Category: Boating Tips

New Year’s Resolutions and Boating Tips for 2019

With New Year’s resolution season in full swing, you may be planning to put in work at the gym, start healthier eating habits or commit to reading more books. Though all of those resolutions are great, boaters might want to put a little thought into making 2019 a better year on the water as well.

That’s where we come in, friends. Here are our boating tips and resolutions you may want to keep coming into the new year. We promise, zero gym time is required.

Boating Tips and Resolutions for 2019

  • Keep it Clean: Don’t be trashy. Though it may be tempting to simply discard your snack wrappers, plastic bags, cans and bottles overboard, doing so immediately damages the environment and puts the sea life you share waters with at risk. Keep a garbage bag onboard and dispose of your trash responsibly once back ashore.
  • Make a List and Check it Twice: Lists aren’t only for Santa. Making a six-month or quarterly checklist for your boat maintenance can go a long way to ensure smooth sailing all year long.
  • Be Storm-Ready: Before next hurricane season begins, get your plan in place. Though current meteorology often gives us a little more time to react before landfall, hurricanes are still wildly unpredictable. Having a plan in place to secure your vessel and evacuate will help avoid panic and keep you safe.
  • Boat Somewhere New: Though we all have our favorite spots, make a resolution to explore new waters. Do some research and stay safe, but enjoy a little adventure on your next trip.

  • Boat More Often: Look, this may sound like a bad excuse to have more fun…and it kind of is. Life is short and times can be hard, but make sure you save some time to kick back and enjoy this hobby, passion and lifestyle we all love.

With a new year and new you, why not make now the time you commit to keeping waterways clean, making a safety and maintenance checklist, creating a hurricane plan, trying out a new waterway and boating more often in 2019? We promise all of these resolutions are easier to keep than that all-kale diet or spinning class you just enrolled in. From all of us at Hi-Tide Boat Lifts, may your 2019 be full of fun on the water!

Manatee Safety: Boating Tips to Protect Florida’s Sea Cows

There are a few rare creatures that are so wonderfully strange that they almost defy logic. Australia has the duck-billed platypus and Florida has the majestic sea cow. Though they may not be much to look at (no offense), manatees are nonetheless a highly protected, wholly unique resident of many of the Sunshine State’s waterways. Unfortunately, these docile, aquatic mammals are often at risk due to careless boaters. So, what manatee safety tips should you practice on your next trip? We have a few ideas that could protect you and those loveable sea cows.

Manatee Safety Tips

  • Look for the Signs: Follow all posted signs and warnings, including low wake zones, speed limits and manatee zones.
  • Keep an Eye Out: Manatees can be tough to spot. If possible, designate someone onboard to be the lookout while you maneuver your vessel.
  • Avoid Seagrass: Manatees can often be found grazing in beds of seagrass, so avoiding these areas altogether can keep you from a potential collision.
  • Look Before Starting Your Motor: If you cut your motor, be sure to check around your vessel before engaging your propeller, as manatees are known to investigate boats.
  • Keep Your Trash to Yourself: Littering in our waterways can injure or even kill manatees and other wildlife. Keep your garbage onboard until you get back ashore and can dispose of it appropriately.
  • Do Not Touch: As huggable as they may look, you must resist the urge to touch and directly interact with manatees. Feeding and petting manatees will lead to them growing too accustomed to human interaction. This may lead to them seeking out humans and getting hurt in the process.
  • Report Injuries Immediately: In the unfortunate case that your vessel collides with or clips a manatee, do not panic. Immediately call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) and alert them to the location of the injured animal. Time is of the essence.

With low reproduction rates, manatee safety is important to keep in mind when enjoying Florida’s many wonderful waterways. Keep an eye out for these gentle giants and do your part to keep our waterways clean and safe for everyone we share them with.

Zebra Mussels: What You Need to Know

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.

Fall Boating Tips to Keep Your Vessel Shipshape

Let’s be honest–Florida has just about two seasons: sweltering summer and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it winter. Even well into October, it’s not out of the question to have days reach the upper 80s (and even beyond), meaning Halloween is often more sweaty than scary. However, that also means beach, pool and, most importantly of all, boating weather is with us nearly all year long.

However, if you will be boating outside of the Sunshine State or if this season surprises us with some unseasonably cool weather (or even if not), you should take the change of seasons to prep for cooler temps and complete general maintenance after a busy summer.

Fall Boating Safety Tips

  • Life Jackets are Mandatory: Yes, we all understand that life jackets can save lives, yet so many of us don’t bother wearing them when we hit the water. Whether it’s apathy, ignorance or a desire to look cool, there is no excuse for not having enough life jackets for every passenger and asking that everyone wear said life jackets. Though less a concern most of the year for Floridians, other places can see waters dip into dangerously low temperatures. A life jacket could easily keep someone above water in cold temperatures, saving his or her life.
  • Check Your Lights: Even if you plan on getting back in before sunset, make sure all of your boat’s lights are working properly. It’s very easy to forget how quickly the sun begins to set in the fall months, and many get caught off guard. The last thing you want is to be forced to navigate in dark waters without fully operational lights.
  • Complete Your Maintenance Checklist: With every season change, it’s a great opportunity to go through your maintenance checklist, checking for damage, doing a deep clean on your vessel and ensuring all safety equipment is tip-top. You do not want to have an emergency and realize your potentially life-saving equipment is out of date or too damaged to use.
  • Watch the Weather: Fall weather can be unpredictable. Make sure you check a forecast and continue to keep tabs on the meteorological outlook throughout the day to ensure you’re dressed for the right temperatures and can clear the way for any quickly forming storms.

No matter where you’re hitting the water, make sure your vessel is safe to operate, you and all passengers are wearing life jackets, you keep an eye on the weather and ensure your lights are functional before getting into some quality fall boating. Boat safely and we’ll see you on the water!

Should You Wash Your Boat After Every Trip?

There are neat freaks, clutter kings/queens and everyone who falls somewhere in the middle. Oftentimes you only need to look at someone’s car to tell where along the neat/dirty spectrum they are–from immaculately washed and waxed to “WASH ME” scrawled in caked-on dirt. Regardless, we are absolutely not judging…until you move the conversation to boats.

Not washing your boat can cause a multitude of cosmetic and, more importantly, performance and safety issues. But the question is, should you wash your boat after every trip? Is it really worth the effort? Well, yes and no.

The unfortunate truth is that water, especially saltwater, can be quite destructive to many materials and surfaces that might be found on your boat. Metals can corrode, wood can warp and fiberglass can deteriorate. You can protect these thing by regularly cleaning your vessel, including:

  • Waxing your boat every 3-4 months. The combination of hot sunlight and corrosive saltwater can quickly eat away at your boat’s protective layer of wax, so be prepared to recoat it regularly.
  • Completing a freshwater wash down with a light cleaner (dish soap works in a pinch), which can drastically reduce the chances of corrosion on stainless steel parts and should be done after every use on saltwater.
  • Flushing your engine after every use can keep it from getting clogged up by debris or corroded by saltwater.
  • Washing all windows with a water and vinegar solution to keep visibility while on the water after every trip.

There are many ways to wash your boat, but the important thing to remember is that you should make it a priority if you want your investment to last. Wash it with fresh water and mild soaps after every trip, wax at least every four months, flush your engine after every use and wash your windows regularly.

Critics always joke about just how expensive (and stressful) boat ownership can be but if you wash your boat and conduct regular maintenance, it can be (mostly) smooth sailing for you and your ship.