Electric engines are much closer than you think
In the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, Elco Electric Launch Company had 55 electric launches to ferry attendees. Internal combustion gas engines and diesel engines have been the main source for marine power since.
Electric power is more practical and cleaner, but the batteries don’t stay charged long enough to make long cruises. Fast forward to today, Elco is still manufacturing electric powered marine engines with success.
Getting the batteries to supply lasting power and getting the cost down is now the problem. The lithium-ion battery shows hope, but the price is high and they still don’t have the longevity to be practical for long cruises. More manufacturers and boat companies are experimenting. I think because they know if electric power becomes competitive, practical and affordable they want to be one of the first to offer this power in their boat lines. Currently Elco has electric power in several boats. Performance is under 10 knots and cruising distance is under 25 nautical miles. On the fast side, Mercedes’s is experimenting with a 2,200 horse powered twin power plant which will reach 120 mph in a 38-foot cigarette “Top Gun,” but at that speed it will only last for seven minutes.
Meanwhile battery research is going so strong that Wall Street is recommending investment in that industry. Elon Musk, whose company has delivered 55,000 Tesla electric automobiles, purchased a large tract of land in Nevada to build a battery research and manufacturing facility. When these new batteries come online and are used in Tesla automobiles, I’m sure longevity and cost will be improved.
Meanwhile lithium battery research is advancing with the lithium-sulpher, and lithium-air batteries which will drastically improve the batteries and reduce their cost. The advancement will increase the probability for electric power to match the cruising range of popular yachts, as well as reduce the cost.
Estimates are we are 10 years away from this happening. Those in the know say it will be similar to when cameras went to digital chips from film. Stay tuned because things will be happening fast. Check with your stock broker and maybe you can make some money as these developments take place.
Element XL debuts
It’s described as a family boat at a reasonable price. Bayliner Boats introduced its new M-hull design with a spacious interior to compete with pontoon boats. Several models will be available with Mercury Verado power. They start at under $18,000 for boat, motor and trailer. The boat is designed for cruising rivers, lakes and bays where it is more comfortable and safer than a pontoon boat which would cost more. Go online or check your Bayliner dealer. You’ll be surprised at how much boat you get for that price.
The Fresnel Hydrofoil Trimaran may be the future of fast sailboats. It sure doesn’t look like any conventional sailboat I’ve seen. This 115-foot sailing yacht uses renewable energy in every way possible. It is a “perpetual motion-like” machine with a fixed-wing sail powered by sun and wind. Three electrical motors run on solar-charged batteries. In Trimaran mode it can reach 40 knots. When the owners want to outrun the wind, hydrofoils lift the yacht above the water. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016. For more information on this radical yacht visit: www.margotkrasojevic.org
. It will be interesting to see this yacht perform, I’m sure the shakedown cruise will be in a boating magazine.
Six hundred, twenty seven hp
Seven Marine, which manufacturers the most powerful outboard at 557 horsepower, has announced the introduction of its new 627 hp outboard, which has a horizontal V-8 power head. It also has LED illumination on the cowl. I guess that’s so you can see it at night. I can remember in my outboarding days wishing for a 100 hp, but in my greatest dreams and imagination never did I think there would be a 627 hp outboard. Price is not cheap at $89,685. The LED cowl is $2,999 extra and I’m sure the 30’-40’ center-console crowd will jump on this for added power on the transom. Check it out at: www.sevenmarine.com
Oh, for an ‘EPIRB’
As the U.S. Coast Guard, Boat U.S. and responsible mariners know, you shouldn’t go offshore without an EPIRB (Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon). Lucky sailor Louis Jordan set out on his 35’ sailboat from a marina in South Carolina for a fishing trip. Sixty six days later he flagged down a German container ship. His boat had been dismasted and rolled over several times. He survived on water he collected in a bucket and snagged fish that came alongside. The Coast Guard had abandoned a 10-day search for him. When found, Jordan was in remarkably good shape for the time he was lost at sea.
Over confident sailors always think this couldn’t happen to them, but when it does you need that EPIRB or PLB (personal locator beacons). If you are going to cruise offshore this device is as important as your PFDs. Whether you have bad weather, mechanical problems or a crew emergency, the EPIRB or PLB will get rescue help immediately. Some mariners say they are too expensive. That’s no excuse. Boat U.S. will rent them to you for a small fee, so if you go offshore, go with confidence and have an EPIRB or PLB on board for you and your crew’s safety.
Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande
The first full moon in May starts tarpon fever in Boca Grande Pass on the west coast of Florida just north of Ft. Myers and Sanibel Island. The pass full of boats fishing for the silver king will resemble a Wal-Mart parking lot on a Saturday afternoon sale. It gets interesting when four or five boats in close proximity hook-up. They fish on incoming or outgoing tides. I prefer fishing the flats on a slack tide floating a crab for bait. One of my best fishing trips occurred doing this. I had built a 24’ center-console for a fisherman and was using it on a flats fishing trip when we “hit” a double header with two tarpon about 150 pounds each. It doesn’t get much better than that. Check out other fishing adventures at: www.tropicstar.com
Seasickness be gone
We have all heard of the many ways to cure seasickness. This time its clothing that uses a specialized membrane. The European Innovative Textile Center supported 18 months of testing and has shown that the clothing is effective 80 percent of the time at sea. Check it out at: www.wearismyboat.com
Next America’s Cup date
I recently read that the next America’s Cup which is several years away was announced. This is great, I’m glad Bermuda gets its chance at holding this prestigious competition. Here’s the problem, it’s during hurricane season. As I remember reports of Atlantic hurricanes always end up in Bermuda or close by. It shall be interesting, stay tuned and good luck to them.
Remember to wear your P.F.D. Be courteous and practice safe boating.
: Mike’s wife of 30 years, Frances, passed away on April 11 following a brief illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike and his family.
Mike Rudderham is a veteran marine surveyor with more than 40 years experience in the marine industry.
