are a couple I found strange:

Two teenagers growing up in Ocean City, Maryland became interested in fishing, so they hung around the docks trying to learn what they could. One day they signed on to one of the uncle’s fishing boats to learn everything they could about what would be their future profession. Their next step would be to get their Captain’s license and find a fishing boat owner to hire them, which they did.

They fished out of Ocean City in white marlin tournaments with some success. One Captain had a 53’ Monterey in which he traveled the world – as far south as Venezuela and west in the Pacific.  Both Captains stayed in contact and the world traveler decided to go home to Ocean City to be closer to relatives and his fishing buddy.

A white marlin tournament was being held, and the well-traveled fishing Captain entered it. By the last day of the tournament they had caught five white marlins. A sixth white marlin was caught and the Captain noticed that it was a tagged fish, something he was very familiar with, having tagged over 600 fish down in Venezuela. They clipped off the tag, re-tagged and released the fish. Back at port he filled out the tag and mailed it to the Billfish Foundation which recorded the card’s information, such as when and where it was caught, and who caught it.

It is always interesting to read the cards when they comeback. Sometimes they were tagged half way around the world. When the Captain read the card his jaw dropped. The fish was caught by his teenage fishing buddy. Out of a boat in which he had been captain! And it was caught within a mile of where he was fishing, exactly one year to the day, almost to the hour. That’s like lightning striking twice in the same place. Needless to say that evening they had to toast the occasion, and they came to the conclusion that “Great minds think alike.”

A friend of mine gave me his copy of The Texas Fish and Game Magazine and a letter about a 7’ diameter sea turtle and it reminded me of my encounter. Manual Lopez who was a bartender at the Pelican Restaurant on Clearwater Beach would send me prospective customers to my yacht sales business. One day he called and said he had a close friend who had passed away and his sister and nephew would like to present his ashes to the sea. I said I would take them out in the Gulf.

So one beautiful morning we left the dock at about 6:30 a.m. We cruised to about five miles off shore. The boat was one of my trade-ins: a 24’ Fibra with an I/O. I slowed to an idle and told them I would make slow circles at idle while they presented the ashes and said quotes from the Bible. I made about four 300’ circles and “bam” I hit something. I shut the boat off and went astern where the largest sea turtle I’ve ever seen was giving me the evil eye.

I apologized for what happened, started the engine and continued to make circles. I made about two more circles and “bam” again. I repeated what I did before and there was that turtle again. I raised the outdrive to check it, and sure enough the second strike bent the prop. I figured it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t continue, so I started making circles so we could finish.  Again “bam” and the engine revved. I checked again and found out the drive shaft was broken, and there was that sea turtle again. He had a satisfied look this time. I told my crew that we would try to hitch a tow from one of the fishermen nearby. After flagging down three or four boats for a tow we finally got one. It cost $150 for the tow and the boat repair was $350.00.

I told a Conservation Officer who had been in the U.S. Coast Guard with me and he said, “You had one of those new shinny props on didn’t you?” I said yes and he said running the way I was, the sun reflected off the prop blades. It was like a kingfish chasing a Reflecto spoon. That is one of the strangest events to happen to me on the water.

Anniversary stamp
The U.S. Postal Service will have stamps to honor the U.S. Coast Guard’s 225th anniversary.  The Coast Guard was signed into law by President George Washington in August 1790. It provided for 10 vessels nicknamed “revenue cutters.” The stamp has the 295’ cutter Eagle “Americas tall ship” and an MH-65 Dolphin “helicopter” rescue craft. The Coast Guard has more than 49,000 active-duty members, 7,300 reservists, 8,300 civilian employees and 30,000 volunteer auxiliary personnel.

Santa is near
It’s time to think about your boat, Captain and crew. If you have an older boat maybe replacing some standard equipment that’s getting old like PFDs, lines and fenders, spotlights, anchor and rode, fire extinguisher, update electronics, VHF, depth finder, radar or PLBs would make great Christmas gifts.  

New recreation toys that have just hit the market would make a great gift. Maybe a 28 pound kayak would provide fun for you crew. It folds up into its own back pack for easy storage on board or in your car. The high pressure drop stitch inflatable kayak is super rigid and easy to paddle. Contact: or call for color catalog 1-800-748-8066.  This would be great fun for kids, or adults. It would also be great for quietly sneaking up on that favorite fishing hole.

