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Mar. 29, 2015
6:35 am
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Captain's Comments

Boat show stories and news about new toys

With the completion of the Miami Beach Boat Show in the middle of February, the boat show season is mostly over. Most builders featured larger yachts than years past with more electronics and equipment than most yacht owners have seen in recent years.

Joy sticks and side, forward scanning fathometers are now mostly standard and connect with your iPhone. Coupe is now the description on a lot of cruisers in the 30’ to 45’ class. Several smaller boats in the 18’ to 25’ class have new models powered with jet drives. Georgia builder Chaparral has two or three jet drive boats that offer comfortable cruising and are equipped for water sports.

Boat shows always have some stories that you will remember.  The Atlanta Boat Show had one of those several years ago. I’m sure some visitors will remember when the wakeboarding pond broke and water went cascading down the aisles. A lot of things got wet but nobody was hurt. Everyone hopes that’s the last time that happens.

My story was when I sold the Queen of the Miami Boat Show – one of the first 46’ Bertrams. A client wanted a 46’ Bertram. I had just sold his 36’ Trojan flybridge so he and a friend met me in Miami.  We toured the Bertram facilities and went to the show. After he checked out the boat he said “I’ll take it,” so I went to the Bertram desk to get the sales agreement together. I went to find my client and his friend and couldn’t find him. After some time had passed the Bertram man said he needed a deposit and signature. So I made arrangements and signed. I got back to Clearwater, and no client.  His wife called and wanted to know where he was. About 10 days later I was advised the boat was in St. Petersburg and ready to be delivered. I was sweating. I didn’t have that kind of money. About that time he called and said he was ready to close and take delivery. He told me that he and his friend went to the Bahamas to go to the casinos. I felt much better after piloting the yacht to his slip after closing.

There are a lot of good stories heard at boat shows about boats and the characters that own and pilot them. Here are a couple more stories heard at the show, like “Let’s buy a boat together,” bad idea, and could be the end of a friendship. No two people take care of a boat the same or uses the boat the same. That’s when disagreements start.

My father and I went halves on a boat. I bought the boat and he had the motor. It was only 19’ long, but when it came to scraping barnacles or sanding and painting you know who did that. Families owning boats together are fine if for a living like fishing or lobstering. Then there’s always the guy who says, “You buy the boat and I’ll borrow it once and awhile.” A dyed in the wool yachtsman would think that’s just like lending his wife to someone. It never ends well.

Different alcohol fuel additive
By now everyone in the boating community knows what ethanol can do to an engine, ethanol is corrosive, it’s a solvent and it absorbs moisture, especially if you don’t pay extra for a fuel additive for preventing the adverse effects of long term ethanol fuel use. Since 2010 the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) have been testing isobutanol. They have found it doesn’t affect engines like ethanol does. Also, you won’t have the extra expense of an additive you need to add for protection from ethanol.

The most recent data on a 90 H.P. E-tec and a 90 H.P. four-stroke Mercury suggest that isobutanol blended at 16 percent volume can be used in marine engines without significantly affecting the atmosphere or engines. The higher quality of biologically derived isobutanol in the fuel will help to move beyond the current ethanol blend without affecting fuel and decreasing emissions. The producers of isobutanol will be pushing up the production and testing what the proper fuel ratio will be.  Check out or to see how progress is going. Hopefully this will give us better and more efficient marine fuels.

Ski boat, no driver
Yes, there is a skier-controlled boat with a 70 H.P. gas engine with jet drive, featuring top speed of 40 mph. The skier operates the boat with a six button tow rope handle. The boat is a tri-hull built of fiberglass and is eight feet long and has a 40 gallon fuel tank, plus an automatic bilge pump. The boat shuts down when the skier/operator drops the handle. Better check where it’s legal to operate or have a chase boat. Price is $17,000. Visit for more information.

The first all-electric hydro foiling personal watercraft is powered by an electric outboard motor. It flies over the water at over 20 knots. There is almost no annual maintenance cost. This makes it the most efficient PWC on the water.   When it’s underway and airborne on the foils it makes for a smooth ride. Power steering helps make your ride easier, and the steering wheel has an integrated touch screen display. The hull is built from composite materials, and because it is hollow, it is unsinkable. The quadrafoil comfortably seats two on ergonomic soft seats.   Again, as in other electric powered machines, recharging varies, based on time of use. It sounds like a lot of quiet fun. Price is $27,000. Visit

New prop from Mercury
As outboards got more powerful, aluminum and bronze props started showing blade fatigue and some blades might break off after going off a wave and re-entering the water. I was using bronze racing props on my 6 cylinder Mercury BP (blue printed) outboards. I had had a single and a twin rig, and also 3 rigs with standard Mercury outboards. We tested and checked these boats thoroughly before each race.

We traveled to Smith Mountain Lake near Lynchburg, VA. for the Outboard Marathon Nationals, one of the largest if not the largest event of the year. As I remember it was eight hours long over a long course. I put my boat in for a test run, but it wouldn’t get on plane. I was extremely embarrassed. My sponsor Mr. Kiekhaeffer (Mercury) was there and I couldn’t get on a plane, let alone race. I went to Mercury’s prop truck and the prop technicians I knew laughed a bit and then said they would help. They came out with a pair of stainless steel 3 blades with 2” more pitch. They said these were the new props we had been talking about and they will get on top because stainless steel props have thinner blades and the engines can handle more pitch. I went for a test run and it popped right on top and went a couple mph faster than my last test, which I thought was good.  We figured out that since I had tested in salt water which is denser is why I couldn’t plane when I tested in fresh water.

Today most larger outboards have stainless steel props. They are more durable, efficient and perform better for cruising or watersports.  They are not cheap, but are the best way to go. Mercury has just introduced its latest stainless steel prop; the Enertia Eco Prop, and Mercury says you’ll save 10 percent on fuel.  Tests performed for Boating Magazine showed 20 percent or better fuel economy. Some say the Enertia Eco Prop is far ahead of the popular Mercury Mirage Plus or Revolution 4 Props. Cost is $795, but fuel savings might make you look seriously at it. Usually when one company comes out with new props others are soon to follow, so stay tuned.