April 2015 column
Mercury outboards increase horsepower
As the headline notes, there’s more horsepower coming from Mercury outboards. The new models – Verados – are 2.6 liter in line, six cylinder, with 156 cubic inch displacement, producing 350 and 400 horsepower. The supercharged engines received a pressure boost of 6 percent, a new liquid cooled supercharger, new camshaft profile, new valves, new reshaped cylinder heads, ventilated fly wheel cover, and new snorkel. The engines have been tested on the open ocean for a full boating season by experienced test drivers and also were run for 300 hours at 6,400 rpm in the lab in a test tank in Fon du lac, WI. The engine weighs in at 668 pounds which is almost 100 pounds less than the Yamaha 350 H.P. V-8. The engines are offered in 20, 25, and 30 inch shaft lengths.
The Verado 350 has a list price of $27,500 in a 20” shaft length. The 400R comes under the Mercury Racing Banner and has a Sport Master lower unit with a cambered skeg which compensates for side torque. The crescent shaped sport master case is designed for speeds over 85 mph and has dual water pick-ups. Prices start at $31,500 and it has a two year warranty.
In the outboard horsepower race this puts Mercury in the number two position with the new 400R. Seven Marine has the top horsepower with a 557 hp converted Cadillac V-8. Yamaha comes in third with their 350 hp V-8. Stay tuned, I’m sure we will see some more new large horsepower outboards introduced to power all the new off shore fishing and cruising center consoles.
Oldest navigational aid
We usually think of lighthouses being in the northeastern part of the U.S. Their photos are on hundreds of post cards, from Maine to Connecticut. Lighthouses, however, are helping boat captains all over the world. Their origin goes back to Egyptian and Roman times as coins were stamped with lighthouse images.
The most famous of these was the Pharos lighthouse which marks the port of Alexandria in approximately 280 B.C. The pharos lighthouse is believed to have been more than 350 feet high. Taller than any other lighthouse in history it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Pharos lighthouse consisted of three levels, which may have included a large colonnaded base, an octagonal middle section and a conical upper section that was topped by a statue of either Alexander the Great or Ptolemy I Soter, the General who succeeded Alexander. The statue depicted the ruler in the form of the Greek Sun God Helios.
The most recent account of this lighthouse functioning is from the 12th century. These houses were lit by fires called a brazier. The Romans built stone lighthouses, some of which survive today. The Dover Castle Lighthouse in Kent, England is typical of Roman lighthouse construction. The era of the most lighthouse building was in the 18th century which coincided with an increase in Trans-Atlantic commerce.
The original light was provided by wood and coal fires. This fire source was replaced by oil (kerosene). Sperm whale oil was used in the Great Lakes lighthouses because it wouldn’t freeze. Near the end of the 19th century, electricity began to replace oil systems as the source of light. It was more efficient and cleaner. This also led to the automation of lighthouses.
French physicist Augustine Fresnel developed a system based on light refraction, which bent the light source into a narrow beam, which was made even more intense by a center lens shaped like a magnifying glass. For many centuries, fog signals were hand-rung bells, or in some cases cannons which were fired regularly during periods of fog. Steam whistles were also used.
Lighthouse keepers are a thing of the past, and have been eliminated by automation which is much more accurate and sophisticated navigation equipment on ships and boats meant that a lighthouse was no longer required. Even though lighthouses remain more than a historical symbol due to modern navigation systems on boats, local boaters and fishermen still find them useful. They indeed occupy a place in maritime history.
New drive from Volvo-Penta
With the increase in the wake surfing sport a new “forward drive” has been introduced by Volvo-Penta. With the forward drive, the propellers move from an exposed position beyond the transom to underneath the hull, safely away from the surfer. The exhaust also exits under the water keeping it away from the rider’s face.
The forward drive was developed with the input of boat builders like Bryant Boats, which invited Volvo-Penta to demo the prototype on its 233X model at the Volvo-Penta facility. Regal, Cobalt, Four Winns, Monterey, and Chaparral have also participated in forward drive testing and may offer it on new or modified boat models this year.
Volvo-Penta intends to offer the forward drive with gasoline engines from 200 to 430 hp but expects the prime application will be from 300 to 430 hp. Specific props have been designed for the drive, to be designated the K series prop sets. Volvo-Penta say forward drive will cost about 10 percent more than a traditional stern drive.
Get ready for the season
Here are several items that you may have overlooked when you winterized. It’s getting close to boating time so check these out:
If your boat is trailered make sure you check the tires, wheel bearings, light system, and winch. There’s nothing worse than having a flat tire on the way to the lake with a carload of kids. Next check your battery system. Make sure all connections and wires are clean, properly connected. If your batteries are getting close to being replaced, you might want to go ahead and move up to the new longer lasting batteries. Last but not least, check and organize equipment like your P.F.D.s, anchor and rode, flashlight and other safety items, like navigation lights. Remember the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will inspect your boat and give you a sticker when you pass. Get it done now, not after the season starts.
If you are thinking of traveling the Gulf, I.C.W. or rivers this boating season, you need the Waterway Guide or the Waterway Cruising Club. They will provide detailed mile by mile coverage to the best destinations. It’s also good reading on a rainy day. Info: 1-800-233-3359 or www.waterwayguide.com
Alan Jackson and Guy Harvey
Country Music star Alan Jackson and marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey have collaborated on a message behind the music to raise money and awareness for ocean conservation and research. Harvey created a colorful logo depicting Jackson in a fighting chair with a leaping sportfish to adorn several official 25th anniversary items, including an official t-shirt that will be sold at each concert.
Alan Jackson and Guy Harvey have agreed to donate back $5 for every item sold to marine conservation through the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, a non-profit that advocates sustainable fishing practices, funds inspired scientific research and supports innovation educational programs. Last year, Harvey’s foundation distributed approximately $1 million to more than 60 organizations involved in research and education. Visit: www.alanjackson.com
March 2015 column
Boat show stories and news about new toys
With the completion of the Miami Beach Boat Show in the middle of February, the boat show season is mostly over. Most builders featured larger yachts than years past with more electronics and equipment than most yacht owners have seen in recent years.
