Eco-Friendly Boating: 5 Tips to Protect Your Favorite Waterway

The great outdoors is…well–great. The trouble is, human exposure to these often delicate ecosystems can lead to damage, pollution and even full-stop extinctions if not carefully monitored. Your favorite waterway to boat or fish in is no different. For that reason, it is important to know the easy ways you can enjoy eco-friendly boating without sacrificing the fun of getting out on the water with friends and family.

Five Easy Ways to Implement Eco-Friendly Boating Techniques

  • See the Signs: Many waterways, especially near vulnerable flora and fauna (manatees, seagrass, coral, etc.), will post “no wake” signs that warn boaters to slow their vessels. High-speed boats can cause wakes that damage shorelines and make it more difficult to maneuver around seagrasses and slow-moving wildlife. Just as you should in a car, follow posted speed limits and heed all warning signs.
  • Don’t Spill: Fuel and oil are both awful for the environment. Though you may be extra careful when filling your oil and fuel tanks on the water, you may not be able to avoid a spill. Add to that, the risk of your engine or tanks leaking these pollutants and you can see why it is so important to report any incidences of oil or gas leaks to the Environmental Protection Agency as soon as possible. If you come across a vessel leaking or dumping pollutants, it is your responsibility to report it as well.
  • Maintenance and Mess: Always ensure that your engine is up to snuff before hitting the water. It is especially important to check all hoses, which can become brittle after months of exposure to the sun and water.
  • Trash Troubles: Do your part to ensure that no one on your boat is throwing garbage overboard. It is tempting to simply toss that soda can or potato chip bag into the open water, but this has an immediate and terrible impact on the entire ecosystem, no matter how little the litter.
  • Overfishing: If you’re new to fishing, you may not realize that there are strict regulations on both saltwater and freshwater fishing to avoid overfishing or the capture of protected species. Follow these rules to stay on the right side of the law and preserve the delicate ecosystem.

If you love boating, you must also love and respect Mother Nature. Do your part every time you hit the water by following waterway speed limits and warnings, reporting oil and fuel spills, maintaining your engine and never littering. As boating and fishing enthusiasts, we are also the guardians of the waters we love spending our time on.

Smart, eco-friendly boating has come a long way since the “save the manatees” days (a campaign that actually accomplished just that). With more awareness, there is no excuse for leaving our waterways worse for future generations of boaters, fishers and anglers.

Dock, Dock, Goose: What are the Benefits of Floating Docks?

If there’s one constant in boating, it is options. Onboard vs inboard motors, multihull vs monohull, big boat vs even bigger boat–the list goes on. One of these choices has nothing to do with your vessel itself, but is easily just as important: floating docks vs fixed docks.

For the uninformed, there are two basic types of docks. Fixed docks, which are often wooden platforms supported by wooden pilings driven into the ground below the water, is looked at as the more traditional style. However, floating docks are also available, which only require buoyancy to keep above water and provide a few key benefits you may not know about.

Why Floating Docks May be a Better Option for Your Boating

The biggest benefit of floating docks is their adaptability on the water. As tides rise and fall, so do floating docks. At high tide, fixed docks could face submersion, which is terrible for wear and tear and a big problem if you were hoping to hit the water. Also, the fact that they’re made with plastics and metals chosen for their durability on the water can lead to less maintenance, muss and fuss.

The flexibility of floating docks is also worth noting. Need a small dock? You may only need a couple of platforms. Looking for something bigger? More platforms can be easily added to your project to fit your exact needs.

Though some prefer fixed docks due to the added hang out and party spot they provide when attached to a home, if your given waterway faces big tidal fluctuations, we’d highly suggest going with floating docks.

As always, you should absolutely do your homework and pick only what makes the most sense for your personal boating needs. Whatever floats your boat (or dock), as they say.

If you do decide to go with a floating dock, be sure to see what Hi-Tide can offer with our super stable, aluminum enforced floating docks today.

Duck Hunt: Waterfowl Hunting Safety

Just like fishing, many enjoy the serenity and challenge of being out in the wild and nabbing a big bird to bring home for dinner. Though a popular activity when in season, waterfowl hunting safety is something that has to be constantly remembered for both beginners and experts. Anytime you mix firearms and the unpredictability of the great outdoors, you must use caution.

Before you take your boat out on your next hunt, make sure you’re conscious of the following waterfowl hunting safety tips.

Don’t Get Your Goose Cooked: Waterfowl Hunting Safety Tips

  • Boat-Based Safety: You must maintain the same safety standards you would on your vessel used for hunting as you would on any boat you’d take on the open water. Some throw caution to the wind when using smaller boats for waterfowl hunting but this is a critical error. You should still stow away emergency safety equipment (GPS, radio, PFD, flashlight, flares, first aid, etc.) and share a float plan and information with friends or family back home, detailing where you are hunting and when you plan on returning, just in case you find yourself stranded.
  • Gun Safety: Keep your firearm unloaded until you are safely in position and ready to fire. Loading your weapon before you’re ready to use it adds significant and unnecessary risk to your trip. Before even setting out on your hunting trip, however, be sure to perform a full safety check on your weapon, looking for obstructions in the breach and other common issues.

