You want to be a better boater? These tips will help with everything from boat maintenance to navigational skills.
Running a boat is a big part of fishing, and so many of us fish from boats that we’ve created an entire section on BD Outboors called Boating Tips.
Tips are great because the digital age has us breaking down data into tiny tidbits that blip from here to there, and today, getting people to read hundreds of words at a time is a stretch. But a tip puts knowledge into an easy to understand, easy to read package that’s so short, people might actually absorb the whole thing and get something out of it.
Here are the 25 of the most interesting and useful one- to two-line tips for boaters, that you’ll ever read.
Boat Maintenance Tips
- Apply canvas waterproofing treatment to T-tops at high noon. If you do it early in the day dew may be in the fabric, which will prevent the waterproofer from working. And if you do it late in the day dew may form before the waterproofer has time to dry completely.
- You popped an engine belt at sea, and don’t have an extra? Pull a strap off of a life jacket, use a fishhook to clip the ends together, and sub it out for the belt.
- When changing your lower unit oil, look closely at the oil’s color to get a read on the condition of your lower unit. Black may look bad but it’s the normal color; gray and/or a silverish color means there are tiny metal shavings in the oil and you have potential gear damage; milky colored oil means you have a water intrusion problem.
- Smear your transducer with Vasoline before bottom-painting your boat. Then if any paint gets on your ‘ducer by accident, it’ll be easy to remove.
- When an analog gauge stops working, before you replace it try cleaning all of the connections at the gauge and at the sender – this is usually the root of the problem.
- Your outboard’s tell-tale water stream is clogged? Insert 50# test monofilament fishing line into the hole, run it as far as possible into the motor, and spin it between your fingers to ream out the clog.
- If a grommet ripped out of your boat cover, ball up a sock, push it under the cover so it makes a bulge, then tie your line around the bottom of the bulge.
- When running a bead of caulk or sealant, always push the tube along instead of pulling it. Pushing will make a smoother line, every time.
- To get a long-lasting gleam on your gel coat use paste wax for an initial protective undercoat, and carnauba-based liquid wax for a shiny top-coat.
- Always roll – never fold – clear vinyl curtains and Isinglass, to prevent creasing.
- When drilling into gel coat run the drill at top RPM. A slow-moving drill bit causes more cracking then one that’s spinning quickly.
- To get a tight knot out of a mooring line, soak it in warm water with some Downy fabric softener and it will loosen up.
Read Strange Brew: Weird Boat Repairs that Work, for more untraditional but effective quick-fixes at sea.
Boating Safety Tips
- When shooting flares to signal a boat in the distance, shoot two of them spaced 10 to 15 seconds apart. If they see one flare it may leave a question in people’s minds as to whether there’s an emergency, someone’s shooting off fireworks, or it’s a test. The second one leaves no doubt.
- When night fishing, have everyone aboard attach a cyalume light stick to a belt loop with a rubberband. Then, if anyone goes overboard, they’ll have a waterproof visible signal close at hand.
- If something in your boat’s microwave catches on fire, DO NOT open the door. Just turn it off and pull the plug. As soon as the fans shut off, the fire will smother in its air-tight environment.
- When someone is hypothermic and needs body heat fast, fill a zipper-lock bag with hot water (you can use your outboard engine’s tell-tale if need be). Then place it in the victim’s arm pits and groin, to warm their blood.
- If your tandem-axel trailer sways a little no matter how you redistribute the load, try dropping three to five psi in the front tires; this will transfer more of the load to the rear tires, and helps stabilize your rig a bit.
- If your boat doesn’t self-center when you drive it up onto the trailer, try pulling the trailer up the ramp a foot or two. This problem is often the result of submerging it too deep.
- Always unplug your incandescent trailer lights before you launch the boat. Otherwise, they heat up when you hit the brakes and then in the cool water, they’re likely to pop.
Read 10 Important Boat Trailering Tips, to learn some trailer tricks that get a bit more in-depth than these short tips.
Navigation & Electronics Tips
- When you see purple lines on a contour map, don’t assume they’re accurate. Purple means they come from photos, and haven’t been verified by personnel in the field.
- To figure your reverse compass bearing, add 180 to bearings under 180 degrees and subtract 180 from bearings over 180 degrees.
- When unexplainable vertical lines clutter your fishfinder screen, suspect electrical interference. Isolating the transducer wire from all other wiring (particularly the engine harness) will usually end it.
- Maximum range for any radar is commonly limited not by power or capability, but by the height of the antenna. Here’s the formula to determine actual range: 1.22NM x square root of the antenna height, x 1.22NM x square root of the target height.
- To estimate distance to shore, remember that at about one mile individual tree trunks can be seen with the naked eye. At half a mile, individual branches can be distinguished.
- Your radar sees “ghost” returns? Structures in line with your radar antenna are often the cause; move other antenna, masts, and anything in close proximity to the dome or array.
Check out 10 Tips for Advanced Seamanship, to obtain more nautical know-how.