Be safe and courteous and I’ll see you on the water. Wear your PFD.

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

February 2015 column

Water wars continue with Georgia and its neighbors

The Georgia-Tennessee northwestern border has been in the news often since the 2008 drought when Lake Lanier and surrounding areas were seriously affected. This controversy was started in 1818 when surveyors (three-man teams from both Tennessee and Georgia) met at Nickajack to find the 35th latitude north and plainly mark and designate the same for Georgia’s northwest border.

The Georgia team member James Camak, a mathematician and astrologist calculated that the line was south of Nickajack, when in fact the 35 latitude north was in fact a mile north in the middle of the Tennessee River. Camak not only made this mistake the first time, but in 1819 went back to survey the area again and made more mistakes. No mention as to where Tennessee surveyors calculated where their line was. The original border was written as the 35th latitude north on the books, but the mistakes are on the border line today.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed a law strongly urging negotiations with the governors of Tennessee and North Carolina to correct Camak’s flawed survey; nothing happened. The 2013 legislature tried to do the same, with no action.

Florida is suing Georgia to release more water from Lake Lanier to aid the oyster industry. As stated in last month’s Lakeside a special master has been appointed to pursue a settlement. Common sense would say that all states involved should meet to solve this problem, but common sense is lacking in government these days. If the border line is corrected to 35 latitude north where it was stated to be in 1818 and Georgia gets to tap into the Tennessee River, the main problem would be resolved.

The water would enter the Chattahoochee River, which would keep Lake Lanier at 1071 even with the additional releases to aid those down river where it would eventually aid the Apalachicola River and the oyster industry and Florida. The extra water could power two hydro-electric generators which would pay for themselves. The Tennessee River would have an outlet for spring flood control which is a problem when the snow melts and Atlanta would also have ample water supply. Waterfront businesses and those related would thrive and continue to pay taxes. You would think the powers to be would recognize this.

So how about it governors, let’s get Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina together and work something out with the federal government.  Common sense would answer all existing problems.

Boat show results
The Atlanta Boat show was the best in quite a few years. Other shows I’ve read about were also a great success. Boat sales and accessories have provided renewed fascination for boaters.

There’s a new boating term: the CCY (Center Console Yacht) 35’ plus center consoles like Intrepid, Boston Whaler, Cobia and many others. All have what the fisherman want, plus a head, small galley, and berth beneath the console, thus the yacht designation. Electronics are more compact for mounting at the helm along with more bells and whistles.

PWCs enthusiasts had the lower cost “Spark” last year. This year there will be more models to choose from as competitors are offering models in this lower price class. Remember if you just bought a boat take a boating safety class and you might save 10 percent on boat insurance.

Bass money
Sealy Outdoors is again having bass fishing tournaments which offer great prizes. Two of these would be close enough for Lake Lanier fishermen to travel for a chance at winning for your efforts.  Lake Guntersville in Scottsboro Alabama tournament is March 27-29. Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, TN., has a tournament Aug. 15-16.    The Guntersville tournament has $215,000 in cash and prizes, with hourly payouts, and heaviest bass. Kentucky Lake has similar prizes.  Both offer a Triton Bass boat with a Mercury motor as part of the winner’s prize. Entry fees are under $300 and with all the prizes you could recoup much of the cost. Contact or call 1-888-698-2591 for information.  This is a great family opportunity.  Let Lakeside share your story and photos if you go.

Fast ride
Looking over the brokerage pages of one of my recent boating magazines my eyes hit on the cruising speed of one boat; 104 knots and in a 50’ boat. Then I saw 139 knots top speed. “Whoa,” I thought. The boat is a 50’x12’ beam Nor-tech Catamaran with four Mercruiser 1125 hp engines.  Fuel capacity is 560 gallons, which probably won’t last long. But your cruising speed is probably four or five times faster than most boats.  Cost is 695K. She has a professional crew headed by Al Copeland’s “Popeye’s” racing team which was a six time National Champion and three time World Champion. The crew is willing to work with the new owner.  The boat, named “Gold Rush,” would be great for poker runs, or running offshore. If you want more information contact: www.atlanticyacht&

Lucky to be alive
Former Miami Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad was going to take his 36’ Grady-White “Compass Square” from Hillsboro inlet to Mariner Marine in Rivers Beach for servicing. He thought he’d do a little fishing on the way.  He put his boat on auto-pilot, rigged his lines for trolling and waited for some action. One of his lines hooked a fish, then a large wave rocked the boat, flipping him overboard. The boat, being on auto-pilot, continued its course. He realized he was in real trouble.

He was nine miles off shore treading water with no P.F.D. He started thinking of hypothermia. So he began swimming. During the night jellyfish stung him and a shark circled him. A search helicopter hovered over him and shined a light, but did not see him. He finally washed ashore at 4:30 a.m. on Palm Beach and found he couldn’t walk. He said thinking of his wife and two daughters kept his faith and helped him stay alive.

This story had a happy ending  with no lives lost, but it is a reminder to wear your PFD.  P.F.D’s can also have locater beacons attached, which would have made for a quick rescue in this case. Also file a float plan if you are going offshore or a trip on inland waters. If something happens you know someone will be looking for you.

As you all know gas is now $2 or a bit less, marinas are a bit more, but most are ethanol free, which is good. I’m sure marina gas prices will continue to follow gas prices and go down. Meanwhile, boaters that commute to the lake by trailering their boat will stop at the $2 a gallon gas station and fill up with ethanol tainted fuel. You think you are saving money, but if you don’t use an additive like “Stabil” you can end up with fuel and engine problems.

Be safe and courteous and I will see you on the water.

January 2015 column

Is there an electric boat in your future?

Electric boats have been around longer than you think. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition celebrating Christopher Columbus’ first voyage, for the first time on a large scale, 11,000 kilowatts of electricity illuminated 250 electric light bulbs. Scores of electric motors sparked life into fair exhibits, including George Ferris’ revolving wheel which soared 264’ above the fairs central midway.

