Today's lake level: 1070.43
Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Apr. 19, 2018
7:43 am


Captain's Comments


More about the water war

After 40 plus millions of dollars of Georgia taxpayer’s money to attorneys, we have had hearings and opinions and still no increase in our water supply.

I did read where the state government was again investigating the mistake that was made by the original surveyors for the state lines of Georgia. The line was supposed to go down the middle of the Tennessee River, but they made a mistake and marked it south of the river where it is now. If they could get it changed to where it was supposed to be we would be visiting the Tennessee River for extra water supply. 
On the plus side, Lake Lanier is almost at full pool. That doesn’t mean we don’t need an additional amount of water as our state and cities grow. Just think if development continues in the Atlanta area. For instance, what if Amazon decides that Atlanta is the place for its second headquarters. That would bring 50,000 more folks and the people who service them. That will put a dent in our water supply. I haven’t read or heard about any increase in water supply which certainly would have to be increased to satisfy the growing population. 
My solution for solving the water problem is to use the Tennessee River. Make a canal that would go to a holding lake. Not as big as Lake Lanier but large enough to hold ample reserve water. Have it empty into the Chattahoochee River after the water passes through a hydroelectric generator, such as in the south end of Lake Lanier. The electricity that is generated would help pay for the project and into the future.
This project would provide enough water for Georgia and give Florida and Alabama back the water they say they are short. The reservoir that would be created would become a popular fishing and recreation spot. Taking water from the Tennessee River will not bother navigation of barges, tugs and recreational craft. My question is, “Why haven’t the powers that control this done anything?”
History tells us Lake Lanier will not stay at full pool to satisfy everyone’s water needs. Let’s hope we hear something soon.

Practice safe boating and I’ll see you on the lake. 
Mike Rudderham is a veteran marine surveyor with more than 40 years experience in the marine industry.

March 2018 column

Remembering the Haiti anchorage
The country of Haiti has been in the news lately so it reminded me of my brief experience there.

In 1961, I was assigned to the USCGC (U.S. Coast Guard Cutter) Androscoggin, a 280-foot cutter, with Miami being her homeport. 

The Cuban missile crisis was in its early days so we patrolling the waters between Cuba and the Bahamas. Our patrols eventually took us to Haiti. We anchored in Port au Prince Harbor and immediately as many as 30 bumboats approached. They were selling or trading everything from coffee tables to salad bowl sets. Sailors were trading old shirts and socks and if you threw coins into the water, they would dive for them. 

I had a Chief Petty Officer on another ship that told me if I ever go to a Third World country, be sure to take a couple of silver dollars. Well, when I went on liberty I had a silver dollar. There were several cars and drivers along the wharf. I selected one who looked fairly clean and had a 1948 Chrysler New Yorker. Me and my buddies went for a tour after I paid the driver a silver dollar. He lit up like a Christmas tree. We got to visit several of the better hotels where we did not get propositioned every five minutes. People in Port Au Prince thought the only restroom was the streets. Our driver drove us around on the same silver dollar on three more liberties. 
Papa Doc. (François Duvalier) was the Haitian dictator at that time. He had several TV sets mounted on poles at intersections in Port au Prince. People gathered around to hear his political speeches.  He also had the Tonton Macout death squad that used 45 caliber machine guns to carry out Papa Doc’s laws. 

I had several nighttime anchor watches where we had to bring out fire hoses to keep the men and women from clamoring aboard via the anchor chain. The next day while I was on watch the Captain called me and said, “I heard you have a man on the beach.” I said, “Yes sir.” He said a certain electrician’s mate was AWOL from liberty and wanted me to try and find him. I said, “Yes sir.” The next thing I knew I was on a two rut logging road south of Port Au Prince and it dawned on me I had no idea where I was and who I was with. 

About that time, a concrete block building appeared in a clearing. It was Haiti’s version of a tavern and other things, if you know what I mean. We went inside and there was the half-drunk electrician’s mate. My driver grabbed him and I got his uniform. We stuffed him in the back seat and we got him back to the ship. Port Au Prince was quite a trip, I will never forget.

Remember, if you go to a Third World country, take a silver dollar and see what it can do for you. Practice safe boating and I'll see you on the lake.

February 2018 column

It's time for a few safety reminders
Remember all of your crew members should be wearing a PFD (Personal floating device). The name the USCG uses for what used to be called “life jacket,” or “Mae West.” Fortunately, PDFs are not as uncomfortable as in days past. You can now get smaller inflatable PFDs which can be fitted to you to be more comfortable when moving around the boat. They even have self-inflatable ones that work if you fall overboard. Some come equipped with electronics that will give your position. This helps for a faster discovery of the man overboard or rescue of your crew and vessel in case of sinking or grounding. 

Make sure everyone onboard is wearing one, including the young girls that just turned bikini age and think it will make them look ugly. Before starting your cruise, show everyone onboard how to use the safety devices. You should be OK if the Coast Guard or water patrol stops you as long as your other equipment passes inspection.  This is why I recommend a USCG Auxiliary inspection before the boating season starts. Information on auxiliary inspections are in Lakeside with the numbers to contact them. Have a safe and pleasant cruise.

