Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Freeze of the Year, Make Sure Your Drain Plug is Out

Our region just had the first freezing temperatures of the year. When that happens, you have a couple of items that you must do to continue to fish this fall and winter. If you don't take these steps, you better learn to dog pedal.

Many of the angler's in our region fish all year long, to do this, there are several steps that need to be done every time you go boating after the temperatures start to reach the freezing point. These steps are easy and only require a few minutes to complete and will keep you from having a problem that could possibly cost you your life. Water freezes at 32 degrees, when water freezes, it expands. This expansion is a problem for the pumps, values, hoses and even some engine parts on your boat. When a component freezes and cracks, a water or fuel leaks will occur. Water leaks will at a minimum will get you wet, hampers boat drive-ability and wreck you day. But much more dangerous results are possible; you boat could sink leaving you in the cold water causing hypothermia, loss of consciousness and possible death. The hazards of a fuel leak are just as dangerous, with fire and explosions possible. Leaks of either water or fuel should be taken very seriously as life and limb can be a consequence of a part failure.

So how can I keep this from happening to me? You can never stop every issue from occurring, but you can take the steps that will minimize your risk of them happening to you. First thing to do after boating in freezing climates starts at the boat ramp after you load your boat on the trailer. Pull your rig into the parking lot and trim your engine all the way down. This will allow the water to drain out of the engine completely, this takes about five minutes. No water in the engine means no engine parts freezing, cracking and causing fuel leaks. Next, remove your boats drain plug and allow the water to drain out every time you go boating during cold weather. Next, drain your live-well/bait-wells completely and leave them in the empty position. This will let the water drain from the pumps, valves and hoses and keep them from cracking which could cause a water leak. Now you are ready to drive home and park your rig. When you arrive home, if your rig gets parked outside, make sure that the nose of the trailer is cranked up to allow any water from rain or snow to drain out.  I always check my boat for water after parking the truck every time I launch my boat during cold weather, just in case a pump cracked. Do this by turning on the bilge pump, if it pumps water, put it immediately back on the trailer to find the reason water got into the bilge. That's all there is to it.

Take these simple steps during cold weather boating and chances are you will have a great time without taking any chances of something bad occurring. It should be mentioned that other engine services are required such as checking gear cases for water should be done before it gets to cold. Also reread our post from April about warming up DFI Engines, as cold water and cold air require you to warm your engine up before operating it in cold conditions. Some of the best fishing days I have ever had occurred on the Potomac River when ice was forming in the guides of my fishing rod. Cold weather fishing is great fun when you are well prepared and look at safety first.    

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's October Already, Time to Get Your Boat Prepared for Offseason Storage

Can you believe it is October already? This years weather has been unusual to say the least; Spring was late, Summer never really got Hot and now Fall is here. If you are going to put your boat away for the winter, it is time to get your boat prepared now.

If you are going to use your boat all Winter long,  you only really need to check your gear oil for water so it doesn't freeze once the weather gets cold. You can now go fishing or hunting as the rest of this blog will do little to help you. If you are going to winterize and store you boat this Winter, the helpful hints below will be of service to you when you do put your boat away later this Fall.

Here are some hints that will aid you in getting your boat ready to store or winterize later this Fall. The biggest problem with today's boats is the use gasoline with ethanol in it. Most people in our region have little choice but to use this product as it is mandated by the EPA for the entire I 95 corridor. In the past manufactures and mechanics recommended filling your gas tanks on your boat with fuel to prevent condensation from building up in your fuel tank. This is no longer the recommendation, keep as little fuel as possible in the fuel tank for storage. Now is the time to start monitoring your boats fuel level and now is the time to start adding a fuel stabilization product with ethanol treatment to your gas every time you fuel up. Here is what I mean by monitoring your fuel level, if you are going boating and plan on running around a lot it is OK to fill the tank up, if you are going out for a couple of hours and have enough fuel in the boat already, don't fuel up. When it gets the time to winterize your boat, you don't want to pump the fuel out of your boat if possible. By adding fuel treatment now, if you get caught and don't take your boat back out, the fuel in the engine will have been already treated. Another item that should be addressed now is water levels in your batteries. If you have maintenance free batteries, again you can now go fishing or hunting. If you have batteries that your can add water to, you should check it now rather than latter. Only use distilled water when filling batteries, you can get an gallon at the grocery store for only a dollar. The reason that you need to do it now is that it will have a chance to charge and cycle the battery. A charged battery can not freeze, if you put the water in latter it is possible that the battery will freeze. By doing it now, you can use the boat and the motor will charge it up.

