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Dec. 3, 2016
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Captain's Comments

Gift ideas for captain and crew

Here are some gift ideas for this holiday season:
 
• One of the best safety items to have on board is an “EPIRB” for emergencies. The ACR Globalfix V-4 will do the trick and it floats.  It also has a GPS and will operate for 48 hours. If you go offshore you definitely need one of these.  They can be a life saver when you get into trouble offshore. The two models run from $400 to $500. Visit: www.cartex.com.
• An ICOM M93D hand held VHF radio packs all kinds of features that boaters want. And it floats. Cost is $349. Visit: www.westmarine.com.
• How about an easy to store “Body Glove” stand up paddle board. It’s inflatable so stow it on board and inflate it when ready.  It’s designed by GOPRO Games Champion boarder Luke Hopkins. Cost is $899. Visit: www.bodyglove.com.
• For stocking stuffers try the new Sebile lures for the fishermen in your family from $6.99 to $14.99. Visit: www.sebile.com.
• Cuda Titanium Bonded snips, great for cutting bait or fishing line. Price $19. Visit:  www.cudabrand.com.
• Innova Kayak inflatable 410C. Bring a boat onboard in a bag. Want to go exploring skinny water while at anchor, just inflate it and go. Price $759. Visit: www.innovoakayak.com.
• Boasters Grundens Elastic Belt with quick connects snap buckle that’s adjustable and it stretches. Price $9. Visit: www.ifsmarineoutdoor.com.
• A good pair of new deck shoes would be a good way to start the boating season. At West Marine you would have your choice of six different brands including Sperry Top Siders from $90 to $140. Visit: www.westmarine.com.
• Marmot precipitation jackets, men’s and women’s style. They are lightweight, waterproof and breathable. Price $100. Visit: www.westmarine.com.
• Canyon Quest backpack cooler. Special ice skin insulation keeps the ice for day. They come in two sizes, $100 and $150. Visit:  www.canyoncoolers.com.
• Papa’s Pilar light and dark rum is named after Ernest Hemingway’s legendary wheeler fishing boat that is still in Cuba. But a replica of “Pilar” can be seen in the Keys. Bottles are available in special nautical gift wrapping. Light $30 or dark rum $40. Buy it at: www.papaspilar.com.
• DIY boaters would love to have a Dewalts carbide wood cutting hole saw. It’s part of the new Flexvolt accessory line. $17. Buy it at: www.acmetools.com.
• Weego 44 jump starter features a waterproof compact lithium polymer battery pack and smart clamps along with a 500 lumen LED flashlight that is included. Cost is $149. Visit: www.myweego.com.
• Sticker Bamff Flashlight comes in three models: 4.0, 5.0, 6.0. All have dual cree LED heads and aircraft grade aluminum bodies with waterproof construction. $39 for the 4.0. Visit: www.strikerconcepts.com.

That should give you a good choice of gifts for the boating family. If you have a Captain who is prone to running aground like a few I’ve known, maybe a spare prop would be a good gift.
 
Atlanta Boat Show
This year’s boat show will offer many new boating concepts for 2017. The show will be January 12-15, 2017. Your outboard engines will feature Yamaha V-8 350 H.P. They were the first with the V-8 power. Suzuki has its new 300 H.P. Mercury has recently introduced 350 H.P. and 400 H.P. versions. Then you have Honda, with the only two cycle outboard.  Evinrude offers a new large engine and it also carries one of the best warranties. Then you have the largest horse power engine of them all; the “Seven” company’s 627 H.P. outboard using a marinised Cadillac V-8 engine. Cost is $90,000 per unit. That’s more than the cost of the Cadillac. They have become popular in twin installation on large offshore center console boats. 
 
The trend in boats now is going toward outboard power in 40 feet or less cruisers which were usually powered by inboard/outboards or straight inboards. This offers more living space and storage. You will see several at the boat show. 
 
Center consoles now not only feature a comfortable head, but they have express cruiser comfort below: galley, convertible dinette, and master state room with air conditioning. Power is now usually two large horsepower outboards instead of the three or four smaller engines. When you walk through the boat show you will see what I mean. You will also see a bunch of new electronics. If you cruise your boat the new electronics will amaze you.
 
New Year’s resolutions
Don’t forget your New Year’s resolutions. If you or your boating family haven’t take the U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary boating class make sure you sign up. Remember it’s mandatory when your kids reach a certain age. Taking this course could also reduce your insurance rates. Make a resolution to get your boat inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. This way you will know you have the proper and approved equipment on board. Last but not least, join Boat U.S. It costs just $30 a year. They also have a very interesting boating magazine that comes out every other month. Remember to make these resolutions, they will help you have a safe and informed boating year in 2017. 
 
A great winter trip
If you get tired of bad weather this winter, why not run down to Jacksonville and cruise the St. Johns River. It goes from Jacksonville to Sanford. You can spend a day down in Sanford and head back up the next or take four day weekend and take it slow. You will see alligators, birds, and fishing is usually good. You can trailer your boat down, or rent a boat in Jacksonville where they have small cruisers and houseboats available. 
 
In some places it’s like cruising in the jungle. There are also great places to eat and overnight accommodations down river. Visit: www.sjrivercruises.com for charts and places of interest.
 
The St. Johns River is 310 miles long with its headwaters just west of Vero Beach at Blue Cypress Lake, where you rent boats at Middleton’s Fishcamp. The river is made up of numerous springs.  Blue Spring is the largest spring on the St. Johns, discharging 104 million gallons of water daily. In the winter time this is one of the gathering places for manatees. The river is also one of the few that flows north. It goes through downtown Jacksonville and flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Fort George Island northeast of the city. Part of the land on the river is in the Ocala National Forest. 
 