There is also a stand up paddle board that conveniently folds up into its own back pack for convenient stowing or traveling. Hobie also has an inflatable kayak with pedal driven mirage drive. It’s also easily storable and is made from rugged PVC. Contact:

If you have a crew member or passenger who gets seasick, a good stocking stuffer would be the Anchor Nutrition Bar. This tasty treat starts working within 15 minutes after eating, it’s good for you, and it lasts up to three hours. The cost is $11.99 for a three pack.  Contact: T-shirts or hats with your boats name on it for Captain and crew is another suggestion.

If you plan an off shore trip make sure you have the proper safety equipment like a “EPIRB” or other safety equipment you might need for an emergency.  Don’t be in next year’s statistics, make it home safely. Contact the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron if you need a list of proper off shore safety equipment you might want to give Captain and crew for Christmas.  

A membership in Boat/U.S. would be a very worthwhile gift. It not only helps you on the water, but they have a great magazine the whole family will enjoy. Cost is very reasonable so get ready for next season and join. It could be your best present from Santa.  Contact:

Cuba invitation
The Commodore Eschrich and the board of directors of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Havana has extended an invitation to U.S. boaters to come to Cuba and enjoy what they will also have to offer American cruisers. They would like to organize conferences, seminars, courses, sailing and motor racing, fishing tournaments and other boating events. It sounds like they will be ready to go as soon as diplomatic relations are completed. Visit:

Boat show time
The Atlanta Boat Show will be from January 14th to the 17th.  Since boating has come back from the bad times of the recession you might be thinking of a boat for the family. Start selecting what you want now and what you can afford and it will avoid confusion at the show.

Practice safe boating, be courteous, and wear a P.D.F and I’ll see you on the water.

November 2015 column

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary began as 'Coastal Picket Forces'

During World War II there were close to 60 ships sunk by German submarines off the northern Gulf Coast. One sinking was the S.S. Robert E. Lee about 25 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Almost 100 lives were lost.  The Coast Guard escort ship would claim the only sinking of a German submarine off the southern U.S. coast line. This incident was one of many that also occurred off the East Coast and Florida straits. The German U-boats referred to it as the “American Hunting Season.”

Around this critical time a surprising ragtag fleet of recreational boaters, owners of schooners and power boats offered up their personal boats for anti-submarine operations along the American coastline. They called themselves “Coastal Picket Forces.” One of the most famous of these volunteers was Ernest Hemingway and his 38’ Wheeler “Pilar.” They cruised the Florida straits in search of German U-boats while armed with only grenades and Thompson submachine guns. These volunteers also became vital in rescuing seamen from torpedoed vessels, freeing up the Coast Guard to actively hunt marauding U-boats.

In 1941, Popular Science Magazine ran an article discussing this new citizen wing of the Coast Guard that recently organized. By the end of the war, the Coastal Picket Forces were formally recognized, and the organization was absorbed into what is now known as the modern day U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary which still patrols our coastlines today.

They also inspect your boats for proper equipment and safety. And they have boating classes, and if you pass and get a certificate it could lower your boat insurance by 10 percent. The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has a proud and dedicated history in boating.

High school fishing
The Southeastern Regional Conference Championship Fishing Tournament was held at the end of September on Lake Lanier. Forty five teams competed; the last four teams were skunked. The winning team: East Hall High School Vikings’ fishermen; Tristan Thomas, Dakota Crumley and Hunter Buffington had 12 lbs. 13 oz. of fish to beat out the second place team, Hazel Green, 12 lbs. 10 oz. The teams will now go to the national championship later this year. High school fishing teams are getting more popular each year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a women’s team or two soon.  Stay tuned and we’ll give you the tournament updates.

New I/O engines
Mercury Marine now builds its own total motors and does not use automotive blocks like the old 454c.i. model that was quite a gas guzzler. They have introduced a 6.2 liter V-8 engine in 300 and 350 H.P. models for inboard and I/O, built from the ground up. These models are more economical and much quieter as the air intake faces toward the stern rather than the helm.

