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Sep. 20, 2017
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Captain's Comments

Kayaking is a great way to learn basic boating

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


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





September 2017 column

Boating season is in its final weeks for the year

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

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

July 2017 column


PT Boats

P.T. boats (short for Patrol Torpedo) have always fascinated me, not just their speed, which is exceptional at well over 40 knots, but their history in the missions they had in World War II. They were probably one of the best designed and built wooden boats ever to be constructed. Companies like Higgins and Huckins built them. There were many stories, hazardous sorties at sea searching for the enemy, making a strike and exiting at full speed. Many of us remember Jack Kennedy and P.T. 109, John Wayne in “They Were Expendable,” and Ernest Borgnine in “McHales Navy.” Now you can ride on a P.T. boat at the World War II Museum on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans for $350. For details, visit www.pt305.org. Their replica has the 3 Packard V12 engines, with machine guns. It’s billed as the “world’s only fully restored combat-veteran P.T. boat in operation today. PT 305 is also known as the USS Sudden Jerk by her crew. When I had Harbour Yachts Sales in Florida I had a customer with a P.T. boat. One day the older gentleman arrived at my office in a chauffeured driven Cadillac. He told me a story about him and his two childhood buddies that liked to fish. They all went off and made their fortunes and retired. They bought an old P.T. boat and made a fishing boat out of it. They took out the three Packard V12 and installed 8-71 Detroit diesels, fishing electronics and a diesel gen/set.  Since his buddies had passed on, he wanted to sell it. So I went up to Tarpon Springs where it was docked and checked it out. When I stepped onboard I couldn’t help but stop a moment and imagine the history of the vessel. They were extremely well constructed. I found the log book on the bridge. The entries made from selling the catch wasn’t enough to support the boat, but at least the three of them had some fun. I sold the boat to a commercial fisherman who thought it was a great boat and he made good money with it. If you do go to New Orleans and take a ride on P.T. 305 send Lakeside a photo. We’d like to hear your story. I also ran across another boat similar to a P.T. boat, built more like a Coast Guard cutter 83’. It belonged to the Southern Yacht Brokers Association and one month we had our meeting at the Clearwater Yacht Club. One of the Ft. Lauderdale brokers said they were coming by boat, but they didn’t say how large or what make.  When they arrived it was an 80’ wooden boat called the “Stinger.”  Turns out it was the lead boat in the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco. It was called Stinger because it was attack ready. It had numerous machine guns on both port and starboard sides which were nicknamed stingers. This was quite a vessel with history, I never did hear who bought it, or where it ended up.
 
Bugs be gone
After you’ve had a great day cruising you anchor in a favorite cove and sit in your boat’s cockpit to relax. Just about the time you are about to enjoy snacks and a cocktail, here come the mosquitoes to the party. Well, Thermacell R45 repeller is designed to repel all manner of mosquitoes. It creates a 15’x15’ zone of bug free protection. It’s good for a flybridge, cockpit or sundeck. Simply turn it on and the zone check monitor shows blue when the device has been activated. It also has a belt clip to help protect you when walking around the decks. Cost is only $35 and you won’t smell like mosquito repellent. Details: www.thermacell.com.
 
Toyota test
This summer Toyota will be conducting a feasibility study of hybrid boats leading up to and coinciding with the Tokyo Bay 2020 Olympics. They are utilizing two types of power generators. A 265 H.P. gas inboard and a 48 H.P. electric motor and the Ponam 28V boat. This could be the sign of big things to come across the entire industry. Stay tuned.
 
Marlin bill dangerous?
I have often wondered if any bill fish have ever charged a boat’s hull and penetrated it. In Costa Rica where bill fishing is popular they have, indeed, had this happen with cold molded wooden hulls. In fact they carry emergency plugs just in case. Attacks from angry bill fish are par for the course for top game boats in prolific waters. Can you imagine telling your insurance company that hole in your hull was made by a fish?
 
Boat inspections
Most boats built today are all fiberglass or a derivative like carbon fiber. They don’t offer many problems. But older boats that have fiberglass over wood need checking to be sure no separation has occurred. If it has it needs to be corrected immediately before dry rot starts. Check transom and any hardware like tow rings, engine bolts, etc. Anything that was installed through the transom should have been coated with a sealer. If you find problems, repair correctly and make sure you use sealer. Check your deck to hull joints along with hatches. Repair any problems you have so you won’t have any major problems on the water. Replacing a wood covered fiberglass transom is a big job and is expensive. Checking these items will make sure you have safe cruising and longer boat life. 
 