On the waterfront there were 55, 32’ electric powered launches built by Elco-Electric Launch Company. They sold like hot cakes, and there are still several of these boats shown at classic boat shows. These boats had D.C. engines which needed commutators serviced and brushes replaced.  Fast forward in time and Elco is still in the electric motor business. They now have an A.C. motor using an inverter. These new motors require no maintenance for 50,000 hours. The head of Elco, Joseph Flemming, states that in the near future a 250 hp motor will weigh 10 pounds and fit in your arms.  

The lithium ion batteries longevity price and weight is the issue, though. They need to be charged frequently and this does not allow them to compete with internal combustion engines that will run continually for five or six hours on a tank of fuel. Also, lithium ion batteries are very expensive. Some auto companies lease the batteries to make replacement more affordable. In the near future batteries will come down in price, weight and last longer. I would estimate electric motors might be the standard for power in boats within the next five years.  

This year’s boat show should have some examples of the future of electric motors and improved batteries. Electric or battery powered motors have made it into aviation as well, with a few small planes, and predictions that say within 20 years there will be electric powered airplanes the size of a 737 passenger plane. The main problem as I said before is the longevity of charges. When batteries (lithium ion) become lighter in weight, less in price and will run at speed for up to four hours without a charge, well, that is when we will start buying electric powered boats.

This could be sooner than you think. Tesla, the electric car company (recently in the news with a lawsuit against the Georgia Automobile Dealer’s Association for selling their cars directly to the customer and not through a dealer), has opened a massive battery factory in Nevada. With their research and development we should see batteries longer lasting, lighter in weight, and batteries that will cost less. This will lead to electric power being more dependable and less costly, which leads to electric boats being popular in five to 10 years. Stay tuned.

Atlanta Boat Show
This year’s edition, running January 15-16, 2015 should be the best in years  The lake is up, recession is over, and because of this boat manufacturers have great new models for families and water sport enthusiast to enjoy. Go check them out.

Remember if you purchase a boat be sure to sea trial it to make sure it will suit your needs. Also if the boat is larger and more complicated whether new or used I would recommend a marine survey. You would be surprised what a surveyor might find on a new boat as well as a used one. If you buy a used boat make sure you check the maintenance log, and if it’s a new boat start a maintenance log. It will make your boat worth more when you eventually sell it.

Be sure to check out the new water sports accessories on display as well as fishing equipment.  Check out the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary booth and sign you and your family up for a boating safety course. Enjoy the show and lets hope we have an early start to our boating season.

Winter hobby
On these cold winter days when everyone is stuck in the house and wondering what to do after growing tired of their electronic toys, why not make some fishing lures.  I’m sure if you attend the boat show you will find a fly-tying kit or casting lure kit. Buy one and challenge the kids to make a better lure than you can. When the weather gets warm and fish are biting check out your lures and see who catches the first fish.  

When I was a kid I used to swipe, uh, borrow my mother’s round clothes pins to make lures.  I’d try and copy the colors of lures in my dad’s and grandad’s tackle boxes. I’d have red and whites, green for frogs or minnows, attached hooks and swivel and I was ready to go fishing after the snow and ice melted, and fishing season opened. I had some luck catching fish, but live minnows and night crawlers were my favorite bait. Try making lures and see who catches the fish. I’m sure it will create family memories as well as great fish stories.

Special boats
Every year at boat show time, boat owners always remember a special boat they owned or wish they had, and then the debate begins. Some of my favorites are the 31’ Bertram Moppie designed by C. Raymond Hunt. It won the Miami-Nassau race hands down in rough water. This design started Bertrams deep-V design in models from 25’ to 60 plus feet. Having sold and delivered many 46’ Bertram convertible fly bridges, it is one of my favorites. C. Raymond Hunt also designed the original Boston Whaler which was the original boat for a lot of families and tender for yachts.

The Donzi “Sweet 16” was designed by Don Arronow of Magnum, Donzi, Cigarette, and Blue Thunder fame. It is a great ski-boat or sport boat. Powered by a Holman-Moody V-8 and Eaton outdrive. It cruised in the high 40 knots. It has a great profile.  

The 41’ Hatteras designed and built to fish off the coast of its name was designed by Jack Hargrave. It also became a popular offshore convertible sport fisherman. Hargrave also designed the Lazy Days Houseboat that was built by Jack Beachem. He also raced a Lazy Days in the Miami-Nassau race, and finished. There are a lot of great boats that have been built and cherished by boat owners. What’s yours?

New Year’s resolutions
  • Get your boat inspected by the
  •  U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. It’s free and they give you a sticker.
  • Add fuel stabilizer when you fuel up.
  • Keep up your maintenance log.
  • Follow float plan.
  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Frequently check you trailer.
  • Always pilot your boat when sober.
  • Check weather before a cruise.
  • Replace any gear that malfunctions.
  • Take a kid or a veteran fishing.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a safe and Happy New Year. Be safe and courteous and I will see you on the water.

December 2014 column

So can you identify a Kisbee Ring?

After writing about the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) last month several readers inquired about what kind of life jackets she had on board. They come in two forms, those that are worn and those that are thrown. They have been known by many names including; Kisbee Rings, Mae Wests, Life Buoys, Perry Buoys, Cork Jackets, Life Savers, life jackets and present day PFD’s (personal flotation devices).

In early times inflated skins or sealed gourds were used to assist in crossing rivers. In the 16th century Leonardo Da Vinci sketched a diving suit with a life belt. It wasn’t until lifesaving services began to form that the issue of safety was taken seriously.  

Norwegian seamen were the first to build lifesaving devices using blocks of wood or cork-stuffed vests. A 1680 issue of the Universal Magazine volume 10 contains a letter from W.H. Mallison trying to gain support for his invention, the “Seaman’s Friend,” but it was not adopted.  Usage of the devices eventually became prevalent when organizations like Britain’s Royal National Life Boat Institution began using them. By 1855 the Institution was using a type of ring buoy known as the Kisbee Ring. Also a cork life belt was being used during this time. In 1852 the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring ships to carry life preservers and set up a board of supervising inspectors that set standards and rules.  