Volvo also has some new models based on GM’s 4.3 liter V-6.  They are 200 and 240 H.P. for both inboard and I/O installation. I can’t help but think what would happen if GM quit making V-8 and V-6 blocks and the automotive company had to buy their engine blocks from Mercury Marine. That would sure be a switch, but interesting to say the least.  

Diesel outboards are being built by Mercury Marine since the Department of Defense made a “one fuel directive,” meaning diesel. This engine will not be available in a civilian version. The horsepower also was not noted with this announcement. I would guess the horsepower would fall between 200 and 300 H.P.

A Swedish manufacturer has introduced the OXE 200 H.P. diesel outboard which complies with NATO’s single fuel directive but is also being tested for non-military applications. It is based on a General Motors diesel, mounted horizontally with the transmission at the power head and belts driving the propeller. Check this out at You might see this one at a boat show.

Florida to Cuba record
Forest Johnson, known for his fast 37’ prowler boats, set a record from Florida to Cuba in 1958 of 6 hours and 24 minutes. The record was recently broken by “Apachestar” recently and the 100 miles was covered in one and a half hours: a new powerboat record.

I met Forest Johnson at his factory on the Miami River when he had some 24’ molds for sale, which my partners and I bought. I finished the molds and we built a 24’ center console and cuddy cabin. It was powered with a Mercury inboard and was a great boat for Tarpon fishing. We sold a bunch of them and then sold the molds. The last one I saw was a police boat in Naples, Florida.

Jack Beachem, who built Holiday and Lazy-Days marinas here on Lake Lanier, as well as Lazy-Day houseboats, had an open Forest Johnson prowler. It was a similar model to the one that was in the 1970 Bahamas 500.  Prowlers were famous for rum running; they were fast and sea worthy.

Treasure hunting update
Brent Brisben, who bought the rights to the 11 ships that were lost in a 1715 hurricane off Vero Beach Florida from Mel Fisher’s heirs, not only hunts for treasure himself, but sublets the right to other treasure hunters. One family found 50 gold coins; most were what are called “Royals” which were crafted to look and feel impressive. The coins were worth about $1 million. Brisben’s own team found 350 coins, and nine “Royals,” a total value of about $4.5 million.

He says the trick is getting in the trough between the reefs and the beach. There is about five or six feet of sand which has to be blown away. They then go through broken limestone with gaps, shelves and fissures. They excavate that and then all the cracks and fissures hold hundreds of gold coins.  Brisben says there is another $400 million out there and plans to keep looking. If you see a 50’ boat with divers in close around Vero Beach, Florida they could be treasure hunters. Go online and research “Treasure Hunting.” Maybe you’ll catch the bug and go hunt gold coins.  

It’s boat show time
The 2015 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show runs November 5th thru 9th. (Thursday through Monday). The show is branded as a world class event, with billions of dollars in boats. Show Management, which produces the show, has launched a streamlined, easy to navigate and mobile compatible consumer website with detailed maps of the show and information about exhibitors. The website’s exhibitor pages are richer in content now, and photos of boats and their specification and locations at the show are available. Now you can go to the show on a laptop in the comfort of your home.  

Atlanta’s Boat Show will again be in January 2016. Since boating is on the rebound the boat shows will have many more new models and equipment.

Practice safe boating, be courteous, wear a PFD, and I’ll see you on the water.

October 2015 column

It's now time for boaters to winterize

Winter is not far away and that means our boating season is essentially over. Now is the time to winterize your boat and do it properly so you will have less “get ready” chores next spring. Here are some tips:

Outdrives and outboards need to have the lower units checked.  Drain out the gear case oil and inspect it for water. If it has water in it that means the prop seal has failed and needs to be replaced.  This can be caused by age. Or monofilament line (fishing line) could have wrapped around the prop shaft and damaged the seal. Remove the prop and inspect. If your prop has damage, send it in for repair or upgrade to a new one. Remember, oil and seals are cheap, lower units that get frozen because of water in the gear case are expensive.

