Today's lake level: 1061.10
Your complete online news, information, and recreation guide to Lake Lanier
Mar. 29, 2017
5:10 am


Captain's Comments

Time to get your boat ready for spring

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

Be courteous, practice safe boating, wear your PFDs.

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

February 2017 column

Boating alternative if the lake stays low

I hope everyone enjoyed the boat show and found the boat and equipment you wanted.  Due to Lake Lanier’s low level you are probably wondering where to go boating if the lake level doesn’t come up high enough to launch  for safe boating. 
Here are some options for boating, whether you trailer your boat or want to rent one. The ICW from Carrabelle, FL to New Orleans offers great cruising and many places to stop and visit, especially the seafood restaurants. There is also great offshore fishing, or you might want to travel north through Alabama on the Tenn-Tom waterway system. The ICW system on the east coast of Georgia and the Carolinas is also excellent cruising as well as offshore fishing plus many places to visit.  
If you like to explore and fish, Boca Grande, Charlotte’s Harbor and Pine Island Sound might be to your liking. Tarpon season starts the first full moon in May. That’s when Boca Grande Pass looks like a Walmart parking lot on a sale day with fishing boats.  You can explore and visit the small towns throughout the area.  Visit Cabbage Key for excellent food. It’s also where Jimmy Buffet wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” You also could visit Useppa Island for some old Florida history and some good food. On Boca Grande there is the Pink Elephant Restaurant where a lot of fish stories originated and got bigger as they were told. 
You could also visit Key West.  Summer time is their offseason, so the prices would be cheaper. There is great fishing and exploring opportunities. Go online and check the many existing trips that are available. I’m sure you will find one that will suit your family. 
Boating courses
If you went to the boat show you probably saw the USCG Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadron exhibits. If you or your family have not taken a boating course, then now is the time.  Especially the kids who will need certification to run a personal water craft or boat. Also when you are in receipt of your graduation certificate from the USCG Auxiliary course most insurance companies will give you 10 percent off your insurance premium. So, do it now so you will have a safer boating season because of what you have learned in the course. If you need information on the courses Lakeside lists the numbers.  
Maintenance log
If you purchased a new boat at the boat show, now is the time to start your maintenance log. You can go online and start one or do it the old log book fashion. Go to your service manual to set up the log and include everything on the boat that will need servicing and if your boat is equipped with a trailer be sure to include that. Have a special place to store the bills to show that the work has been done.  Remember that a thorough and complete maintenance log will help you in the value of your boat when in five or so years you might want to trade or sell it.  The maintenance log should include all work done on the engines, generator, electronics, hull and deck, and accessories (canvas, anchor and rode, lines, fenders, and PFDs) the more complete it is the better. This is one place where going into more detail will boost the price of your used boat. Also include a photo of the boat when new, and then one every year after.  I know it’s a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end. If your maintenance is done by your dealer, he will appreciate and probably recommend the boat.
Playing on ice
Our lakes here don’t freeze over like they do in northern Wisconsin where I used to live. People rode their snowmobiles across the ice.  Ice fishermen would ride to their favorite fishing area on a lake and cut a hole in the ice and fish.  Many would set up five or six holes in the ice and place their “tip-ups” (fishing rigs) in the holes.  When the tip-up signaled fish on you went over and pulled it in. The lake I lived on, Black Oak Lake, the fish were walleye pike, lake trout or bass. Believe it or not when the temperature got 20 degrees or above and you were dressed properly it wasn’t too cold on the ice. 
I had a black Labrador retriever who weighed in at about 120 pounds. His name was “Johnny Rebel.” If I could throw it he would fetch it. On a good day he liked to play on the ice. One day an ice fisherman threw his catch on the ice and Johnny Rebel picked it up and brought it to the house. The ice fishermen followed him on their snowmobiles and were upset that Johnny Rebel stole their catch. After a few words about their fish, they didn’t want their fish because it had been in a dog’s mouth, so we settled on a six-pack of Hamms. This happened frequently that winter and cost me quite a few six packs, but I had a lot of great fish dinners. Labrador retrievers have a soft mouth, so the fish were in great shape and hadn’t even lost any scales. We also would go back in the woods to lakes that were undisturbed and have a picnic. We would start a fire for warmth and then have a cooking fire for brats and burgers. We would make a race course and either drag race or circle race our snowmobiles. Fun was had by all and the food was great. 
Snowmobiles are what you might call a land based personal watercraft. In fact Bombardier, a Canadian company, manufactures both the “Ski-doo” snowmobile and the “Sea-doo” PWC which are both popular during their seasons.  Another fun thing to do is cross country-skiing. It’s like a long hike, only with skis. It’s great exercise and a lot of people do it on lakes that are frozen over, and many places have ski trails through the woods.   I’m just glad we don’t have that kind of weather down here, but it’s fun to hear about it. Let’s hope we get enough rain for Lake Lanier and other lakes to fill up for out boating season. 
Be courteous, and practice safe boating.

January 2017 column

Here’s my solution to the ongoing water war
The headlines are filled with stories about the water war, and who has the best plan to solve it. Florida wants more water for the oyster harvest. It wants to restrict Atlanta residents on the amount of water they use – and with a growing population they need more.  Nobody has mentioned how to get enough water to satisfy all parties. 