    Once in position and ready to fire, always stay within your shooting lane and maintain muzzle awareness. It’s easy to get excited and wildly swing your gun into a blind spot to try to make a shot. Doing so is incredibly reckless and should be avoided at all costs.
  • Eyes and Ears: Protecting both vision and hearing is important for anyone looking to make hunting more than a one-time affair. The sounds of multiple gunshots at close range can have irreversible effects to your hearing, as can ejected shell casings or a ricocheted pellet to your vision. Always wear ANSI-rated glasses and sound-cancelling ear protection whenever using firearms.

Besides the above, never (and we mean ever) go boating or hunting while under the influence of alcohol. Utilizing firearms and boating are both major responsibilities that require you to have your wits about you. Never risk injuring (or worse) those you may be boating with, or others who may also be hunting on the same waters.

Boat safe and happy hunting!

Information collected from: Ducks Unlimited

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day Ideas Perfect for Your Boating Valentine

Forgetful, indecisive or ever-busy significant others–listen up! If you’re all out of Valentine’s Day ideas for you and your significant other, we may have you covered. With these boating-and-fishing-inspired tips for a romantic date, you can treat that special someone to a fun excursion or gift that they’re sure to remember for years to come.

Valentine’s Day Ideas to Treat Your Favorite Boater

  • You catch, I cook: Though some already split the fishing/cooking duties, this is a fantastic way to spend time, bond and enjoy some good eats. Propose the idea of visiting a beloved fishing spot for a full day of cruising and dropping lines, then enjoying the day’s catch for dinner. In case the fish aren’t biting, pick a plan B before hitting the water. Trust us, no one wants a hangry valentine come dinnertime.
  • Kayaking or canoeing: Both kayaking and canoeing give you the chance to paddle away together, enjoying a bit of outdoor quiet time while soaking in the sun and scenery.

  • Gifts that keep on giving: You could settle for a nice bottle of wine or box of chocolates, but why not give your partner something they can use while doing what they love? Protective sunglasses, a high-quality boating knife, or even a paid pleasure cruise to get them on the water without the hassle of taking out their own boat are all great options. If unsure, maybe pry a bit to see what they need most for their boat.

  • Romance on the water: Plan a beachside getaway, even if just for a day. Nothing refreshes like some time on the beach, and there are fewer things more romantic than sharing a sunset on the seashore. If the water permits, consider even decking out your boat for a special Valentine’s Day trip with their favorite music, food and a bit of festive decorating on deck.
  • A brand new boat: Your significant other would hate if we didn’t at least put it on the list…

Valentine’s Day ideas can sometimes be hard to come by, but even the most hard-to-shop-for boaters are sure to love at least one of the ideas above. As they say, it’s the thought that counts, and showing your beloved that you embrace their boating and fishing fanaticism is sure to generate some smiles come February 14.

Good luck, and have a great time enjoying the love of boating with the one you love.

Outboard vs. Inboard: Which Motor is Better for Your Boating?

Outboard vs. inboard motors–boaters often have some deep-seated opinions on this debate. Instead of taking a side (and bracing for hate mail), we decided to get the facts together so that you can be better informed before buying your next boat. Let’s break down the benefits to both propeller pushers.

The Outboard vs. Inboard Motors Debate

For the uninitiated, outboard motors hang off of the stern of the boat and provide the following benefits to boaters:

  • Safer travel in shallower waters. Outboard motors can be adjusted or lifted completely out of the water to avoid running aground.
  • More space on your deck and below deck. Though an outboard will take up some space at the stern, it is often much less than the space needed to house an inboard motor.
  • Much easier maintenance. Repairs are extremely easy to conduct since the motor is not in a confined, cramped engine compartment.

Inboard motors are not without merit, however. Sitting in an engine compartment under the deck, they provide boaters:

  • A lower center of gravity, which may help keep a boat upright in rough seas.
  • Better horsepower and torque, depending on the model. Many inboard motors are larger and more powerful than their outboard counterparts.
  • A quieter ride, as the motor is tucked in a compartment onboard instead of our in the open.

Another consideration is how the boat feels to maneuver. Inboard motors require much more power to steer in a particular direction, while outboard motors are a bit more easily handled. It’s definitely a personal preference decision, but one you should keep in mind if you are used to one propulsion method or the other.

The outboard vs. inboard debate is sure to rage on, but as long as you’re on the water, it’s hard to have a bad time. Do your homework, ask a friend and buy the boat that best suits your wants and needs.

Regardless of the boat you choose, when it’s time to dock up, Hi-Tide will be there to give you a lift.