Inboard boats and four cycle outboards need to have an oil and filter change. Don’t wait until spring because the acids in old oil can damage your engine’s internal parts. Fuel filters and water separators should be cleaned and inspected.  Replace where needed. Check fuel lines and hose clamps. Make sure fuel line is U.S. Coast Guard approved for fuel using ethanol, replace if not. Also, use only approved stainless steel hose clamps, and double clamp. Add Sta-bil or an approved additive to your fuel tank.

Inspect bilges for hose and clamps, as well as wiring and connections. Replace or repair with approved parts where needed. Check navigation lights, remove bulbs and spray WD-40 in bulb socket. It’s something you won’t have to do come spring. Check your batteries and stow properly. Make sure connections are clean and use a proper charger whether you leave them aboard or remove to store. If batteries are old and need to be replaced, wait until spring battery sales. Check your zincs and replace where needed. If they have excessive wear then find the cause.

Those of you who keep your boats in the water year round do the same winterizing on engines and generators (houseboats, cruisers, and sailboats). You should also haul your boat once a year to inspect the bottom and running gear after pressure washing. Paint if needed, and replace zincs where needed. A good wash down, clean and wax will make it easier to get ready in spring.  

If you trailer your boat, don’t just park and forget it. Remember to check tires, bearings, winch and line, trailer lights. Note: you might want to upgrade your trailer lights with a new and waterproof L.E.D. kit. It will end all that fooling around with lights.  

If you cover and stow your boat outside you might want to put some moth balls in a bowl to keep out the little varmints that think your boat would make a great winter home.

Check your engine manuals to make sure you haven’t missed anything on your particular model. If you have lost your manual they are available online.  

Check your electronic gear and if it’s in need of repair send it in so it will be ready come spring. You might want to wait and see what new electronics are available at the 2016 Atlanta Boat Show in January and replace with new and updated models.

Remember to record everything you do in your maintenance log. If you are not recording a log, you need to start one, as it will help you sell your boat. Go online to find logs. There are several available that will make it easy. The more you do during winterizing the less you will have to do at spring get ready. If you have  more questions or need more details go online to: and see the “Time to Winterize” section.

Treasure hunting
Many boaters, when they head offshore, wonder if sunken treasure could be below. Especially if they run across what could be a wreck when looking for structures via their depth finder. A lot of this mystery of discovering millions in sunken treasure was fueled by Mel Fisher’s discovery of the sunken “Atocha” and what that treasure was worth.

The sunken wrecks are not that far offshore either, 11 Spanish ships laden with gold, silver and other goods went down during a hurricane on July 31, 1715 while sailing from Cuba to Spain. One wreck was found 1,000 feet off of  Ft. Pierce in 15 feet of water.  Another one is off Vero Beach in six feet of water.

They use a pipe called a mailbox and use prop wash through it to deflect sand around the wrecks and then they dive on the area using metal detectors. Their usual find is lead sinkers and beer cans. One salvage vessel treasure hunting the 11 wrecks from that hurricane found more than 350 gold coins valued at $4.5 million on July 30-31, the 300th anniversary of the hurricane that sunk the ships.  

The money for the artifacts that are found are divided in such a way where the treasure hunter doesn’t receive everything. When found near Florida, the first 20 percent of the artifacts they find go to the state of Florida for display in the historical museum in Tallahassee. The remaining 80 percent is split between the boat and the salvage permit holder. The boat’s share is usually divvied up between the crew. It’s a lot of work and you need a lot of luck to get your fortune.

Three new and different boats
Winder Yachts U.S.A. sells the new Winder 32’. The Italian boat was introduced at the Cannes Boat Show last year. It’s powered by a pair of 260 hp Mercruisers and has all the bells and whistles. Check it out at:

The Neb/Zurn 38 is a head turner new yacht designed by Doug Zurn of Marblehead, MA. and built by New England Boat Works of Portsmouth, RI. It is powered by twin 435 hp Volvo Penta D6 diesels with ultra-jet drives which cruised her at 36 knots with a 40 knot top speed. This boat is designed with on deck comfort.  This is a great boat for diving or gunk holing. Check it out at

The fastest growing boat brand in Europe is Axopar. They offer 10 models from 23’ to 40’. They are powered by Mercury outboards which provide great cruising speed with excellent economy. The design is a bit different, but it’s performance will grow on you. Check it out at: or