There’s a simple solution. If you don’t have enough of what you need, find out how to get more.  The nearest source for more water is the Tennessee River, which floods the lowlands when the snow melts. Georgia’s northern border is close by, and if a surveyor hadn’t made a mistake when laying out Georgia’s boundaries the northern boundary would be in the middle of the Tennessee River. 
All waters are in some way controlled by the federal government, so this project would be run by the Corp of Engineers. Here is my idea: have the Corps oversee the construction of a canal connecting the Tennessee River with the Chattahoochee River. Select two places off the Chattahoochee River that would make good reservoirs at the dam end which would reconnect. Install a hydro-electric generator. The spring snowmelt would fill the reservoirs and rains would keep them full enough to keep everyone downstream satisfied for years to come. It would also reduce the cost that the federal government has to pay along the Tennessee River for flood insurance. This project will in no way affect navigation or boat traffic keeping all lakes and rivers at a reasonable level.  
I’ll bet Georgia Power would want to buy the extra electricity.  Another thing it would do is help the economy around the lakes and rivers. Boating and fishing businesses like marinas will benefit. It won’t be like now with Lake Lanier more than 10 feet below 
When the lake is full everyone benefits, if the lake stays low a lot of businesses will suffer and real-estate prices will go down. So something has to be done, and some positive action needs to start soon.  
I want to compliment organizations involved in the shore sweeps, styrofoam removal, and sunken boat removal. A job well done, keep up the good work. 
There is only one thing low water is good for – recovering those lost tools, or valuables you dropped overboard. Also, if you know where you got hung up on a log with your favorite lure, you might be able to find it.

Get ready for boating season
Some of those small things you forget to do when you put your boat away ... do you need a new anchor line, or extra line? How about dock lines or fenders? What about cleats, chocks or tow rings?  Do any need replacing? Are your batteries old? What about navigation and spot lights, compass and horn? Check and refill your onboard first aid kit. Inspect your PFDs and replace any that show age and wear. Reorganize your stowage area and remove anything you don’t need. A lighter boat is more efficient. If you have electronics or anything that needs repair you still have time to ship it off or take it to a dealer so you will have it back in time for the season.  Also you might want to get a USCGA boat inspection. The more prepared you are the better and safer boating you will have this upcoming season. 

Fish stories
I was about eight years old when my granddad taught me to row a boat so he could fish with two rods trolling over sand bars.  This developed into a guide service for me. My granddad would not allow outboard motors on the lake, so when people came to fish I’d offer to row them around the lake for $5, and for another $5 I’d show them the best places to fish. One of my clients was a Catholic Bishop named Bishop Scully from Albany, N.Y. He was a good friend of my mother’s crowd. Well, we fished for about five hours. The limit was five bass each and small mouth bass 12 inches or longer were legal keepers. We caught a bunch of fish that day and would replace a small one on the stringer with larger ones. Finally we had our limit of five good size smallmouths apiece.  So I started rowing back to the dock. The Bishop reached in his tackle box and took out a pint of bourbon and “Down the Hatch,” he drank it. Later that night my mother noticed I was quiet and it seemed like something was bothering me, so I told her about the Bishop. I had never seen this done before by anyone, let alone a Bishop. My mother explained to me that they were allowed to drink, but as a youngster it took me by surprise.  

Another true fish story: Once I settled in Georgia I became fishing buddies with a doctor. Every time we went fishing something out of the ordinary usually happened. Well, we were casting our lures in a small lake near Jackson, Ga. We had both caught a few fair largemouth bass. I got a good strike on my favorite Rapala.  I got him close to the bank and “pop” my line broke and my Rapala and the fish were gone.  The doctor was fishing about 40 feet down the bank. While I was fixing my tackle with another lure. Doc yelled at me to get the net, “I’ve got a big one on.” So I got the net ready and brought the fish in. Lo and behold the fish was not only hooked well with Doc’s tackle, but my Rapala was also in his mouth. Never heard of that happening before. 
A friend of my granddad brought a fellow by the name of Ray Kroc over fishing one day.  Down at the dock my father and he were talking various business subjects, as my father was in merchandising most of his life. Later that night my father said, “Virginia, that Kroc fellow who fished today is in the hamburger business, but I can’t see how he’s going to make any money selling them at that cheap price.” Ray Kroc sold a lot of those hamburgers with a chain called McDonalds.

Hope you enjoy the boat show. Check the USCGA booth for any boating information you might need. Practice safe boating, be courteous and I’ll see you on the water. 

December 2016 column

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

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

November 2016 column

Now is the time for some armchair cruising

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

October 2016 column

Center consoles have evolved into perhaps the most popular boat style

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

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

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

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

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

PWC fishing

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

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

Motor boating merit badges 

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

Winter is ’round the corner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 2016 column

Is carbon fiber the next beig thing in boat building?

What is the future of carbon fiber as it relates to boat building? That’s what Chris Caswell explores  in a recent “Boating” magazine article. Like the word “stealth,” carbon fiber has crept into our modern language. It has been used in cars; 1981 when McLaren built the first Formula One racer.  Boeing uses 7,700 pounds of it in their 787 dream liner. Remember the Americas Cup winner “Oracle?” The 72’ catamaran sailed over 50 knots and was made of carbon fiber. 
The material is more expensive, but a 28’ boat could weight a total of 4,500 pounds verses a fiberglass boat that could go over 10,000 pounds. The lighter the boat, the better the economy and speed. 
Carbon fiber boats must have proper insulation around electronic devices as the material will conduct electricity. This, plus cost, are really the only downsides. According to the magazine the price of commercial grade carbon fiber composites ranges from $5 to $20 per pound, depending on variables, while fiberglass runs from $1.50 to $3. Some of the cost difference is mitigated by the fact that you use less carbon fiber (by weight) than fiberglass to build a boat. 
“Boating” tested a Paragon Super Sport 28 built entirely of carbon fiber and powered by a “Seven Marine” 627 hp outboard. It showed a top speed of 81 mph.  Of course when you cruise at a sensible speed, say 40 knots, you will burn less fuel.
Contact: Carbon Marine, Toronto, Canada. Phone: 416-432-6300 or 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 i
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