Joy sticks and side, forward scanning fathometers are now mostly standard and connect with your iPhone. Coupe is now the description on a lot of cruisers in the 30’ to 45’ class. Several smaller boats in the 18’ to 25’ class have new models powered with jet drives. Georgia builder Chaparral has two or three jet drive boats that offer comfortable cruising and are equipped for water sports.
Boat shows always have some stories that you will remember. The Atlanta Boat Show had one of those several years ago. I’m sure some visitors will remember when the wakeboarding pond broke and water went cascading down the aisles. A lot of things got wet but nobody was hurt. Everyone hopes that’s the last time that happens.
My story was when I sold the Queen of the Miami Boat Show – one of the first 46’ Bertrams. A client wanted a 46’ Bertram. I had just sold his 36’ Trojan flybridge so he and a friend met me in Miami. We toured the Bertram facilities and went to the show. After he checked out the boat he said “I’ll take it,” so I went to the Bertram desk to get the sales agreement together. I went to find my client and his friend and couldn’t find him. After some time had passed the Bertram man said he needed a deposit and signature. So I made arrangements and signed. I got back to Clearwater, and no client. His wife called and wanted to know where he was. About 10 days later I was advised the boat was in St. Petersburg and ready to be delivered. I was sweating. I didn’t have that kind of money. About that time he called and said he was ready to close and take delivery. He told me that he and his friend went to the Bahamas to go to the casinos. I felt much better after piloting the yacht to his slip after closing.
There are a lot of good stories heard at boat shows about boats and the characters that own and pilot them. Here are a couple more stories heard at the show, like “Let’s buy a boat together,” bad idea, and could be the end of a friendship. No two people take care of a boat the same or uses the boat the same. That’s when disagreements start.
My father and I went halves on a boat. I bought the boat and he had the motor. It was only 19’ long, but when it came to scraping barnacles or sanding and painting you know who did that. Families owning boats together are fine if for a living like fishing or lobstering. Then there’s always the guy who says, “You buy the boat and I’ll borrow it once and awhile.” A dyed in the wool yachtsman would think that’s just like lending his wife to someone. It never ends well.
Different alcohol fuel additive
By now everyone in the boating community knows what ethanol can do to an engine, ethanol is corrosive, it’s a solvent and it absorbs moisture, especially if you don’t pay extra for a fuel additive for preventing the adverse effects of long term ethanol fuel use. Since 2010 the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) have been testing isobutanol. They have found it doesn’t affect engines like ethanol does. Also, you won’t have the extra expense of an additive you need to add for protection from ethanol.
The most recent data on a 90 H.P. E-tec and a 90 H.P. four-stroke Mercury suggest that isobutanol blended at 16 percent volume can be used in marine engines without significantly affecting the atmosphere or engines. The higher quality of biologically derived isobutanol in the fuel will help to move beyond the current ethanol blend without affecting fuel and decreasing emissions. The producers of isobutanol will be pushing up the production and testing what the proper fuel ratio will be. Check out www.devo.com or www.butamax.com to see how progress is going. Hopefully this will give us better and more efficient marine fuels.
Ski boat, no driver
Yes, there is a skier-controlled boat with a 70 H.P. gas engine with jet drive, featuring top speed of 40 mph. The skier operates the boat with a six button tow rope handle. The boat is a tri-hull built of fiberglass and is eight feet long and has a 40 gallon fuel tank, plus an automatic bilge pump. The boat shuts down when the skier/operator drops the handle. Better check where it’s legal to operate or have a chase boat. Price is $17,000. Visit www.hammacher.com for more information.
The first all-electric hydro foiling personal watercraft is powered by an electric outboard motor. It flies over the water at over 20 knots. There is almost no annual maintenance cost. This makes it the most efficient PWC on the water. When it’s underway and airborne on the foils it makes for a smooth ride. Power steering helps make your ride easier, and the steering wheel has an integrated touch screen display. The hull is built from composite materials, and because it is hollow, it is unsinkable. The quadrafoil comfortably seats two on ergonomic soft seats. Again, as in other electric powered machines, recharging varies, based on time of use. It sounds like a lot of quiet fun. Price is $27,000. Visit www.quadrafoil.com
New prop from Mercury
As outboards got more powerful, aluminum and bronze props started showing blade fatigue and some blades might break off after going off a wave and re-entering the water. I was using bronze racing props on my 6 cylinder Mercury BP (blue printed) outboards. I had had a single and a twin rig, and also 3 rigs with standard Mercury outboards. We tested and checked these boats thoroughly before each race.
We traveled to Smith Mountain Lake near Lynchburg, VA. for the Outboard Marathon Nationals, one of the largest if not the largest event of the year. As I remember it was eight hours long over a long course. I put my boat in for a test run, but it wouldn’t get on plane. I was extremely embarrassed. My sponsor Mr. Kiekhaeffer (Mercury) was there and I couldn’t get on a plane, let alone race. I went to Mercury’s prop truck and the prop technicians I knew laughed a bit and then said they would help. They came out with a pair of stainless steel 3 blades with 2” more pitch. They said these were the new props we had been talking about and they will get on top because stainless steel props have thinner blades and the engines can handle more pitch. I went for a test run and it popped right on top and went a couple mph faster than my last test, which I thought was good. We figured out that since I had tested in salt water which is denser is why I couldn’t plane when I tested in fresh water.
Today most larger outboards have stainless steel props. They are more durable, efficient and perform better for cruising or watersports. They are not cheap, but are the best way to go. Mercury has just introduced its latest stainless steel prop; the Enertia Eco Prop, and Mercury says you’ll save 10 percent on fuel. Tests performed for Boating Magazine showed 20 percent or better fuel economy. Some say the Enertia Eco Prop is far ahead of the popular Mercury Mirage Plus or Revolution 4 Props. Cost is $795, but fuel savings might make you look seriously at it. Usually when one company comes out with new props others are soon to follow, so stay tuned.