250 mile endurance race
The sailboat race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska is over. One sailor, Robert Mann braved the 750 miles through the notorious Inside Passage. He experienced 50 degree water, double digit currents, storm force winds, snorting whales, and a lot of lonely scenery. His boat was a Hobie Mirage Adventure Island Trimiran. The sailing kayak is not even 17 feet long. He loaded the boat with 42 pounds of dehydrated food and water. First place was $10,000.  Twenty five teams dropped out. Roger said he feels lucky to finish the race. I’m surprised the Coast Guard even allowed the race.

Free charts
Global Chart making specialist NV Charts is giving away charts from the Canadian border to Key West. Download the NV App on your smart phone or tablet and access charts of the entire East Coast. NV Charts provides a complete tool kit for navigation including a route menu, range and bearing measurement tool. Not many times can you get something for free when dealing with boats.

Be courteous. Practice safe boating. Wear your PFD and watch the weather.

September 2015 column

High school anglers descend on Lanier this month

In some of my past columns I mentioned a national high school fishing association. Little did I know that three tournaments had already been held on Lake Lanier this year. There will be five conference championship tournaments held throughout the U.S. this year. The tournament that covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee will be on September 26th, on Lake Lanier in Gainesville. It will be based out of Laurel Park. Sounds like it will be another busy tournament. (See story elsewhere in this issue.)

Last year’s Georgia high school fishing champions were Dalton Anderson and Dawson Lenz of McIntosh High School with a five bass limit that weighed 12.30 pounds. Sounds like a lot of fun.  Who knows, maybe one of these young fishermen will become a bass pro and win some big money tournaments. Check it out at, for more tournament or team information.

Speed records
When I first started boating with outboards I became fascinated in ways to make them go faster and eventually started racing stock outboards. Recently I checked some water speed records of boats and water sports. Some seem totally unbelievable. The fastest boat speed on record is 317.596 mph set by Spirit of Australia in 1978. I don’t know how they kept the boat on the water. The first speed record to exceed 100 mph was set by Gar Wood in 1931 at 102.256 mph. In water-skiing, bare-footing has some interesting records. In 1969 Scott Pellaton stepped off behind a drag boat and recorded the quarter mile with a terminal speed of 135.76 mph. There is also barefoot jumping. A record of 13.25 meters set by a British footer in 1976. I wonder what they will think of next.

Uber-like service goes boating
Coastal FE, which originated in St. Petersburg, Fla. in May, uses GPS technology to connect riders with drivers who pick passengers up in their personal boats. As soon as you start the ride, there is a $7 flat rate. Then, for every mile you travel its $2.97 and for every minute it’s 37 cents. Boats need to be 18-20 feet, less than 20 years old and in good condition. This is a service that’s bound to grow like Uber. A great opportunity for someone to get their boat paid for. I’ll bet we will see it on Lake Lanier.

New weather book
Weather is one of the most important things that a boater must consider. It can ruin or make your boating day. The third edition of The Weather Handbook (Bloomsbury, $18) is now available. It has been updated to include new sources of information, specifically digital. It also brings an understanding how weather develops. The goal of the book, which includes color photographs and diagrams, is to teach readers to be able to look at the sky and interpret its signs. The more you understand about the weather the safer and better cruise you will have. Every boater should have a copy in his boating library.

It’s here: Charter in Antartica
The sailing yacht “Vertigo” is now available for charter in Antarctica. She is 220 feet long by 41 feet beam by 16 feet draft. The yacht has been specially outfitted for cruising this part of the world and welcomes 12 guests, or should I say explorers and crew to cruise the waters of the southernmost continent and surrounding islands.  They will follow in the steps of explorers Sir Ernest Shakleton, and Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.  Shakleton is known to have had some near death experiences as well as surviving storms and going back to rescue his men to bring them home. Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd was a later explorer who used Fokker and Ford tri-motor airplanes to cover more area. He wrote his autobiography “Alone” which covers his extensive travels of this fascinating and strange part of the world.

