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Raft Up!

May 28, 2014

Rafting your boat is a great way to spend time on the water with family, friends and other boaters. Here are a few tips to keep you and your boat safe while rafting up this summer.

Raft Up!Gear:
Make sure you have the right gear for rafting up. Fenders, dock lines, spring lines and anchors are important. A boat hook is also handy to maneuver boats at close quarters while keeping hands and feet clear for safety.

Make a Plan:
Having a good plan will make the process of rafting multiple boats together go smoothly and safely.

  • Designate the heaviest boat (not necessarily the biggest) to be the host or ‘anchor’ vessel. This will be the first boat in the raft, setting a good anchor for the boats that will then tie along either side.
  • The total load on the center boat will be more than normal and extra scope is necessary. Make sure the captain of the anchor boat is familiar with his anchor and sets it good at 7:1 minimum scope, 10:1 is always a good idea especially for larger rafts.
  • Size up the boats that plan to participate in the raft up. It is best to place similar sized boats next to one another to best protect the vessels when tied and make crossing between boats easier. Place larger vessels near the center of the raft, on either side of the host or anchor boat, and smaller boats towards the ends of the raft.
  • When planning a larger raft, it is a good idea to have multiple boats set an anchor to secure the raft, every third boat is a good rule of thumb. Be aware of current, tides and wind conditions. Plan to either anchor your raft in place (forward and aft) or to allow for swing (which can tangle lines and anchors if you are not careful).

Raft Up

Communicate:
Use your marine radio or cellphone to communicate between boats as they are added to the raft up.

Be Ready:
Have your fenders deployed and lines ready. Take into consideration if you will be setting an anchor prior to easing alongside the raft. Be safe, look for swimmers and smaller watercraft as you join the raft up. Children and guests not involved with rafting up should be sitting out of the way.

Tie Off:
When in position, tie off to the other boat. Adjust bow and stern lines so your stern aligns with the rafted boats. This allows for safer and easier travel between rafted vessels. Use spring lines to prevent forward and aft shifting between boats.

Movement:
Movement, especially in wake situations is usually unavoidable. This is one reason some choose not to participate in raft ups, and is often a cause for the rafted boats dispersing before dark. How protected your anchorage is from wind and wake, how safe and secure your fenders keep your boat, and how securely lines were tied are all important factors that will contribute to a safe and damage free raft up experience.

HAVE A PLAN, HAVE THE RIGHT GEAR AND HAVE FUN THIS SUMMER BOATING SEASON!

Be Respectful: Respect the privacy and belongings of the boats next to you, especially when coming aboard another’s vessel to cross along the raft. Be mindful of where you step, avoid walking over hatches and through cockpits, etc..

Be Safe: Take your time when crossing between two boats, never jump! Climbing over bow rails, lines, gunwales or swim platforms pose trip hazards and safety concerns. Be careful of cleats and other sharp objects when barefoot. Keep arms and legs out from between boats, you never know when shifting may occur. Wear life jackets or PFD in case of a slip. Never swim between boats.

The Right Tools: Even if you only raft up with other vessels once in a while, it pays to have properly sized and shaped fenders, and the right kind of dock lines for the task. For rafting up with larger vessels, you might want to consider having a set of at least two slightly larger fenders. Having slightly heavier dock line is a good idea too, especially if some of the boats in the raft are larger. Make sure you are tying lines off securely. Checking and maintaining your boat’s cleats and other gear is a good practice to prevent damage while rafting up or dockside.

Get The Gear Here!

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The number one reason that drive systems go out of alignment is that the engine mounts are worn or have sagged. The engine sits lower and lower and moves around more so there is increased wear and vibration on the entire drive of the vessel.

Marine engine mounts can make the difference between a low vibration engine, mounted stable in your boat or an iron monster that shakes the hull, produces noise and may lead to damage. Broken, damaged or worn engine mounts are not always obvious when 100’s of pounds of static motor are sitting on the mounts. Excess vibration can be caused by many things, including; mounts that are too soft or hard, worn engine mounts or how the mounts are attached to the bed. Of course, there are other things that can cause vibration, including; misalignment of transmission to shaft, worn components (cutlass bearing, transmission) or damaged components (propeller, shaft, transmission).

