Today's lake level: 1,062.87
Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Oct. 24, 2016
11:48 am


Captain's Comments

Center consoles have evolved into perhaps the most popular boat style

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

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

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

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

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

PWC fishing

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

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

Motor boating merit badges 

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

Winter is ’round the corner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 2016 column

Is carbon fiber the next beig thing in boat building?

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

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

August 2016 column

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

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

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

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

July 2016 column

All boats should have a fuel line water separator

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

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

June 2016 column

Reading 'Blue Thunder' brings back racing memories

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

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

May 2016 column

The Chinese treasure ships were real after all

Reading one of the many boating magazines I subscribe to, I ran across this story I thought you might find interesting. Back in the time of the Ming Dynasty, the third emperor “Yongle” had a Mongol eunuch as his right hand man and he chose him to be the admiral of his fleet of ships. He was known as Admiral Zengh HE. 
 But the ships are the story. They were much larger than those used by Vasco Da Gama or Christopher Columbus. The largest of the treasure ships fleet was 450’ long x 160’ wide with four decks and nine masts for twelve sails.  The ships were called Bǎochuáns.  They even had private rooms for travelers. Maybe this was the first cruise ship. It also had water tight bulkheads that created compartments that kept them afloat if rammed. The compartments were also used for fresh water for the crew and animals on board. The boats were capable of carrying 500 passengers. 
The stories of these ships and their travels were largely considered a myth, until a spring day in 1962. Workers were dredging on the Yangtze riverfront of Nanjing when they discovered a buried wooden timber 36 feet long. It was a steering post, and embedded in the mud alongside were the decaying remains of a rudder whose surface area works out to 452 square feet. It’s big enough to maneuver a 21st century aircraft carrier. The remains of the rudder are nearly 600 years old. Overnight an improbable myth became reality.  These Bǎochuáns, as they were called, must have been a sight with 60 of them under sail with accompanying support ships. 
Admiral Zengh HE made seven voyages. The first was the largest with 317 ships, 60 being the huge Bǎochuans. Sounds like a huge armada. These voyages took them as far as East Africa and numerous ports in between. Admiral Zengh HE died during the final voyage and they buried him at sea.
The Chinese used celestial navigation and also were using compasses a century before British and Spanish explorers. A stone pillar was erected at Chang Le A Harbor in Fujian providence. Admiral Zengh HE’s voyages were recorded on the stone pillar. The pillar is now in a small museum near the harbor. The calligraphy is worn after many centuries of weather, but you can still make out the more than 30 countries, large and small, where the fleet landed. 
If you want to check out more on this history search the web for: Fred Wakeman Jr., University of California, Chinese Treasure Ship, and Admiral Zengh HE.  
Two new boats
The new 35’ Bertram Hull #1 being built in Maine by Lyman Morse Shipyards looks to take off in sales like the old 31’ did. The first 31 became famous in the 1961 Miami-Nassau Powerboat Race, which was one of the roughest races to date with 8-12’ seas, 30 knot winds. The 31 made the crossing in eight hours and finished first. The other boats finished the next day. 
The first 31 was designed by C. Raymond Hunt who was commissioned by Richard Bertram after testing one of Hunts’ V-hull yacht tenders off Block Island. The first 31 was wooden and was named after Bertram’s wife “Moppie,” as is hull #1 of the 35’.
Three famous names in yachting were aboard that first race.  Besides Bertram there was Sam Griffith who drove the boat, and Carlton Mitchell who was navigator. They used the wooden 31 for a plug and started building 31s.  They entered and won the 1962 race. The boat was called “Glass Moppie.” The 31 became legendary and Bertram told Jim Martenhoff of the Miami Herald, “that he had so many damn yachtsmen waving checkbooks at him that he had to go into the boat business.” They finally retired the 31 after building 1,860 in 16 years. 
The new 35 improves on what the old 31 didn’t have, more cabin room and a larger fly bridge. The twin diesels should give the boat a 40 knot top speed with a mid-range cruise which should save fuel. It should hit the waves in July.  Check out:
The other boat is a 38’ Galeon. It’s a euro-styled hardtop express cruiser from Britain’s mega-yacht designer Tony Castro. Galleon designs have consistently earned European Powerboat of the year awards, including in 2016. She’s powered with twin Volvo Penta 370 H.P. D6 Diesels, which give her a top speed of 36 knots. 
The interior offers two private staterooms and heads, plus a dining area. It has three oversized skylights plus a long one in the master stateroom. There is plenty of room for entertaining top-side or just for enjoying the cruise.   The boat tests all say “look at the details.” Wow. Each drawer, locker and cabinet is fully lined with real walnut, some of them with real maple. They do everything in house so quality is well above what many boats are.
Galeon yachts are built in Poland where they have been building yachts since 1982. Marine Max is their U.S. dealer. Visit: or call 888-890-4187 for a catalog. 
Both boats would be great. The Bertram is more offshore fishing, while the Galeon is for cruising and entertaining. Both are tops in my opinion. Check them out and see what you think.  
Record your catch
In 2015 more than 40 anglers received the Angler Award from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This award program recognizes those who catch fish that meet or exceed a specific weight or length for the particular species. 