Designated captain
If your crew is going to partake in alcoholic beverages, make sure you appoint a non-drinking captain to pilot your vessel. Almost 90 percent of boating fatalities involve alcohol. Also, if you are stopped and checked and have been drinking while piloting a boat, you could receive a BUI (boating under the influence). Just designate a sober captain and have a safe trip.

New cruise ships
Royal Caribbean is launching the new “Symphony of the Seas” (230,000 tons) with home ports in Barcelona and Miami. The maiden voyage will be March 31, 2018.  For information, phone 866-562-7625 or This will be the world’s largest cruise ship with 5,535 passengers. Truly a small city.

The Norwegian Bliss” will feature homeports in Seattle and Miami. The maiden voyage will be April 28. This is a new, large cruise ship that will have up to 4,000 passengers, along with its numerous bars and restaurants. It also has go-cart racing ... that’s the first time I have heard of that. Contact: or phone 866-234-7350.

January 2018 column

New year is time to get your boat ready

Most boaters around these parts have probably been watching football knowing their boat is safe, secure and winterized. 
But now it’s time to start planning for the boating season. 
Resolution #1: Check all of your safety USCG required equipment. That includes PFDs (personal flotation devices), anchor rode, running and anchor lights, fire extinguishers, fenders and spare lines. Inspect and replace where necessary. You might want to make a list of possible replacement items so when you go to the Atlanta Boat Show you could take advantage of the sales there. Make sure you have noted the replacements and or updates in your log book.
Resolution #2: Make a list of work that need might need a mechanic’s attention. The quicker you get this done the faster you can hit the water in the spring. (Don’t forget to record these in your log book as well.)
Resolution #3: Get some of your friends together (those who enjoy your boat with you) to help with spring cleanup and maybe a wax job. 
Atlanta Boat Show
The Atlanta Boat Show is set for January 18-21, 2018. The boating industry is in a growth stage so there will be lots of new boats and equipment on display. 
If your boat uses electronics you will be amazed at the new gadgets that will be available. There are so many machines now to help catch fish it kind of makes you feel sorry for them. Enjoy the show and let’s get ready for another boating season!

December 2017 column

Recalling the customer who couldn't say to to the boat

Florida has a lot of winter visitors who buy second homes with docks. A lot of them came to Harbour Yacht Sales to find a boat. 
I had a client who fell into this category. He fell in love with a well used 34’ Hatteras Flybridge. I tried to talk him out of it but simply couldn’t. So I had him bid low enough to where he could replace parts, including an engine. Well, the offer was accepted and he hired my other company, Precision Marine, to handle the job. 
The finished boat was beautiful, almost better than new. All the sea trials were better than expected. My customer was satisfied. I was, too. About four months later I got a call from the customer’s neighbor. He said the thought the boat was low in the water. I went to check and sure enough, the boat was sunk and on the bottom at the dock. While checking it out I found the bilge pumps were shut off and the running garden hose was in the cockpit. 
It was obvious someone wanted to sink the boat. Police were called and they investigated. Turns out the owner had a trucking company with union drivers on strike. Authorities suspected it was one of the strikers but could never prove it. Precision Marine repaired the boat and the last I heard the owner was still satisfied. 
Navy ship collisions
It’s hard to believe the rash of collisions involving the U.S. Navy. Clearly people weren’t paying attention. I was part of the bridge gang in the U.S. Coast Guard and when we had a collision course possibility we solved it before the ship was in danger. Obviously the Navy didn’t have anyone assigned to a “collision course situation.” That’s where the court martials should begin. Or maybe they should ask the Coast Guard how they handle such situations. The collisions could have been prevented with proper watches installed.
Merry Christmas to all and here’s wishing a Happy New Year as well!


November 2017 column

That time of year again: Winterize your boat

I hope everyone enjoyed the boating season this year. Now is the time to check your maintenance log and make a list of what needs to be repaired or replaced. Start in the bilge with the fuel system. Check line, filter, hose clamps and replace where needed. Don’t forget to put a fuel treatment like Sta-Bil in your fuel tank and make sure you put enough for a full tank of fuel. Check your water system and bilge pump and seacock. 
If your hose clamps are of different types, you might want to get a universal type made from maritime stainless steel, which would use the same wrench. This way when you check hose clamps they will all use the same tool to tighten or change them. 
While you are in the bilge, check your batteries and wiring. If your batteries need to be replaced, wait until spring and you will have a longer warranty. While in the bilge, and of course it is dirty, now is the time to clean it. If you have an outboard or outdrive unit, check the oil in the lower unit. If it has water in it the prop shaft then the  seal needs to be replaced. If the water pump impeller is two years old, it will need to be replaced. 
Check the props on all units.  Repair where needed and you will be ready for next season. If the time is right, you might also want to tune-up the engines and generator, if so equipped. Don’t forget to winterize your boat trailer if you use one. Grease or replace wheel bearings as needed. Check all navigation aids and safety equipment.  
A good cleaning and waxing will make it easier to get ready in the spring. If you have some items like PFDs, lines, bumpers, or fire extinguishers, etc. you might want to make a list for Santa. 
If you have, any questions contact a member of the USCG Auxiliary and they will be glad to help. Make a list of everything you have done and put it on your maintenance log and it will be ready for your next season. 
Winter cruise
If you get tired of watching football and want to go cruising, you might want to go online and charter or rent a boat to cruise Charlotte Harbor or Lake Okeechobee rim canal. You’ll see old Florida and if the weather changes you’ll be on the inside on protected water. Go online and check the cruising guide for places to visit like Cabbage Key, or Ussepa Island. For more information contact:
Have a great Thanksgiving! 