Cork was the first material used in modern life preservers, followed by kapok fiber introduced in the early 20th century. It was later banned for being flammable and its quick loss of buoyancy. It was then reapproved in 1918. Cork life preservers were heavy and bulky. But kapok could be added to watertight pockets for better flexibility and comfort.

In 1928 after the loss of British passenger steamer Vestris with all lives lost, an international convention for safety of life at sea was convened. Kapok was seen as the superior material for life jackets because it kept the heads of unconscious victims above water.

After World War I balsa wood was also used in life preservers, but by World War II foam was in use and eventually supplanted kapok. The first inflatable life preserver was invented by Peter Markus in 1928, receiving a U.S. patent. It was nicknamed the “Mae West” in reference to the well-endowed entertainer. Wearers of the vest were thought to resemble the buxom actress.

In 1940 Congress passed the Motorboat Act and less bulky vests were designed. The idea was that if they were easier to wear more boaters would wear them, and lives would be saved. During the late ’40s and early ’50s water sports, water-skiing, aqua planning and disc’s became popular. This was mainly due to the affordability of outboard boats with engines large enough to pull skiers. The sport was no longer restricted to those who owned expensive, high-powered boats.

I was one of the outboard runabout owners shortly after moving to Florida in the early ’50s and I immediately took up water-skiing.  Previously while living in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota I had done a lot of snow skiing and jumping, so water-skiing fit right in. We never heard of a ski-belt or vest, even going to AWSA (American Water Ski Association) tournaments to compete. I continued to compete and I was captain of the St. Petersburg Jr. College water-ski team in 1958, when we won the World Inter Collegiate Tournament.

Several weeks later Mr. Kiekhaeffer (Mercury Outboards) wanted to set the record of most skiers pulled by outboards. I and some of my teammates were part of the group of skiers. Mr. K’s boat pulled 21 skiers with twin Mark 78’s on a 21’ hydrodyne hull. That same afternoon Joe Cash (Cypress Gardens skier and champion), told all the skiers if they wanted to do some more skiing, jumping and slalom we should go to the Sarasota Skeearees Club location in Sarasota. We all enjoyed jumping and the slalom course. My friend Bobby Miller decided to make a few more jumps. He went off, fell but didn’t surface. Joe and I started diving for him immediately and when we finally got him to the shore it was too late. I always thought (and was even told)  Bobby’s death was one of the reasons states passed ski-belt and vest laws two years later.

In 1964 the U.S. Coast Guard realized that the required life preservers were still not suitable and decided to have special life preservers made to suit different pastimes such as water-skiing and canoeing. In 1985 the Coast Guard proposed new laws for the carriage of life preservers on boats and their wearing during water sports. Since 1966 aircraft have been required to carry a life preserver for each passenger. As technology and water sports developed, so too did the life preserver.

Past President Lt. JG, George H. W. Bush was one of the pilots saved by his “Mae West” PFD, when he was shot down over the Pacific during wartime. Passing planes spotted him and a submarine picked him up. Air crew members whose lives were saved by use of the “Mae West” PFD were eligible for membership in the Goldfish Club. Peter Markus invented the “Mae West” when he was 16. He purchased a boat and his mother was afraid he would fall overboard.  It consisted of two pneumatic compartments of rubber coated yellow fabric that could be inflated by blowing into a tube or pulling a cord that released carbon dioxide. Waist and crotch straps kept it in place. The War Department paid him $1,600 for his invention in 1936. He used the money for a down payment on a house.

Today’s PFDs are more comfortable to wear because they are properly sized from child to adult.  They are also designed to be less bulky and are light weight and comfortable, you hardly know you are wearing one. Also if your K-9 buddy boats with you they now have doggie PFD’s sized from small to large.
Today it is the law to have a PFD that properly fits and is in good condition for each person on board. If you are stopped and boarded and fail to have the proper number of PFDs, you likely will get a ticket. Keep this in mind next spring when you are getting ready for boating season. If you have any questions about the proper PFD or the boating laws, call the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. A great Christmas gift for your crew would be new PFDs.

PFD designs
The U.S. Coast Guard has dropped the current life jacket codes (Type I, II, III, IV, V) in order to introduce more comfortable innovative life jacket designs.  This should reduce the cost and confusion and increase availability as the codes were unique to the U.S. This is the first step in adopting new standards to simplify life jacket requirements for recreational cruisers and makes life jacket requirements consistent across many countries. A wider variety of sizes and lower cost from manufacturers should increase safety across the U.S. Despite the new standards current life jackets will still be legal although it is critical to ensure there is one properly fitting jacket for passengers on board. To check further go to:  

The holidays are upon us
Christmas is upon us and captain and crew should make their lists. Maybe it’s an electronics device you want to upgrade to make cruising or fishing easier, maybe you need new lines and fenders. If your crew is into water sports then one of the new tubes that will seat two or more, water-skis or wake boards may be the answers.  

One Christmas I gave my father a new propeller, he was good at finding skinny water. I wrapped it many times and put it in a large outboard motor box. The whole family had fun watching him try and find out what was in the box after he found out it wasn’t a new large outboard motor.   If you don’t have any ideas, go to West Marine’s website and browse through their wish book on line, you are sure to find a great gift:

Now is the time to schedule you and your family for a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating class before next season starts. If you have youngsters approaching the age to be certified to pilot a personal water craft they need the ticket. Have the whole family attend and everyone will benefit.

Atlanta Boat Show
The Atlanta Boat Show will be January 15-18, so mark your calendar. There will be something for everyone: fishermen, youngsters, water sports enthusiasts, and sailors. Make your list and mark your calendar.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.

November 2014 column

Some items to check after winterizing your boat

Boats are complicated machines and require periodic checking. One thing that is overlooked and not inspected is seacocks. Even a modest vessel will have a number of thru-hull fittings below the water line – engine water intakes, wash down pump, live well, head intakes should be protected by seacocks and any thru hull hole should be fitted with a seacock. Boat US insurance states that more than 40 percent of boats that sink do so at the dock or on a mooring. This can be due to the lack of inspection to see that you have seacocks that shut the water intake with ease.  Hoses should be properly installed using two stainless marine grade hose clamps per connection. Frequent checking should be a standard practice. If your bilge pump runs often this is the first place to check. It is possible for a hose or hose clamp to leak and a seacock that works will shut off the water leak.

