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Entries in boats (4)

Thursday
Aug102017

Ethanol-Related Repairs Increasing, According to Survey

A new survey by Boating Industry magazine says those in the boating industry that manufacture, sell, repair and store recreational vessels are seeing a growing number of problems caused by ethanol-related fuels. Said one Minnesota boat dealer in the survey, “Ethanol fuels are great for our service department but bad for our customers!”

The reader survey results, which appear in the magazine’s July 2017 issue, report that 92 percent of survey respondents said “they have seen damage…caused by ethanol…and more business for the service department.” The most recent results are up from 87 percent from a similar survey last year.

The July feature “Ethanol Still a Significant Challenge, Survey Says,” also reported that “more than 15 percent of readers said that based on what they are seeing in their business, more than half of the necessary repairs are being caused by ethanol-related issues.” Eighty-five percent of survey takers were “very concerned” about the use of E15 (fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol).

Signed into law in 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires an increasing amount of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be blended into the gasoline supply. When it was written, the RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has actually declined, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas.

To keep up with the RFS mandate, in 2010 the EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 into the marketplace. However, only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats.

For the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the survey’s results add to urgency to fix the RFS. Said Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy, “For the people who know boats best, the readers of Boating Industry magazine who work on boats and keep them running so we can all enjoy a great day on the water, ethanol continues be concern. It will remain this way until we fix America’s broken ethanol policy.”

Go to BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition.

Monday
Mar232015

Industry Looks at Boat Design as a Way to Combat Mussel Invasion

Zebra mussels on shopping cart

For years, resource managers focused on education, regulations, and boat inspections to help stop the spread of invasive species such a zebra mussels. But in late January, a new tactic was initiated as a first-of-its-kind boat design summit was staged here.

“If you can build a better boat, it makes it easier down the line,” said Brian Goodwin of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), which develops safety standards and is a sponsor. “There is no silver bullet that will solve the problem. But this is part of it.”

Other sponsors included the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Minnesota and Lake Minnetonka’s Tonka Bay Marina. Minnesota ranks No. 1 nationally in boat ownership per capita.

Organizers hoped that the event would stimulate recommendations for new designs for the more than 100 boat manufacturers, marina operators, conservation leaders, and biologists in attendance.

“This is a critical piece we need to look at and make sure we’re doing all we can do to reduce the risk,” said Ann Pierce of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “I think it will be extremely beneficial, and not just for Minnesota.”

In addition to attaching themselves to hulls, mussels often stow away on boats in any place that water accumulates, including motors, bilges, livewells, and transom wells. Pontoon boats, the fastest growing sector of the boating industry, and wakeboard boats, which collect water to create wakes, especially are conductive for aquatic hitchhiking. For example, lifting strakes on pontoons enable them to go faster, but they often are sealed only at one end, allowing small mussels entry at the other.

“For a lot of companies, it’s going to be a retooling,” said Bob Menne, owner of Premier Marine, the fourth-largest pontoon manufacturer in the nation, and the only one, he said, to weld strakes and keels to keep out zebra mussels.

“We take it as a very serious issue,” he said.

Monday
Oct202014

Take the Boat Winterizing Quiz

This boat was “winterized” by placing a space heater in the engine room. While afloat in the slip, it caught fire when the extension cord used to power the heater shorted.

You’re putting the boat away for winter. So what half-truth, wive’s tale, or tall story have you heard about winterizing a recreational boat? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) helps to set the record straight.

Ethanol (E10) fuel and engines: If a boat has a built-in gas tank, it’s recommended to leave the tank as full as possible over the winter with a smidgen of room for fuel expansion.

TRUE: Leaving the tank nearly full limits the amount of moisture that can potentially condense inside on the tank’s walls as outside temperatures fluctuate, preventing phase separation of ethanol (E10) fuel. Note one caveat: If your boat is stored in a rack system or indoor storage, check with the marina. They may require you to empty the tank to minimize the risk of fire.

TIP: Never plug a fuel vent. Ever.

Ethanol and phase separation: Come springtime, any phase-separated gasoline in the tank can be fixed by adding a fuel stabilizer or additive.

FALSE: Once gasoline phase separates, that’s it. Kaput. End of story. The only solution is to have a pro remove the contaminated fuel and water mixture and start anew -- a difficult, hazardous and costly task for boats with built-in fuel tanks. However, it’s critical to use a fuel stabilizer each fall to help keep fuel fresh over the winter, keep corrosion at bay and to help prevent the onset of phase separation.

TIP: Put the stabilizer in before you nearly fill the tank for its long winter nap. This will allow stabilizer to fully course through the fuel system as you run the engine when filling with anti-freeze.

Freeze damage: Because it’s cold up there, BoatUS insurance claims for engine block freezing come from northern climates.

FALSE: While there are quite a few claims from the colder climates, many boat insurance freeze damage claims also come from southern, temperate states hit by an unexpected freeze or when space heaters fail due to sudden storm power loss. In the northern climes, storm power outages also are to blame for engine block freeze related claims, however, both areas of the country have their fair share of winter freeze claims due to one reason: the failure to follow winterizing procedures.

TIP: Don’t let your buddy do the job – it’s a common refrain BoatUS claims staff hears every spring after a cracked block is discovered. Having your marina winterize your boat and systems may offer better protection if there is an issue come springtime. Another option is adding ice and freeze insurance to your boat insurance – most insurers do not charge much for it, but there are deadlines to purchase (BoatUS offers it for as little as $25 to its insured members until October 30).

Space heaters: It’s okay to “winterize” the boat by leaving a space heater running onboard.

FALSE: In addition to the sudden power outage problem, every winter BoatUS sees fires from heaters, plugs and cords, and from heaters that were left running on unattended boats. Unless you live in Hawaii or the Florida Keys, BoatUS recommends winterizing your engine if you will be laying up the boat for even a few weeks to lessen the chances of sudden freeze damage.

TIP: Save time and make winterizing easier by installing an engine flushing system -- typically a simple valve with a connection for a garden hose along with an anti-freeze pick-up hose/strainer -- on your engine.

From BoatUS

Monday
Jul222013

Invasive Plants Spread More by Boats Than Birds

UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

Continuing research suggests that boats rather than birds are the primary means for introducing aquatic invasive species into Wisconsin lakes.

“The fact that accessible lakes are the ones that are invaded indicates that these species are moved by boaters,” said Alex Latzka, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology (CFL).

“While birds could transport invasive species from one lake to another, our finding that remote lakes do not have invasive species strongly indicates that birds are not an important factor.”

Scientists at CFL and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are two years into a five-year study that explores the spread and distribution of exotic plants and animals in the state’s inland lakes. They hope that their monitoring of 450 lakes will uncover trends in dispersal of invasives such as Eurasian water milfoil that will allow time and funds to be better utilized toward protecting those waters where only native species are present.

“People often think that the lakes that are the most worthy of our protection and most susceptible to invasion are the pristine wilderness lakes,” Latzka said. “With those kinds of lakes are iconic in the Wisconsin northwoods, they are not the lakes most vulnerable to invasive species.”

Additionally, a lot of variability exists within lakes that have human development. For example, just 30 percent of fisheries with public access have water milfoil, while fewer than 20 percent zebra mussels. Those are promising numbers since both species have been in the state for decades.

Also encouraging is the fact that the number of lakes with invasive species remained about the same for the first two years of the study.

By finding out why these invaders have not spread to all lakes with human development and by pinpointing fisheries most at risk, scientists hope to better predict and, ideally, prevent the additional spread of invasives.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)