The forces of a high revving, high horsepower modern marine engine are passed directly onto the engine mounts. Even small one cylinder diesels really pound the engine mounts. For all their apparent simplicity, engine mounts are subject to a number of forces:

  • Longitudinal – The forward / aft motion of the engine
  • Lateral – The side to side motion of the engine
  • Vertical – the up and down motion of the engine

Most of these forces on a motor mount act in a form of chaotic unison. Not only must the engine hold its own position based on motor and transmission weight, but it also must resist the shearing force of the propeller under thrust. What looks like a simple job for an engine mount gets complex, quickly when throttling up; the engine mounts on one side are ‘stretched’, one the other side they are compressed, they are also subjected to shear by the thrust of the prop. Now add to the equation of a boat throttling up in rolling seas, or depending on the vessel, being subjected to storm conditions or high-speed pounding. The simple combination of metal and rubber that makes up an engine mount sees real abuse in a harsh environment.

Figuring out what engine mount you need:

  • Number of mounts. Most marine engine/transmission units use 4 engine mounts, some smaller/older units use 3
  • Matching up the weight and horsepower to an engine mount
  • Match the Make Model of your engine

Once you know how many mounts you need and a data about the engine/transmission then nearly every modern marine engine can be found with The Engine Mount Cross-Reference Guide. In summary, should you feel that your system has gotten out of alignment, check your engine mounts first. It is the sagging engine that puts pressure on the cutlass and shaft seal and wears them to the point of needing replacement.

Marine controls are an essential part of any boat (including auxiliary powered sailboats). After the wheel or tiller, there is nothing else that you touch as much. Your marine controls connect you to the thrust and direction of movement of the vessel whether docking or out on the open water at full throttle. A control may operate the throttle or shift or both; several choices and options are available. Reliability, smoothness, accuracy and response are all features to look for in a marine control.

Shift / Throttle Functions of Marine controls:

Single Function / Single Lever (Controls Only One; Throttle or Shifter) – This is the simple lever that controls just the throttle or just the shifter. Some typical applications are with a Berkley Jet, this lever is the shifter and a foot pedal is used for throttle.

Dual Function / Dual Lever, Binnacle Mount Control

Dual Function / Dual Lever (Controls Throttle and Shift for Two Engines) – This control sees typical use with a twin-engine vessel and offers the simplest to use setup. Like all dual function controls, the lever controls both the shift and the throttle. As you push forward on the lever, the transmission engages and the engine throttles up.

Dual Function / Single Lever (Controls the Throttle and Shift) – By far the most common controller available for virtually every inboard, sterndrive and outboard application. This control is suitable for only one engine. The mounting options for this style control can range from helm stations to the side box controls on an outboard to sailboat cockpit controls. Like all dual function controls, the lever controls both the shift and the throttle. As you push forward on the lever, the transmission engages and the engine throttles up.

Single Function / Dual Lever (One lever controls throttle, the other lever controls shift) – A more traditional approach to controlling the throttle and shift. Some manufacturers do not recommend this type of control because you could throttle up (first) then slam the transmission into forward while the throttle is high! For twin engines, you simple mount two of these. Not for novices and can be dangerous when operated in a panic situation.

Control Mounting:

Traditional Runabout w/ Side Box Mount Control

Runabout, Outboard or Sterndrive Controls – Smaller boats typically use a side box mount controller, fitted to the right of the helm. With the exception of some jet boats, most of these controls are dual function, single lever. There are specific controllers made for Mercury / Mariner / Force as well as OMC / Johnson / Evinrude. You may be able to use a more generic controller by choosing cables that have end options that work with your system.

Sailboat Controls – Most sailboats use a flush side mount marine control. Older sailboats typically operated with Morse single function / dual lever controls. Most sailboat auxiliaries setup since the 1980’s use the dual function / single lever control to manage the throttle / shift in a smooth fashion.