October 2017 column

Kayaking is a great way to learn basic boating

This small watercraft continues to grow in popularity with people of all ages. They are easy to handle and most affordable. As with many things in the outdoor world there have been many innovations in the kayak industry. We now have a more personal boating option and gear to go with them, more than ever before. 
The first kayaks were built by the Inuit tribe in the Alaskan Territory. They used animal bones for the framework and then covered the frame with animal skin.  The design came stateside and were built with wooden frames covered with canvas and then waterproofed. The one we had was eight feet long and weighed about 30 pounds. I used it for fishing, as it was easy to portage to another lake where the bass were known to bite quicker. 
Today they are a great boat to teach younger kids how to handle a boat. They come as a single or two person craft. They handle easily when using a double paddle or a conventional canoe paddle. Later models now have pedals you can pump, which is great because you have both hands free for fishing. 
Kayaks are easy to stow on a larger boat whether they are fixed construction or a blow-up version you can stow below deck. Don’t forget to wear your PFDs. Kayaks are easy to tip over. Adults love to quietly go to that fishing hole that’s to shallow for your big boat. It’s also a great boat to teach kids boating basics. They also might catch the fishing bug and even go fishing with you!
Go online and you will find quite a choice of kayaks and one that will suit your needs. Enjoy and catch that big fish whether it’s in fresh or salt water. If you just want to paddle for fun you can contact Lake Lanier Olympic Park and they will inform you how to get into the sport and rent a kayak. Phone 770-287-7888 or go to:
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been the latest news items. I remember some of my experiences when I lived in Florida, from 1950 to 1972. I experienced a lot of hurricanes. My family always evacuated from Clearwater Beach to the mainland until all was clear and we could go home. One year an island north of us was cut in two and made a channel between and now there are two islands and it was appropriately named “Hurricane Pass.”
When I was in the U.S.C.G. my first assignment was to a ship called the “Unimack.” It was an older 311-foot weather cutter. Once we left Savannah after an inspection and headed to ocean station Bravo in the north Atlantic. We had a hurricane tag on to our transom off of Cape Hatteras and we couldn’t shake it. It was a rough trip to say the least. I never saw so many people seasick. I didn’t get sick so that meant I had extended watches on the bridge. 
Anyway we made it even though the mess deck got buckled.  I know all the seasick seamen were glad to go ashore after that trip.  Let’s hope we can weather these upcoming storms and damage is at a minimum. 
Practice safe boating, be courteous and I’ll see you on the water. 

September 2017 column

Boating season is in its final weeks for the year

The last of the boating season is upon us and it’s time to get your maintenance log out and get ready to winterize your boat. Make a list of things you will need and then check West Marine or other boating retail store for their fall sale.  Take a quick inventory of your boat for items that might need replacing, like PFDs, fire extinguisher, line, bumpers, anchor and rode, and flashlight. 
Don’t forget about oil and filter, water separator and filter, “Stabil” or equivalent for the fuel tank. If you are thinking of buying a new boat next year you might want to do a complete clean up and wax job and try to sell your boat this fall and then take advantage of the January Atlanta Boat Show deals. The boating industry has recovered and there will be a lot of new type boats offered. 

If your boat is trailered don’t forget maintenance so you don’t have an on the road break down. Since it is getting close to the end of the boating season you might want to plan a trip to the coast, or go west and cruise the Tom Bigbee waterway. It will take you north to the Tennessee River or south to the Gulf Coast and its great cruising. Go to your cruising guide for places you might want to visit. If you stay on Lake Lanier don’t forget to take a cruise when the leaves make their colorful change. 
Make sure to inspect your propeller for nicks and bent blades.  This is the time to buy a new one or get the old one re-conditioned.  Also if you don’t carry a spare prop you might want to get one in case you run aground and bend the blades. It will save you money in the lower unit repair costs if you run a properly balanced prop. 
Lost diamond in Lanier
Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones lost an expensive diamond earring when he went for a jet ski ride recently on Lake Lanier, according to several news reports. The earring is reportedly valued at $150,000. Jones said he lost the earring when he hit a boat wake and took a spill. He hired a full dive team to search for it, but they had no success in the 65 foot deep water. Maybe a fish swallowed it. If it is ever found that will be another great story.
Practice safe boating, be courteous and I’ll see you on the water.

