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  • The Perfect Patch

    Hole in the boat? No fear – repairing damaged fiberglass is easier than you might think. With time, patience, and the right tools and materials, you can make simple repairs to your fiberglass hull.

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  • It's Labor Day Weekend!

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    Here in the USA, Labor Day falls on the first Monday in September. Just as Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, Labor Day marks its end as children head back to school and the daylight hours grow shorter. Labor Day is a very busy time for boaters seeking to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment from this three-day weekend. Lakes and rivers will be crowded, so it's extra-important to be extra-careful.

    Boat Sober. The Skipper says this all the time, but it's always good advice: if you're at the helm, steer clear of alcohol. Driving a boat while intoxicated is as dangerous (and illegal) as driving a car under the influence. Partying passengers can be distracting, too, so take care to be aware of your surroundings when things get rowdy.

    Wear It. Carry a life jacket for every passenger. Insist that children wear their life vests; your local laws probably require it.

    Know the Signs. Watch for other boats, skiers, and tubers, and observe the "rules of the road." You can't control what other boaters do, but you can keep control of your own craft - and your own behavior. Drive defensively and keep your wits about you.

    Use a Spotter. If you're towing a tuber or water-skier, appoint a sober passenger to keep watch on the person being towed.

    Have Fun! Enjoy yourselves, friends, and get back to the dock safely.

  • Make a Splash with Water Trampolines

    Editor's Note: We wrote this article for the July issue of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt, and the good people at that magazine have granted us permission to repost it. Many thanks!

    What’s more fun than a trampoline in the backyard? How about a trampoline in the water? If you’ve visited Destin, Florida, you’ve probably seen the Crab Island Water Park on Destin’s famous sand bar and party spot. Fun for kids of all ages, it’s made up of inflatable slides, balance beams, and trampolines.

    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Photo: Destin Vacation Boat Rentals

    Like a swim raft, a water trampoline must be anchored in water of a safe depth. The manufacturer Rave Sports recommends smaller trampolines for shallow water. Larger trampolines provide a bigger bounce and, consequently, a deeper plunge into the water, so anchoring a big trampoline in deep water is important to keep jumpers safe. Unanchored, a water trampoline makes a free-floating raft with space for several friends to lounge.

    Water too cold? The more ruggedly built inflatable trampolines, like the Rave Sports Bongo line, can be set up on land, too. Check with the manufacturer to make sure your bouncer can be used this way without damage; one sharp stick or jagged shell is all it takes to pop an inflatable.

    As seen at Crab Island, slides and logs can be attached to trampolines to create a mini water park in your favorite swimming hole. Great Lakes Skipper carries complete packages from Rave Sports with trampoline, slide, and balance log, plus ladder and pump. Inflate, assemble, add your own anchor, and watch your beach become the most popular around. An exciting addition to any trampoline setup is the launch, a squishy inflated bag that swimmers can use to catapult each other into the water. Rave Sports includes a launch with its Aqua Jump 150 set, found on our website.

    pic1 Rave Sports Aqua Jump Eclipse 150 with log & launch

    The best fun is safe fun. Supervise the kids and make sure everyone playing on the trampoline is wearing a life vest. Don’t dive into shallow water, or water of unknown depth.

    Whether your swimming spot is a beach resort, a summer camp, or a single dock, a water trampoline can enhance the enjoyment of you and your guests. Here’s to buoyant, bouncy fun!

  • 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.

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