Be safe and courteous and I’ll see you on the water. Wear your PFD.
February 2015 column
Water wars continue with Georgia and its neighbors
The Georgia-Tennessee northwestern border has been in the news often since the 2008 drought when Lake Lanier and surrounding areas were seriously affected. This controversy was started in 1818 when surveyors (three-man teams from both Tennessee and Georgia) met at Nickajack to find the 35th latitude north and plainly mark and designate the same for Georgia’s northwest border.
The Georgia team member James Camak, a mathematician and astrologist calculated that the line was south of Nickajack, when in fact the 35 latitude north was in fact a mile north in the middle of the Tennessee River. Camak not only made this mistake the first time, but in 1819 went back to survey the area again and made more mistakes. No mention as to where Tennessee surveyors calculated where their line was. The original border was written as the 35th latitude north on the books, but the mistakes are on the border line today.
Governor Sonny Perdue signed a law strongly urging negotiations with the governors of Tennessee and North Carolina to correct Camak’s flawed survey; nothing happened. The 2013 legislature tried to do the same, with no action.
Florida is suing Georgia to release more water from Lake Lanier to aid the oyster industry. As stated in last month’s Lakeside a special master has been appointed to pursue a settlement. Common sense would say that all states involved should meet to solve this problem, but common sense is lacking in government these days. If the border line is corrected to 35 latitude north where it was stated to be in 1818 and Georgia gets to tap into the Tennessee River, the main problem would be resolved.
The water would enter the Chattahoochee River, which would keep Lake Lanier at 1071 even with the additional releases to aid those down river where it would eventually aid the Apalachicola River and the oyster industry and Florida. The extra water could power two hydro-electric generators which would pay for themselves. The Tennessee River would have an outlet for spring flood control which is a problem when the snow melts and Atlanta would also have ample water supply. Waterfront businesses and those related would thrive and continue to pay taxes. You would think the powers to be would recognize this.
So how about it governors, let’s get Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina together and work something out with the federal government. Common sense would answer all existing problems.
Boat show results
The Atlanta Boat show was the best in quite a few years. Other shows I’ve read about were also a great success. Boat sales and accessories have provided renewed fascination for boaters.
There’s a new boating term: the CCY (Center Console Yacht) 35’ plus center consoles like Intrepid, Boston Whaler, Cobia and many others. All have what the fisherman want, plus a head, small galley, and berth beneath the console, thus the yacht designation. Electronics are more compact for mounting at the helm along with more bells and whistles.
PWCs enthusiasts had the lower cost “Spark” last year. This year there will be more models to choose from as competitors are offering models in this lower price class. Remember if you just bought a boat take a boating safety class and you might save 10 percent on boat insurance.
Sealy Outdoors is again having bass fishing tournaments which offer great prizes. Two of these would be close enough for Lake Lanier fishermen to travel for a chance at winning for your efforts. Lake Guntersville in Scottsboro Alabama tournament is March 27-29. Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, TN., has a tournament Aug. 15-16. The Guntersville tournament has $215,000 in cash and prizes, with hourly payouts, and heaviest bass. Kentucky Lake has similar prizes. Both offer a Triton Bass boat with a Mercury motor as part of the winner’s prize. Entry fees are under $300 and with all the prizes you could recoup much of the cost. Contact www.sealyoutdoors.com
or call 1-888-698-2591 for information. This is a great family opportunity. Let Lakeside share your story and photos if you go.
Looking over the brokerage pages of one of my recent boating magazines my eyes hit on the cruising speed of one boat; 104 knots and in a 50’ boat. Then I saw 139 knots top speed. “Whoa,” I thought. The boat is a 50’x12’ beam Nor-tech Catamaran with four Mercruiser 1125 hp engines. Fuel capacity is 560 gallons, which probably won’t last long. But your cruising speed is probably four or five times faster than most boats. Cost is 695K. She has a professional crew headed by Al Copeland’s “Popeye’s” racing team which was a six time National Champion and three time World Champion. The crew is willing to work with the new owner. The boat, named “Gold Rush,” would be great for poker runs, or running offshore. If you want more information contact: www.atlanticyacht&ship.com
Lucky to be alive
Former Miami Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad was going to take his 36’ Grady-White “Compass Square” from Hillsboro inlet to Mariner Marine in Rivers Beach for servicing. He thought he’d do a little fishing on the way. He put his boat on auto-pilot, rigged his lines for trolling and waited for some action. One of his lines hooked a fish, then a large wave rocked the boat, flipping him overboard. The boat, being on auto-pilot, continued its course. He realized he was in real trouble.
He was nine miles off shore treading water with no P.F.D. He started thinking of hypothermia. So he began swimming. During the night jellyfish stung him and a shark circled him. A search helicopter hovered over him and shined a light, but did not see him. He finally washed ashore at 4:30 a.m. on Palm Beach and found he couldn’t walk. He said thinking of his wife and two daughters kept his faith and helped him stay alive.
This story had a happy ending with no lives lost, but it is a reminder to wear your PFD. P.F.D’s can also have locater beacons attached, which would have made for a quick rescue in this case. Also file a float plan if you are going offshore or a trip on inland waters. If something happens you know someone will be looking for you.
As you all know gas is now $2 or a bit less, marinas are a bit more, but most are ethanol free, which is good. I’m sure marina gas prices will continue to follow gas prices and go down. Meanwhile, boaters that commute to the lake by trailering their boat will stop at the $2 a gallon gas station and fill up with ethanol tainted fuel. You think you are saving money, but if you don’t use an additive like “Stabil” you can end up with fuel and engine problems.
Be safe and courteous and I will see you on the water.
January 2015 column
Is there an electric boat in your future?
Electric boats have been around longer than you think. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition celebrating Christopher Columbus’ first voyage, for the first time on a large scale, 11,000 kilowatts of electricity illuminated 250 electric light bulbs. Scores of electric motors sparked life into fair exhibits, including George Ferris’ revolving wheel which soared 264’ above the fairs central midway.