The route from Jacksonville to Lake Monroe in Sanford is the most navigable. In the 1800s there were steamships that traveled this route. It is Florida in its wildest with numerous birds and alligators on the shore. The fishing is great and chances are you might find your own private fishing hole.  There are seven or eight towns that you can stop for the night. The restaurants come well recommended. 
 
A trip like this would not only be great for grown-ups but also quite an experience for kids. Send Lakeside some photos if you go. For houseboat rental at Holly Bluff Marina, call: 800-237-5105 or visit www.hollybluff.com.
 
Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. Practice safe boating, be courteous 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.






November 2016 column

Now is the time for some armchair cruising

Since the boating season is over and you are wishing you were cruising in the summer sun, maybe it’s time for some arm chair cruising. How about doing the Great Loop? So what is the Great Loop? Well, it’s the continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America including the Atlantic and Gulf Intercostal waterways, Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. 
 
A good place to start on the Atlantic intercostal waterway is from the St. Lucie inlet to Norfolk, Virginia. Then it’s another 279 miles to the Hudson River for a total of 1,266 statute miles on the Eastern Seaboard. The Hudson River portion starts at Lady Liberty and goes to the entrance of the Erie Canal, 134 miles of historic viewing of the Hudson River Valley.  This leg of your journey is 338 miles from Waterford, N.Y. to Tonawanda, N.Y. This will be the slowest part of the cruise as you will pass through 57 locks on the Erie Canal. This leg of your trip is 892 miles from the International Peace Bridge at Buffalo to the Chicago River lock at Chicago. You will travel west on Lake Erie to the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, then through Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron, going north you pass through the Mackinaw Straits and into Lake Michigan and on to Chicago. 
 
The next leg is 327 miles on the Illinois River to Grafton, Ill., at the convergence of the Mississippi River at Cairo, Ill. At this time you can decide to take the lower Mississippi which will be 954 miles to the ICW on the Gulf Coast at Cairo. There is also an alternate route. From Cairo you travel 46 miles to the Tennessee River at Paducah, Ky. and take the Tennessee River 33 miles and enter the Cumberland River, thru Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway this last leg was 215 miles to the Tenn-Tom.
 
The Tenn-Tom is 234 miles to Mobile Bay and the Gulf Coast I.C.W. From there it is 218 miles to Carrabelle. Don’t forget to stop at some of the best seafood restaurants in the country along this route. From there you hit the open gulf to Tarpon Springs which is the start of the I.C.W. on the west coast of Florida. At Fort Myers connect with the Okeechobee waterway (there are locks to go through on both sides of Lake Okeechobee). If you want to see some of old Florida, take the Rim Canal. It’s slower, but more interesting than crossing the lake. Take the eastern Okeechobee waterway and you will intersect with the Atlantic side of the I.C.W. and St. Lucie inlet. That completes the Great Loop, a total of 5,300 miles. 
 
There is always someone waiting to set a speed record and Lyn Morgan did in his 24-foot pontoon boat with a six cylinder Yamaha, 250 H.P. He outfitted it for the trip.  In his 5,300 mile trip he passed through 120 locks and had to stop for two major repairs. He made it in eight weeks and one day. 
Remember, you don’t have to take the Great Loop all at once, you might want to pick out an interesting link for a summer trip and then maybe the next year pick out something else until you have completed the loop. 
 
If I were to cruise it I think it would be in a single diesel 32’ Grand Banks. They are economical and easy to handle, plus sea worthy. If you decide on taking a sailboat, make sure the mast is rigged so you can drop it when encountering fixed bridges.
 
“The Loopers” as they call themselves have an organization called “The Great Loop Association” and they have rendezvous and meetings several times a year. For more information go to: www.greatloop.com. If you decide to go on the Great Loop cruise or a portion of it, please send us some photos. 
 
Great boating innovations
One of the greatest innovations was C. Raymond Hunt’s deep-v hull that was first used on the 31’ Bertram where it became famous for running in rough seas with a smoother and more controllable ride. Many manufacturers now utilize the deep-v hull. 
 