If you leave your boat in the water you might want to shut all seacocks and check for security and check for leaks when turned back on. Make sure seacocks open and close with ease. In an emergency offshore, the faster you can close a seacock the quicker you will save the boat and your passengers from taking a swim. Make sure all hoses connected to seacocks are in good condition. Replace them if you have any doubt. On larger boats, yachts and houseboats you may find it difficult to inspect. I’ve often thought some designers and builders have a grudge against mechanics and marine surveyors with where they place seacocks. In some bilges I’ve inspected seacocks that were so hard to reach that when I did find them it wouldn’t have surprised me if they had a sign on them saying “Bet you had a helluva time finding this one!”

Regardless of where they are, make sure they work. All have a handle which move 90 degrees when in line with the outlet it opens. Turned 90 degrees it is closed. Gate valves should not be used. They are for farm or household use. When purchasing these items always use a marine approved item. When you have finished inspecting or replacing these items remember to record it in your maintenance log. You also might want to alert your frequent cruising crew to the location of your seacocks in case of an emergency.

Atlantic crossing and return
Not long ago I reported on an Atlantic crossing (Spain to Florida) in a 16’ sailboat made from volcanic fibers. Well, Harold Seblacek made the crossing in 87 days aboard “Fipofix.” He returned to Europe on July 2, 2014 and made it in 46 days. Both crossings set records for solo non-stop Atlantic crossings in a 16 foot boat without assistance. This is quite an accomplishment and in a 16 foot boat at that. Makes you wonder where he stored his supplies, water, food and clothes. Visit: for more information.

Maintenance and manuals
If you have read my column in the past you know how important I think maintenance logs are. As I have said before a good maintenance log can be the difference between selling your boat at a reasonable price or a bargain price.
Onboard system management companies are creating “reminders” of when maintenance is due as easy as point and click. You will immediately know what needs to be serviced and it will be logged when it’s performed. Your owner’s manual will also be online as well as D.I.Y. instructions for jobs you want to perform. The three top names in the rapidly evolving product category of yacht maintenance management are: My-villages, Wheelhouse Technologies and Vessel Vanguard.

Check out which one will best suit the maintenance and information you need to keep your boat in bristol condition. Prices vary from $199 for small boats to $599 for 40 to 50 foot yachts. Remember you still have to perform the service and log it. I would also recommend saving all your receipts, especially the ones that cover expensive maintenance. This proves the work was completed and when. Check out these sites. I think you will find one that will suit you and your boat. Just search the web for the companies’ names and you’ll find their websites.

Old Ironsides
The U.S. Constitution, which is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, recently took a celebratory trip around Boston Harbor. She was pushed by a tugboat. The historic vessel was headed for a major, multi-year restoration project in dry dock. The ship earned its nickname after winning battles in the War of 1812 against Great Britain. The vessel turned 239 years old this week. When she sailed into battles she had a crew of 450 which included sailors and marines. Her overall length including bow sprit and fantail is 315 feet, L.W.L. is 175 feet. She was built in 1797 at a cost of $300,000.

According to the report I read the cruise to the dry dock included period costumed crew, bands, many guests including the governor. They numbered more than 500 people. With a compliment of 450 during wartime and now having 500 plus on board I wonder if the Coast Guard inspected for PFDs?  Can you imagine a command of “battle stations?” Yes, the cannons were working and they fired a 21 gun salute. I’ll bet fun was had by all. If you get to Boston in a year or two you should stop by and go aboard. She’s quite a ship and a trip back in time.

A serious fishing trip
Costa Rica is the billfish capital of the world. During the 2014 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Tournament a world record of 5,078 billfish were caught and released. Los Sueños is located on Costa Rica’s central pacific coast. A photo of the International Marina shows more sport fishing yachts in one place than I’ve ever seen.  Considering what you get, it’s not that expensive. A seven night, three day fishing package for four during high season (Jan. 4 to March 3) runs $6,660.00. In the green season as they call it, (April 1 to Dec. 15) it is $5,950.00. They also have snorkeling trips to Isla Tortuga which is part of the Curv Nature Reserve.  They also have a crocodile tour with bilingual guides. If you go for a second honeymoon they have a sunset cruise tour.  

If you have never caught a sailfish or marlin, Los Sueños can just about guarantee you one. What a trip to tell your friends about.  Contact 1-866-865-9259 or If you go please share your stories and photos with Lakeside.

Boat models
Christmas is just around the corner. Here’s a gift your Captain might like under the tree. Whether you have a yacht, sailboat, houseboat, or tug, Duffy will make a model of it for display on the wall or table. Maybe it’s something the Captain would like in his office or a conversation piece to bring back memories at home. Contact: or 1-949-645-6811.

Have a great Thanksgiving and I’ll see you around the dock.

October 2014 column

It's that time of year again - winterize

It’s time to winterize your boat.  The more you do now, the less you will have to do come spring when the warm weather returns and you want to get on the water. First, the easiest part of winterizing is to add proper amount of stabilizer to fuel tank and check fuel line and filter, replace where needed. There are several brands of stabilizer, all are good but I prefer StaBil.

Next check the running gear, outdrives and lower units. Gear case oil should be drained and inspected for the presence of water. If water is found you will need to replace the prop shaft seal and then replace gear case oil. If this is not done and it freezes it could crack the gear case and cause expensive repairs. Check your prop. If it’s dinged up or the hub is slipping send it off for repair.

If you haven’t replaced your water-pump impeller and its two years old or more make a note to replace it. Outdrive bellows should be checked. Replace if it has holes or cracks. If holes are found inspect drive unit for damage and repair. Grease all fittings and check steering and shift controls, repair where needed, also check your power trim and tilt.

Boats that stay in the water year round should be hauled. The bottom should be pressure washed and repainted if needed. Running gear and thru-hull fittings should be thoroughly inspected, make repairs if needed.