On the waterfront there were 55, 32’ electric powered launches built by Elco-Electric Launch Company. They sold like hot cakes, and there are still several of these boats shown at classic boat shows. These boats had D.C. engines which needed commutators serviced and brushes replaced. Fast forward in time and Elco is still in the electric motor business. They now have an A.C. motor using an inverter. These new motors require no maintenance for 50,000 hours. The head of Elco, Joseph Flemming, states that in the near future a 250 hp motor will weigh 10 pounds and fit in your arms.
The lithium ion batteries longevity price and weight is the issue, though. They need to be charged frequently and this does not allow them to compete with internal combustion engines that will run continually for five or six hours on a tank of fuel. Also, lithium ion batteries are very expensive. Some auto companies lease the batteries to make replacement more affordable. In the near future batteries will come down in price, weight and last longer. I would estimate electric motors might be the standard for power in boats within the next five years.
This year’s boat show should have some examples of the future of electric motors and improved batteries. Electric or battery powered motors have made it into aviation as well, with a few small planes, and predictions that say within 20 years there will be electric powered airplanes the size of a 737 passenger plane. The main problem as I said before is the longevity of charges. When batteries (lithium ion) become lighter in weight, less in price and will run at speed for up to four hours without a charge, well, that is when we will start buying electric powered boats.
This could be sooner than you think. Tesla, the electric car company (recently in the news with a lawsuit against the Georgia Automobile Dealer’s Association for selling their cars directly to the customer and not through a dealer), has opened a massive battery factory in Nevada. With their research and development we should see batteries longer lasting, lighter in weight, and batteries that will cost less. This will lead to electric power being more dependable and less costly, which leads to electric boats being popular in five to 10 years. Stay tuned.
Atlanta Boat Show
This year’s edition, running January 15-16, 2015
should be the best in years The lake is up, recession is over, and because of this boat manufacturers have great new models for families and water sport enthusiast to enjoy. Go check them out.
Remember if you purchase a boat be sure to sea trial it to make sure it will suit your needs. Also if the boat is larger and more complicated whether new or used I would recommend a marine survey. You would be surprised what a surveyor might find on a new boat as well as a used one. If you buy a used boat make sure you check the maintenance log, and if it’s a new boat start a maintenance log. It will make your boat worth more when you eventually sell it.
Be sure to check out the new water sports accessories on display as well as fishing equipment. Check out the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary booth and sign you and your family up for a boating safety course. Enjoy the show and lets hope we have an early start to our boating season.
On these cold winter days when everyone is stuck in the house and wondering what to do after growing tired of their electronic toys, why not make some fishing lures. I’m sure if you attend the boat show you will find a fly-tying kit or casting lure kit. Buy one and challenge the kids to make a better lure than you can. When the weather gets warm and fish are biting check out your lures and see who catches the first fish.
When I was a kid I used to swipe, uh, borrow my mother’s round clothes pins to make lures. I’d try and copy the colors of lures in my dad’s and grandad’s tackle boxes. I’d have red and whites, green for frogs or minnows, attached hooks and swivel and I was ready to go fishing after the snow and ice melted, and fishing season opened. I had some luck catching fish, but live minnows and night crawlers were my favorite bait. Try making lures and see who catches the fish. I’m sure it will create family memories as well as great fish stories.
Every year at boat show time, boat owners always remember a special boat they owned or wish they had, and then the debate begins. Some of my favorites are the 31’ Bertram Moppie designed by C. Raymond Hunt. It won the Miami-Nassau race hands down in rough water. This design started Bertrams deep-V design in models from 25’ to 60 plus feet. Having sold and delivered many 46’ Bertram convertible fly bridges, it is one of my favorites. C. Raymond Hunt also designed the original Boston Whaler which was the original boat for a lot of families and tender for yachts.
The Donzi “Sweet 16” was designed by Don Arronow of Magnum, Donzi, Cigarette, and Blue Thunder fame. It is a great ski-boat or sport boat. Powered by a Holman-Moody V-8 and Eaton outdrive. It cruised in the high 40 knots. It has a great profile.
The 41’ Hatteras designed and built to fish off the coast of its name was designed by Jack Hargrave. It also became a popular offshore convertible sport fisherman. Hargrave also designed the Lazy Days Houseboat that was built by Jack Beachem. He also raced a Lazy Days in the Miami-Nassau race, and finished. There are a lot of great boats that have been built and cherished by boat owners. What’s yours?
New Year’s resolutions
Get your boat inspected by the
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. It’s free and they give you a sticker.
Add fuel stabilizer when you fuel up.
Keep up your maintenance log.
Follow float plan.
Take a boating safety course.
Frequently check you trailer.
Always pilot your boat when sober.
Check weather before a cruise.
Replace any gear that malfunctions.
Take a kid or a veteran fishing.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a safe and Happy New Year. Be safe and courteous and I will see you on the water.
December 2014 column
So can you identify a Kisbee Ring?
After writing about the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) last month several readers inquired about what kind of life jackets she had on board. They come in two forms, those that are worn and those that are thrown. They have been known by many names including; Kisbee Rings, Mae Wests, Life Buoys, Perry Buoys, Cork Jackets, Life Savers, life jackets and present day PFD’s (personal flotation devices).
In early times inflated skins or sealed gourds were used to assist in crossing rivers. In the 16th century Leonardo Da Vinci sketched a diving suit with a life belt. It wasn’t until lifesaving services began to form that the issue of safety was taken seriously.
Norwegian seamen were the first to build lifesaving devices using blocks of wood or cork-stuffed vests. A 1680 issue of the Universal Magazine volume 10 contains a letter from W.H. Mallison trying to gain support for his invention, the “Seaman’s Friend,” but it was not adopted. Usage of the devices eventually became prevalent when organizations like Britain’s Royal National Life Boat Institution began using them. By 1855 the Institution was using a type of ring buoy known as the Kisbee Ring. Also a cork life belt was being used during this time. In 1852 the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring ships to carry life preservers and set up a board of supervising inspectors that set standards and rules.
