Checklist for the Summer

Checklist for the SummerThe summer vacation season began two weeks ago and the official start date for summer is another week away. The prime time for boating is now and if you’ve already cleaned your boat and changed your marine engine oil, you should go over a checklist of some of the safety precautions you need to know about:

Required by Law:
• Approved wearable flotation device for each person readily accessible
• Additional throwable flotation device on boats over 16 feet
• Persons 12 and under must wear a personal flotation device while underway
• Fire extinguisher if fuel tank or engine is enclosed
• Running lights after sunset or during restricted visibility
• State registration card on board
• Registration number and validation sticker displayed
• Do not operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Observe navigation rules
• Do not overload boat
• Sound signaling device

Other Items:
• Do not occupy ramp until boat is ready to launch
• Notify others of your schedule
• Obtain weather forecasts
• Navigation charts
• Bail bucket
• Anchor and line
• Paddle
• Secure boat to trailer after loading
• Trailer lights
• Reduce speed at night
• Check for gasoline fumes
• Motor kill switch
• 170 degree wide-angle rear view mirror

Wear Your Personal Flotation Device
• 80% of drowning victims in boating accidents were not wearing a personal flotation device.

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Prolonging the Life of Your Boat

marine engine oilYou should change your marine engine oil and filter every 100 hours or every season, which ever comes first. This simple piece of maintenance is often overlooked because it is not quite as easy as changing the oil in your automobile. Following is a step-by-step process which you can follow to make the chore more bearable.

Equipment Needed:
• An oil filter wrench to fit each size of spin-on filter you have
• A box of Zip-Lock baggies large enough to hold an oil filter
• A wrench the correct size for your crankcase drain plug, and a pan shallow enough to fit under your engine if possible or,
• A dipstick-tube oil drain pump and bucket big enough to hold all the oil or,
• An oil drain pump permanently fitted to your crankcase drain plug and bucket
• A roll of paper towels
• New oil filter(s)
• A supply of fresh oil as recommended by your engine manufacturer

• Run the engine(s) until warmed to at least 130 degrees
• Drain the oil using the pump, or into the pan
• Replace the plug or close the valve
• Loosen the oil filter on the engine until it can be turned by hand
• Put a Zip Lock Baggie around the filter, and unscrew the rest of the way
• Use a paper towel to catch drips from the filter’s mounting
• Seal the zip lock baggie keeping the filter upright
• Put it into the new filter’s box
• Using your finger, wet the O-ring atop the new filter with fresh, clean oil
• Screw on the new filter until just finger-tip tight
• Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation as to tightening with the wrench
• Re-fill the crankcase with new oil (see your engine handbook)
• Be sure to add a quart for the filter
• Wipe up any drips
• Start the engine and let it run a few minutes
• Checking to be sure oil pressure comes up and there are no oil leaks around the filter or drain plugs
• Dispose of the oil properly at an approved disposal facility

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Choosing the Right Engine Oil

YamalubeDepending on your engine type, how fast it could potentially go and how quickly it will burn through oil, you have several brands to choose from. Some people align their engine brand with the oil (such as using Yamalube oil for Yamaha engines), and others shop around. When I bought my boat, I posted on a message board to find out what people recommended and that worked out pretty well since I was able to go with a brand, though not corporately related to my engine, my engine runs of a premium rate.

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Protecting Your Boat from the Elements

Protecting Your Boat from the ElementsThis week marks the beginning of hurricane season. Here are some basic tips to help you out in case you live in a region of the country that is afflicted by these storms:

  • You are responsible for taking precautionary measures to protect your boat because marine authorities such as the U.S. Coast Guard will not be in a position to offer assistance prior to the storm, and you may be held responsible for damages caused to other persons or property by your boat.
  • Purchase and stow line specifically for hurricane use. As a general rule, line should be twice the diameter of your normal line.
  • All boat hurricane preparations should be completed 48 hours before a hurricane arrives. This will allow you to concentrate on your family and home.
  • Secure all hatches and tape all windows from the inside. Seal all openings with duct tape to make the boat as watertight as possible.
  • Check the batteries for a full charge and make sure bilge pumps are working.
  • Shut off all fuel lines and close thru hull fittings.
  • Remove all electronics and outboard motors to prevent destruction or theft.
  • Remove any liquids, such as outboard motor oil, to prevent it from spilling out all over your boat.
  • If you have a boat with a trailer, remove the boat from the water and secure both boat and trailer to high land. If you prefer, remove the boat from the trailer and lash down each separately. Trailer should be firmly anchored to prevent or minimize damage.
  • Let the air out of tires before tying the trailer down. Place blocks between the frame members and the axle inside each wheel. Secure with heavy lines to fixed objects from four different directions, if possible.
  • Place your boat in a sheltered area next to a wall, etc. to provide added protection from falling tree limbs and debris.
  • If you will be anchoring out, do not stay on your boat. Have a designated “hurricane hole.” Avoid shoal areas and look for areas with high embankments. Consult responsible marine literature for best anchorage and anchoring methods.
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Protecting Your Engine from Saltwater Damage

Protecting Your Engine from Saltwater DamageOver time, saltwater can cause serious damage to any engine, even with the usage of the best outboard motor oil. But this can be avoided by regular servicing and maintenance.