Inboard engines and four-stroke outboards need oil and filter changes. Old oil can damage the working parts of an engine due to acids it contains. If you have a closed cooling system check or replace anti-freeze for proper protection. While in the engine area, check all hoses and fittings, especially hose clamps. Repair or replace if needed. Check batteries and electrical system. If batteries need replacing make a note to do it in the spring.   

Inspect bilge pumps, head, air conditioning and other accessories.  Repair where needed. Drain all water or use potable anti-freeze.  Wash and clean boat thoroughly.  Fiberglass boats should be waxed.  It makes them easier to clean in the spring. If you trailer your boat don’t forget to check it. Inspect and grease your bearings. Inspect your tires, replace if you have weather cracks. Inspect light system, if it’s old, replace. Check winch and line.

These are some of the important things you need to do so your boat will survive the winter and make spring get ready easier. To make sure you haven’t missed anything on your particular boat, check your owner’s manual or your dealer if you have any questions. One of the most important things to do is record what you have done in your maintenance log. Remember a well-kept maintenance log is an excellent sales tool when it comes time to sell your boat.  

You might want to check out a new app to keep track of your maintenance log. My Boat by Intelligent Maintenance is a utilitarian app for convenient reference and logging of vessel information.  My Boat Dashboard provides check lists and reminders. Check iTunes app store. Cost: $19.99.

Electric outboard, lithium battery update
Torqeedo has produced an 80 H.P. electric outboard and Canadian boat builder Campion of Kelowna, B.C., has produced a 180 H.P. electric outboard. Many manufacturers have plans to produce all-electric outboards. This year, a mega yacht builder announced the development of a 12-passenger shore boat for running guests from the anchored mega yacht to shore, at 45 knots powered by a pair of 300 H.P. all-electric outboards.

Lithium ion batteries which power the all-electric Tesla sports car, among other vehicles and it is fast becoming more affordable.  Tesla recently was approved by the state of Nevada to build a multi-million dollar lithium ion battery factory. These batteries are smaller, lighter, and charge faster than their predecessor; they also cost more than three times as much.

In Europe, Renault produces an all-electric car that is sold without the battery pack. Packs are leased to the buyers for the equivalent of $100 per month. Gas costs would be around $300 per month. Battery leasing and charging is $110 per month. If there is a battery problem the builder supplies a new one at no cost. The battery lease rental business model is now being examined by businesses in the marine field. Remember these batteries might cost three times what your lead acid battery costs now, but lithium ion batteries last three times longer. I look for these batteries to develop even further with the refinement they will receive from both the automotive field and the marine field. They will become less in cost, and last longer. I think boaters are not long from having charging stations next to shore power in slips. I’ll bet there will be some interesting new items related to this at the boat shows this year.  I wonder how it will be getting used to no exhaust and engine noise?

Star Wars designs
The last issue of Lakeside showed a photo of the 70’ “Axiom” yacht now on display at Atlanta Marine. The design looks out of this world. It makes one wonder, probably the way a lot of us looked at some of Detroit’s new cars have changed in the last 60 years. It will be interesting to see the sea trial on this boat.  

Several magazines recently covered some yachts that looked like they were tested in a wind tunnel or originated from another planet.  Designer Stefano Pastrovich’s latest is the 295 foot concept X-kid Stuff, quite a luxury yacht that would turn heads in any port.  Pastrovich’s other yachts were the popular Wallypower. Check at:

The Peconic 43 is another out of this world sport express yacht.  Designed by Scott Henderson and built by C.H. Marine. The lines on this 43 footer are a little more pleasing. Check:  Myself, I’d rather have a Hunt, Hinckly, Bertram or Grand Banks.  I guess I’m old fashioned.

Plans for cold, winter days
Sometimes during the cold winter months families like to go south for a cruise or plan a trip for next summer. Here are some ideas.

I’m sure by now everyone who has been around boats has heard of the “Great Loop Trip.” If you are interested you can join “America’s Great Loop Association.” They are also going to have the sixth annual “Looper Crawl and Concert” on October 15, 2013 in Rogersville, AL. If you want to talk to Loopers this would be the place, and it’s not that far from Lake Lanier. If you join you will also receive a newsletter. Contact:

Southwest Florida Yachts, located near Fort Myers, FL, has bareboat and crewed charters to cruise what I think is one of the best parts of Florida to cruise. Cruising World magazine has rated this area of the west coast of Florida as the number one chartering destination in the United States and number three in the world. A 36’ Grand Banks costs $4,499 per week in winter and $3,601 in summer. A Leopard 40’ sailing catamaran charters for $3,957 in winter and $3,167 during the summer.  Contact:

If you are interested in exploring Washington State’s San Juan Islands and the N.W. Pacific to Alaska, check out Northwest Explorations at A 49’ Grand Banks classic is $7,500 per week during high season and $5,475 during low season.  Cruising this part of the world would be quite a family adventure.

The Moorings offers charters in the Caribbean and Europe, both sail and power. Contact: and check their special offers get brochures and a newsletter. Marinemax has power and sail charters in the British Virgin Islands with a base in Tortola. They offer bareboat or crewed charters. The 484 charter yacht is featured in the September issue of Yachting. The article by Chris Caswell will give you a good idea of the yacht you will charter.  Contact:

If you want to cruise the scenic European country side by the canals contact: If you think chartering rates are too expensive compare hotel and motel rates, you’ll find chartering a boat is a bargain. Also if you don’t like where you are you can always weigh anchor and cruise to a better place.

If you get past the dreaming stage and take one of these vacations, please share your story and photo’s with Lakeside.

