Boating Fun Reality Check!
By, Capt. George East
For those boaters that the winter weather forces a lengthy lay up, the time away from your boat can be put to excellent use reflecting on the past season and planning for the coming season. Honestly ask yourself and your family if the last season was great fun and are you looking forward to summer so you can do it all again. If the answer is anything but an unqualified "YES" then its time for a "BOATING FUN REALITY CHECK".
Obviously the question is, "why not?" The first thing to ask yourselves is "would we still like being involved in boating?" If the answer to that is "yes" one or several of the following statements is probably the cause for your concern:
We did not use the boat as much as in past seasons because it's just too much trouble to trailer the boat to the water, load and unload.
ANSWER: Common complaint and an easy fix. Keep the boat in the water or a valet storage facility.The cost will be offset by not having the hassle of launch and recover, and the related costs of trailering. You will use the boat a lot more (sometimes on a spur of the moment), have more fun and receive a much better return on your investment.
There were a lot of missed or shortened days because of mechanical trouble.
ANSWER: Another easy fix. Use this down time to honestly assess the mechanical condition of your boat. Ask a trusted marine tech for his advice on preventive maintenance.
The major culprits are raw water pump impellers (300 hours or three years max), outdrive service should be annually or at the very least every other year, fuel filters every year, inspection of throttle and shift cables, salt water operation requires new manifolds and risers at 300 hours, engine hoses routinely inspected for dry rot, through hulls that are clogged with debris will cause overheating, engine tune ups.
ALL OF THE ABOVE ARE ADDRESSED IN A ROUTINE ANNUAL OR 100 HOUR INSPECTION. FORGET THE UPGRADED STEREO OR GPS AND INVEST THE MONEY IN PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE AND HAVE ZERO TROUBLE ALL SEASON.
The kids are older and they don't want to go to the boat (boring).
ANSWER: Probably the reason is they don't have enough room for their friends on the boat you have now. I have two sons and a daughter (all grown now and doing well thank God!) and had the same problem when they were teenagers. My solution was to switch from a cruiser to a houseboat.
A large cruiser would also work funds permitting but a houseboat offers the most space for the dollar. When you have a boat that will accommodate more people (teenagers are almost people) for a day or overnight cruise to a cove or beach where the kids can swim, tube, lay in the sun or just listen to music and hangout, the "boring" issue is greatly minimized.
The kids' friends will want to come because you have all the cool toys. The bonus for parents is YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR KIDS ARE, WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND WHO THEY ARE WITH! I always felt that boating with my kids when they were teenagers was a great way to keep them close and also observe who their friends were. It's interesting that their friends will relate to you as surrogate parents and more or less follow your rules while on your boat.
The kids are grown and gone and are busy with their own lives.
ANSWER: The opposite of above. Downsize. Get a smaller/different style boat that will be a more comfortable fit for your "empty nester" life style. Plan longer cruises with just you and your spouse. Take the boat to an entirely new location and do some exploring. Plan for Florida in the winter or The Great Lakes in the summer.
There is a lot of fun and adventure to had going to different places by boat. Enjoy the freedom!
Our best boating friends moved away or we moved to a new city.
ANSWER: Join a Yacht Club; Cruising Club; become involved with your local chapter of The United States Power Squadron or The Coast Guard Auxiliary. Boaters are friendly people. You will make new boating friends immediately.
The interesting thing is I have boating friends all over the country that I stay in contact with. Some were made just from brief contact while on a delivery trip at a marina or anchorage and others are the product of extended periods of time boating together.
As a friend of mine said "boaters are all a little crazy that's why we enjoy one another's company".
Fuel costs are too high.
ANSWER: Here are some tips to get the most boating fun per fuel dollar spent:
ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY WEIGHT. Don't carry more fuel or water than you need for a day's cruise. Gas weighs 6#/gal. and water 8#/gal If your boat holds 200 gallons of fuel keep your tank half full. That is 600# you don't have to haul around (ALWAYS HAVE A MINUMUM 20% FUEL RESERVE).
Don't carry a lot of "stuff" on your boat. Take inventory and unload things
that you don't normally need or use. In my experience as a professional
captain overloading can cause a 10% to 15% loss of efficiency.
KEEP THE BOTTOM CLEAN. Regular bottom cleaning is important even in fresh water. A badly fouled bottom can also cause 10%to 15% loss of efficiency.
3. KEEP THE ENGINES PROPERLY TUNED.
4. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR THROTTLE SETTINGS. If you do not have
a particular destination or are on a schedule there is no reason to run fast.
Do some research and discover the most efficient throttle settings to achieve
the three important speeds that should be determined for all boats. They are
hull speed (8 to10 mph), slow cruise and fast cruise (these speeds depend on
the hull design of the boat and total horsepower of the boat). Note: I'll have
more on this in a future article.
As always I'll look for you outside the inlet.
Capt. George East
East has been boating since he was seventeen,
has had other interests including flying (FAA
licensed pilot) car racing, and snow skiing,
but he has always remained an ardent boater.
After earning a USCG captain's license some 25
years ago, George spent time as a delivery and
demonstration captain for one of the major motoryacht
During this same period, while
he was building a successful construction and
ready mix concrete company, George still found
time to own and operate several boats including
two Chris-Crafts, a Gulfstar, and two Hatterases.
Fast forward to the present
to find George retired from his businesses,
devoting all of his energy to boats and the
boating industry. George currently holds a
100 Ton USCG Master's license. His specialties
are classic Chris-Craft and Hatteras yachts.
George instructed with the U.S. Power Squadron
for 15 years, and is now a broker with Paradigm
Yacht Sales in Louisville, Kentucky and Cape
was contributed to this site by Paradigm Yacht
Sales, Louisville's largest brokerage.
looking to buy or sell a boat, you can reach
P.O. Box 1043
US Highway 42
Prospect, KY 40059