Qualifications are: 
  • Catching fish by legal hook and line sport fish methods in Georgia. 
  • Meet or exceeding minimum weight or length requirements. 
  • Taking the fish to a division fisheries biologist for positive species identification, including a clear side view photo of the fish.
  • Complete and submit Angler Award application. 

Applications are available at: Send it to Wildlife Resources Division/Angler Award application, 2070 U.S. Highway 278 S.E., Social Circle, Ga. If you win you will receive a certificate and an embroidered hat with your name, species, weight and length of fish caught, plus the bragging rights. 
Kite surfing
A new sport from the South Pacific where you don’t need a boat (but would be a good idea to have a chase boat if you are on a lake). The only power required is the wind. Three kites are available: radar kite, switch blade kite and driver kite. One is for learning, the others are for light air or windy conditions. The sport has become popular with people who charter yachts and travel to remote islands.   It’s easy to learn, most people can master it in four or five days of practice. All the equipment can be carried by one person comfortably.  A kite surfing kit costs between $2,500 and $3,000. Just think: a water sport featuring no gas! Visit:
Do your part
One piece of gear you want to have aboard this year is a garbage bag. Yep, that’s right, a garbage bag. Make it a practice to collect your trash and dispose of it properly. You might consider picking up the trash left behind by someone who doesn’t practice clean boating. Teach your children and crew and they will get in the habit. The Lake Lanier Association will appreciate your effort when shore clean up time comes around.  
Our oceans are getting more cluttered with refuse. The Northern Pacific had a patch of garbage that covers 10 square miles of ocean.  Jacques Cousteau who invented the SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) was one of the first people to talk about keeping our oceans clean. His son Jean-Michel Cousteau has started a non-profit marine conservation organization whose motto is “Explore-Learn-Engage-Protect.” Check it out at:  Let’s keep Lanier and all our waters clean. 
Be courteous, practices safe boating, wear your PFDs and I’ll see you on the water. 