July 2017 column

PT Boats

P.T. boats (short for Patrol Torpedo) have always fascinated me, not just their speed, which is exceptional at well over 40 knots, but their history in the missions they had in World War II. They were probably one of the best designed and built wooden boats ever to be constructed. Companies like Higgins and Huckins built them. There were many stories, hazardous sorties at sea searching for the enemy, making a strike and exiting at full speed. Many of us remember Jack Kennedy and P.T. 109, John Wayne in “They Were Expendable,” and Ernest Borgnine in “McHales Navy.” Now you can ride on a P.T. boat at the World War II Museum on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans for $350. For details, visit Their replica has the 3 Packard V12 engines, with machine guns. It’s billed as the “world’s only fully restored combat-veteran P.T. boat in operation today. PT 305 is also known as the USS Sudden Jerk by her crew. When I had Harbour Yachts Sales in Florida I had a customer with a P.T. boat. One day the older gentleman arrived at my office in a chauffeured driven Cadillac. He told me a story about him and his two childhood buddies that liked to fish. They all went off and made their fortunes and retired. They bought an old P.T. boat and made a fishing boat out of it. They took out the three Packard V12 and installed 8-71 Detroit diesels, fishing electronics and a diesel gen/set.  Since his buddies had passed on, he wanted to sell it. So I went up to Tarpon Springs where it was docked and checked it out. When I stepped onboard I couldn’t help but stop a moment and imagine the history of the vessel. They were extremely well constructed. I found the log book on the bridge. The entries made from selling the catch wasn’t enough to support the boat, but at least the three of them had some fun. I sold the boat to a commercial fisherman who thought it was a great boat and he made good money with it. If you do go to New Orleans and take a ride on P.T. 305 send Lakeside a photo. We’d like to hear your story. I also ran across another boat similar to a P.T. boat, built more like a Coast Guard cutter 83’. It belonged to the Southern Yacht Brokers Association and one month we had our meeting at the Clearwater Yacht Club. One of the Ft. Lauderdale brokers said they were coming by boat, but they didn’t say how large or what make.  When they arrived it was an 80’ wooden boat called the “Stinger.”  Turns out it was the lead boat in the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco. It was called Stinger because it was attack ready. It had numerous machine guns on both port and starboard sides which were nicknamed stingers. This was quite a vessel with history, I never did hear who bought it, or where it ended up.
Bugs be gone
After you’ve had a great day cruising you anchor in a favorite cove and sit in your boat’s cockpit to relax. Just about the time you are about to enjoy snacks and a cocktail, here come the mosquitoes to the party. Well, Thermacell R45 repeller is designed to repel all manner of mosquitoes. It creates a 15’x15’ zone of bug free protection. It’s good for a flybridge, cockpit or sundeck. Simply turn it on and the zone check monitor shows blue when the device has been activated. It also has a belt clip to help protect you when walking around the decks. Cost is only $35 and you won’t smell like mosquito repellent. Details:
Toyota test
This summer Toyota will be conducting a feasibility study of hybrid boats leading up to and coinciding with the Tokyo Bay 2020 Olympics. They are utilizing two types of power generators. A 265 H.P. gas inboard and a 48 H.P. electric motor and the Ponam 28V boat. This could be the sign of big things to come across the entire industry. Stay tuned.
Marlin bill dangerous?
I have often wondered if any bill fish have ever charged a boat’s hull and penetrated it. In Costa Rica where bill fishing is popular they have, indeed, had this happen with cold molded wooden hulls. In fact they carry emergency plugs just in case. Attacks from angry bill fish are par for the course for top game boats in prolific waters. Can you imagine telling your insurance company that hole in your hull was made by a fish?
Boat inspections
Most boats built today are all fiberglass or a derivative like carbon fiber. They don’t offer many problems. But older boats that have fiberglass over wood need checking to be sure no separation has occurred. If it has it needs to be corrected immediately before dry rot starts. Check transom and any hardware like tow rings, engine bolts, etc. Anything that was installed through the transom should have been coated with a sealer. If you find problems, repair correctly and make sure you use sealer. Check your deck to hull joints along with hatches. Repair any problems you have so you won’t have any major problems on the water. Replacing a wood covered fiberglass transom is a big job and is expensive. Checking these items will make sure you have safe cruising and longer boat life. 
Laughing after boat shows
Most boating writers give a list of some of the boats they checked out. It’s impossible to cover all boats even if you are trying to pick the most popular one. Invariably, in the next month’s magazines’ Letters to the Editor section there will be three or four readers who will ask: “Why didn’t you pick a Hinckley like I own?” Another might say he’d like to see a Boston Whaler, because he owned two of them. The truth is there is hardly a bad boat among all boats if they are being used properly. Myself, I like Bertrams, I’ve fished them and sold them, maybe that’s why. But it doesn’t mean that a Chris-Craft, Hatteras, or Viking isn’t a good boat. Remember, buy the boat that’s in your price range that will do the job for you and you will be happy.
Houseboats and cruisers
Boats that stay in the water should be hauled once a year if in fresh water. The hull needs to be cleaned, which will give you better economy. All thru-hull fittings should be inspected, and any faulty ones should be replaced. If your boat is in saltwater you have to haul every three months or so to stay ahead of barnacles. Also, some new bottom paint could give you more time between hauls. Don’t forget to check your props for damage and zincs for wear and replace when needed. Log everything you have done in your maintenance log and mark the date you need to haul the boat again. Practice safe boating. Be courteous and I’ll see you on the water.