Here are more innovations:
  • The magnetic compass was first invented in 200 B.C. by the Chinese during the Han Dynasty.  Early compasses were made from lodestone and pointed south, rather than north. 
  • The first propeller was made out of wood in 1836 by inventor Francis Petit Smith. It propelled a 30’ steam powered 6 H.P. canal boat. 
  • The first New York Boat Show was in 1905, the National Motor Boat Show was held at New York’s Grand Central Palace. The boats were trailered behind teams of horses. 
  • The first fiberglass boat was built by Ray Greene of Toledo, Ohio. He built 25’ sailboats, 175 of them in fact. 
  • The first fiberglass powered boat was built in 1950 by Beetle Inc., in Wareham, Mass. 
  • Water-skiing was developed by Ralph Samuelson in 1922 on Lake Pepin in Minnesota. He enjoyed aqua-planing and wondered how skiing on water would be. He made some skis wider than snow skis and the rest is history. 
  • The electric trolling motor was invented by O.G. Schmidt in 1934.  He moved his growing manufacturing operation to Fargo, N.D., because of its proximity to the Minnesota-North Dakota Border.  He named the business “Minn-Kota Manufacturing.” 
  • The first unsinkable fiberglass boat was built by Dick Fisher in 1954 and was named the Boston Whaler when production started in 1965. It was designed by his naval architect friend C. Raymond Hunt.
  • The first stern drive was the Volvo Penta Aquamatic, invented by Jim Wynne. He raced a deep-V boat with two 80 H.P. Aquamatics in the Miami-Nassau race. The N.M.M.A. reports that there are over 14 million stern drive boats in use today. 
  • The first inflatable life jacket was invented in 1928. It was put into use by Air Force pilots who nicknamed it “Mae West” because of how it looked when inflated. 
  • The first Airslot hull, later called the cathedral hull for Thunderbird Boats, debuted at the 1959 New York Motorboat Show.  You also saw the boat on the TV series “Flipper.”   
  • Sonar was used by submarines during World War II. Lowrance came out with their little Green box in 1959 for recreational boaters. They have produced more than a million and remain one of the leaders in marine electronics. 
  • Trailer bearing protectors from a California company invented what is now known today as “Bearing Buddy,” in 1953. If you don’t have them on your trailer you should. 
  • First stand up jet ski was made in 1973. While Bombardier shelved the original Sea-Doo after just two years, Kawasaki took the stand-up jet power design and ran with it. Today many people refer to all personal water craft as Jet Skis.
  • First portable marine sanitation device was invented by Thetford. Yep, it was called “Porta-Poti.”
  • Automatic oil injection first came on the market in 1980 when Suzuki introduced it on their 85 H.P. three cylinder engine. 
  • Dual-prop stern drive was introduced by Volvo-Penta in 1983 since then several manufacturers have introduced their version.
 
Marine thermal camera
FLIR, the leader in thermal cameras for the marine industry, has just introduced an affordable thermal camera, the Ocean Scout TK. It will reveal the heat of vessels, buoys, obstacles, and people in water day or night. These thermal cameras were not really affordable for the average boater, but now FLIR is offering this unit for only $599. Normally they are in the thousands of dollars. Maybe ask Santa Claus for one. 
 
I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.


October 2016 column

Center consoles have evolved into perhaps the most popular boat style


You’ve seen more and more advertisements every time you open up your latest boating magazine. Center consoles are now the most popular boat. There must be over 50 manufacturers. To name a few: Belzona, Boston Whaler, Century, Cobia, Dusky, Edgewater, Everglades, Hunt, Intrepid, Jupiter, Mako, Midnight Express, Nor-Tech, Pursuits, Scout, and Wellcraft. Most have models from 25’ to 40’ and up. The bigger they are the more comfortable they are, with heads, galleys, and berths below.

Some even have generators so they can have air conditioned comfort. Power is usually with multiple outboards. Some of the larger boats have four or five 400 H.P. “Mercurys” or 350 H.P. “Yamahas” or three or four “Sevens” 627 H.P. The speed sometimes exceeds 80 miles per hour. As one old fisherman once said, “I’ve never see a fish that fast.” I’m not sure where the design started, but one version I’ve heard was from the smaller bass boats.  The fisherman wanted to go offshore so they just built a bigger bass boat that you could walk around the console and have 360 degrees of fishing. 
 

The other story I heard was there was a wooden center console in the Bahamas and someone used it as a plug for a fiberglass boat. I got into building in 1969 or 1970.  Forest Johnson of Prowler fame had some molds. One would make a suitable center console and the other had a cuddy cabin that fit on the same hull. This was a 24’ powered by a 325 H.P. 427 C.I. V-8 Mercruiser straight drive. It was quick and could get you to that offshore fishing hole fast. Prowlers were famous for their speed and became famous for running booze from Cuba to Florida. Jack Beachem who started Lazy Days houseboats, Holiday Marina, and Lazy Days Marina had one on Lake Lanier that I believe was a 32’ cuddy cabin with twin engines. We sold eight or 20 boats and had several under construction when someone in Miami gave us a price for the whole company.
 

I experienced one of the greatest fishing trips I have ever had for Tarpon. It was in late July when the season had wound down. I asked Captain Duane Futch who fished with all the dignitaries that came to Boca Grande, “What are you doing today?” He said, “Let’s take that center console of yours and float some crabs when the tide comes in over the flats.” So we did. His wife and I had a double header with two tarpons 80 to 100 pounds. It doesn’t get any better than that, being on a boat you built for Tarpon fishing, having one of the top Captains for you guide and then hooking up a double header. Several years later I saw a cuddy cabin model in Ft. Myers. It was a police boat, and that’s the last I’ve seen or heard of the Fishmaster Boats. 
 

Trojan Yachts was the first to put a head in the console of the 26’ boat they built when they were first becoming popular. The smaller center consoles, 20’ to 30’ depending how much power you put on them, will run $175,000 to $350,00. The larger ones will of course be much higher. But remember you can not only fish in them but you can cruise in comfort.  Check them out; I’m sure you will find one you like.
 

PWC fishing

Offshore fishermen on the East Coast are converting four-passenger Yamaha SUV PWCs into offshore fishing vessels. It comes equipped with a cooler, depth finder, VHF, rod holders and storage.  They say the smaller fishing machine give them an advantage. I’m sure it does, but I don’t think I want to be 50 miles offshore on a PWC, even a special one. Give me a 46’ Bertram or a similar Viking or Hatteras for my offshore fishing.  
 

If you are interested in fabricating a PWC for fishing contact: Martins Custom Structures in Gloucester, Va. Good Luck. In countries like South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, personal watercraft fishing has surged in popularity with PWC-only tournaments regularly attracting close to 150 competitors. New Zealand has its own PWC TV show and New Zealand has the Jet Ski Fishing Club. 
 

