If there’s one thing boaters can agree on, it’s that we all disagree on a lot. From where the best fishing spots are to the fight of monohull vessels vs. catamarans, there are plenty of arguments to be had. However, one of the more technical of these battles is the discussion of outboard motors vs. inboard motors.
Without getting so deep into the subject that you might need a nautical engineering degree to understand it, let’s break down the basics of why you may be better off with one or the other.
Fast Facts on Inboard Motors
- Often quieter than outboard motors, making them a good option for pleasure cruisers and entertaining guests
- Take up some real estate on the craft, necessitating a large box to house the motor in the center of the vessel
- Can be more powerful than outboard motors, as they are often designed after larger car engines
- May be more expensive than smaller outboard motors
- Pose a greater fire hazard to your vessel due to the fact that they are centrally located in the craft
Fast Facts on Outboard Motors
- Far easier to service and replace than inboard motors, due to easy accessibility
- When storing the boat, engine can be easily lifted out of the water
- Easier to steer without power due to integral skeg and directional thrusts
- Can allow for more shallow fishing than inboard, since motor can be lifted out of the water
- Can take up space at the rear of the boat, especially if multiple outboard motors are utilized
Just to mix things up, there is also an option C: inboard/outboard (I/O), also known as sterndrive that mixes concepts from both motor types. In short, sterndrive boats have automotive-style engines in the vessel, but have a drive unit that acts as both transmission and propulsion to the propellers in the rear of the vessel.
So, which model of boat motor is right for your needs? We wouldn’t dare make that decision for you. We recommend you do a bit of research and, using the fast facts above, try to make an informed decision before hitting the dealership. Also, never be afraid to ask questions, and lots of them. Many boating buddies and boat sellers would be more than happy to share an educated opinion or two, to say the least.
No matter which side of the debate you end up on, there is one other thing most boaters can agree on besides lots to argue about, it’s that we’d rather be boating than doing most anything else. So, with that in mind, we hope that whichever vessel you choose, you have a great time on the water.
Back in the days before everyone had smartphones on-the-ready, we used to figure out how to get from point-A to point-B the old fashioned way–with maps. Today, drivers only need to know the name of the place they’re trying to get to, drop it into Google Maps and be on their way. To apply this technology to many popular South Florida waterways, Google is stepping in with Google Street View maps, making navigation easier than ever.
Partnering with the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, Google is set to create a detailed map of 143 nautical miles from Jupiter to Key Largo. Though the obvious benefit is directly to the boaters who can more accurately map out their next day of waterway fun, there is also a big benefit to the area’s boating-related businesses. With Google Waterway View, waterside businesses like restaurants, fuel docks, marinas and more will be prominently featured, hopefully bringing more attention and new customers.
The potential collective good that this project could provide is huge for boaters and the boating industry at large. Those who enjoy the many fantastic South Florida waterways will soon be able to make lunch plans and choose where to gas up as easily as they might in their cars. Who knows? Maybe your favorite waterway will be next up for Google.
When the heat rises and sunlight stretches longer into the evening hours, there is nothing like getting in a bit of lake swimming to cool off and provide a great excuse to break out the boat for another season of fun. But like boating and swimming anywhere, boating on Texas’ many lakes presents dangers that everyone should be aware of before taking a dip. Even if you’re an experienced boater who has frequented a favorite watering hole, review these lake swimming and boating safety tips before your next trip to make sure you’re enjoying the water responsibly.
Lake Swimming and Boating Safety Tips
- Weather Check: Sometimes, lake boaters can be lulled into a false sense of security since they’re not concerned with the rough waves and vastness of the ocean if a bad storm were to roll in. Some think they’d have ample time to make it back to shore and to safety before a thunderstorm were to roll in. Unfortunately, thunderstorms can develop surprisingly quickly and unexpectedly in warmer months, bringing with them dangerous downpours, winds and lightning. Check the weather the day before your trip, and then one last time before heading out in order to make sure the coast is clear.
- Animal Awareness: Something to always remember when swimming in a lake is that this is not your backyard swimming pool. Lakes are home to a number of creatures that can do you harm if you’re not vigilant. Snakes, alligators and snapping turtles can all be dangerous. Be sure to learn what animals inhabit your favorite lake and keep an eye on your surroundings at all times.
