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Entries in BoatUS (19)

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.

Sunday
May212017

BoatUS Offers Safety Tips for Navigating Higher Waters in Great Lakes

With Great Lakes water levels on the rise and expected to continue to increase into summer, recreational boaters could find that deeper water under the keel may open a whole new range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation. That same deep water, however, may present unique safety concerns on the water and at the dock, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety organization.

According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Ontario is expected to see the largest increase at 17 inches higher over last year and lowland flooding is already hampering the boat-launch season on the lake. The second largest year-over-year increase goes to Lake Superior at 12 inches higher sometime in August, while Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are both predicted to rise 8 inches. Lake Erie is expected to be up 5 inches over last year.

BoatUS offer the following tips for boaters on the Great Lakes in these flooded conditions:

On the water: The good news is that deeper draft vessels may have more options for mooring, anchoring and slip rental, as well as increased access to the water. However, high water shifts sandbars. Traveling at slower speed can reduce the risk of grounding or running gear damage. Transient boaters can contact local TowBoatUS operators on VHF channel 16 for local information. In you’re headed into unfamiliar waters post an extra lookout, and if you’re traveling far, check ahead as locations to tie up may be inaccessible.

On the dock: Many fixed (non-floating), boat docks with electrical service are submerged, potentially compromising wiring and electrical connections. When waters recede and before power gets turned on, inspect the electrical service and consider installing a ground fault protection device if your dock power system does not already have one. Without it, the risk of Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) increases. A dock electrical maintenance check-up is also a good idea to schedule at the beginning of the each season

Sunday
May222016

Ethanol-Free Fuel Could Become Even Scarcer

As if finding ethanol-free (EO) gasoline for marine engines weren't difficult enough already, BoatUS is warning that it could become even scarcer this summer.

Gas stations aren't required by federal law to carry fuel with ethanol added. But the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program mandates that an increasing amount of biofuel, primarily corn ethanol, be blended into America's gasoline supply annually. In other words, stations might not be able to buy EO gasoline, despite consumer demand.

"Correcting the RFS before it wipes out the availability of EO for boating families and wreaks additional havoc on marine engines is the responsibility of our next president," said Margaret Bonds Podlich, BoatUS president.

"It is now time to fix this broken law. Thankfully, there are bipartisan ideas to fix the ethanol mandate in Congress, but the question remains whether our elected leaders will act and solve the problem."

As of right now, it appears that EO fuel supply will be reduced from more than 8 billion gallons in 2014 to just 200 million, possibly as early as mid-year. Already, more than 90 percent of fuel contains 10 percent ethanol, with 15 percent becoming more prevalent, even though federal law prohibits its use in marine engines, ATVs, motorcycles, lawnmowers, and cars made before 2001.

"When gasoline containing ethanol and boats mix, boat owners lose," Podlich added. "That's because of something called 'phase separation'--- think oil and vinegar--- that can turn fuel stored in a boat's gas tank into a corrosive, water-soaked ethanol mixture, unusable in any engine."

Half of those who responded to a recent BoatUS survey said they have had to replace or repair a boat engine or fuel system parts because of suspected ethanol-related damage. Average cost for repairs was $1,000.

Ethanol Damage Increasing

Additionally, Boating Industry says this:

Ethanol appears to be playing an even bigger role in service issues than it was just a year ago.

Eighty-seven percent of our respondents reported that their business has seen engine damage caused by ethanol. That was up from 73 percent in the same survey in April 2015.

While it may be helping drive service department business, frequent issues run the risk of driving more people out of boating.

As one New York boat dealer bluntly put it: “Ethanol makes us money … it sucks for the consumer.”

A Florida-based manufacturer echoed that:

“Ethanol is a boom for the service departments. Ethanol is a HUGE drag on our industry because it negatively affects the customers. It makes them hate boating. It ruins their day, their boat, and their entire boating experience.”

And it is no small problem, either, representing a significant portion of repairs based on what our survey respondents are seeing. Fourteen percent said that ethanol-related problems are responsible for more than half of all engine repairs, while 60 percent said it represents at least 20 percent of the repair issues. Those numbers are basically unchanged from 2015.