Motor boating merit badges 

To become an Eagle Scout you have to pass many merit badge tests. The motor boating merit badge goes much further than the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron’s badge. You have to successfully dock and tie up a boat in a slip, successfully anchor it and weigh anchor, and instruct your passengers on the use of safety equipment on board. You have to demonstrate how to administer C.P.R. You must also know the various knots used in boating.  It helped me when I joined the U.S. Coast Guard. I don’t know if they still give you credit for that when you enlist, but I bet they do. According to BSA headquarters 596,718 motor merit badges have been earned in the 55 years since the badges inception. That’s almost 11,000 Scouts annually exposed to a solid foundation in power boating, a rate that has held up through the past decade. I think state government and the Coast Guard should accept this as the same as passing a boating test.
 

Winter is ’round the corner

It’s nearing the time to put your boat up for the winter. You need to pull up your maintenance log and see what you did last year. Just to name a few things: for outboards and outdrives check for grease or oil in the lower unit for water. If you find water, the prop shaft seal is leaking. Take off your prop and see if there is any monofilament line wrapped around it. That, plus age, is what makes the seal leak.  While you have the prop off inspect it for grounding damage, send it off for repair now, so it will be ready next spring. Water pumps and tune-ups should be done in the spring. 
 

Oil changes should be done now so old dirty oil won’t corrode or rust your engine over the winter months. Clean water separator and fuel filters, add Stabil or the equivalent to the fuel tank and fill it at least 3/4 full. Grease steering, tilt, and prop shaft. Take your navigation bulbs out and spray sockets with WD 40. Replace burned out bulbs. 
 

Take batteries out and store them properly, or put them on a timed trickle charger. Check their dates and if they will need replacing make a note and do it in the spring, you’ll get a longer warranty. 

Check your engine manual for winterizing. All water systems and head need to be protected. It’s also good to give the boat a thorough cleaning and waxing before you put the boat up. I always thought a cleaning and waxing party would be great. Invite all those who enjoyed the boat with you this summer and put them to work.  Tell them you’ll by the beer.  
 

If you keep your boat in the water remember to pressure wash the bottom before you put it on the trailer. Houseboats, cruisers and sailboats that stay in the water should be pressure washed in the spring. Make sure you write down in the maintenance log what you have done. If you drained engine blocks remember to replace the plugs. If you have any special items like a radio, depthfinder, or hand held electronics that might need replacing make a note of it and in January at the boat show you can probably get a special sale. 
 

The most neglected piece of boating equipment is the boat trailer. You want them when you need them, but most leave them sitting with no maintenance. Bearings must be greased properly. Tires and trailer lights should be checked.  Make sure your winch and line is in good shape. If you store your boat on a trailer, jack the tires off the ground, they will last longer. Remember, one of your worst experiences is a flat tire on a boat trailer with a carload of kids and people who want to go boating. 

I’ve covered most things about winterizing, but I’m sure there are some I’ve missed. If you have any questions ask your mechanic. 
 

Wear you PFD on that last cruise to see the leaves turning. Practice safe boating and I’ll see you on the water!


September 2016 column

Is carbon fiber the next beig thing in boat building?


What is the future of carbon fiber as it relates to boat building? That’s what Chris Caswell explores  in a recent “Boating” magazine article. Like the word “stealth,” carbon fiber has crept into our modern language. It has been used in cars; 1981 when McLaren built the first Formula One racer.  Boeing uses 7,700 pounds of it in their 787 dream liner. Remember the Americas Cup winner “Oracle?” The 72’ catamaran sailed over 50 knots and was made of carbon fiber. 
 
The material is more expensive, but a 28’ boat could weight a total of 4,500 pounds verses a fiberglass boat that could go over 10,000 pounds. The lighter the boat, the better the economy and speed. 
 
Carbon fiber boats must have proper insulation around electronic devices as the material will conduct electricity. This, plus cost, are really the only downsides. According to the magazine the price of commercial grade carbon fiber composites ranges from $5 to $20 per pound, depending on variables, while fiberglass runs from $1.50 to $3. Some of the cost difference is mitigated by the fact that you use less carbon fiber (by weight) than fiberglass to build a boat. 
 
“Boating” tested a Paragon Super Sport 28 built entirely of carbon fiber and powered by a “Seven Marine” 627 hp outboard. It showed a top speed of 81 mph.  Of course when you cruise at a sensible speed, say 40 knots, you will burn less fuel.
 
Contact: Carbon Marine, Toronto, Canada. Phone: 416-432-6300 or www.carbonmarine.ca.com or www.boatingmag.com. I’m sure at the fall boat shows you will see new models built of carbon fiber and their performance figures will be vastly improved over the heavier fiber glass boats.
 
Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
The lake is where you can check your boat’s top speed running a mile course on the clocks. You will know exactly how fast your boat is. No bragging after a few beers.  Last year’s champion was a 51’ Mystic catamaran off shore race boat called “American Ethanol” with a top speed of 208 mph. That’s right, over 200 mph.
 
In the women’s category, Debbie Bull drove her husband, Bob’s, 52’ MTI catamaran “CMS Racing” to a speed of 181 mph. This made her the fastest woman in the history of the shoot outs. The shoot outs started in 1988, and has increased in popularity ever since.
 
Last year’s event saw 94 competitors make 229 runs in 64 classes. With 64 classes there is a good chance for you to get in. Classes run from single outboards to multiple outboards, single out drives and duel outdrives, catamarans, mono steped hulls, and pontoon boats.  They put triple Mercury 400 R’s on pontoon boats and achieve speeds of 114 mph. I don’t know why they don’t blow over. Check out:  www.lakeoftheozarksshootout.com. Maybe there should be a Lake Lanier shootout?  
 
