Though many Florida boaters are happy to frequently hit the saltwater seas due to our close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters, many others take advantage of our smattering of fresh, inland waters. Whether pleasure cruising on the St. Johns River or fishing for largemouth bass on Lake Okeechobee, there is no shortage of inland waters to explore in The Sunshine State.
Though, in general, the same laws and best practices apply whether in fresh or saltwater, there may be a few differentiators you should consider before switching from lake to ocean boating.
Factors to Consider Before Switching to Saltwater
- Saltwater is very corrosive, making rinsing your boat with freshwater after trips on the ocean a necessity to avoid damage over time.
- Boats and ships regularly used in saltwater can have reduced life expectancies, due to the corrosive nature of saltwater.
- Engines should be flushed after use in saltwater to avoid damage.
- Drinking and boating laws do not change on inland waters.
- In general, no major modifications need to be made to allow your boat onto both fresh and saltwater bodies of water.
Our main takeaway: Florida is full of both inland waters and open ocean that are ripe for boating, fishing and fun. Be sure to note and respect the corrosive power of saltwater, especially after your trip, when a simple wash and rinse may help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Follow boating laws and best practices and enjoy your time on fresh and salt waters safely while keeping these differentiating factors in mind.
Situated between the often-crowded shores of Daytona Beach and city skyline of Jacksonville, St. Augustine is something of a time capsule town. Originally established 450 years ago, this former Spanish, English, Spanish again, and finally American port town is actually regarded as America’s oldest city and first seaport. So what nautical history can you find while exploring St. Augustine for yourself? A lot, as it turns out.
Historic Sites in St. Augustine
- The Lighthouse: One of St. Augustine’s most iconic landmarks is the old lighthouse that has helped boaters navigate the formerly treacherous, shallow waters off the coast since the 19th century. Still standing and shining as brightly as ever, St. Augustine’s oldest brick structure shouldn’t be missed by any boating or history buffs.
- Castillo de San Marcos: Sitting off the western shore of Matanzas Bay, Castillo de San Marcos represents some truly stunning living history. As the oldest masonry fort in the United States, the Castillo was originally constructed in the late 1600’s under Spanish rule and is open to the public as a monument to this very day. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more historically impressive sight, especially from your boat.
- El Galeón Tall Ship: If you’ve heard the phrase, “we’re going to need a bigger boat,” this one may have done the trick. This ship is a historically accurate replica of the galleon ships that sailed the seas during the 16th and 17th centuries. Keep an eye out for this beautiful ship while boating in the Matanzas River, not far from the Castillo.
Only in Florida can you find such history so near popular beaches, attractions and fishing spots. A perfect mix for history and boating buffs alike, we couldn’t think of a better excuse to hit the waters near historic St. Augustine than these beautiful blasts from Florida’s past. As always, boat responsibly and we’ll see you on the water!
Whether you’re a new boater or hitting the water for the first time in a long time, boating for beginners has never been easier thanks to some great online resources and a worldwide community of boating enthusiasts that are often happy to lend advice. We love being one of these ambassadors to boating, so before your next (or first) boating trip, keep the following beginner tips in mind to have both a safety conscious and fun time with your friends and family on the water.
Boating for Beginners
- Make a List and Check it Twice: Good advice for not only the inexperienced, you should always prepare and utilize a pre-departure checklist. These checklists often include the likes of battery, gas, and oil checks, life vest and safety equipment review and weather analysis to name a few. Proper preparation can make all the difference when taking your boat on the water.
- Keep the Alcohol on Land: Though you may be the life of the party on land, leave the drinking for after your day of boating is done. Alcohol drastically increases the risk of boating accidents for even the most experienced of boaters.
- Safety (Check) First: Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard offers free vessel safety checks? Not only do these checks help ensure that your boat is in good shape for your next boating trip, but your inspector is also available to give you some key safety advice and answer questions that first-time boaters may have.
- Plan on a Float Plan: An easy way to give yourself an additional level of safety is to create a float plan. By filling out a float plan and leaving in the hands of a trusted individual on shore, you give yourself a safety net that provides a description of your vessel, a list of your passengers and planned whereabouts, all of which can be vital to your rescue if you don’t report
- Don’t be a Showboat: Operate your vessel safely and obey all posted speed and wake limits. Especially when just getting the hang of your vessel, it’s important to never be reckless while on the water. Stay vigilant and obey the laws of the waterway.