My father used to take me to the Detroit Institute of Arts for some of their programs with famous individuals of that time. One of the programs was with Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd which showed movies of his Antarctic adventures and a meet and greet afterward.  This was in the late 1940s and it really impressed me. It also impressed on me the importance of exploring and history. It was one of my best subjects throughout high school.

You start your adventure charter from Punta Arenas, Chile for a 700-mile airplane trip across Drake Passage to a special airstrip in Antarctica. This flight is known as “the most exclusive transcontinental flight in the world.” While visiting South Georgia Island you will see and hear literally thousands of king penguins trumpeting while male elephant seals, which can be 20 feet in length and 8,800 pounds are watching their harem of 40 to 50 females. You can visit Iceberg Alley by kayak or tender. While there you can scoop up thousand year old chunks of ice that Vertigo’s crew will later mix your favorite cocktail with.

Sir Ernest Shackleton is also buried on South Georgia Island. He died there after returning to the area after his infamous Endurance expedition. At Deception Island, which is a flooded volcano caldera, guests can float on the Arctic Sea surrounded by glacial ice with warm currents coming from the hot rocks below.  

The charter runs from two to three weeks and would be the trip of a lifetime for a family or group of 12 friends. Contact: 1-954-278-3970.

Summer’s last days
As Labor Day approaches and summer is over, I hope you had some great boating memories.  This means it’s time to get out your maintenance log book and get ready to put the boat away for the winter. Make your list which should include some of the following: Add “Stabil” or other accepted additive as directed to your fuel tank, change and inspect fuel filters and water separators. Change oil and filter on inboard boats and four cycle outboards. Outboards and I/Os should have lower unit drained and inspected for water. If water is found replace prop shaft seal and re-fill. Remember, oil is cheap, gear cases are expensive.  Inspect engine wiring, replace where needed. Complete tune-up so you’ll be ready next season.

Don’t forget a good inspection of your trailer. You might want to install LED trailer lights and update your trailer. Round up that team that enjoyed boating with you this year and plan to have a clean- up and waxing party before you store the boat.  

Last but not least fix the one or two other problems your boat had this year, every boat has them. Get this done and get ready next season will be much easier.

Shore Sweep 2015
Don’t forget that Shore Sweep is Saturday, Sept. 26th. Call 770-503-7757 for more information. Boaters should always have a garbage bag aboard and properly dispose of it at the end of the day.  Keep your lake clean and enjoy it.

Be courteous, wear a PFD and practice safe boating. See you on the water.

August 2015 column

Are the waters now clear to travel by boat to Cuba?

Not so fast … Center consoles that now can cruise in excess of 45 – 50 knots can travel the 97 miles from Key West to Morro Castle that lies at the entrance of Havana Harbor in two and a half hours or less. The trip there is easy as long as the weather cooperates. However, when you arrive, there are only a few places to clear into Cuba. Some travelers say it takes hours and also may require bribes.  Also because of the economic embargo that is still intact even though the U.S. and Cuba are re-opening their embassies, insurance companies will not cover your yacht in Cuban waters.

Remember, it’s been 54 years since the U.S. cut ties with Cuba.  If you thought it would be nice to cruise the northern coast of Cuba forget it, as all the bays and coves are closed. It will take a while for marinas that are almost nonexistent now to open up and provide the services that Florida yacht owners are used to. Keep in mind the average wage for Cubans is $20 per month and most have no phones.  Poverty is a big problem. The yachting trade should provide some help when legal issues get solved.  

At a recent yacht symposium it was estimated 30,000 to 40,000 boats a year crossing to Cuba to explore her shores.  For more information log on to: or Also the St. Petersburg to Havana route is being discussed to be on again.  The SORC (Southern Ocean Racing Conference) use to have 30 to 40 boats sailing to Havana each year. Many stories were told as well as the ones on shore at the Tropicana.