Do these simple items now and when you get ready to winterize your boat latter this Fall, all the hard items will be easy not having to deal with pumping gas out of your boat or a bad battery next Spring.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

High Tech Equipment on Bass Boats; Don't Let it Ruin the Fun

Today's bass boats have more hi tech equipment than an airplane of the not so distance past. Today's direct injection engines have more computing power than the Apollo spacecraft's. Bass anglers are using electronics that have so many features that listing them would make this a book, not a blog. Recently, I have dealt with several customers that became overwhelmed by using there electronics that it wrecked their day of fishing. Don't let hi tech gadgets wreck your fishing days, fishing is supposed to be fun.

I blame Apple's I Pad for all these problems; they do what people want them to do seamlessly. People's expectation is generally reached by Apple's products and customers feel that all electronics should be as easy and useful as there I Pads. You can learn to use an I Pad well in a couple of hours, but today's marine electronics take much longer to learn. Fact is, none of Apples products like water, if they get wet, you get to buy a new I Pad. They also do not have the capability of finding fish, charting your course, side & down imaging, setting your weigh points, showing your instrumentation or handling the rough conditions that your boat's electronics goes through. So if you take your easy to use I Pad fishing with you, chances are your become frustrated with it also.

Now that we have blamed Apple for all of our problems, let's talk about having fun fishing. Today's electronics are made to be useful in a variety of different applications, from off shore boats to kayaks. They are used by professionals to novices with different levels of experience. The key is to use the units to your level, while learning to increase your capabilities. Pros on the Tour fish for a living, they use their equipment every day and have years of doing so. Most local anglers have a job, that is what they do every day and fish when they can. Most units will make adjustments automatically for you when set to Auto Mode, use this mode and enjoy your day of fishing. If you want to get more out of your electronics; check out You Tube, your units manufacture web site, use a local guide to show you how to operate your unit. Then leave the rods at home, take the owner's manual with you and go play with your units. Pick whatever feature you want to learn on this trip and do nothing else, master that subject.  Do this a couple of times and you to will become an expert in the field of marine electronics.

 Today's electronics are great tools; they can help you catch more fish.  Don't try to learn how to use your electronics while going fishing. These are two different activities, one helps you get ready to do the other. If you are going fishing, go fishing, enjoy fishing.  Don't let your hi tech equipment wreck your fishing.   

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Heat of Summer Is Almost Here; Don't Bake Your Outboard

The heat of Summer offers boaters great weather and many days of enjoying life on the local rivers and lakes. Summer also creates some challenges for boaters, overheated engines cause by debris in the water and grass clogging water inlets is a big problem if not handled correctly. Read on learn how to make this seasonal issue no big deal or take a chance on baking your outboard engine.

Every Summer when boating traffic increases and the submerged aquatic vegetation (grass) grows all over the river we have customers pick up a dis-guarded  ice bag or even grass in their water intakes and overheat their outboards. It happens, the alarm goes off and everyone tries to figure out what happened. If no water is coming out of the telltale then it has no water pressure and the intakes are likely clogged causing your engine to overheat. This is the time when you can save your outboard and yourself thousands of dollars in repairs or let it sit there and bake. If you stop your engine when the alarm goes off, clear the debris from the water inlets and then start your engine up and give it an high idle in neutral, your engine will quickly cool back down. The worse thing you can do is to sit there and wait for your engine to cool down by itself. With no water circulating through the engine the temperature will stay high for quite a while, baking the engine and its parts. I have seen coils, hoses and wiring harnesses melt to the block because of this. It can turn into some serious dollars, as bad as including total engine rebuilds with additional accessories needing added to complete the repair. Not knowing how to handle engine overheating is a killer.