June 2017 column

How about a matching boat for the high-end sports car

Many times a classy sports car is targeted for a matching boat design.
Usually the boat has a similar design scheme and will borrow the car’s name. One of the first ones I remember was when Ferrari collaborated with Riva, the noted Italian luxury yacht builder. As I remember that was in the ’60s.  
Corvette had a boat designed and named after it. The boat used the aftermarket Callaway engine and was built in the 1970s. Also Aston Martin/Quintessence Yachts and Mercedes Benz/Silver Arrows Marine had partnerships. 

is one reason it was contracted to build the 42. The new vessel has seating for eight with a top speed of 43 knots.  The boat is the result of working with diesel center Erabetti Design of Italy and Toyota Marine engineers. The world of luxury automakers has again shined its bright light on boat building for the time being. Who knows what we will see next. For more information go to:
The Bugatti Chiron is a near perfect car that there is, so Bugatti and its new “lifestyle partner” Palmer Johnson collaborated on “Niniette 66,” a trimaran hull shaped with Bugatti’s splashy styling elements. It’s offered with a two tone color scheme like the car.  Only 66 of will be made with the company’s online configurator where I could imagine what my Chiron-inspired yacht would look like with an onboard hot-tub and champagne bar. To design your own Niniette 66 go to:

I’ll bet you will have a lot of fun telling people it’s going to be your next boat. What’s next? My guess is a Tesla electric powered luxury runabout. I think that could happen in the near future. 
Here’s something I haven’t heard of, but it’s bound to follow the cars: an autonomous boat, that’s right one that drives itself.  Maybe Google will collaborate with a boat company to build them.  If is happens in automobiles, boats are soon to follow. Stay tuned! You’ll hear about it in Lakeside.
Robots building boats
Fiberglass boat building has come a long way from the old bucket of resin and a brush. Grand Banks is a notable builder of trawlers and Palm Beach yachts.  They are built in Malaysia. The manufacturing facility is clean, cool and dust free. They use an eight-axis milling machine from German robotic pioneer KuKa, known for its involvement with America’s Cup vessels, BMW cars and Boeing 707 jets. It allows them to make super accurate tooling.  The operator sits in a computer room watching his charge as it performs precise movements to assemble which part of the vessel he is assigned to. I’m sure in the near future we’ll see many boat manufacturers going to robotics for online assembly, much like auto manufacturers. Assembly will be faster and more accurate. Boats will be built more precise and will last longer, which means re-sale will be better. 
Bird b’ gone
If you have just finished cleaning and waxing your boat for the upcoming season, you probably found where the critters set up house. Now for the boating season a lot of you will have to put up with birds, especially if you have a swim platform. Birds love them. If bird repellents don’t work, find a brightly colored 40-inch rubber snake and put it on your swim platform. A lot of skippers swear that it works. Replace the snake when the color fades about every two years.  Maybe some of the restaurants on Lake Lanier should put some artificial snakes along their paths where the geese make such a mess.
Edible alternative
Unfortunately we have all found six-pack rings in the water or harming sea animals, birds, fish, turtles and more. Throwing them overboard is deadly to animals. They get stressed when a ring gets attached to them. Examples of water-borne waste abound. In 2010 eight million tons of plastic ended up in the ocean. Plastic litter has turned up everywhere, including the deep sea and buried deep in arctic ice. Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Fla., has created edible six-pack rings that feed, rather than kill marine life. They are safe for humans and wildlife to consume, but they only recommend drinking the beer at this time. The company also advises to properly dispose of beer cans and other items to reduce pollution of our waters. Do your part and properly dispose of your onboard garbage.  If you see cans or garbage left by some boater who doesn’t give a damn, just pick it up and dispose of it properly. Our oceans and waters are being polluted by boaters and beach visitors. If we do our part plus a little more, we’ve done our part to keep our waterfront clean. 
Cash cow
Here is something that’s hard to believe and I never thought would be of value. If you have ever wandered on Florida’s beaches, I’m sure you have come across a horseshoe crab. I hope you didn’t step on one buried in the sand and step on its sharp tail. For years I’ve always thought of them as useless, all they do is clutter up the beach.  I noticed in ads under live bait in “The National Fisherman” there were a lot of listings for live horseshoe crabs. I don’t know what kind of fish you would catch, but I recently read in Popular Mechanics where they are valuable. As they said “This is the strangest cash cow I’ve ever hear of. Horseshoe crab blood.” Its used widely in the biomedical industry, where it can be worth up to $15,000 per quart. For more, check out: www, 
Practice safe boating, wear a PFD and I’ll see you on the water.