On the south shores of Cuba there are Cuban fishing centers that an Italian-owned outfitter is licensed to bring anglers to five destinations. One of these areas is named Jardines De La Beina, the Gardens of the Queen (so named by Christopher Columbus). The area was set aside by the Cuban government in 1996 as a protected marine archipelago. It’s an area almost 160 kilometers long and made up of more than 600 cays.  The fishermen use almost exclusively fly fishing gear to catch Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, Barracuda and Man Grove Snapper. This little used area is probably known as the Cuban honey hole for fly fishermen and their guides. For more information go to:

For those of you who don’t have a boat, ferry service will resume soon from four Florida locations, which are: Port Manatee on Tampa Bay, Port Miami, Port Everglades, and the port of Key West. As soon as the negotiations are complete I’m sure you will see the advertisements. You might check out, Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, United Caribbean Lines, Airline Brokers Co. and Baja Ferries of Miami. They all say they would like to provide services before the end of 2015. I’m sure the stories of the first trips will soon appear in a favorite boating magazine. It should be interesting.

Children and boating
If youngsters and teens are part of your boating family, they need to be properly taught the ways to perform certain tasks while being aboard and underway. Start with say the 4 to 8 year olds, who should always wear a P.F.D. when on the dock or onboard even when not underway. The Coast Guard Auxiliary also has a class for youngsters and they get a coloring book to help teach them terminology and rules of the road. 

Marlinspike Seamanship is great to teach them. Get them a 10 to 12 foot piece of 3/8” line and teach them how to splice, tie knots and the proper way to stow lines. They can learn how to handle dock lines and fenders. Next they can learn how to use a boat hook. As they get older and more skilled teach them the proper way to deploy the anchor and rode. Go through M.O.B. (man overboard) drills and teach them how to throw a line to the M.O.B. Then of course there is always a maintenance and wash down. Remind them that the clean up after the fun is part of boating.

As they get older assign them tasks that they know they can accomplish. The sooner they can complete these without a problem, the sooner they will be referred to as First Mate. As they grow into teenagers and want to run your boat or a P.W.C., teach them boat handling and what they will need to pass the test so they can pilot a boat on their own when qualified.

If you are new to boating go to the Discover Boating website which includes a new directory of youth boating programs, more than 3,000 local and national programs are listed. Boating and fishing allows families and friends to spend more time together. The better boaters know the safety and rules the safer the future of boating will be.

New source for cruising info
When planning your next cruise of the ICW, Tennessee River, Atlantic or Gulf Coast and you want to know what marinas have to offer, or places to visit, you can now log onto Active Captain ( and review experiences and comments from those who have cruised before you. Active Captain helps cruisers avoid visits to marinas or areas that don’t live up to expectations. Also, there will be comments on any navigational changes on charts. So use and contribute to Active Captain for better cruising information.

New fishermen’s magazine
Several months back I was given a copy of the recently introduced Anglers Journal for Serious Fishermen. William Sisson, past editor of Soundings, created the new publication, and Mary South, the present editor of Soundings is deputy editor. Stories and photos concern fishermen who have caught a world record and how it affected their future angling. Also included: the latest in boats designed exclusively for fishermen. Then there are just the plain interesting stories.  Jack Hemingway, Ernest’s son and Sasha Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy’s great great grandson tell some great fishing stories and refer to themselves as trout fishing bums. The magazine is published four times a year. To subscribe call: 1 800-877-5207 or email: Cost is $19.95 per year.

Ethanol percentage may increase

Boat U.S. has notified its members that the EPA wants to increase ethanol in all fuels. The organization is seeking comments from boaters so they can present them to the EPA and hopefully prevent it from happening. Contact them at: We have all heard and experience the fuel problems caused by ethanol.  Here is your chance to be heard. Write or send an e-mail.

Practice safe boating, be courteous, wear your PFD and I’ll see you on the water.

July 2015 column

The real story of 'The real McCoy'

We’ve all heard the expression: “The real McCoy,” meaning authentic, not a substitute. Many believe it originated from the story of two McCoy brothers back in the 1920s. Bill McCoy and his brother Ben had been building yachts for wealthy clients when prohibition began. Someone approached Bill to captain a rum runner from Nassau to New York. He made a trip to check out the boat he would use, which turned out to not pass his survey, but the idea to make some considerable money running booze fascinated him. So he headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts to buy the first of his fleet of rum runners. By this time he had talked his brother into joining him.