Boating can seem intimidating to some newcomers, but if you’re armed with these safety best practices, you and yours can enjoy the passion of boating that we all share. With a bit of practice, knowledge and experience, boating for beginners can be a breeze.
Information Cited: http://www.discoverboating.com/beginner/safety/tips.aspx
After tossing a back a few beverages at your favorite watering hole, the Friday-night luster has finally faded and you’re about ready to head home for some much-needed rest. You wish your clique of close companions a good night, and then; Therein lies the point in which you make the choice between responsibility and carelessness, safety and danger. The decision to drink and drive is a selfish one, as it needlessly puts the safety of yourself and countless others at risk.
Though we know that drinking and driving can lead to deadly results, why do so many not find a problem with drinking and boating? Before you cast off, consider the following:
- Just like drinking and driving, boating under the influence (BUI) is against the law. If you test at or higher than a .08 while operating a vessel, you are over the legal limit.
- Though open containers may be permissible in open water, in many private waters you may be ticketed if open alcohol containers are not allowed within that property.
- Being convicted of BUI is a serious offense. First convictions can see you paying up to $1,000 in fines and spending six months in jail. Penalties only worsen from there, as you could face up to 12 months of imprisonment after your third conviction.
Hi-Tide Boat Lifts is all about enjoying and sharing the excitement of boating with friends and loved ones, but always responsibly. If you understand the dangers involved with drinking and driving, remember that alcohol mixes just as dangerously when on the water. Assign a designated vessel operator or save the drinks for when you’re back on land. Stay safe and get boating!
Deck boats and party barges have seen a huge surge in popularity within the pleasure boating market, and for good reason. One of the great pleasures in boating is being able to hang out with a group of friends in a relaxed, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” setting. Whether pontoon boat, catamaran, or multi-hull, there are some easy steps to take to ensure that these types of vessels, with their large square footage and infinite accessories, stay properly supported when out of the water and on your boat lift.
The first step is to find out if the manufacturer has any recommended or required methods to properly support these vessels. Sometimes boat builders have exact support designs to ensure hull protection, making the process a no-brainer (especially if the vessel is still under warranty). If the manufacturer has no specific recommendations, then the next step is to examine the trailer on which the vessel was hauled. Simply reproducing the trailer’s configuration is a good place to start, but be sure to examine the trailer and boat thoroughly to ensure that the trailer did not have a design flaw that caused damage to the boat. Also, be aware that certain types of trailer support systems are not easily transferred to a standard boat lift.
If the first two methods of support design are not available, you’ll need to design from scratch. The first thing to be aware of is what areas on the vessel are structurally sound. In most cases, it is the hulls or pontoons themselves that are designed to hold the load. This certainly makes sense since these are what supports the boats’ load in the water, but remember, water provides evenly distributed support throughout the hull. Once the vessel is raised from the water, some type of structure must support all loads. This creates potential “point loading” which is what damages vessels.
The safest configuration for most multi-hull boats is parallel longitudinal support of each of the outboard hulls. For vessels with more than two hulls, it is usually OK to support the outer two hulls and let the middle hull hang freely. For a round bottom aluminum pontoon, a V-shaped longitudinal support will often distribute the load well enough that the hulls won’t buckle or dent. Square edged fiberglass pontoons are usually best supported by flat, longitudinal bunks placed so that the corners of the hulls handle the majority of the load. On longer, multi-hull boats, be aware that the further the boat extends beyond the lifter beams, the less support the bunking system will provide the hull. The inherent flexibility in all materials tends to focus a higher amount of load directly over the lifter beams. One popular solution for long, bi-hull boats is to construct a raised structure that is elevated high enough to directly support the frame of the boat and keep the pontoons off the lifter beams. While these approaches are not comprehensive, they work for the majority of the multi-hull boats.
As with any hull style, each fit-up should be approached on an individual basis and never assumed that any two boats are the same. To be sure that your method of hull protection and support will work for your vessel, ask for guidance from your lift manufacturer and installing dealer. When you contact the manufacturer and/or installer, have as much information available as you can to prevent damage and ensure your vessel is around to provide relaxation for years to come.
Author: Craig Wood