Today's lake level: 1069.74
Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Oct. 19, 2018
5:08 am


Captain's Comments


Reflections on the Missouri lake tragedy

The recent tragedy of an ex-military duck boat on a Missouri lake could easily been prevented. First and in my opinion, the captain, (who unfortunately was one of the 17 people who drowned when the boat was swamped), should have realized the weather was dangerous, with 65 mile per hour wind gusts. They should never have been on the water. 
Second, a military duck boat is not designed for cruising. It was a military vehicle built to take troops to the front when bridges had not been built over rivers and creeks. They could fjord across them to the shore on the other side with 15 to 20 troops on board. 
I also find it hard to believe it was licensed to take people on a cruise. There was bad judgment used along the way if that was the case. A duck boat does not have the sea-worthiness of a landing craft, which transported troops from ship to the beaches. 
Each year when these tragedies happen it almost always relates to bad judgement on the part of the captain. Ignoring weather and water conditions and thinking you can beat the odds is probably the reason for most accidents at sea. 
Other causes are ignoring a proper preventative maintenance schedule, which would allow failure of operating equipment on board, and lead to an emergency. Those of us who have been around boats most of our life have had that moment or two when you were caught in a storm and had to head to port. Therefore, we know how important is to check the weather report. If it’s going to be bad weather go watch a ball game. Be safe and save your boat from rough weather. Don’t be the boater that makes the headlines due to your bad judgement. Remember the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron have boating classes and the Coast Guard Auxiliary will inspect your boat. 
Finally, this is a good year to buy or trade your boat. The economy is up so your used boat should be worth more.
Be courteous and practice safe boating.
Mike Rudderham is a veteran marine surveyor with more than 40 years experience in the marine industry.

August 2018 column

Cruises to enjoy this summer

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend enjoying the good weather for boating. Maybe you and your boating friends are thinking of a cruise later in the summer or over Labor Day. Go online to check out the Tennessee River and the Intercostal Water Way around Florida. On the northwestern part, you can cruise all the way to New Orleans. On the northeast coast, you can go through Jacksonville to enter the St. Johns River and have smooth water cruising and fishing all the way down to Sanford. Farther south is Boca Grande, the Tarpon capital. You can visit Ussepa Island, Cabbage Key, (where Jimmy Buffett wrote the song “Cheeseburgers in Paradise”). Farther down the coast are islands famous for collecting seashells. On the east side of the waterway, you have a large bay with interesting small ports and the entrance to the Okeechobee Waterway at Fort Myers. 
The Okeechobee Waterway and its locks are another interesting cruise. Take the canal around Lake Okeechobee and you will see old Florida, No condominiums or motels. It’s an interesting and picturesque cruise and the fishing is good. Those of you who have trailerable boats will find convenient launching ramps and accommodations if needed are close and affordable.
Wherever you go cruising, remember to periodically check your items on your preventative maintenance list to make sure everything is in order and working correctly. Recently a cruiser in the Bahamas had an engine fire and blew up killing one person and injuring another. Engine fires are unlikely if your preventive maintenance is conducted regularly and properly maintained. This cruiser obviously had a fuel leak and an electrical problem, which combined contributed to the fire and explosion. 
Those of you who don’t want to trailer to a cruise area or don’t have the boat to do it, you can go online and find many cruiser and houseboat rentals available. Remember to check your oil and add a fuel additive. Keep your boat maintained properly and it will bring you home. 
I hear boat sales are good this year. So it might be a good time to trade or buy a boat. Stop by one of the many dealers and check out one of the new boats. You might be surprised by the deal you could get.  
Be courteous and I will see you on the water.

July 2018 column

Hartwell's marina fire should raise a red flag

Portman Marina on Lake Hartwell had a serious explosion and fire on May 14 on dock No. 6 that held 42 boats. The fire and explosions sunk or destroyed 16 of them. A generator that backfired started it all. A dock like this was second home to many boat owners who spent the weekends on their boat along with their fellow boat owners. 
Accidents like this are why I emphasize preventative maintenance and keeping a log so you stay up to date. Obviously, the generator that started the fire needed servicing. One person suffered serious burns and a firefighter suffered heat exhaustion. 
It would not surprise me if future boat slip rentals will require an up-to-date marine survey.  Thank God it didn’t happen on a Saturday or Sunday when everyone was on their boats. The worst part about a fire at a dock is that most boats are stored with a full tank of fuel. 
This is a perfect example illustrating why, if you have any fuel or electrical problems on your boat, they should be repaired immediately. You will be safer and so will your dock neighbors.  
Just to be on the safe side you might want to update your current marine survey each spring and you should be ready for a trouble free season. 
Lake Hartwell is ideal for cruising, fishing, and fronts on Georgia as well as South Carolina. They also have camping sites. So look up the location and go visit. If you have photos or something special about your visit, please share it with the Lakeside. 
Wear your PFD, be courteous, practice safe boating, and I’ll see you on the water.