May 2017 column

Boating season kicks off early this year

The boating season will start early this year. We really didn’t have much winter weather to speak of so it’s time to de-winterize!
After your first run, remember to check your water separator.  When you tank up remember to add “Stabil” and continue to do it during the boating season. Make sure you get your maintenance log out and do the recommended maintenance before launching. Keep your maintenance log up to date so you won’t miss anything that could cause you a breakdown during the summer cruising season. 
Re-check all your safety equipment to see that they are in working order. Check your PFDs to make sure they are in good condition and not mildewed or deteriorated. Check your dock lines and anchor and rode. Replace where needed. Inspect fenders so they will protect your hull properly.  Check your electronics so they will perform properly. If they are old you might want to update your boat’s electronics. Watch for the West Marine sales and you will save money and you will get electronics that will be technically superior to what you now have. 
If you are a fisherman you might want to note on your charts the excellent places to fish when Lanier gets an extra 10 feet of water and the lake level will be at 1071. The places you mark on your charts before the lake depth increases will become your future “honey hole” for large bass and stripers, as well as crappie. Those “honey holes” will provide a lot of great fish dinners as well as some large fish for mounting on the wall and great fish stories.  If the water doesn’t come up to have reasonable launching and cruising depths and you have a trailerable boat, Georgia has a lot of lakes that are not as drought stricken as Lanier.
Another option is the inland waterways in North Florida or on the Georgia coast. If you are a fisherman you have a choice of trout, flounder, reds, kingfish, or tarpon   If you ever catch a large tarpon you won’t believe how they fight. You will have a great fish story and probably a great trophy to mount on your wall. If you really want to catch a tarpon, go to Boca Grande, Fla. Tarpon season starts on the full moon in May. Boca Grande is a great place to visit. While there you could visit Ussepa Island and Cabbage Key. 
Buying a used boat
We have all seen the two to four year old boat parked in the driveway for sale. A lot of buyers think it might be a great deal. You might even take a sea trial on it and think it’s great. That’s a mistake a lot of novice boat buyers make. To protect yourself you should always have a marine survey done on any used boat you are considering. The results of the sea trial and marine survey will give you enough information to let you know if you are making a good purchase that won’t give you any surprises. Also the bank and insurance companies usually request a survey so you will have to have one anyway. Just make sure you keep a good maintenance log and do the service at the proper time. This will get you good service from your boat and when you sell it the maintenance log will help you get a better price for your boat.
Boating safety
The U.S. Coast Guard says that in 84 percent of boat related drownings, victims were not wearing a PFD. So far this year we’ve had too many drownings and the victims were not wearing a PFD.  In some cases they were boating at the wrong time, like at night. A lot of boaters have not taken a safe boating course which would enlighten them to the important factors of safe boating. Also, a satisfactory completion of the safe boating course will give you a 10 percent discount on boat insurance. Make sure that when you shove off on a boating trip your crew is wearing a PFD. That way your boat and crew won’t be in the headlines in a boating tragedy. Get your crew, children and adults in the habit of safe boating wearing a PFD. The less boating accident headlines the better. 
My first fiberglass experience
My first experience with fiberglass back in the early 1950s was with wooden boats in northern Wisconsin when they were replaced by aluminum boats which didn’t need to be painted every year. The old wooden boats that were traded in could be bought for $20 to $40. My mother would let me get three or four of them and I would remove the paint off the outside of the hull with a sander and paint remover. Then I would fiberglass the hull. When I finished a hull I would sell them usually at a profit. The boats were 12 and 14 footers, usually strip built “Antigo Lake Craft” and “Rhinelander Boats.” The Antigo was one of the most well balanced small boats I ever handled. I tried to keep it for myself, but one of my mother’s friends paid extra for it. The last I heard the boat was still going strong 20 years after I fiberglassed it. I’m glad I had learned about fiberglassing when I was a cabin boy on the schooner Rambler.  Now they have started using Kevlar and other materials to make glass boats lighter and stronger.
Neglected boating equipment
The boat trailer is probably the most neglected piece of boating equipment. If you have a flat tire or a wheel bearing go bad it can ruin a day even before you get to the water, so make sure you include your boat trailer on your maintenance log. That way you shouldn’t have any failures. Also Boat U.S. has insurance if you break down on the road the will send someone to repair the trailer on site. Just remember keep that trailer in good condition and you won’t have any break downs. 
Don’t leave bilge pump running
I used to repossess boats when I first started working with boats in Atlanta. I had to pick up a 24’ cruiser in Decatur. The bilge pump float was in the activated position and it had just rained. I got to I-285 and a Cadillac convertible was running next to the boat. I had to hit the brakes when the water in the bilge moved forward and activated the bilge pump float and sent a stream of water into that Cadillac. Needless to say the driver was a little upset. I stopped and switched the pump off and all was OK, but it was funny when it happened. 
We lost Roy Crittenden last month, he was without a doubt the most dedicated and knowledgeable member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary that I have ever met.  They should create a safe boating trophy or award in his name on Lake Lanier. Rest in peace Roy. 