When you go out boating this Summer; enjoy the boating, fishing or whatever water-sport you like. If you overheat your engine take the correct steps to save your outboard engine and continue enjoying your day while others cook hot dogs on the engine blocks.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Potomac River Is About To Be Trashed

The heavy rains of early this week have begun to head down the Potomac River watershed. The Potomac is about to be Trashed.

During the Spring every year we run a chance of the Upper Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers getting flooded out. The heavy rain storms of this week have done just that. As of today, May 9th, the Potomac River at Point of Rocks is at or near flood stage. River crest will happen tonight or tomorrow just above flood stage. You may be thinking, doesn't affect me, I don't fish the Upper Potomac. You would be wrong, it will affect you if you fish the Lower Potomac. This flood stage water is on the way to the Lower Potomac as I write this blog. Today when I crossed the Potomac at Point of Rocks it was high, orange and full of floating debris. This debris will take weeks to settle out on the Lower Potomac, especially up around the D.C./Maryland line. Tides on the lower river will also be higher than normal, which picks up debris along the lower rivers banks. The water clarity will also be affected on the Lower Potomac for a week or so. Logs floating cause many of the boating accidents along the river.  It affect the whole river when the upper river floods.

The important thing to keep in mind during this flooding is that your will need to use caution over the next week or so on the Lower Potomac. Those wanting to fish on the Upper Potomac should spend the weekend celebrating Mother's Day with loves ones instead of going boating and fishing. The debris and high water won't last long and the fish will be there next weekend. If you do decide to go out boating, please be careful, it's not worth getting hurt or tearing up you boat. Have a great weekend and take mom somewhere nice to eat.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Warm Up Those DFI Engines, Water Still Cold

A late Spring has our local water temps fairly cold for this time of year. Don't be fooled by those couple warm sunny days, warm up you DFI engines before blasting away from the dock.   If you don't, cold seizing will be a term you will become familiar with, one of our best customers had this occur during the 1st B.A.S.S. Weekend Series on the Potomac last week.

DFI (direct fuel injection) engine are very common these days. They are 2 stroke engine like Mercury's Optimax, Yamaha's  HPDI and Evenrude's E Tec engines. These DFI engines get great fuel mileage compared to engine of the past, but these engine are very hi tech machines with very tight tolerances. These tight tolerances can cause an issue that hurts the engine or could even blow up the engine in extreme cases. During the colder months in the Fall, Winter and in the Spring when the water is still cold the engine can cold seize. It happen because the pistons in these engine is manufactured from aluminum which heats up very quickly. The sleeve in the aluminum block that the piston rides in is made of steel which heats up much slower than the piston. The piston expands quickly as it heats up, the block does not expand until the engine warms up when the water temps are cold. This causes the piston to stick to the walls of the sleeve or cold seize. It causes a scuff on the piston which shortens the life of the engine. Sometimes it breaks the piston or the connecting rod that connects it to the crankshaft. If this happen we are talking about big bucks to repair the engine, as much as $10,000. Ouch, not a good way to start off a day of fishing. But don't be scared, preventing cold seizing is easy. When ever you go fishing and the water temps are below 50 degrees, let your engine warm up for a couple of minutes before jumping on plane. Those of you with a SmartCraft gauge or a engine water temp gauge need to get to a engine temperature of at least 120 degrees. That is all you need to do to prevent cold seizing.

So when you take your DFI powered boat out fishing during the colder months of the year, let that engine warm up before you leave the marina. Those couple of minutes of time will keep your engine from cold seizing and save you possibly thousands of dollars. If you don't want to wait, that OK too, we need business during the colder months of the year.  


