Boating is often linked to an appreciation for the great outdoors. Many boaters and anglers happen to also be avid outdoorsmen and women who understand just how important our environment is to protecting our pastime. Though it’s morally right to protect the plants and animals we share the waterways with, it also helps ensure that our kids and grandkids can enjoy the water just as much as we have. That’s where eco-friendly boating techniques come in.
Though some of the more pessimistic out there may scoff and turn their noses up to anything with the “eco-friendly” label as just some kind of crunchy hippie buzzword without much substance, eco-friendly boating is something everyone can (and should) incorporate as responsible boaters. Here are a few easy ways you can start to protect our waterways for years to come.
Eco-Friendly Boating Tips Worth Remembering
- Motor Maintenance: Not only will a well-running motor save you money on gas, but it can also help keep you from spilling pollutants into our waterways. Oil and gasoline can be extremely harmful to the ecosystem, so ensuring your motor is tip-top and leak-free before hitting the water is a great idea.
- No Littering: One of the most frustrating and completely preventable environmental dangers boaters cause is littering. Tossing cans, plastic and other non-biodegradable materials into the water can harm or kill creatures along the entire food chain. Simply keep a garbage bag onboard and dispose of your trash responsibly, and have a zero-tolerance policy for litterbug boaters and passengers.
- Heed the Signs: Do your best to follow cautionary signs posted on your waterway, including low-wake zones and wildlife warnings. Ignoring these signs could destroy important seagrasses, oyster beds or even result in you injuring protected sea life.
- Ditch Diesel: Though diesel motors are still the standard for many boat companies, emerging electric or hybrid options could both reduce or eliminate your gas costs while also reducing the risks of pollution.
By keeping your motor tip-top, refusing to litter, watching for cautionary signs and finding an alternative to diesel-powered motors, you could safeguard our waterways for generations of boaters to come. Together, we can protect the plant and animal life that make our waterways so beautiful in the first place, all while still having fun on the water with these eco-friendly boating tips.
When heading out to your favorite spot to get in some high-quality fishing, many of us like to take a handy checklist. From making sure you pack the right lures and bait to checking the weather and latest fishing reports, this list can grow to something near novel length. We’re sorry, but we have to add to that list. But we promise — it’s worth it.
Fishing Tips to Add to Your Checklist
- See the Signs: Most any major waterway will have signs that caution boaters and fishers of regulations or dangers. Heed signs that mark off no-fishing zones, private property and otherwise protected areas. Some common off-limits areas include protected seagrass beds and oyster reefs.
- Safety First: Your checklist needs to include the likes of a first aid kit, waterproof baggies or protectors for your cell phone, life vests fitted to each person onboard, flashlights, sunscreen and bug spray if you’re in an area prone to mosquitos.
- Stay Hydrated on the Water: Though you’re surrounded by the stuff, don’t forget to bring plenty of water or sports drinks in order to stay hydrated. It’s especially easy in the summer months to not realize just how dehydrated you’re getting in the blazing sun. Also, coffee, soda and alcohol can act as diuretics, so avoid them when trying to rehydrate.
- Watch the Weather: Summer brings with it some predictably unpredictable weather patterns, namely, the dreaded afternoon thunderstorms. Though we’d all like to kick back for a full day of fishing and fun, it’s important to keep tabs on worsening weather. The last thing you want is to be caught with your rods up when the lightning starts.
- Read the Regulations: The most fun part of fishing? The regulations, of course. OK, we know rules and regulations can be a bit of a downer when you’re just trying to hit the water and have some fun. However, understanding catch-and-release rules, bag and length standards and other regulations (for both freshwater and saltwater fishing) can help keep you out of trouble with local authorities.
By looking out for posted signs, bringing safety equipment, staying hydrated, watching for approaching storms and reading your local fishing regulations, you can have a trouble-free time on the water. So grab your bait, pack a lunch and complete your checklist — you have a summer full of fishing to do. We’ll see you on the water.
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