Powerboat guide
Looking for specifications, prices and reviews for over 1,000 popular models, 1995 to current? Motor-yachts, center consoles, trawlers, convertibles, walk arounds, and express cruisers? How about trailerable fishing boats. Simply check out:

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

September 2014 column

Recent movie sparks interest in Hemingway and his boat, Pilar

Ernest Hemingway’s 38 foot Wheeler has been the topic of many recent magazine stories, probably because of the recent TV movie, Hemingway and Gellhorn. The boat was semi-custom made (freeboard in the transom area was lowered and a roller installed to assist in bringing large billfish and tuna aboard). Hemingway named the boat “Pilar” which was a nickname for his wife Pauline and also the name of the woman leader of the Partisan band in his 1940 novel of the Spanish Civil War, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

He fished the boat in the waters of Key West, Marquesas Keys, and the Gulf Stream off the Cuban coast. He also made trips to the Bimini Islands where his exploits in fishing, drinking and fighting remain a part of the history of the islands.

Pilar was built by Wheeler Shipyard, Inc. in Brooklyn, N.Y. launched in 1934. The boat was 38’, 12’ beam, 3’6” draft and was powered by a 75 hp Chrysler and a 4 cylinder Lycoming Trolling engine. Speed was 18 knots. The final price for the boat was $7,495 which included a live well and transom modifications. A flybridge and out riggers were added later.  The helm on the flybridge was a Ford Model T steering wheel.   

During World War II “Pilar” was fitted with communication gear HF/DF or “Huff-Duff” direction finding equipment, for submarine patrols. Weapons included a Thompson sub-machine gun and hand grenades. Most accounts of these patrols imply that they were a farce and he did them in return for extra gas rations and immunity from Cuban Police for driving drunk. His patrol hunting for U-boats inspired part of his novel “Islands in the Stream.”

He researched ways to tire fish quicker and keep them away from sharks. He would even transfer to a skiff and let the fish pull it to tire them so they could bring them aboard before the sharks could get them. His perfected techniques allowed him to be the first person to boat an unmutilated tuna in the Bimini Islands. When sharks bothered his catch, he used a Thompson sub-machine gun to disperse them.  Dockside he staged boxing matches with the locals offering $100 to anyone who could last a few rounds with him. He caught many fish from “Pilar.” In 1935 he won every tournament in the Key West-Havana-Bimini triangle. In 1938 he established a world record by catching seven Marlin in one day.  

The black hull and varnished topside boat is now on display in Cuba at Museo Ernest Hemingway located at Finca La Vigia, Hemingway’s former home near Havana. It is owned by the Cuban government. Americans wishing to visit the boat must obtain special permission from the U.S. government. A full scale replica is on display at the “Bass Pro Shops” in Islamorada, FL. From what I hear the replica is in much better condition than the original.

Wheeler yachts were one of the best built yachts of its time. My yacht and engine maintenance company “Precision Marine” repowered a 42” Wheeler sedan/flybridge. We took out old hemi’s and changed the 24 volt system, and replaced it with Mercruiser Blue Water 427 c.i./325 h.p. This made a good boat perform even better. If you appreciate well-built wooden boats and the work that goes with them, check out a Wheeler, their sea worthiness will surprise you.

Kayakers ocean crossing
Arriving at New Smyrna Beach, FL after 195 days at sea, 67 year old kayaker Alexander “Olek” Doba paddled solo in his 21 foot kayak over 6,000 miles from Portugal. He encountered storms, mechanical problems, a challenging Gulf Stream, and winds that blew him off course. After he reached shore and kissed the Florida sand, everyone agreed he was one tough guy.
North Atlantic record attempt

There is about to be an attempt underway to break the record of crossing the Atlantic from New York to Lizard Point, Helsten, UK. The current record was set in August of 2009 by Banque Populaire. That record is three days, 15 hours, 25 minutes and 48 seconds, with an average speed of 32.94 knots across 4,248 miles. The new attempt – described in one of the magazines I read regularly – will be taking aim at the record distance sailed in a 24 hour period, also held by Banque Populaire. The record is 908 miles at an average speed of 37.84 knots.  The boat they think will break the sailing records is a French built 131 foot Maxitrimaran. The magazine doesn’t identify the person or team behind the attempt, but did state that the boat was built for one purpose, to break these records. The boat is currently in New Port, Rhode Island undergoing modifications to get her into race mode. Those speeds would be good for a power boat, but almost unbelievable for a sail boat. We wish them good luck and a safe journey.

Donzi is 50 years old
Don Aronow boat builder (Donzi-Magnum-Cigarette, and Blue Thunder Catamarans) and power boat ocean racer started Donzi in 1964. In the line were the very popular sweet 16 inboard/outboard runabout, powered by a Holman-Moody 289 c.i. Ford engine coupled to a Volvo outdrive. They also came out with 18’ and 22’ models.

Other than boat shows my first experience with Donzi runabouts was towing one that ran out of fuel.  Guy Lombardo, the band leader and hydro plane racer (TempoVI), opened a hotel and entertainment complex on Anna Maria Island, in St. Petersburg, FL. To celebrate the opening he held a boat race in the Gulf of Mexico. I was fortunate to win the race and on the way back to the dock I ran across a Donzi that was also in the race, dead in the water, out of fuel. Turned out it was Donzi’s plant manager and his cousin. They eventually ended up driving a couple of my race boats with success.

Donzi is building 50th anniversary models of the 16’, 18’, and 22’ models. Original sweet 16’s are out there, and are a favorite model to acquire.Visit:

By now I’m sure many of you have found the shallow part of the channel and bent up a prop. Here’s some history, Archimedes invented the screw type principle which was used to irrigate fields as well as bail boats. It was appropriately called “Archimedes Screw.” The boat propeller as we know it came in 1827; Czech-Austrian inventor Josef Ressel had invented a screw propeller which had multiple blades fastened around a conical base. He tried it on a steam powered ship and it worked, thus the development began with different blade shapes, number of blades and material used.

Those of you who have not repaired your damaged prop should do so as soon as possible. An unbalanced prop can cause excessive wear on lower unit seals, which lead to expensive repairs. If you are looking for better performance, speed or power, your dealer will have the information on that from the boat and motor manufacturer. That’s why they test them, so they can pass the information on to you. This way you get the right prop and your rig will perform as advertised. A boat that runs over recommended RPMs will damage the engine as will one that is lugging and not coming up to recommended RPMs. Those of you who might want more performance should check out a stainless steel prop. They have thinner blades and you most likely can use another inch in pitch. They are expensive but worth it.