Monday, March 18, 2013

Boating Safety, Things Change Over The Winter

It has been a long off season for fisherman on our local water. When heading out fishing for the first couple of times this Spring, boating safety should be one of your major considerations.  That's because things changed over the winter.

When you aren't on the water for several months, you don't see the changes that are happening to the river. Maybe the commercial fisherman ran some nets in a area that you always drive through. That Nor'easter could have raised the river level, moving trees from the banks to the channel that you drive in. It is even possible that the river's navigation markers have gotten moved by a barge. There are lots of different things that can happen along the river during the off season. All of these issue make boating dangerous for the first couple of trips in the Spring.

Going out on the river after a long Winter? Take your time, look around and take notice to your surroundings. Think boating safety, because a lot changed on the river over the Winter.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Time to Go Fishing, Boat Ready?

The first of March is right around the corner. Days are getting longer and the temps are climbing, is your boat ready for spring? Now is the time to check over that fishing boat before your fishing buddies say let's go fishing Saturday.

If you did a good job of putting your boat away for winter, getting ready will be a snap. If you didn't, plan on spending a day to get your boat ready for the water. Getting ready is a hassle but getting to the water only to find that nothing on your boat works really stinks. First thing to do is to check the water in your batteries if accessible. Then charge your batteries, all of them. After the batteries are charged, check every electric component all the boat; pumps, lights, depth finders and trolling motor. If everything works great, if not fix it or start a list of items that you will need to continue. If you winterize your motor, all you will have to do is top off your tanks with some fresh the gas, hook up the water and pop it off. If you didn't you should take a fuel sample to check for phase separation and water. Then check you gear oil and change if necessary. Make sure it is pumping water and runs OK before heading to the water. Then check your trailer tire pressures, tires loose air while idle and this causes them to loose load capacity which could lead to tire failure. Also check your trailer lights as ground wires could have corroded over the winter. These are pretty easy items to check out yourself, if you don't feel comfortable doing them go to your local marine dealer.

Do these checks to your boat and you will be in pretty good shape when heading to the water. Then all you will need is your buddies to call, hey, let's go fishing on Saturday.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bass Boat Shopping Has Changed Forever

Many things change over time, which includes how people shop for their new bass boats. Technology has changed the process of picking out a bass boat forever, for better or worse.

Back in the day, most buyers went to their local fishing or boating show to inspect the new offerings from the boat manufactures. They would check out new accessories in the vendor area, talk to friends and try to pick out colors and the model boats that they desired. After deciding on the model they wanted, they would follow up with the local dealer that sold the boat brand. Professional salespeople would ask the customer the correct questions to make sure that it was the correct rig to meet their needs. Then they would look at colors to make sure that all the colors picked went together. The system worked pretty well.

Today there are fewer dealers and the local shows only have a fraction of the boats on display. Because of this, boat purchasers have turned to the Internet as the method of purchasing their new rig. The web is a great place to gain information about models, options and get opinions from others from sites like Bass Boat Central. Manufactures website have videos, color programs and show current incentives that are available. This is all great for the consumer, information is a powerful tool. The problem with web sites is that you don't get the personal attention. The web site does not know your boating area or its needs. They are made to show the world what the manufacture offers. Websites will not tell which colors go together on their coloring program or that someone that is over 6 foot tall would need a tilt wheel in order to fit behind the console. There are holes in the purchasing system on the web.

The moral of the story is that times they are a changing; the Internet is here to stay. Go to the web and do you due diligence, figure out the models that you are considering. Then take the time to drive to the dealerships that carry those brands and sit down with a professional salesman before you make your final decision. Tell them what you expect from your new rig and how much you can spend. The salesman at any reputable dealership will help you make the correct choice on your next rig, it's their job and a happy customer will send more business to their dealership. I think that a blend of old and new are always a good way of doing things, works out great when shopping for a new bass boat for sure.