Cork was the first material used in modern life preservers, followed by kapok fiber introduced in the early 20th century. It was later banned for being flammable and its quick loss of buoyancy. It was then reapproved in 1918. Cork life preservers were heavy and bulky. But kapok could be added to watertight pockets for better flexibility and comfort.
In 1928 after the loss of British passenger steamer Vestris with all lives lost, an international convention for safety of life at sea was convened. Kapok was seen as the superior material for life jackets because it kept the heads of unconscious victims above water.
After World War I balsa wood was also used in life preservers, but by World War II foam was in use and eventually supplanted kapok. The first inflatable life preserver was invented by Peter Markus in 1928, receiving a U.S. patent. It was nicknamed the “Mae West” in reference to the well-endowed entertainer. Wearers of the vest were thought to resemble the buxom actress.
In 1940 Congress passed the Motorboat Act and less bulky vests were designed. The idea was that if they were easier to wear more boaters would wear them, and lives would be saved. During the late ’40s and early ’50s water sports, water-skiing, aqua planning and disc’s became popular. This was mainly due to the affordability of outboard boats with engines large enough to pull skiers. The sport was no longer restricted to those who owned expensive, high-powered boats.
I was one of the outboard runabout owners shortly after moving to Florida in the early ’50s and I immediately took up water-skiing. Previously while living in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota I had done a lot of snow skiing and jumping, so water-skiing fit right in. We never heard of a ski-belt or vest, even going to AWSA (American Water Ski Association) tournaments to compete. I continued to compete and I was captain of the St. Petersburg Jr. College water-ski team in 1958, when we won the World Inter Collegiate Tournament.
Several weeks later Mr. Kiekhaeffer (Mercury Outboards) wanted to set the record of most skiers pulled by outboards. I and some of my teammates were part of the group of skiers. Mr. K’s boat pulled 21 skiers with twin Mark 78’s on a 21’ hydrodyne hull. That same afternoon Joe Cash (Cypress Gardens skier and champion), told all the skiers if they wanted to do some more skiing, jumping and slalom we should go to the Sarasota Skeearees Club location in Sarasota. We all enjoyed jumping and the slalom course. My friend Bobby Miller decided to make a few more jumps. He went off, fell but didn’t surface. Joe and I started diving for him immediately and when we finally got him to the shore it was too late. I always thought (and was even told) Bobby’s death was one of the reasons states passed ski-belt and vest laws two years later.
In 1964 the U.S. Coast Guard realized that the required life preservers were still not suitable and decided to have special life preservers made to suit different pastimes such as water-skiing and canoeing. In 1985 the Coast Guard proposed new laws for the carriage of life preservers on boats and their wearing during water sports. Since 1966 aircraft have been required to carry a life preserver for each passenger. As technology and water sports developed, so too did the life preserver.
Past President Lt. JG, George H. W. Bush was one of the pilots saved by his “Mae West” PFD, when he was shot down over the Pacific during wartime. Passing planes spotted him and a submarine picked him up. Air crew members whose lives were saved by use of the “Mae West” PFD were eligible for membership in the Goldfish Club. Peter Markus invented the “Mae West” when he was 16. He purchased a boat and his mother was afraid he would fall overboard. It consisted of two pneumatic compartments of rubber coated yellow fabric that could be inflated by blowing into a tube or pulling a cord that released carbon dioxide. Waist and crotch straps kept it in place. The War Department paid him $1,600 for his invention in 1936. He used the money for a down payment on a house.
Today’s PFDs are more comfortable to wear because they are properly sized from child to adult. They are also designed to be less bulky and are light weight and comfortable, you hardly know you are wearing one. Also if your K-9 buddy boats with you they now have doggie PFD’s sized from small to large.
Today it is the law to have a PFD that properly fits and is in good condition for each person on board. If you are stopped and boarded and fail to have the proper number of PFDs, you likely will get a ticket. Keep this in mind next spring when you are getting ready for boating season. If you have any questions about the proper PFD or the boating laws, call the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. A great Christmas gift for your crew would be new PFDs.
The U.S. Coast Guard has dropped the current life jacket codes (Type I, II, III, IV, V) in order to introduce more comfortable innovative life jacket designs. This should reduce the cost and confusion and increase availability as the codes were unique to the U.S. This is the first step in adopting new standards to simplify life jacket requirements for recreational cruisers and makes life jacket requirements consistent across many countries. A wider variety of sizes and lower cost from manufacturers should increase safety across the U.S. Despite the new standards current life jackets will still be legal although it is critical to ensure there is one properly fitting jacket for passengers on board. To check further go to: www.uscg.org/boating
The holidays are upon us
Christmas is upon us and captain and crew should make their lists. Maybe it’s an electronics device you want to upgrade to make cruising or fishing easier, maybe you need new lines and fenders. If your crew is into water sports then one of the new tubes that will seat two or more, water-skis or wake boards may be the answers.
One Christmas I gave my father a new propeller, he was good at finding skinny water. I wrapped it many times and put it in a large outboard motor box. The whole family had fun watching him try and find out what was in the box after he found out it wasn’t a new large outboard motor. If you don’t have any ideas, go to West Marine’s website and browse through their wish book on line, you are sure to find a great gift: www.westmarine.com
Now is the time to schedule you and your family for a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating class before next season starts. If you have youngsters approaching the age to be certified to pilot a personal water craft they need the ticket. Have the whole family attend and everyone will benefit.
Atlanta Boat Show
The Atlanta Boat Show will be January 15-18, so mark your calendar. There will be something for everyone: fishermen, youngsters, water sports enthusiasts, and sailors. Make your list and mark your calendar.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.