The “Seven”
Erick and Rick Davis, who recently retired from Mercury Marine to form Davis Consulting, had an idea: “Let’s build a 1,000 H.P. outboard.” They thought the idea was a good one and started development. A Cadillac V-8 is the base motor and the engine is assembled outside of Milwaukee, WI. All the parts are outsourced from companies throughout Wisconsin which are known to supply Mercury Marine, B.R.P. Evinrude, Harley-Davidson and others. The end result is a 627 H.P. outboard, not 1,000 H.P., but still the biggest outboard motor.  At the 2016 Miami Boat Show 46 “Seven” marine motors were installed on 46 demo boats and several hundred have been sold so far. The one “Seven” can replace two 250-300 H.P. motors and give good performance and economy.  Price: A cool $100,000. People owning center consoles powered by multiple engines are the most interested buyers. For more information check out: www.seven-marine.com
 
Piezoelectricity
This is a new technology that is entering the boating world. Piezo in Latin means to squeeze. And electricity is created in squeezing. Most of you have already seen a working model. When your child’s tennis shoes blink with each step, that is Piezoelectricity working.   Since World War I scientists have used this technology with the early stages of sonar.  Fast forward to today and it was recently used by NASA’s Mars rover. For boats, the technology is making more accurate fish finder displays. Mercury Marine is marketing some engines with Piezo injectors. This allows faster and more precise fuel injection. Researchers at Georgia Tech are working with piezoelectric to create Nano wires. It’s going to be interesting to see some of the amazing products developed for the boating industry in the near future. Remember, you read it here first. 
 
Georgia’s bass high school club
Recently we have covered high school bass fishing tournaments and the young men who have excelled. Now is the beginning of the school year and a great time to start a team at your school. You don’t have to be an exceptional athlete to be a great fisherman.  Also, the women are welcome to join, too. Get a teacher at your school to act as your mentor and coach and sign up as many students as you can. Tournament information and registrations forms are at www.gabnhs.com. Georgia High School Bass Fishing Clubs started in 2013. The growth of these clubs around the nation has been phenomenal. Start your club and have a great time fishing your tournaments this year. Don’t forget to let Lakeside News know how you do.  
 
Things to check on your boat
Summertime is bug time. Bees, wasps, etc. They are always looking for a place to nest so it’s important to check those small places on your boat; bilge outlet hose, fuel tank vent, blower vent, especially if you don’t use your boat as often as you would like.  Some boaters have even found birds’ nests. Make sure these areas are clean and not affected by nest or trash build up which can cause problems. 

Congratulations Pirates
The Lanier Pirates Poker Run was a great success with $400,000 plus raised for the kids. Way to go and I hope you great success next year. 
 
Wear your P.F.Ds. Practice safe boating, be courteous and I’ll see you on the water.
 

August 2016 column

It's all in the name; original boat monikers abound


Boat owners have some strange ways to name their boats. Just walk down the dock at any marina and you will see names you wonder how to pronounce or what they mean. I’ve seen names formed by the first two letters of their four children’s names. It’s original but try and pronounce it. Then there are owners that combine portions of the husbands and wife names such as “Marthomas” on a 42’ wheeler I repowered and sold. A man named “Hand” who owned numerous boats from a Mathews – Carri-craft, all were named “Handful,” an appropriate name for a boat. I sold a 46’ Bertram to a Delta pilot. He changed the name from “For Play” to “Flight Deck.”
 
James Bond enthusiasts are known to call their 100’ plus yachts, “Never Say Never,” or “Octopussy.” Other popular yacht names: “Charisma,” “Pipe Dreams,” “Excellence,” “Tomorrow We Ride,” “Easy Rider,” “4 Mal,” “Aqua Life,” “My Lady,” “Rainbows End,” “Seas The Day.” Of course there are yacht owners that name them after their wife, especially if she is the one who let him buy the boat. That’s probably why you see so many named “Miss (girl’s name),” that keeps peace in the family. 
 
My father had a 30’ cruiser that he named “Muffet,” my sister’s nickname. My first 18’ Cobia Twin rig was named “Muck-Muck” because my godson couldn’t say Mike. One of my first boats was names “Kwitchurbeliakin.” I used the boat for ski races and the announcer sure had trouble with it.  My OPC (outboard pleasure craft) race boats were named after Snoopy Characters. The 18’ twin rig was called “Snoopy’s Revenge,” the large single rig a red 16’ was the “Red Baron,” the 15’ single was called “Good Grief Charlie Brown,” and another 15’ single was “Lil Snoopy.” All the boats had the illustration on both sides of the boat of Snoopy on his dog house with a racing life jacket and helmet. The dog house was powered by a Mercury and was going through the waves. I even got a complimentary letter from Charles Schulz for using his characters. 
 
If you have just bought a boat and thinking of naming it, I hope I have given you some ideas.  Remember, the more original your boat’s name, the more people will talk about it.
 
SUP with power
It was bound to happen: stand up paddleboards with power. The Mirage Eclipse SUP now has the same pedal system as the Hobie kayaks. The system allows them to get up to seven knots. The new boards store easily and break down to make it compact. It looks like paddle boards will become a lot more fun. Visit www.hobiecat.com.
 
High school fishing tourney
Georgia’s High School All American fisherman Cody Stahl of Griffin teamed up with professional angler J. Todd Tucker to fish the Bassmaster High School All American Event on McGee Creek Lake in Oklahoma. The event was presented by Choctaw Casino and Resort. The 12 high school anglers were paired by random draw with pros who volunteered their time.  They caught a total of 11 pounds 7 ounces to win the tournament. I’m sure we will be hearing about Cody’s fishing achievements as he goes to college on a scholarship in Savannah. 
 