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

April 2017 column

Chartering is fun, but bring your wallet

With Lake Lanier still under drought conditions and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better for the boating season, maybe it’s time to go on a charter vacation.  Florida, Bahamas, or the Caribbean are great destinations. There are smaller yachts (50’ to 60’) available that can accommodate up to eight people and crew. Prices vary. Florida and the Bahamas $25,000 to $40,000. Most have a chef and some have a spa with a therapist.  The spa with sauna and massages are called “onboard beach clubs.”

MarineMax has some unique catamarans for charter. They also have a charter yacht ownership program where your yacht will pay for itself while under charter when you aren’t using it. Contact yacht ownership program at 866-934-7232 or yacht charter vacations at 888-461-5497. Chartering is expensive but you get to cruise on your own yacht. 

Probably one of the most impressive charter yachts is the 279 foot ketch “Aquijo” with masts 295’ high. It’s the world’s largest high performance ketch. She cruises between 15 and 20 knots and has all the toys including a jet pack for thrills in the air above the water. The yacht accommodates 12 guests and has a crew of 19. The weekly base rate is about $442,000. Yes you read that right.  Contact Yes it is probably the most expensive charter, but we can dream can’t we?

Schooner ‘Rambler’

When I was in my early teens I had a job as a cabin boy on the 48’ “Rambler.” Myself and another Sea Scout cleaned the boat after charter and also sanded and varnished the bright work and kept the teak decks oiled. Robbie Robinson was the captain’s name and he was a character. He was also a very accomplished portrait artist. He would get several thousand dollars for a portrait. He told me it took about 10 sittings to do a portrait to make people think they were getting their money’s worth. I asked if it really took that long. He said the portrait is done in the first sitting, the other nine sittings he touched up the backgrounds. He also had a 30’ Tahitian ketch that he let the Sea Scouts sail in races around Tampa Bay. It was a great experience for the Scouts. 

When I got older I used to frequent a pub for lunch by the name of “O’Keefes.” Robinson had painted a respectable portrait of a nude with her head turned so you couldn’t recognize her. They put it over the bar and let people guess who the local lady was. It was hilarious to listen to the patrons try and guess the identity. I don’t think it was ever revealed, but they sure had fun guessing. 

High school waterski team

My parents put me in a boarding school in 1956, St. Leo College preparatory School. I guess I was spending too much time around boats and water skiing and not enough time on school and homework. The school was located on a lake. So I convinced my parents to let me have my boat at school.  There were five or six guys who  knew how to ski. So we did a lot of practicing and also taught others to ski. We were getting pretty good and did some shows on visitor’s day. We decided to call ourselves The St. Leo Prep Ski Team. I contacted the American Water-Ski Association to find out who else had a team. It turns out we were the first and only team. Well, we wanted to go to tournaments to see how good we were. The only tournaments were at Cypress Gardens, so we headed there. Some 80 to 100 skiers competed in the slalom tournament. As I remember none of our team finished in the back of the field and I was in the top 10. Dick Pope of Cypress Gardens thought our team was great. In 1959 when I started St. Petersburg Junior College we started a college water ski team. Somebody built us a regulation jump. We used to have to chase the alligators off the jump before using it. 

Cypress Gardens held what they called the World Inter-Collegiate Water Ski Tournament. As many as six teams from Europe came to compete so the tournament could be called a World Tournament. We went against Rollins College and University of Miami who usually won. I was captain of our team of four and we won the tournament.  Tops in shalom, jumping and tricks. We couldn’t believe it. After that some of our team did TV commercials. One was a barefoot skiing scene. I kept on with my ski shows in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I don’t think I’ve skied in 20 years, but it sure was fun. In 1958 a bunch of skiers got together to set a world record by  pulling 23 skiers behind two 6 cylinder Mark 75 Mercurys. That was the record back then. Today’s record was set in Australia behind a specially powered catamaran.  They pulled 155 skiers. Sounds impossible, but it’s the record.

More water news

The water wars are still on and continue to cost taxpayer money. The only people who are getting anywhere in the battle is the lawyers, whose bank accounts are getting bigger. As I have said before, there is not enough water to go around, therefore you need to look for another source. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. It’s the Tennessee River. The river wouldn’t be harmed if it was used to enhance Georgia’s water so Florida will get a sufficient supply.  Maybe President Trump should be made aware of this situation. I’ll bet we would get some results. 


The Atlanta Journal newspaper of March 12th had an article in it about the Friendship Force with a picture of President Jimmy Carter and Nugzar Ruhadse who came over from Tbilisi, Georgia when it was part of the Soviet Union. His nickname was Nuggie and he worked at Channel 11. I had the pleasure of meeting him and that led to a ride on a runabout and houseboat on Lake Lanier with his wife who was an opera singer and young daughter. On the houseboat cruise we were on the upper deck with a fellow passenger who was chewing tobacco. Nuggie asked to try it. He put a wad in his mouth and got rid of it quick, with a few comments in Russian. I also took them to the infamous “Lantern Inn” for dinner to see “Elvis.”  Nuggie went on the dance floor with his daughter on his shoulders to the delight of the audience.  They had a great time and were a fun couple to be with. Not sure but I guess he is back in Tbilisi. 