June 2018 column

Boating season is here!

Boating season has arrived, so be sure to practice safe boating.  Wear PFDs and show your passengers where emergency gear is stowed. If you need boating classes for youngsters, or crewmembers, contact the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron for date and time of classes. Completing a class will give you a 10 percent discount with most insurance companies. Have a great boating season!
World cruise
If you have been boating and cruising these past years, your bucket list has had many accomplishments. Here is one you might have thought of, but was not available. I’ll bet cruising the world is on a lot of such lists, but there were not any organized cruises available. Now it’s available from Viking Cruises. The cruise ship Viking Sun will depart from London on August 31, 2019. The ship will stop at 113 ports in 59 countries. It will visit every continent except Antarctica. The cruise will follow a westerly route with a transatlantic crossing with stops in Iceland, Greenland and Canada.

Then it follows the east coast of the U.S., Bermuda and Caribbean.    Next is the east coast of South America going south and then into the Pacific, and up the west coast of South America. Next, they will go to French Polynesia, New Zealand, and Australia and onto the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The final part of the trip includes passage through the Suez Canal then numerous stops at countries in the Mediterranean Sea.  After Spain and Portugal, it’s back to the U.K., the final stop.
Twenty two of the stops will be overnight. The cruise is scheduled for 245 days. It’s called the “Ultimate World Cruise.” Prices start at $92,500 per person. I know it’s expensive, but it would certainly be a once in a lifetime experience! Just think – instead of seeing photos of foreign ports you will actually see them and take your own photos. Let us know if you book it. We would love to report on it! Info:
Wear your PFD, be courteous, practice safe boating and I’ll see you on the water.   

May 2018 column

2018 boating season right around the corner

It’s that time of year again. Let’s get the boat ready for the season. If you have your maintenance log schedule you should know what you need to do to have a trouble free boating season. 

If you have an outboard or I/O, checking the lower unit lube is essential. If you find water in it, you will need a seal replaced.  Check your water pump impeller also. Replace if worn. In fact, this should be done every two years.  Also, inspect your prop for damage and send off for repair if needed.
If you don’t have a spare prop you might want to get one in case of grounding. You may also want to check your engine for a tune-up. And don’t forget to use a fuel additive when fueling up. Check navigation and anchor lights and all USCG required safety equipment.  You might need to replace PFDs, lines or bumpers, if they show wear. Remember if you are stopped by law enforcement, they will want to inspect required equipment.  Make sure it is stowed properly and in good condition. 
Don’t forget to check your boat trailer, lights, winch, bunkers, tires and bearings. You might want to get your boating buddies to help wax and clean the boat. If your boat stays in the water, you need to haul it and clean the bottom at least once a year. In salt water at least twice a year with proper paint. A clean boat bottom gives it better speed and saves fuel.  
If your boat has a generator don’t forget to check it, it might need a tune-up. Check sea strainers and shaft logs. Clean and repair where needed. 
Remember, the USCG Auxiliary will inspect your boat for free.  This is a good idea, as they will recommend what needs to be repaired or replaced so you won’t have a problem if the law inspects your boat.
Make sure you keep your maintenance log up to date and record equipment you replaced or repairs you have made. Remember, an up- to-date maintenance log will help you not only sell or trade your boat, but gives you an accurate time to perform maintenance. 
The boating industry is on the rise this year. Therefore, if you are thinking of trading or buying a new boat, this might be a good time.  There should be several in the water boat shows the first part of the season, so if you are thinking of a new boat you can check them out in the water and have a demonstration ride. If you travel to the show by boat they can appraise it and give you trade in value.
Have a safe and fun boating season and I’ll see you on the water.

April 2018 column

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.

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.

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