- Emergency Preparedness: Ensure that all safety equipment is fully stocked, checked and in-date. As always, there should be a Coast Guard approved Personal Floatation Device (PFD) available for every person onboard, which should be worn at all times. Make sure that PFDs fit, especially on children, who will need a parent or guardian to secure their correctly sized vest properly. According to a Children’s Health, 80% of drowning deaths in boating accidents involved people not wearing PFDs, so this is incredibly important. Additionally, everything from fire extinguishers to flashlights should be double checked and first aid kit supplies should be restocked.
- Swimming Safety: Never swim at night. Nocturnal predators may be more active and swimmers will have little to no visibility after dark, meaning increased danger. It is also very important to keep close watch of all swimmers, especially children. If there is an emergency and a swimmer is struggling in the water, throw them a flotation device or a pole to grab hold of instead of jumping in yourself. There have been many unfortunate cases of people intending to help a drowning person becoming victims themselves in the panic.
Lake swimming and boating in Texas can be great fun for the whole family as long as it’s done safely. If you check the weather, gain a knowledge of the wildlife, prep for emergencies and swim safely, you and yours can make a splash all spring and summer long. Stay safe, and as always, we’ll see you on the water
Already well into the first quarter of 2018, you may be revving up for a spring and summer season full of beach trips and boating fun. As an industry and culture, we love to think about what’s around the bend for boating. Gazing into the near future, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) posted a video on notable 2018 recreational boating trends we may see in the coming months.
2018 Recreational Boating Trends to Watch
- Versatility: Though there are certainly boats that work better for specific activities, there’s a prediction that more boaters will seek out multi-use vessels. This makes sense when considering many boaters aren’t on the water professionally or for a highly specific reason. Many may flock to vessels that are more Jacks of all trades.
- Family Focus: This year is predicted to be big for families, and why not? Boating can be big fun for everyone, whether cruising on a lake or deep sea fishing. As long as the captain follows safe boating laws and practices, boating is a relatively safe way to bond in the great outdoors.
- Fishing: According to the NMMA video, 70% of boats are used for fishing. Additionally, the sales of vessels used for saltwater fishing are predicted to increase by 4% and freshwater to increase by 2%. Whether for relaxation or some friendly competition, there’s a reason fishing is a major driver of boat sales, and will be for the foreseeable future.
- Boat Services: You don’t have to own a boat to enjoy time on the water. The NMMA predicts that services including boat rentals, chartering and fractional use boating, just to name a few.
NMMA president, Thom Dammrich has some solid predictions for 2018 recreational boating trends, many of which ring true to what we’ve seen firsthand in recent years. With an increased interest in versatility, family boating, fishing and alternative means of getting onto the water, this year is sure to be yet another exciting time to be in our industry and share this common passion of ours. Only time will tell if these predictions prove correct, but regardless, we’re happy to get going on another season of sunshine and fun on our favorite waterways.
There is a menace lurking just under the surface of Texas watering holes across the Lone Star State. It’s not a killer great white, moray eels or even a rogue Loch Ness Monster. No, this creature is far scarier than any Scottish sea beast of legend. It can hitch a ride on your vessel without you ever noticing and infest every lake you may travel after. This monster is known as the zebra mussel.
Though small in size, this sea creature spreads like a virus, ruining ecosystems (and good fishing, along with it). The small creature is an invasive species, originating from Eurasia and only arriving in Texas around the late 1980s. But what is the big problem with this little mussel?
Unfortunately, like many similar creatures, the zebra mussel filters water for plankton. This would not ordinarily be a problem, but they reproduce and eat at such a rate that many of Texas’s native species simply can’t keep up. In other words, the zebra mussel is essentially eating other native species out of house and home. Additionally, they have been known to clog pipes and even kill native mussels.
With this in mind, what can you do as a Texas boater to curb the spread of this lake-dwelling monster?
- Clean Up Your Act: Boats that call contaminated waters home may need to be professionally cleaned to ensure that all signs of the creature have been completely removed from the vessel. If just visiting a contaminated lake, be sure to do a thorough cleaning of your vessel and trailer before hitting another body of water.
- Unplug: Be sure to completely drain livewells, ballasts, bilges and engine cooling water.
- Dry Off: If you allow your vessel to completely dry off before hitting another body of water, you reduce the risk of unintentionally contaminating other waterways.
With these three simple tips, you can help curb the spread of the zebra mussel invasion, saving your waterway from becoming a graveyard to many species of native fish and mussels. Part of boating and fishing is being conscious of the ecosystems we visit while on the water. Be safe, beware contaminated waters and, as always, have fun. If you want more information on zebra mussels and waterway protection, visit the Texas Park & Wildlife website, where we found the tips above. We’ll see you on the water.