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

March 2017 column

Time to get your boat ready for spring

Most of this year’s boat shows were focused on new or improved large center consoles. The boats are usually sporting a new bottom configuration, steps, air slots etc. Also, large center consoles now have heads, showers, galley, staterooms forward and a convertible dinette. Smaller deck boats and bow riders now feature more seating and storage space.  Plus their transoms feature swim platforms with ladders and transom doors for easier boarding. These boats feature the new lighter outboards or stern drives.
Volvo-Penta is still using GM blocks for their inboard outboard, and inboard IPS drives. Mercury Marine is now manufacturing its own engines. Outboard engines have basically remained the same with the exception of middle of the line engines of all makes have been reduced in weight. The big thing at the boat shows is the advancement in electronics. What was introduced last year is no longer up to date for fishing, navigating, or anything else electronic on your boat. You can go from your favorite fishing hole and return to the exact same place a month later and stay over that GPS location without anchoring. Navigating is much easier also, as all the electronics are combined in one unit so it is more compact. Electronics are getting more efficient using one screen for more information. 
Equipment check
Now that we are having advanced spring weather, it would be a good time to check out your boat for the coming season. Make sure your equipment is up to date. Check fire extinguishers and flares and replace if necessary. Check fenders and lines and replace if they are worn. They might not last the season. Check your batteries and if they are going to exceed their warranty date replace them so you won’t have an embarrassing day during the season. Check navigation lights or horns.
One of the most important, items are PFDs make sure they are in top shape with no mildew or deterioration. Always have U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs that have collars to hold your face above water if you go overboard and are knocked unconscious. Remember that 84 percent of drowning victims weren’t wearing a PFD.
If you trailer your boat don’t forget to grease the bearings, check the tires, taillights, and wiring, winch and tie down straps. If you haven’t put “bearing buddies” on your axle, do it, because with a simple grease fitting it makes greasing wheel bearings easy. You might also want to check out “Boat U.S.” as they have both road service and on the water towing available. There’s nothing worse than going to the water and having a flat with your crew waiting to go boating.
Water wars
The special master in the water wars, Ralph Lancaster, who was appointed by the Supreme Court, has ruled in Georgia’s favor. The judge said Florida did not include the Corps of Engineers as party to the lawsuit, which he said they should have been. Most likely Florida will refile the lawsuit to include the Corps. I still think that Alabama, Florida and Georgia should get together and figure out a way to use the Tennessee River for additional water. It would cure drought problems on the lake, and also provide enough water downstream to satisfy everyone. Both Gov. Deal and special master Ralph Lancaster seem to like the plan which was also the subject in Lakeside’s Captains Comment two months ago. It might help if Gov. Deal and special master Ralph Lancaster started receiving letters requesting a solution to the water problem. 
New VHF system
As I said earlier, electronics on boats are improving. And that includes more safety features. 
The VHF D.S.C. Digital Selective Calling marine radio is one of them. This is a new system being imitated for safety, which will “automatically” broadcast the location of a vessel making a distress call so the caller doesn’t have to accurately determine his location. The distress signal will automatically announce the G.P.S. location. The U.S. Coast Guard is getting more lenient on issuing these radio licenses. Several manufactures now make this unit. Check them out and see which one is the best for you.
Water-skiing behind a sailboat
The yacht club in Clearwater Fla., where I learned to water-ski, had blowboat fans and powerboat fans and each one thought their type of boating was best. So one day a sailor with a 20’catamaran bragged that his boat was fast enough to pull a water-skier, and the bet was on. They asked me if I would be the skier. I agreed. The catamaran skipper would hand me a ski rope as I pulled alongside behind a ski-boat. Once secure on the sailboat’s ski-rope I dropped the ski-boat’s rope and the catamaran was pulling me somewhere between 18 and 22 m.p.h. We were in open water and had a long reach. I skied for about five miles. Sailboats might not pull a skier out of the water, but once it gets going on a straight course at a speed above 18 mph it will hold a skier up. A lot of power boaters lost money that day. Some folks saw the sailboat pulling a skier and couldn’t believe their eyes. The ski-boat driver circled back and took a photo for proof of what the sailboat did. As I remember the photo went in the local newspaper with a story. That answered a lot of questions, especially to those who couldn’t believe what they saw.

Be courteous, practice safe boating, wear your PFDs.
February 2017 column

Boating alternative if the lake stays low

I hope everyone enjoyed the boat show and found the boat and equipment you wanted.  Due to Lake Lanier’s low level you are probably wondering where to go boating if the lake level doesn’t come up high enough to launch  for safe boating. 
Here are some options for boating, whether you trailer your boat or want to rent one. The ICW from Carrabelle, FL to New Orleans offers great cruising and many places to stop and visit, especially the seafood restaurants. There is also great offshore fishing, or you might want to travel north through Alabama on the Tenn-Tom waterway system
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