Monthly Archives: April 2016

  • Avoiding Ramp Rage

    What's worse than waiting to launch your boat? Waiting even longer behind unprepared or inconsiderate boaters who dilly-dally. Getting mad doesn't make the line move faster, so don't let delays ruin a nice day. Patience, preparedness, and politeness go a long way towards making your time at the boat launch safe and pleasant.

    Be prepared. Load your cooler and other belongings onto the boat before it's your turn at the ramp so you don't hold up traffic. Run your safety checks, set up electronics, and disconnect your tie-down straps in a parking space. Your boat should be ready to go when you back it up to the ramp.

    Follow the rules. Cutting in line is a sure way to make enemies of your fellow boaters. If your launch uses a ticket or number system, stick to it and wait your turn. Watch for other boats when you're launching yours, and motor slowly off the trailer rather than gunning it as soon as you're floating. Watch for people in the water, too; swimming is usually not allowed at boat launches, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Also watch for fishing lines, if people are fishing off the docks. Observe speed limits and no-wake rules.

    Keep it moving. Once your boat is in the water, have your driver park the tow vehicle while you move the boat to the farthest available point on the dock to pick up your passengers. The courtesy dock is not a place to linger, especially if other boaters are waiting for a spot. Encourage your friends to board quickly (but carefully) so you can get moving. Hold off on posing for pictures until you're launched and away from the ramp.

    Mind your manners. We've all heard the horror stories of lost tempers and hard words at the boat launch. Hot sun and heavy traffic can shorten fuses fast. Try to err on the side of kindness and cut your fellow boaters some slack; they're just as impatient to get in the water as you are. Being friendly and patient makes everyone's life easier, and your politeness might inspire others to follow your example.

    When in doubt, ask. If you get stuck or are unsure of how to proceed, ask a ramp attendant (if present) or another boater for help. If you're an experienced boater who sees someone in trouble, offer to lend a hand.

    Ultimately, the only person whose behavior you can control is your own. Do your part by being prepared, help your fellow boaters if they need it, and remember that boating is meant to be fun. Enjoy it!

    Find boat trailers and trailer accessories for less at Great Lakes Skipper.

  • Spring Awakening: Early Season Boat Maintenance

    Hasn’t it been a long winter? We think it’s high time to break the boat from its shrink-wrap cocoon and get it ready to run. The Skipper has compiled a few important points for spring maintenance to ensure smooth sailing this season.

    How’s the battery? Did you pull your battery out and store it separately from the boat, or did you leave it installed? Either way, give it a good going-over in the spring. Check its charge with a voltmeter and if it’s low, charge it up to its recommended level. The insides of a battery are caustic and poisonous, so put on gloves and goggles if you open your battery to check its electrolytes. Clean the battery carefully if it’s dirty, and scrub any corrosion off the terminals. Once the terminals are clean, grease the threads with petroleum jelly or an automotive lubricant. This video by Boating Local shows how to do spring prep for lead-acid boat batteries.

    If your boat’s battery is more than four years old, replace it.

    Clean the distributors. Remove the distributor cap and check for corrosion; scrub it away if you find any. Also clean out the cap itself if you see corrosion there (it looks a bit like bread mold). Some DIY boaters use rubbing alcohol or baking soda paste on an old toothbrush, followed by a thorough rinse, dry, and a light coat of lubricant like WD-40. If you’ve got a lot of corrosion or your distributors are older, just replace them and start fresh.

    Bucket photo: Vassili67/

    Change the oil. If you didn’t change the engine oil before putting the boat to bed for its long winter’s nap, now’s the time to do it. Change the oil filter, too, and if you have a sterndrive/lower unit, check the oil there, too. When you drain the oil, watch for water or metal shavings in the oil; if you see either, it’s likely there’s a problem with the engine that requires attention from a mechanic.

    Try a Jabsco oil absorber pad from GLS to soak up and dispose of used oil!

    Coolant. Fill your boat with the proper coolant mixture. Carefully examine your boat’s coolant hoses and replace them if worn or cracked.

    Don’t forget the belts. Worn belts break, and that’s no fun for anyone. Prevent an in-water headache by checking your boat’s belts and replacing any that show wear and tear.

    Not the handy type? If you’re not into DIY, your local mechanic or marina can go over your boat to make sure it’s in good running condition. Before you hitch up to haul the boat to the shop, though, check that your boat trailer’s tires are sound and properly inflated.

    As in so many other situations, an ounce of boat prevention is worth a pound of potentially expensive cure. Treat your boat with care and it will reward you with years of enjoyment.

  • Sample Page

    This is an example page. It's different from a blog post because it will stay in one place and will show up in your site navigation (in most themes). Most people start with an About page that introduces them to potential site visitors. It might say something like this:

    Hi there! I'm a bike messenger by day, aspiring actor by night, and this is my website. I live in Los Angeles, have a great dog named Jack, and I like piña coladas. (And gettin' caught in the rain.)

    ...or something like this:

    The XYZ Doohickey Company was founded in 1971, and has been providing quality doohickeys to the public ever since. Located in Gotham City, XYZ employs over 2,000 people and does all kinds of awesome things for the Gotham community.

    As a new WordPress user, you should go to your dashboard to delete this page and create new pages for your content. Have fun!