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Advantages of Flybridge Boats

Posted on October 5, 2018 at 12:35 AM

There are some good reasons to love "bridge boats."


By Randy Vance September 23, 2018

I never bought a boat with a flying bridge, but I ­never lost the appetite to have one, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of experience aboard them over the years.


Their advantages are compelling, but they don’t come without some liabilities either. Here, then, are all the reasons to love a flybridge boat.

Visual Assets

I liked hanging around the docks long before I had a boat. I still enjoy it, though not quite as much as piloting my own vessel. Once while at the dock, I watched as a captain came into a narrow port and aimed his bow at the slip. Just short of the slip, he turned his back to the helm. Standing between the throttles, he took one in each hand, and pulled one up to forward at a pretty strong idle and pushed the other to reverse with equal authority. Completely confident, from both practice and the clear view of other boats and dock fingers, he pivoted his beauty 180 degrees, then nonchalantly reversed throttle positions, stopped the pivot and aimed the stern straight into the slip. Just as the lacquered mahogany transom might have struck the dock, he applied forward thrust, and water boiled up between the stern and dock, stopping the vessel perfectly, just inches from the pier. Dock hands threw lines on the cleats, and the boat was made fast.

Area Assets

The only thing better than enjoying the view from above is sharing it. That upper station supplies extra seating, and the social opportunities it provides are at least charming — if not romantic with the right passengers. Often, if the vessel is large enough to carry it, an upper station can have an electric refrigerator or at least an ice chest, and some boast a cocktail galley with a sink.

Access Liability

You have to climb to the bridge in a convertible or flybridge, and that requires stairs or a ladder that takes up space in the ­cockpit below. Sometimes that loss of space is substantial, crowding the gathering area. Even a ladder to the bridge creates inconveniences in that gathering space. And some skippers prefer having all the action on the main deck rather than dividing the socializing crew between upper and lower decks.


Lofty Assets

It’s the best place to grab some rays and feel the breeze, whether stirred by nature or by throttle. You’ll look very smart up there too, giving the boater’s wave from that lofty perch. And as the skipper, your crew will compete for your company, giving plenty of opportunity for more intimate conversation.

Interesting statistics from USCG on boating accidents...

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 10:25 AM

Steaming outboard

Posted on March 21, 2018 at 10:25 AM

Why does the water streaming out of my outboard steam?

The steam you notice is a normal occurrence on most outboard motors. The exhaust gases exiting the engine block may reach the 1,200-1,500-degrees F range when under heavy load. They are directed down an exhaust chamber inside the midsection and out the propeller hub. Some of the cooling water from the engine is directed to quiet and cool the exhaust gases as well as surrounding the exhaust chamber, further silencing the motor.

At higher speeds the exhaust chamber becomes very hot internally and the cooling water injected into it turns to steam and is expelled through the propeller hub while the boat is underway. When you slow down by pulling the throttle back, the pressure and the volume of exhaust is greatly reduced, yet high temperatures remain inside the chamber and the steam then exits through the idle relief port.

The whitish gray vapor that you see coming out of the back of the motor is perfectly normal. As the motor idles, the exhaust gas temperatures subside and the visible steam practically disappears. In cooler humid weather, you may notice it more, just like out of the exhaust pipe of your vehicle on a cold day.

Useful Spring Launch Checksheet

Posted on March 13, 2018 at 3:45 PM

As winter slowly comes to an end, the countdown to spring begins for many boaters that are eagerly anticipating the start of a new boating season. It will soon be time to cut off that shrink wrap and roll back the tarps to prep your boat and kick off your season on the water.

Whether you are relatively new to boating or a well-seasoned old salty dog, you need to have a game plan for getting your spring boat commissioning – from basic spring boat maintenance to tackling update projects reserved for out of the water.

There are some basic de-winterization steps you’ll need to take to get your boat ready, as well as more general safety and maintenance reviews of your equipment.

For many, spring boat prep also means new zincs on the outdrives, cleaning, bottom sanding & painting, cleaning, recharging batteries, cleaning, re-installing canvas… and, oh yeah, did we mention cleaning??