November 2014 column
Some items to check after winterizing your boat
Boats are complicated machines and require periodic checking. One thing that is overlooked and not inspected is seacocks. Even a modest vessel will have a number of thru-hull fittings below the water line – engine water intakes, wash down pump, live well, head intakes should be protected by seacocks and any thru hull hole should be fitted with a seacock. Boat US insurance states that more than 40 percent of boats that sink do so at the dock or on a mooring. This can be due to the lack of inspection to see that you have seacocks that shut the water intake with ease. Hoses should be properly installed using two stainless marine grade hose clamps per connection. Frequent checking should be a standard practice. If your bilge pump runs often this is the first place to check. It is possible for a hose or hose clamp to leak and a seacock that works will shut off the water leak.
If you leave your boat in the water you might want to shut all seacocks and check for security and check for leaks when turned back on. Make sure seacocks open and close with ease. In an emergency offshore, the faster you can close a seacock the quicker you will save the boat and your passengers from taking a swim. Make sure all hoses connected to seacocks are in good condition. Replace them if you have any doubt. On larger boats, yachts and houseboats you may find it difficult to inspect. I’ve often thought some designers and builders have a grudge against mechanics and marine surveyors with where they place seacocks. In some bilges I’ve inspected seacocks that were so hard to reach that when I did find them it wouldn’t have surprised me if they had a sign on them saying “Bet you had a helluva time finding this one!”
Regardless of where they are, make sure they work. All have a handle which move 90 degrees when in line with the outlet it opens. Turned 90 degrees it is closed. Gate valves should not be used. They are for farm or household use. When purchasing these items always use a marine approved item. When you have finished inspecting or replacing these items remember to record it in your maintenance log. You also might want to alert your frequent cruising crew to the location of your seacocks in case of an emergency.
Atlantic crossing and return
Not long ago I reported on an Atlantic crossing (Spain to Florida) in a 16’ sailboat made from volcanic fibers. Well, Harold Seblacek made the crossing in 87 days aboard “Fipofix.” He returned to Europe on July 2, 2014 and made it in 46 days. Both crossings set records for solo non-stop Atlantic crossings in a 16 foot boat without assistance. This is quite an accomplishment and in a 16 foot boat at that. Makes you wonder where he stored his supplies, water, food and clothes. Visit: www.open16.com
for more information.
Maintenance and manuals
If you have read my column in the past you know how important I think maintenance logs are. As I have said before a good maintenance log can be the difference between selling your boat at a reasonable price or a bargain price.
Onboard system management companies are creating “reminders” of when maintenance is due as easy as point and click. You will immediately know what needs to be serviced and it will be logged when it’s performed. Your owner’s manual will also be online as well as D.I.Y. instructions for jobs you want to perform. The three top names in the rapidly evolving product category of yacht maintenance management are: My-villages, Wheelhouse Technologies and Vessel Vanguard.
Check out which one will best suit the maintenance and information you need to keep your boat in bristol condition. Prices vary from $199 for small boats to $599 for 40 to 50 foot yachts. Remember you still have to perform the service and log it. I would also recommend saving all your receipts, especially the ones that cover expensive maintenance. This proves the work was completed and when. Check out these sites. I think you will find one that will suit you and your boat. Just search the web for the companies’ names and you’ll find their websites.
The U.S. Constitution, which is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, recently took a celebratory trip around Boston Harbor. She was pushed by a tugboat. The historic vessel was headed for a major, multi-year restoration project in dry dock. The ship earned its nickname after winning battles in the War of 1812 against Great Britain. The vessel turned 239 years old this week. When she sailed into battles she had a crew of 450 which included sailors and marines. Her overall length including bow sprit and fantail is 315 feet, L.W.L. is 175 feet. She was built in 1797 at a cost of $300,000.
According to the report I read the cruise to the dry dock included period costumed crew, bands, many guests including the governor. They numbered more than 500 people. With a compliment of 450 during wartime and now having 500 plus on board I wonder if the Coast Guard inspected for PFDs? Can you imagine a command of “battle stations?” Yes, the cannons were working and they fired a 21 gun salute. I’ll bet fun was had by all. If you get to Boston in a year or two you should stop by and go aboard. She’s quite a ship and a trip back in time.
A serious fishing trip
Costa Rica is the billfish capital of the world. During the 2014 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Tournament a world record of 5,078 billfish were caught and released. Los Sueños is located on Costa Rica’s central pacific coast. A photo of the International Marina shows more sport fishing yachts in one place than I’ve ever seen. Considering what you get, it’s not that expensive. A seven night, three day fishing package for four during high season (Jan. 4 to March 3) runs $6,660.00. In the green season as they call it, (April 1 to Dec. 15) it is $5,950.00. They also have snorkeling trips to Isla Tortuga which is part of the Curv Nature Reserve. They also have a crocodile tour with bilingual guides. If you go for a second honeymoon they have a sunset cruise tour.
If you have never caught a sailfish or marlin, Los Sueños can just about guarantee you one. What a trip to tell your friends about. Contact 1-866-865-9259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go please share your stories and photos with Lakeside.
Christmas is just around the corner. Here’s a gift your Captain might like under the tree. Whether you have a yacht, sailboat, houseboat, or tug, Duffy will make a model of it for display on the wall or table. Maybe it’s something the Captain would like in his office or a conversation piece to bring back memories at home. Contact: www.boatmodelsbyduffy.com or 1-949-645-6811.
Have a great Thanksgiving and I’ll see you around the dock.
October 2014 column
It's that time of year again - winterize
It’s time to winterize your boat. The more you do now, the less you will have to do come spring when the warm weather returns and you want to get on the water. First, the easiest part of winterizing is to add proper amount of stabilizer to fuel tank and check fuel line and filter, replace where needed. There are several brands of stabilizer, all are good but I prefer StaBil.
Next check the running gear, outdrives and lower units. Gear case oil should be drained and inspected for the presence of water. If water is found you will need to replace the prop shaft seal and then replace gear case oil. If this is not done and it freezes it could crack the gear case and cause expensive repairs. Check your prop. If it’s dinged up or the hub is slipping send it off for repair.
If you haven’t replaced your water-pump impeller and its two years old or more make a note to replace it. Outdrive bellows should be checked. Replace if it has holes or cracks. If holes are found inspect drive unit for damage and repair. Grease all fittings and check steering and shift controls, repair where needed, also check your power trim and tilt.