One of my most embarrassing moments in racing involved props.  I had tested and set up my twin B.P. (Blue Printed) Mercury’s on my 18’ Cobia hull and thought I was ready. The race was an eight hour marathon in Smith Mountain Lake, VA. My team took three boats. As soon as we registered I decided to test and check the boat. To my surprise and embarrassment the boat wouldn’t get on a plane.  So I went to Mercury’s prop truck.  They had a new design we had talked about in counter rotating stainless steel props. I put them on and my problem was solved. We figured out that testing in salt water which is denser than fresh is the reason I couldn’t get a plane. That shows you how critical props are.

Another thing you should do is always carry a spare prop, just in case. The better you take care of your prop and the rest of your boat, the easier it will be in your wallet.

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

August 2014 column

Casino ship 'Escapade' lives up to its name on maiden voyage

I found the recent news interesting – the grounding of the 157-foot casino ship “Escapade” on its maiden voyage off Tybee Island while trying to make her way back to port in Savannah. A chart plotter was blamed. My thought was that the vessel made it out of the same channel earlier in the day, why would they have run aground returning in the same channel?  Low tide comes to mind. Also, after off-loading passengers to Coast Guard cutters the tide came in the vessel proceeded to port with no problems. True, she had less weight after off-loading passengers, but I think low tide played a part.

My question is since this was her maiden voyage how come side scan sonar was not in use? The alarm system would have alerted the captain of shallow water ahead.  We’ll probably know in a future story of the incident.

My first experience in the Coast Guard to aid a grounded vessel came in boot camp at Cape May, N.J. I had been assigned to the boat docks and my job was to clean a captain’s “Gig.” A 26-foot diesel powered double ender used to transport the ship’s captain. Suddenly a man came aboard, I looked up and he was in a full captain’s uniform. His brass was a corroded green, I assumed from being around salt air. I immediately came to attention and saluted. He did likewise and said, “Sailor let’s get this boat underway.” I said, “Yes Sir,” and proceeded to start the Buda diesel, which sounded like a John Deere Tractor. I removed the dock lines and started backing out of the slip. It was about this time I was thanking myself that I paid attention when I was in the Sea Scouts and we visited Coast Guard stations and got to ride on a captain’s “Gig.”

The captain pointed out a training schooner aground in the harbor.  She was 80 plus feet and listing.  We pulled alongside amidships and passed lines fore and aft. Slowly she became loose of the sandbar and the captain told me to proceed to a nearby wharf. The schooner’s auxiliary engine would not run, so we were the only power. As we got closer to the concrete wharf I realized our 26-foot gig was in between the wharf and the schooner – the meat in the sandwich if you will. The closer we got the more I anticipated a command to back out and let the schooner pass lines to those waiting on the wharf. We scraped the wharf and the schooner squeezed the gig to the point we heard wood cracking.  I had one hand on the throttle and one ready to reverse, waiting for the order to get the hell out of there. Finally he gave the order and we shot out of there like a cork from a champagne bottle. We proceeded back to the boat docks, tied up, and that was the last I ever saw of the captain, or heard anything about the incident.

I am sure if you have been around boats long enough you’ve heard the stories of groundings a time or two. Most are related to a stupid mistake, like not paying attention while underway. I had an old salt friend of mine that had a favorite saying for the one boater who brags that he has never run aground. He’d say, “The reason he’s not been aground is he didn’t get off the bar stool at the yacht club or he never took his boat out of its slip.” Groundings are always serious and can cause injury and damage that will cost money. Know the waters where you cruise, if you’re not sure, go slow and watch your fathometer.

New engines
BRP, or Bombardier Recreational Products, the Canadian manufacturer known for its snowmobiles (Ski-Doo) and personal watercraft (Sea-Doo), and also for purchasing bankrupt Outboard Marine Corporation (Evinrude and Johnson) is announcing a totally new engine.  Gone is the Ficht and E-Tec 2- strokes. The new engines will be E-Tec G2 and is totally new from prop shaft to fly wheel. This is the company’s first completely new engine in 38 years.

It will have 75 percent lower emissions and 20 percent more torque (especially out of the hole and at midrange) than leading 4-strokes. The G2’s will have 40 percent more battery-charging capacity at idle. Customers will have a choice of 200, 225, 250, and 300 H.P. models. The engines will have a 5-5-5 warranty as they call it.  This means five years engine and corrosion protection and 500 hour no dealer scheduled maintenance. No doubt this will be the benchmark for the industry. They will be manufactured at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin factory. You will recognize them by their new angular shape when you go to the boat shows.

Mercury Marine has four new engines, 75, 90 and 115 H.P., 4 – stroke outboards and a 4.5 liter 250 H.P. Mercruiser gasoline stern drive. The outboards are of a larger displacement and lower weight and were developed by the Consumer Research Team. The new 250 H.P. Mercruiser was designed in house and did not use the base of an automobile engine. Some of these engines are available now.

Suzuki unveiled a 4-cylinder 200 H.P. 4-stroke in June. The inline engine gives boaters performance previously expected from a V-6. The new engine weighs 12 percent less than the previous V-6, 200 H.P.

Whatever boat and motor combination you choose make sure you give it a thorough sea trial and inspection before you commit yourself. Larger vessels even though they may be brand new should be surveyed. You’ll be surprised what you might find. Whatever craft you decide to purchase, be safe and have fun cruising. You might also what to join Boat U.S.

Fishing clubs in high school
The popularity of bass fishing clubs in high schools has risen across the U.S.A. The idea for these clubs started six years ago in Illinois, which is currently one of four states (including New Hampshire, Kentucky and Missouri) where high school bass fishing is sanctioned as an approved sporting activity. Illinois schools alone field about 245 bass fishing teams with a total following of up to 4,000 students. Student anglers must maintain a 2.0 grade average or better to compete. Dues are $25 per member and entry fees also offer insurance coverage.  Some clubs have as many as 80 members.  

The organization Student Angler Federation (S.A.F.) is affiliated with FLW Outdoors, and al
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