Monthly Archives: July 2016

  • Hot Stuff! Boating During the Dog Days

    The ancients blamed the hot weather of July and August on Sirius, the intensely bright Dog Star. During these "dog days," an afternoon on the water can be especially refreshing, but hot weather can present boaters with challenges unique to the season.

    Watch the Weather. The number on the thermometer doesn't tell the whole story, so check the heat index before heading out. So-called popup thunderstorms are common on hot days, and while they don't usually last long, they can pack quite a punch. As always, if you see lightning, head for port.

    Performance.  Hot, humid summer weather reduces engine power and can knock your speed down by as much as 3 or 4 mph. It can't be helped, but it's nothing to worry about, either. If your boat is otherwise working properly, lower performance in hot weather is normal.

    Expansion. Heat causes vapor to expand, meaning that gas tanks that get hot can swell. Make sure your tank's vent, if present, is open and unobstructed, and be careful opening portable gas cans, as the pressure caused by expanding vapor can make gasoline splash out.

    Overheated? If your engine overheats, shut it down immediately. Letting an engine run while it's too hot can cause serious (and expensive) damage. Once the engine's off, you can start troubleshooting.

    Keep Your Cool, Too. The sun feels so good...until it doesn't. Protect yourself against sunburn with sunblock cream and relax under a shady bimini boat top. Just like you top up your engine's coolant before launch, keep yourself hydrated by drinking water, juice, or non-caffeinated soft drinks. Cold beer and cola are especially delicious on hot days, but alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, which can dry out your system. Switch up alcohol and caffeinated beverages with water to stave off dehydration. And please, boat sober: driving drunk is as dangerous and illegal on the water as it is on the highway.

    Know the Signs. Headaches and nausea are two signs of heat exhaustion. Muscle cramps, fatigue, confusion, and rapid heartbeat also signal that the body is overheating. Cool off in an air-conditioned cabin or other shady spot, and sip water or a sports drink. Lay some cool, wet cloths on your skin and rest. If you don't feel better after fifteen minutes, seek emergency medical attention; heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, which can be deadly.

    Troubleshooting an Over-heating Engine
    Preventing Overheating in Boat Engines
    Heat Exhaustion

  • Bimini Season: Getting a Perfect Fit

    Summer at Great Lakes Skipper is bikini bimini season! Did you know that, as long as the size is right, almost any bimini top can be installed on any boat? Here's how to find your bimini top size, whether your boat is big or itsy-bitsy.

    Measure once. This part's easy. Decide how much of your boat you want covered by a top. Then, using a tape measure, find the width and length of that area.

    Find your center. The mounting point for the top's deck hinges will be at about the middle of the bimini top on each side of the boat - in other words, about halfway between the top's front and back edges. After determining where the hinge mounting location will be on each side of the boat, measure the distance between these mounting points to determine the width of top you need. This measurement is not the same as your boat's beam measurement. Bimini frames have some ability to flex to fit boats a few inches wider; this range is indicated in each top's description on our site.

    Measure twice. The height of the bimini top is not the same as the length of the frame arms, so you'll need that tape measure again. Standing inside the boat, measure from your mounting point straight up to determine your minimum headroom. Bimini top straps allow for two or three inches in height adjustment.

    Shop for your top. Now the fun part: shopping for your top. Great Lakes Skipper has complete bimini boat tops in a rainbow of colors, to match or contrast with your boat's color scheme. We also have replacement bimini canopies and curtains and bimini top hardware. Questions? Call us at 262-898-1855 or drop us a line at [email protected].