Using a boat in saltwater isn’t the issue as much as where has your boat been in between trips. The problem with saltwater in engines is corrosion, mainly if the engine is sat doing nothing, but with saltwater in the cooling system. If the engine is regularly serviced, and is flushed with fresh water when removed from the water or when not used for long periods, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

Short term effects can be blocking of strainers or pipework with salt deposits; long term is rust within the engine, which can cause a whole host of problems if allowed to develop.

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Checking for Leaks

Checking for LeaksOne of the most overlooked problems that boat owners have is leakage. Whether your vessel is leaking outboard motor oil or water into the interior, this is a serious problem. Leakage can cause some severe problems if not detected quickly. If an issue like leaks is ignored, it can cost you thousands of dollars if your boat is assessed. Depending on where and what is leaking, repair can range from something that you can do yourself to calling a professional. The key is to catch it before it becomes an expensive problem.

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Oil Prices Decline; Summer Boating May Be Saved

Oil Prices Decline; Summer Boating May Be SavedWith the boating industry facing an uncertain summer, bulk oil prices went down under $130 a barrel on Tuesday, after the traditionally vacation-heavy Memorial Day weekend. Prices sank amidst reports that demands for gas had dropped due to high costs; others speculate that it was simply a high peak in the normally high holiday weekend.

With these declining prices, analysts are now claiming that gas prices may not reach $4 a gallon, after all.

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Raised Fuel Prices Makes Boaters Uncertain

Raised Fuel Prices Makes Boaters UncertainAs reported by NPR, the summer season in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is just getting started, but as gas and outboard motor oil prices continue to set records on land, some boat owners are keeping their vessels in storage or selling them altogether.

That’s already starting to affect marinas that store, dock, rent and sell boats. Other businesses, such as charter boats and tourist cruises, are setting their summer rates and weighing whether to swallow high fuel costs or pass them on to customers.

Of course, this sudden conservative attitude towards boats means that with a waning demand, the waters are clearer for a more personal boating experience. Though the price of outboard oil is slightly up, the experience of a relaxing boating trip may be worth the hit. However, if you’ve planned your finances accordingly, then boating this summer won’t be such a worrisome activitiy.

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Boat Safety Tips

Boat Safety TipsAs mentioned in an earlier post, the summer boating season is ready to start and you’ll no doubt have filled your boat with marine engine oil and anticipation to hit the waters. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind before you take her out on the water:

• Be weather wise. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. Bring a portable radio to check weather reports.

• Bring extra gear you may need; a flashlight, extra batteries, matches, a map of where you are, flares, sun tan lotion, first aid kit, and extra sunglasses. Put those that need to be protected in a watertight pouch or a container that floats.

• Tell someone where you’re going, who is with you, and how long you’ll be away. Then check your boat, equipment, boat balance, engine and fuel supply before leaving.

• Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. This includes anyone participating in any boating activity.

• Alcohol and boating don’t mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination — over 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. For the same reasons it is dangerous to operate an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, people should not operate a boat while drinking alcohol.

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Yamalube Gets Coup within its own Corporation

YamalubeYamaha Marine Group announced earlier this month that it has put its marine care products under the trusted Yamalube brand.

Products affected include fuel additives, adhesives and lubricants, which will now bear the name Yamalube. With the change comes color-coded packaging designed to improve the customer’s ability to choose the correct product for the job at hand.

Yamaha is creating and launching an extensive campaign for dealers and customers as part of the rollout.

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Making Lemonade Out of Life’s Lemons

Making Lemonade Out of Life's LemonsLast year, Boating Industry reported that 2007 was the worst year for boat sales, with 2008 projected to decline further. While this report may seem a bit on the grim side, it may also be a good time to take advantage and buy a new boat or replace that engine and give your boat some new parts.

While some may consider this kicking the small business owner while they’re down, a surge in these kinds of purchases could very well help in reviving sagging boat sales. Whether you buy a boat, replace a steering wheel or buy large amounts of marine engine oil, every contribution will help and ensure that there is a viable boating community out there.

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Record High for Oil (Again)

Record High for Oil (Again)Today oil prices surged, yet again, to $127 a barrel. On the heels of this news are the concerns that oil prices will not go down as Memorial Day weekend (the unofficial first day of summer travel) looms closely. That said, outboard motor oil prices are also scheduled for a slight price increase. Do yourself a favor and start buying oil for the summer now. Don’t wait around or you’ll be apt to spend your summer on land.

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