Boats that stay in the water year round should be hauled. The bottom should be pressure washed and repainted if needed. Running gear and thru-hull fittings should be thoroughly inspected, make repairs if needed.
Inboard engines and four-stroke outboards need oil and filter changes. Old oil can damage the working parts of an engine due to acids it contains. If you have a closed cooling system check or replace anti-freeze for proper protection. While in the engine area, check all hoses and fittings, especially hose clamps. Repair or replace if needed. Check batteries and electrical system. If batteries need replacing make a note to do it in the spring.
Inspect bilge pumps, head, air conditioning and other accessories. Repair where needed. Drain all water or use potable anti-freeze. Wash and clean boat thoroughly. Fiberglass boats should be waxed. It makes them easier to clean in the spring. If you trailer your boat don’t forget to check it. Inspect and grease your bearings. Inspect your tires, replace if you have weather cracks. Inspect light system, if it’s old, replace. Check winch and line.
These are some of the important things you need to do so your boat will survive the winter and make spring get ready easier. To make sure you haven’t missed anything on your particular boat, check your owner’s manual or your dealer if you have any questions. One of the most important things to do is record what you have done in your maintenance log. Remember a well-kept maintenance log is an excellent sales tool when it comes time to sell your boat.
You might want to check out a new app to keep track of your maintenance log. My Boat by Intelligent Maintenance is a utilitarian app for convenient reference and logging of vessel information. My Boat Dashboard provides check lists and reminders. Check iTunes app store. Cost: $19.99. www.intelligentmaintenance.com
Electric outboard, lithium battery update
Torqeedo has produced an 80 H.P. electric outboard and Canadian boat builder Campion of Kelowna, B.C., has produced a 180 H.P. electric outboard. Many manufacturers have plans to produce all-electric outboards. This year, a mega yacht builder announced the development of a 12-passenger shore boat for running guests from the anchored mega yacht to shore, at 45 knots powered by a pair of 300 H.P. all-electric outboards.
Lithium ion batteries which power the all-electric Tesla sports car, among other vehicles and it is fast becoming more affordable. Tesla recently was approved by the state of Nevada to build a multi-million dollar lithium ion battery factory. These batteries are smaller, lighter, and charge faster than their predecessor; they also cost more than three times as much.
In Europe, Renault produces an all-electric car that is sold without the battery pack. Packs are leased to the buyers for the equivalent of $100 per month. Gas costs would be around $300 per month. Battery leasing and charging is $110 per month. If there is a battery problem the builder supplies a new one at no cost. The battery lease rental business model is now being examined by businesses in the marine field. Remember these batteries might cost three times what your lead acid battery costs now, but lithium ion batteries last three times longer. I look for these batteries to develop even further with the refinement they will receive from both the automotive field and the marine field. They will become less in cost, and last longer. I think boaters are not long from having charging stations next to shore power in slips. I’ll bet there will be some interesting new items related to this at the boat shows this year. I wonder how it will be getting used to no exhaust and engine noise?
Star Wars designs
The last issue of Lakeside showed a photo of the 70’ “Axiom” yacht now on display at Atlanta Marine. The design looks out of this world. It makes one wonder, probably the way a lot of us looked at some of Detroit’s new cars have changed in the last 60 years. It will be interesting to see the sea trial on this boat.
Several magazines recently covered some yachts that looked like they were tested in a wind tunnel or originated from another planet. Designer Stefano Pastrovich’s latest is the 295 foot concept X-kid Stuff, quite a luxury yacht that would turn heads in any port. Pastrovich’s other yachts were the popular Wallypower. Check at: www.pastrovich.com
The Peconic 43 is another out of this world sport express yacht. Designed by Scott Henderson and built by C.H. Marine. The lines on this 43 footer are a little more pleasing. Check: www.chmarineyachts.com.
Myself, I’d rather have a Hunt, Hinckly, Bertram or Grand Banks. I guess I’m old fashioned.
Plans for cold, winter days
Sometimes during the cold winter months families like to go south for a cruise or plan a trip for next summer. Here are some ideas.
I’m sure by now everyone who has been around boats has heard of the “Great Loop Trip.” If you are interested you can join “America’s Great Loop Association.” They are also going to have the sixth annual “Looper Crawl and Concert” on October 15, 2013 in Rogersville, AL. If you want to talk to Loopers this would be the place, and it’s not that far from Lake Lanier. If you join you will also receive a newsletter. Contact: www.greatlooper.com
Southwest Florida Yachts, located near Fort Myers, FL, has bareboat and crewed charters to cruise what I think is one of the best parts of Florida to cruise. Cruising World magazine has rated this area of the west coast of Florida as the number one chartering destination in the United States and number three in the world. A 36’ Grand Banks costs $4,499 per week in winter and $3,601 in summer. A Leopard 40’ sailing catamaran charters for $3,957 in winter and $3,167 during the summer. Contact: www.swfyachts.com
If you are interested in exploring Washington State’s San Juan Islands and the N.W. Pacific to Alaska, check out Northwest Explorations at www.nwexplorations.com. A 49’ Grand Banks classic is $7,500 per week during high season and $5,475 during low season. Cruising this part of the world would be quite a family adventure.
The Moorings offers charters in the Caribbean and Europe, both sail and power. Contact: www.moorings.com and check their special offers get brochures and a newsletter. Marinemax has power and sail charters in the British Virgin Islands with a base in Tortola. They offer bareboat or crewed charters. The 484 charter yacht is featured in the September issue of Yachting. The article by Chris Caswell will give you a good idea of the yacht you will charter. Contact: www.marinemaxvacations.com
If you want to cruise the scenic European country side by the canals contact: www.leboat.com/cw
. If you think chartering rates are too expensive compare hotel and motel rates, you’ll find chartering a boat is a bargain. Also if you don’t like where you are you can always weigh anchor and cruise to a better place.
If you get past the dreaming stage and take one of these vacations, please share your story and photo’s with Lakeside.