Having a thorough checklist is a great way to make sure you don’t miss any important steps.

Luckily there are a lot of leading industry resources that have put together some great spring boat prep lists to help you out. They thoroughly cover everything you should do to maintain, check out or prep for launching your boat in the spring after a long winter’s rest.

Here's a great one for Lake Erie boaters....

What are these boxes in my deck for?

Posted on February 1, 2018 at 11:20 AM

For some of us, the bait wells in our back deck are a mystery! This article is based on bait wells for Bass boats, but it effectively describes what the bait well's function is (beside a big beer cooler!).

Livewells for Bass Boats

While the gleaming gelcoats, racing-style seats and high-horsepower outboards of modern bass boats attract the attention in showrooms, it's what's belowdecks that's most important to serious tournament anglers, and there's no part of the boat more important to them than the “livewell.”


Livewells. Most bass boat livewells are designed for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, not for bait. Tournament rules require fish to be delivered to weigh-in alive or the competitor loses points, so keeping the fish lively can mean thousands of dollars won or lost -- to say nothing of the conservation aspect.


Predictably, according to pro bass anglers, bass boat wells that are larger and deeper do better than those that are smaller and shallower.


Not only does the greater volume of larger wells provide more breathing room for the fish, it also reduces chances of them getting banged into the walls of the well as the boat runs down the lake at 70 mph, as these boats do with some frequency. The wells are located under the aft deck in performance bass boats, since that's where they carry the weight best in their pad-hull designs.

The large livewell in the aft deck of the Ranger Z522 has sliding Plexiglas covers on top to allow anglers to view their catch without the danger of the fish jumping out, as occasionally happens.

Larger boats have the space for larger wells, naturally -- the Ranger Z522, which is 22'5" (6.83 m) long, for example, has a 31-gallon (117 L) well in the aft deck. The Ranger Z518, 18'8" (5.69 m) long, on the other hand, has a 24-gallon (91 L) well. While both can keep bass lively, in tough conditions where there's a limit of large fish in the well or when temperatures are high, the larger well will do better. (Legend, apparently the king of the livewell race, has a 47-gallon/178 L model in its V21.)

Livewell or dead end? Greater tank capacity means a better chance of survival.

Well Dividers. Bass wells often have a removable divider that allows separating the fish in the well, useful in some tournaments where a second angler sits aft and fishes for separate prizes against other rear-seaters. The divider is normally removed if no second angler is competing, allowing more room for a single limit of fish and adding survivability.


How Much to Pump? Wells with high-volume water pumps and powerful aerators do a better job than those with weaker pumps and aeration, within limits. Pumps used in bass boat livewells typically range from 600 to 800 gallons per hour (GPH). The better ones also have easily replaceable cartridge-type components that allow repairing the pump in minutes, without dealing with the plumbing.


Consumer Caveat. Note that there are also bilge pumps that look much like livewell pumps, with capacities to 2,000 gph, way too big for a bassboat livewell because they would buffet the fish and probably flood the boat as they overwhelm the overflow pipes.

The remote control on the inwale of this Ranger allows rapid filling or draining of the livewell from inside the boat. Separate pumps power the aeration system of the well.

Recirculation. Most bass boats also have the capability of "recirculating" the water that's pumped into the well, with aeration, which allows the boat to be run at high speed or hauled on a trailer without losing the water in the well. It also allows keeping poor-quality water outside the well when the boat pulls into an enclosed harbor where spilled fuel, high temperatures, or low oxygen levels are likely. This flow is controlled from a remote switch, with an adjustable timer that allows the aerator pump to run intermittently.


The closed system also allows cooling the water by adding frozen water bottles, or adding oxygen from a tank system or an electronic generator, greatly increasing survival potential for the fish.


Baitwells for Multi-Species Boats

The 48-gallon (182 L) aft well on the Tracker Targa V-19 has separate aerated sections to hold large fish and bait, with a lift-out baitbucket to make things simple. (Photo Credit Tracker Marine)

Anglers in the market for walleye/multi-species boats used primarily in northern and upper Midwest lakes may need a well to hold a tournament catch of walleyes, but these anglers also frequently fish live bait and so need added capacity to keep that bait fresh and lively.