Six year old lands Great white
Lars White declared “Momma, we’re going to need a bigger boat.”  The boy hooked up with a Great white shark while fishing off Cape Cod. They got a photo of the 10’-12’ shark when it finally surfaced. They cut the line so he could be caught another time. What a thrill for a 6 year old. Take a kid fishing this summer, you both will have a memorable experience.
 
Fast trip to Miami
In the late 1960s I had an 18’ Cobia with twin 110 hp 6 cylinder Mercs with surface props. It was one of the fastest boats in the area.  My girlfriend was a bookkeeper at a local bank and when she got her vacation she told me she was going somewhere with or without me. So I said, “Let’s go to Miami.” She said, “OK, if it won’t take too long to drive.” I said, “No, we’re going by boat.” She gave me a quizzical look but agreed.
 
I called my friend in Miami at Donzi and told him I’d see him tomorrow, and he said OK. We loaded the boat which I had installed a 50 gallon Marathon fuel tank to go with the pair of 30 gallon side tanks. We loaded up and left at 4 a.m. My course in the Gulf of Mexico was from the Clearwater sea buoy to the Boca Grande sea buoy.  
 
We made good time in the open gulf. We didn’t have to dodge any stone crab trap buoys. We entered the I.C.W. about dawn and continued to Ft. Meyers and then entered the Okeechobee waterway to Clewiston where we would cross Lake Okeechobee. We fueled up in Clewiston and then headed across Lake Okeechobee which took about 8-10 minutes. That boat was fast. I learned one thing from old Captains when I helped deliver yachts from the East Coast to the West Coast or vice-a-versa: when you are locking thru, a cold six pack in the lockmaster’s hands speeds up the process, and it did for us. We fueled up again on the waterways intersection with the ICW and headed south at speed.

We had a lot more traffic on the East Coast ICW but it didn’t slow us down. Late in the afternoon we arrived at marker #47, the entrance to Thunderboat Ally. I pulled up to the marina dock and called my friend with Donzi to tell him I’d arrived. He said, “No way you made it that fast.” I said, “I’m here and you know when I left.” The time we figured was just under 14 hours from Clearwater Beach to Miami.
 
Michael Peters in his article in Power and Motor Boating magazine reminded me about the “No Slow Down Zones” we have now and didn’t back then. We had “No Slow Downs for Manatee” zones, no “No Wake” zones, etc. You couldn’t make that trip today in three days. As a matter of fact my last delivery was a 46’ Bertram from Pompano to St. Petersburg and it took three days of hard running.
 
When I returned to Clearwater Beach it was a much slower and casual trip, with stops in Clewiston and Cabbage Key. After I returned I called “Red Marston” the boating editor of the St. Petersburg Times.  He always wrote about my racing exploits. I told him to meet me at the St. Pete Yacht Club for lunch.  We met, and I proceeded to tell him about our record trip to Miami.  He said, “Mike I’ve had no less than three sheriffs wanting to know who owns that boat? If I were you I’d go lock it up in a barn for six months.” I followed his advice after all I had another boat. That trip could never be duplicated today because of the slow and no wake zones and the manatee zones.  Myself and my girlfriend had a great experience we’ll never forget. 
 
Mid summer maintenance
I hope everyone is having a safe and great boating season. Don’t forget while you are having fun the hours add up on your boat so don’t forget your maintenance schedule. Keeping up to date on maintenance will ensure you have many more fun days this year. 

Be sure and wear your PFDs, remember 84 percent of drowning victims weren’t wearing a PFD. Don’t become a statistic, also remind your boating friends to wear their PFDs. Check the weather and have fun on the lake, and I’ll see you on the water.


July 2016 column

All boats should have a fuel line water separator


I hope everyone had a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend. It was the first long weekend of the year and I’m sure those of you who had properly winterized your boat enjoyed the weekend with no problems. I was privy to a problem a Lodge brother of mine had. He always winterizes his boat by the book and puts “Stabil” in his fuel tank. But this year he thought he was getting water in his fuel because the RPMs were erratic. I thought he had an inline water separator, but he didn’t. They use to be standard. He ended up cleaning the fuel filter at the carburetor and put some fresh “Stabil” in the fuel tank. The next day the boat ran like new.
 
I advocate having an inline water separator on all gas powered boats. You can put the contents of the separator into a clear container and right away you know what is in your fuel tank. If you have a minor water or ethanol problem put in some “Stabil” or “Marvel Mystery Oil” and it should solve your problem. Don’t forget to use it throughout the season. If you don’t have an inline water separator, install one. They are inexpensive and easy to maintain. They also will save you from future repair bills. 
 
Not running fast enough
A lot of you might have thought your boat ran faster last year. Well here are some things to check: 
  • Weight: is your boat loaded down with unnecessary equipment? A lot of boats are. Take everything off except USCG necessary equipment. In most cases that could amount to the weight of one or two passengers which would gain you a couple of knots. 
  • Propeller: when was the last time you checked your prop? Maybe you had a couple of groundings and the prop needs servicing. Maybe your boat is several years old and a new prop would be more efficient. Mercury has just come out with a new prop with more blade area which will give better fuel efficiency. It’s called the Spitfire CT. Make sure your prop goes to the recommended RPM for your engine. If you have a problem your dealer should be able to help you.  
Maybe a few of these ideas will help you have a trouble free boating season. 
 