Tuesday
Apr212015

Alabama Might Approve Gill Nets for Guntersville, Other Bass Fisheries

Gill nets like these used by Florida netters before the ban would be made legal in TVA lakes by a bill now before the Alabama Senate. Photo by Frank Sargeant

As a recreational and/or tournament angler, do you want gill nets on Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick?

It could happen. The Alabama state House already has passed a bill to allow it on those Tennessee River impoundments, and now it is being considered by the state Senate Committee for Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

 “That’s where we hope this anti-bass fishing legislation will end,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy, “But recreational anglers need to speak up now.” 

Alabama bass angler and BoatUS Program Coordinator Dustin King added, “Gill nets are designed to entangle paddlefish, catfish, and buffalo, but do not discriminate, and they would ruin our most prized bass fishery.”

And Frank Sergeant  in the Huntsville Times said, "The idea of permitting gill nets in North Alabama's TVA lakes apparently has some appeal to somebody, otherwise it would not have been made into a bill, HB 258, and passed by the Alabama House of Representatives recently.

"But thousands of recreational fishermen (and women) as well as homeowners and fishing/boating/resort industry execs in the affected areas are pretty much universally opposed to bringing this highly effective gear to the river lakes, which include Lake Guntersville, frequently cited as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the nation.

"Not that the netters or the legislators who backed them propose to net bass commercially--state laws prohibit net harvest of gamefish. The targets would be shad, drum and other "rough fish" that some say are currently going to waste in the fertile waters of the big river.

"But one issue that must surely concern anglers is the fact that gill nets do not work well for catch and release in many cases. They're called "fish chokers" in saltwater, for good reason. They function via squares of mesh that slide over the head of a fish and then jam tight right behind the gill plates--they're locked in place.

"Getting a fish out of the mesh without killing it is not easy, particularly when it's being done rapidly and/or at night, both of which conditions often apply in net fishing because that's the nature of the fishery."

More from BoatUS:

 Recreational fishing is an estimated $853 million industry in Alabamam according to a study commissioned by the Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) and completed by the University of Alabama at Huntsville. ABT operates dozens of tournaments across the state, and Executive Director Kay Donaldson said the proposed legislation would give mostly out-of-state commercial fishermen unfettered access to string nets in the Tennessee River and its tributaries, with no additional enforcement.

“The state is already stretched too thin on enforcing the laws on the books,” said Donaldson.

 Kennedy continued, “When you look at the math, it simply doesn’t add up. The meager revenue gained by any new paddlefish commercial license fees wouldn’t even begin to offset the loss of the recreational fishery and those who make their living from it.

“There are also safety issues for all recreational boaters with the placement of nets, their impact on the bass spawning season, and other environmental concerns.”

Alabama anglers are urged to contact their state senators by going here.

Wednesday
Mar252015

Boaters Who Don't Want More Corn In Their Gas Tanks Need to Speak Up Now

Ethanol damage

THE ISSUE: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is the 2005 federal law that requires the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. When it was written, it assumed that America's use of gasoline would continue to rise and mandated escalating amounts of biofuels to be blended with our fuel. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has actually declined steadily, which today forces more ethanol into less gasoline.

To keep up with this RFS mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol) into the marketplace. Even though E15 is prohibited from being used in marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, small engines like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, as well as any vehicle made before 2001, this fuel can now be found at more than 100 stations in 16 states at the very same pumps as E10 and ethanol-free gasoline.

More than 60 percent of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) half million members as well as millions of recreational boaters fill their boat's fuel tanks at roadside gas stations where the higher blend ethanol fuels are often the cheapest fuel at the pump. This creates a huge potential for misfueling and puts boaters at risk.

ACTION NEEDED NOW: For years, BoatUS has been battling in Washington to make sure recreational boat owners can buy gasoline that works with their recreational boat engines. Senators Diane Feinstein and Pat Toomey have now introduced S. 577, the "Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015" in the US Senate.

This bill, which has both Democrat and Republican support, will effectively remove the government mandate for higher blends of corn-based ethanol fuels (more than 10 percent) and allow for investment in other more compatible biofuels. BoatUS believes it is a critical step to solving the ethanol issue and urges America's boat owners to contact their Senators now to become  co-sponsors and supporters of S. 577. Boaters can do this here. For more on the Renewable Fuel Standard go here.

From BoatU.S.