Many brands add a removable bait bucket to the aerated livewell, allowing the main aeration/pump system to serve both. The wells are typically rotomolded composite, with rounded corners to prevent fish from stacking up and ceasing to maintain equilibrium.


An LED waterproof light allows anglers to keep tabs on the health of their catch. Since walleyes to 30" (.76 m) long are possible catches, the wells tend to be made longer than those found in bass boats, where the fish are more compact.

A smaller forward well designed to hold bait or panfish is common on many multi-species boats. Note the one-piece rotomolded liner.

The Tracker Targa V-19, an all-welded dual console design typical of the genre, has a huge 48-gallon well with a lift-out bait bucket aft plus an added 19-gallon baitwell forward, both with recirculation systems and pumpouts. Dual 750-GPH fill pumps assure plenty of clean water, and dual 500 GPH aerators put plenty of oxygen in the water. Insulation is sprayed around the outside of these wells to help them stay cool, an important factor, as we will see below.


Keeping Things Cool

Biologists tell us that cooler water reduces the metabolic rate of fish, and it also holds more oxygen than warmer water. By cooling the water in a livewell, anglers can improve survival of fish. Filling the well first thing in the morning when the water is coolest is always a good idea. And on hot afternoons, adding ice to the well may be essential.


However, adding ice directly to the well is not a good idea. Most commercial ice is made from chlorinated water, and when it melts, the chlorine goes into the livewell water. Chlorine is a poison to fish.


A Good Cooling Technique. However, frozen 16-ounce water bottles do a good job of cooling most wells without danger of infusing chlorine into the water. Simply drop a couple into the well anytime water temperature is above 75 degrees for bass, or 64 for walleyes, replacing every few hours as the ice melts with more frozen bottles from your ice chest.


Non-iodized salt or commercial preparations like this one can improve fish survival in livewells, biologists and fishing pros say. (Photo Credit Frank Sargeant)

Just Add Salt. There is also considerable evidence that adding non-iodized salt to recirculating livewells keeps fish lively. B.A.S.S., the nation's best-known bass tournament organization, suggests adding 1/3 cup per 5 gallons of water to do the job. There are also commercial live well salts with other additives designed for the same purpose. (Standard table salt is iodized--it will kill fish.)


Well Cleanout

Well care can also be important. The slime and excretions of the fish, as well as regurgitated food, not uncommon when they're stressed in captivity, can turn livewells into bacteria farms harmful to fish and bait. Spray the wells out thoroughly after each use, drain completely and store with the lids open so that they will dry before the next trip.


A few drops of bio-degradable soap can help get rid of odors, but be sure to rinse repeatedly to get out all traces of the soap before you use the well next time. Using bleach in the well is risky -- even when rinsed repeatedly, traces of the chlorine can kill sensitive species.


Well cleanout is even more important in areas where invasive mussels are present -- the larvae are often transported in live wells, but thorough clean-drain-dry procedures prevent the issue. Note that in some lakes, you are required by law to perform this cleanout before leaving the ramp. (Cleaning stations are provided at these locations.)

Update of the Port Clinton lift bridge construction schedule

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 12:25 AM

We have received an update from ODOT concerning the Lift Bridge Construction and wanted to pass it along.

The schedule is as follows: The lift bridge will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians from October 14, 2017 through May 25, 2018. Prior to the bridge closure, there will be lane restrictions for concrete repairs and work on the control buildings. The waterway beneath the bridge will be closed to boat traffic from December 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. Prior to the waterway closing to boat traffic, it may be restricted to half the river, but boat access will be maintained. Please remember that all construction projects and timelines are weather permitting.

To receive the weekly construction update, which will contain information on this project as it approaches, sign up here: https:/

Congratulations to DeMarey's on your new 32' Marinette!

Posted on August 3, 2017 at 11:10 AM

How to tie a bowline ...

Posted on August 3, 2017 at 10:55 AM

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