Marine apps 
Most boaters have smart phones. Well Boat U.S. has apps that can help you. You can find boat ramps, sailing, charts, tides, fishing, and weather  If you are not a member of Boat U.S., you should be. It’s only $24 and has great benefits and an informative magazine. Join now, you’ll be glad you did. 
 
New Chris-Craft boats
I always admired the old mahogany Chris-Craft runabouts.  They were always the boat to ski behind, and I used several in my water-ski shows. You never had to worry about pulling five skiers for a five-man pyramid. Chris-Craft moved out of Michigan where it originated and now is in Sarasota, Fla. It’s had many owners since and to be honest with you their fiberglass models didn’t look that good to me. Maybe all I could remember was that beautiful mahogany and the shipwright’s workmanship.  Now, as they say, they have a pair of aces: a Capri 25 and a Corsair 28. Both are very elegant with a touch of teak, a massive swim platform and sunpad. They are powered by a 300 hp Mercruiser. Either one would make a great family day boat for Lake Lanier and they are reasonably priced. Check them out at:  www.chriscraft.com or phone 941-351-4900.
 
Exclusive private island club
Useppa Island is on the west coast of Florida. It is located just south of Boca Grande Pass on the I.C.W. The pirate José Gaspar kept the women he captured there and his favorite was Useppa, thus the name of the island. It was also used as a strategy planning location for the Bay of Pigs invasion. We know how that turned out.
 
Florida’s Baron Collier built the inn, which is quite the place. I visited there many times when Jim Turner owned it. He also owned the “Big Toy” which at the time was the largest sailboat built of fiberglass by Charlie Morgan. In 1976 Garfield Beckstead purchased it, and now has formed “Useppa Island Club.” The location has some of the best fishing available, Boca Grande being the tarpon capital from the first full moon in May through July. The flats off the ICW have redfish, snook, trout and flounder and the fishing is fantastic when you follow the tides. Also south of Boca Grande pass on the west side of the ICW is “Cabbage Key,” a boaters’ gathering place with excellent food and atmosphere, where Jimmy Buffet wrote “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.”  Charlotte Harbor and the ICW gives you many places to explore by boat. 
 
The club offers a preferred membership with and initiation fee of $2,500 and monthly dues of $491 and members docking fees are discounted. The Collier Dining Membership is $225 and annual dues of $491. Useppa is truly a beautiful island and if you like Florida the way it used to be, this would be it. You don’t have to have a large yacht to visit, take your runabout. Just check your waterway guide, or chart and you will see how easy it is to find. If you visit Useppa take a photo and let Lakeside News know about your experience. Visit: www.useppa.com.
 
Cuba update
The 66th Annual Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament was held June 13th to 18th with more entrants than usual due to relaxed visitation laws.  Several airlines are now flying to Havana daily and cruise ships are booking passage to Cuba.  Cubaseas.com can get you all the information you want as well as file the correct documents and papers you will need to enter the country. They will also reserve a boat slip or hotel for you. Boat slips are at a premium as there are only 700 plus available for the whole island and some slips are not weather protected. Another company, Harmony Yacht Vacations, is having boating rallies to Cuba. You can bring your own boat or charter one of theirs.  At this time I would consider going through one of these companies.  You will probably get a better slip and accommodations, plus they handle all the paperwork. Contact www.harmonyyachtvacations.com or call 1-888-542-2667.
 
Oops!
An angler in Loreto, Mexico caught a 430-pound yellow fin tuna, weighed it on a cattle scale and then proceeded to fillet it. It would have been a world record had he weighed it on a certified scale. The record remains at 427 pounds. 
 
Prep angler named All-American
Griffin Georgia’s Crosspoint Christian Academy senior Cody Stahl has been named to the Bassmaster High School All American Fishing Team. He is one of only 12 across the country to receive this distinction. The award also honors his work in the classroom as well as the community.  He’s also a varsity football and basketball player and member of the student council. He accepted a fishing scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Designs. Way to go Cody. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about him in the future Bassmaster Tournaments. 
 
Old saying about fishermen
It’s just a jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other. 

Remember to wear your PFD (personal floatation device). Eighty four percent of all drowning victims were not wearing a PFD. Be courteous, practice safe boating and I’ll see you on the water.
 


June 2016 column

Reading 'Blue Thunder' brings back racing memories


I just finished reading a book called “Blue Thunder,” by Thomas Bordick and Charlene Mitchell. It’s about how the mafia owned and finally murdered world boat racing champion Don Aronow. Aronow founded the boat companies of Formula, Donzi, Magnum, Cigarette, and Blue Thunder.  
 
Formula was later bought by Dick Genth who had Thunderbird Boats. I raced him one year in the St. Petersburg Boat Show Race. He beat me, but not by much. His passenger, besides his mechanic-throttleman was the older boy who played on the “Flipper” TV series. He was making a fool of himself at the trophy presentation, so I asked him what he did to win, he said nothing. I said exactly and he calmed down. The next time I saw Dick Genth I asked him where his noisy rider was and he said, “I got rid of him, thank God.” 
 
I first began to know about the Donzi boats after I won a marathon race in the Gulf of Mexico off Tierra Verde which is next to St. Petersburg, Fla. The race was presented by orchestra leader Guy Lombardo for the opening of his new hotel and nightclub.  Lombardo was himself a racer in a 7 liter hydroplane called Tempo V. On my way to the dock I saw another race boat dead in the water, so I went to see if I could be of assistance. The boat was a 16’ Donzi that had run out of gas after the race. The driver was the plant manager for Donzi and a fellow worker. They both eventually drove for my Cobia/Mercury race team with much success. 
 