When they reached Nassau to pick up their first load, McCoy put the vessel in British registry, and when setting sail he would claim Halifax, Nova Scotia his destination port. At this time in probation the rum runners would stay past the three mile limit where it wasn’t illegal to off load rum. Souped up contact boats would receive their load of booze and then try to outrun the booze police and U.S. Coast Guard with their Liberty engine powered speed boats. The liquor would end up in illegal gin- mills and speakeasies. Many other rum runners would dilute their haul in order to increase profits. McCoy never did. Thus the saying started when the buyers would ask, “Is this the real McCoy?”

Actually, the original version of the phrase seems to date back to 1856 where “A drappie o’ the real MacKay,” was part of a Scottish poem published in Glascow. Regardless, McCoy clearly received credit from his thankful customers for not watering down his product.

Pictures of McCoy onboard his sailing schooners show a dapper man wearing a suit with a tie looking nothing like an old salt, more like he should be working in Manhattan. He also had a Newfoundland hound on board named “Old Faithful.” The dog  stayed in his cabin and when McCoy had excess cash from his off-loading rum, he would take the money, usually in excess of $50,000 to his cabin for Old Faithful to guard.

McCoy became one of the most wanted liquor runners of his time. But in fact there was no law against selling liquor past the three mile limit. He went before a judge and told him, “I was outside the three mile limit, selling whisky and good whisky to anyone and everyone who wanted to buy.” Prohibition turned Bill McCoy into the adventuring romantic hero of the era and the saying; “The real McCoy” has stuck with us. If you want to learn more about Bill McCoy get hold of Frederic F. Van De Water’s biography, “The Real McCoy.”

Father’s Day memories
Father’s Day always bring back special memories. In my early years my summers were spent in Northern Wisconsin at my granddad’s private fishing lodge. After I learned to swim at an early age I was always down at the boat docks and after it rained I got to bail the boats. As I got older I progressed to rowing and canoeing.
My granddad wouldn’t allow outboard motors so many times I would row the fishermen. I would discover the hot spots, and if they got their limit in small mouth bass I would get an extra tip. My father was manager of stores like Macy’s and Rich’s so he had a limited time to spend with us at the lodge.  When he did come we would go fishing. One summer after I started what I now call guiding, I took him to the hot spots. We reached our limit quickly. We took pictures of that stringer of fish and showed it to folks for years. It was one of the most memorable fishing trips we ever experienced.

In the early 1950s we moved to Clearwater Beach, Fla. where I discovered water-skiing. My father had a 24’ cruiser with a large fishing cockpit. One morning he said the speckled trout and red fish were biting on shrimp on the flats near Carluel Yacht club. He convinced me to stay off the skis for a day and go fishing again. I never experienced salt water fishing that good. We caught more fish than we really wanted to clean, and had another memorable father and son fishing trip. Every time I get my tackle ready I wonder if this trip will be as good as either one of those trips. Take a kid fishing and enjoy your own fishing trip and the memories.

Corrosion problems
It seems like the most common problem in boats these days is making sure you have fresh fuel. By using Stabil or another reliable fuel protective additive you’ll eliminate most engine problems. But let’s not forget about other things that can cause problems and corrosion is one of them.

When is the last time you checked your navigation and anchor lights? If the bulbs or sockets don’t look good replace the bulbs and lubricate the sockets with WD-40. If your steering or shifting is stiff and not working properly check the cables and grease points. Go to the bilge and check the fuel shut off valve.  Sailboats need chain plates and rigging toggles checked and replaced when needed so you won’t have mast and rigging failure. If you have a problem or need some advice check out

How many passengers?
In recent boat reviews I’ve noticed most boats have increased the number of passengers they can have on board. Boats have a plate on the interior transom stating passenger limits. I’ve recently seen where some 20’ to 24’ boats can have accommodations for 10 to 12 people. Personally I don’t want the responsibility of 10 people on board, especially if the majority are children. Pontoon boats can probably legally handle more passengers. My advice is to create a buddy system like we did when swimming on Boy Scout trips, or have a good crew of adults keep a watchful eye on the youngsters.  Remember to wear your PFDs. The fact is that the majority of drowning victims (88 percent) weren’t wearing a life jacket. So be prepared and have a safe cruise and don’t become a statistic.

High school fishing teams
High school fishin
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