April 2016 column

Take the proper steps to get ready for boatiang season

The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus,” meaning “Always Ready.”  The question is, will your boat be properly equipped and running for the start of this boating season. Now is the time to check your maintenance log to make sure you have completed your spring “get ready” list. 
Re-inspect all fuel lines, water separators and filters. Check all of your wiring and make sure you didn’t have any nesting birds or squirrels over the winter. Nests and munched on wiring or hoses can be a mess. Check thru-hull fittings and sea-cocks, make sure the valves open and close easily. Make sure bilge pumps operate properly. All hoses from thru-hull fittings should be double clamped, with U.S.C.G. approved stainless steel hose clamps. Don’t forget fire extinguishers and PFDs and replace if needed. Make sure electronics are properly working. Check all navigation lights. Inspect all U.S.C.G required equipment.  
If you are not entirely sure of the equipment you are required to have on board your boat, get a copy of C.G. 169, usually available at your marina store and other outlets (West Marine). You can also call the Coast Guard Auxiliary to sign up for one of their free inspections. They give you a windshield sticker which shows you passed inspection. This could help you from being stopped for an inspection by patrolling officers.
Remember, your maintenance log can be kept online, with reminders for maintenance that will need to be done. If you use a boatyard for boat maintenance, try It’s a software tool that brands itself as the solution to bridge the coordination and information gap between boat owners, service professionals and boat builders. You can even use your smart phone to pay your yard bill. 
Set up that maintenance schedule and log, keep up with what needs to be done, and you will be “Always Ready.”
Tattoo your topsiders
Sperry Topsiders have been around for years and regarded as perhaps the best boating shoe around. Mr. Sperry noticed how well his dog or cat stayed firm on deck in rough weather, so he magnified the foot pads and used that pattern for the Topsiders sole. I’m not sure if it was a dog or a cat, as I’ve heard the story both ways. Now one of Sperry’s employees who was a customer of Rob Hotte’s “Solid Gold Tattoo Parlor in Queens, N.Y. got some tattoo’s on his Topsiders. Next thing you know he had tattooed 300 pairs of employee shoes. The tattooing must be a success as Sperry is flying Hottee to a different city every weekend for special events and store openings. They even flew him to New Zealand. People are putting boat names, ship wheels and anchors. Maybe they will put port and starboard on so they will get the shoe on the right foot.  Check with Sperry Topsiders if you want your shoes tattooed. 
Update on heads
Thetford has come out with an award winning marine porta-potti.  It’s a lightweight and convenient non-permanent sanitation system.  Flushing is battery powered and it has level indicators for both the fresh and waste tanks. MSRP is $150. Check out: For permanent installation heads, research Dometic’s Vacuflush 5009. It fits a wide array of small power boats. Also Headhunter and Raritan have excellent new models ranging from $600 to $1,500. All have good ratings, it just depends which one is best for you boat.  Every head should have a sign that states “Don’t put anything in here unless you have eaten it first.” Invariably you get land lubbers on board and they throw trash in the head which stops it up and creates a nasty clean up job. Some of the new heads have macerators. So mind that sign and you won’t have a bad clean-up job. 
Bow fishing
That’s right, fishing with a bow and arrow. Since we have an overabundance of Asian Carp in some rivers and lakes, the compound bow is being used. The compound bow is rigged with sights and a line that’s attached to the arrow. The line comes off a reel that looks like a Zebco 202. Tracker Marine has made a special boat for bow fishing. It’s called the Grizzley 2071 MVX. It has a raised platform that will accommodate two hunters/fishermen with lights under the platform that show where the fish are. The boat even has a small generator to keep the batteries charged.   Competition has been so keen that the Bow Fishing Association of America (BAA) has formed, and they keep track of record fish that are caught. Bass Pro Shops has taken the lead in starting tournaments The U.S. Open Bow Fishing Championship which has a $25.000 prize. They have also had the first Bass Pro Shops Bow Fishing World’s Fair which is a seminar with accomplished bow fishermen.  The B.A.A. recorded the 244 pound 8 ounce Alligator Gar shot by Robin Parks of Texas and a 92 pound 8 once Big-Head Carp shot by Darren Opel in Illinois. If you want to try bow fishing contact B.A.A. or check with Bass Pro Shops.
Record fish 
Wes Carlton, of Gainesville, GA was fishing on Lake Rabun on February 19th when he landed a large walleye pike. He knew it was large for a walleye. After a weigh-in and contacting the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, he found out his 14 pound 2 ounce, 31 and a half inch fish had beat the state record established in 1996 by almost three pounds. A new state record has to be one ounce or greater. The Wildlife Division says it’s been expecting some large catches out of Lake Rabun. More walleye information can be found at: Congratulations Wes. 
Griffin fisherman wins
Byron Kenny of Griffin tallied a five bass limit totaling 16 pounds 17 ounces to win the FLW Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division Tournament on Lake Lanier. His catch earned him $4,763. He used a shad colored fish head spinner, a citrus shad colored strike king KVD and a HC square bill silent crank bait. After fishing all day he didn’t think his fish weighed enough to win. He was wrong. Power-pole was the tournament sponsor. 
Tips for buying used boats
You have been to the boat show and decided you could save money buying a used one. Well, you can, but you have to be careful. Ask the owner to see the maintenance log. Check the power plant. Dirty oil and corrosion will give you an indication of what kind of maintenance it has had. Check hull for damage or repairs. A fiberglass hull with wood in the transom or deck could have dry rot. Decks can also have plywood below the fiberglass that can dry rot. Check for stress cracks.  Inspect electrical systems, especially the batteries, all navigation lights and electronic devices, VHF radio, and depth sounder. Chances are the canvas, upholstery, carpet and vinyl will show wear and may need replacing. If it is a boat with a trailer, make sure you check tires, bearings, rollers, bunks, lights, and winch.  If after checking all that I have listed you feel it’s a good buy then contact a marine surveyor to go over the boat and conduct a sea trial. You have to have a survey for your insurance and financing so get a surveyor that they will accept. Finally, take the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s safe boating course and have your boat inspected. 
Safety advice
Get PLB’s (personal locator beacons) on all PFDs. That way, if someone goes overboard, especially at night, they will be easier to locate. If you go offshore make sure you have an EPIRB unit. I know they are expensive but you can rent one for your trip from Boat US. Last but not least tell someone on shore where you are going and when you will return. If you have a problem they will know where to start looking.
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