Every time I went to Miami I usually visited Thunderboat Ally, and there I met Don Aronow in almost the exact place where he was gunned down. That was the place to go if you wanted to discover the latest tricks in racing.
 
The book not only talks about the mafia bosses, but a lot of guys I raced against. The night before the 1970 Bahamas 500 Aronow’s riding mechanic/throttleman “Knocky” House and I spent hours debating the pros and cons of certain set ups on race boats, of course a beer or two enlightened our discussion. That year a Bahamian driver won. I never did find out how Don and Knocky did, but I heard they had some sort of trouble. Our 27’ Magnum with triple outboards finished eighth or ninth out of 42 boats. 
 
Aronow’s most successful boat was the Cigarette. The name came from a prohibition runner’s boat that had machine guns mounted on it. You will find the book interesting if you like mysteries. It will also leave you wondering about our government. 
 
Shore power cords
When you walk down the marina docks most boats in a slip have a shore power cord. Most look in good shape and provide excellent service. Then there are those that look like they came out of Fibber McGee’s closet.  Remember that your shore power cords are essential to keep your boat’s electrical system working properly. It keeps your batteries charged so your bilge pumps will function properly (as well as any other units using the 12 volt system). Shore power cords should be inspected periodically. Make sure the connections are secure and haven’t been arcing. 
 
Marinco has been the recognized manufacturer of these cords for years. Now there is a new provider for connectors, cord sets, and adapters: Furrion from Lippert Components.  Check them out at www.lippertcomponents.com. Marinco parts and cords are also available at West Marine. If any of your shore power equipment is looking sub-standard, replace it now. Don’t wait until that summer day when you have a special cruise planned with friends and you find your boat won’t start because of dead batteries. Electricity is like the life blood of your boat, so do your maintenance and then record it in your log. 
 
Georgians win national high school fishing championship
Evans High School students from Evans, Ga., Tyler Mathews and Blake Stephenson, won the 2016 TBF/FLW High School National Championship on Table Rock Lake. The win earned them a $10,000 scholarship to the college of their choice. A Little Rock, Ark. school was second. Third was Pell City, Ala.; fourth Colrain High School, Cincinnati, Ohio; fifth was Abbeville High School, Abbeville, S.C. The Evans team had a two-day total of nine bass totaling 27 pounds, 1 ounce, winning by a narrow margin of 1 pound 11 ounces over the Little Rock team. All teams that participated and won or placed high in order to fish in the High School National Tournament also were in the event last year.  Also coming up is the 2016 High School Fishing World Finals. For more information on dates and prizes visit:   www.highschoolfishing.org.

A bit of background: The Bass Federation Inc. is a member of the fresh water fishing hall of fame and state federations and their member clubs conduct more than 20,000 events each year. For more info visit: www.bassfederation.com. The FLW is the world’s largest tournament fishing organization. Their tournaments offer millions of dollars in prize money. They even sponsor tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, and South Korea. For more info go to: www.flwfishing.com. If you don’t have a fishing team in your school, get a group together and get one of the faculty to be your advisor then contact: www.highschoolfishing.org for details.
 
Smoked mullet
If you like to have a good fish dinner like I do, then the next time you are in Florida on the West Coast look for one of those old Florida family restaurants. They will probably be off the beaten path, but they will have a source for fresh mullet which can be fried or smoked. Or, if you have a cast net you can catch your own dinner. They also run on the East Coast, but they don’t eat them, they use them for bait. It’s funny how one area of the Gulf will love mullet, but don’t mention eating it in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. The same goes for Black Drum, cousin of the Red Drum or Red Fish, which also is a great eating fish made famous by New Orleans Don Prudhomme’s restaurant which featured blackened Red Fish. I caught a Black Drum in Boca Grande one time and everyone laughed at me for keeping it. Go west to Texas and you’ll get your picture in a magazine for catching a Black Drum. Back to Mullet, if you find one of those old Florida restaurants that has smoke Mullet, try it with cole slaw and a cold beer. I’ll bet you will go back for seconds. 
 
Angler’s Journal on TV
Angler’s Journal will be on Destination America Network on Saturdays and Sundays starting in July.  If the TV show is as good as the magazine is, then it should be a great show.
 
Waterway guide
If you are planning a cruise this summer don’t forget your waterway guide. It will give you the latest on navigational alerts, bridges and locks, anchorages and cruising news, also you might want to join the waterway guide cruise club. It’s free. Good luck and safe cruising. Info: www.waterway.com.
 
Be courteous, practices safe boating, wear your PFDs and I’ll see you on the water. 
 


May 2016 column

The Chinese treasure ships were real after all


Reading one of the many boating magazines I subscribe to, I ran across this story I thought you might find interesting. Back in the time of the Ming Dynasty, the third emperor “Yongle” had a Mongol eunuch as his right hand man and he chose him to be the admiral of his fleet of ships. He was known as Admiral Zengh HE. 
 
 But the ships are the story. They were much larger than those used by Vasco Da Gama or Christopher Columbus. The largest of the treasure ships fleet was 450’ long x 160’ wide with four decks and nine masts for twelve sails.  The ships were called Bǎochuáns.  They even had private rooms for travelers. Maybe this was the first cruise ship. It also had water tight bulkheads that created compartments that kept them afloat if rammed. The compartments were also used for fresh water for the crew and animals on board. The boats were capable of carrying 500 passengers. 
 
The stories of these ships and their travels were largely considered a myth, until a spring day in 1962. Workers were dredging on the Yangtze riverfront of Nanjing when they discovered a buried wooden timber 36 feet long. It
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