Laughing after boat shows
Most boating writers give a list of some of the boats they checked out. It’s impossible to cover all boats even if you are trying to pick the most popular one. Invariably, in the next month’s magazines’ Letters to the Editor section there will be three or four readers who will ask: “Why didn’t you pick a Hinckley like I own?” Another might say he’d like to see a Boston Whaler, because he owned two of them. The truth is there is hardly a bad boat among all boats if they are being used properly. Myself, I like Bertrams, I’ve fished them and sold them, maybe that’s why. But it doesn’t mean that a Chris-Craft, Hatteras, or Viking isn’t a good boat. Remember, buy the boat that’s in your price range that will do the job for you and you will be happy.
 
Houseboats and cruisers
Boats that stay in the water should be hauled once a year if in fresh water. The hull needs to be cleaned, which will give you better economy. All thru-hull fittings should be inspected, and any faulty ones should be replaced. If your boat is in saltwater you have to haul every three months or so to stay ahead of barnacles. Also, some new bottom paint could give you more time between hauls. Don’t forget to check your props for damage and zincs for wear and replace when needed. Log everything you have done in your maintenance log and mark the date you need to haul the boat again. Practice safe boating. Be courteous and I’ll see you on the water.
 


June 2017 column

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

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

is one reason it was contracted to build the 42. The new vessel has seating for eight with a top speed of 43 knots.  The boat is the result of working with diesel center Erabetti Design of Italy and Toyota Marine engineers. The world of luxury automakers has again shined its bright light on boat building for the time being. Who knows what we will see next. For more information go to: www.marquisyachts.com.
 
The Bugatti Chiron is a near perfect car that there is, so Bugatti and its new “lifestyle partner” Palmer Johnson collaborated on “Niniette 66,” a trimaran hull shaped with Bugatti’s splashy styling elements. It’s offered with a two tone color scheme like the car.  Only 66 of will be made with the company’s online configurator where I could imagine what my Chiron-inspired yacht would look like with an onboard hot-tub and champagne bar. To design your own Niniette 66 go to: www.bugattininette66.org.

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


May 2017 column

Boating season kicks off early this year

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

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


April 2017 column

Chartering is fun, but bring your wallet

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

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

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

Schooner ‘Rambler’

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

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

High school waterski team

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

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

More water news

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

‘Nuggie’

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

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



March 2017 column

Time to get your boat ready for spring

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

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

Boating alternative if the lake stays low

I hope everyone enjoyed the boat show and found the boat and equipment you wanted.  Due to Lake Lanier’s low level you are probably wondering where to go boating if the lake level doesn’t come up high enough to launch  for safe boating. 
 
Here are some options for boating, whether you trailer your boat or want to rent one. The ICW from Carrabelle, FL to New Orleans offers great cruising and many places to stop and visit, especially the seafood restaurants. There is also great offshore fishing, or you might want to travel north through Alabama on the Tenn-Tom waterway system. 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: www.cartex.com.
• An ICOM M93D hand held VHF radio packs all kinds of features that boaters want. And it floats. Cost is $349. Visit: www.westmarine.com.
• 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: www.bodyglove.com.
• For stocking stuffers try the new Sebile lures for the fishermen in your family from $6.99 to $14.99. Visit: www.sebile.com.
• Cuda Titanium Bonded snips, great for cutting bait or fishing line. Price $19. Visit:  www.cudabrand.com.
• 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: www.innovoakayak.com.
• Boasters Grundens Elastic Belt with quick connects snap buckle that’s adjustable and it stretches. Price $9. Visit: www.ifsmarineoutdoor.com.
• 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: www.westmarine.com.
• Marmot precipitation jackets, men’s and women’s style. They are lightweight, waterproof and breathable. Price $100. Visit: www.westmarine.com.
• Canyon Quest backpack cooler. Special ice skin insulation keeps the ice for day. They come in two sizes, $100 and $150. Visit:  www.canyoncoolers.com.
• 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: www.papaspilar.com.
• 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: 
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