Inboard and Larger Vessels – These controls are most often binnacle mounted controls that may have two stations (upper helm and lower cabinhouse) and twin-engine setups. The common traditional setup is a single function / dual lever control at the helm station. Owners often want more response and a ‘make sense system’ to help when maneuvering larger vessels with twin engines.

With the right controls, nearly anyone can take the helm* – note that the boat below is not under power!

Upper Control Station - Twin Engine, Single Function / Dual Lever

It is another new year and most of us have tucked away our boats for the long winter of hibernation here in the North. This boat hibernation is not localized to just the northern part of the US, Boaters from San Fransisco Bay (and the Chesapeake on the Easy Coast) north usually park their vessels until the first days of spring.

So here are some New Years resolutions.

1. Prep the boat and do that one job that you have been putting off. There will be time right before you launch for paint, varnish and epoxy (and the weather will be warmer) in the spring. Now is the time to install those LED navigation lights, rewire the power distribution panel, change the steering helm and cables or fit a new toilet to your slumbering vessel. Pick just one job and follow it through so that you will be ready to play this next season.

2. Take a Boater’s Safety Course. Many States are requiring boaters to have completed a boaters safety course; currently, only 9 do not. Locally, the state course is often a one time class that you might not have to take for years, yet you could just ‘get it out of the way’. Some insurance companies offer a break for taking a course. The US Power Squadron (USPS) has come up with a boating safety course suitable for any students situation. There are several ways that you can take a USPS course, in class, online or through an interactive CD-ROM. Lastly, get those who boat with you aboard your vessel to complete a course – better yet, take it together.

3. Plan your next journey. Look up the information and make plans for your next boating adventure. One of the easiest ways to plan the route is using the C-Map system in your chartplotter. Whether you  are taking a trawler down the Intercoastal Waterway, a sailboat adventure to Alaska or just planning to visit those local lakes that you always wanted to fish. Internet research is easier than ever with private blogs about people doing similar things, YouTube videos or professional tour sites. Plan for those dreams and make them possible.

4. Join a professional organization that helps on the water. Volunteers are needed by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA), Fish and Wildlife, Environmental study groups and others. There is no way better to connect with people and the marine enviroment as there is when you give your time. Whether it is helping repair a local boat ramp, counting spawning fish or inspecting vessels as a member of the USCGA, it is hard to find a more rewarding effort in a place that you care about.

5. Speaking of vessel inspection; get a vessel safety check by the USPS or the USCGA. Be a proactive boater and arrange to get this simple inspection that confirms that you have right equipment aboard (which you should have). The inspection is voluntary and is not boarding or a law enforcement issue. No citations will be given as a result of this encounter. You will be supply with a copy of the evaluation so that you may follow some of the suggestions given. Vessels that pass will get a VSC decal.

6. Get others involved in boating. Take a friend and expose them to boating. Send someone you care about a marine magazine. Share the enjoyment that you get from boating and take someone else down to the docks. Nothing fosters support better than those you care about getting involved with something you care about. Boating is about how the activity makes you feel as mush as it is about doing the activity.

7. Get a new or used boat. Now is a great time to purchase a boat – and what better activity that readying yourself for ownership in a boat if you have not had one. It is also a great time to upgrade to a larger vessel. A co-worker here bought a smaller sailboat so that their children might learn to sail a boat by themselves. Get one of those new smaller kayaks so that you can explore the shore while anchored in the perfect place. Whether big or small, increasing your boat stable may just help you spend more time doing what you truly care about.

Me? I have an electrical panel to install and have been putting off helping a friend who is a volunteer with a shoreline group… My resolutions for this year.

Rocking the Boat - Spring 2010

15 years ago the Rocking the Boat volunteer project began as a way to offer teens in South Bronx hope for a better future through creating – then using a boat they built with their own hands. “I get to say [I’m] still in my first job out of college, which is kind of fun,” jokes the founder Adam Green, now 37.

There is weeklong concentration and training period of just using the tools to build the boats before any construction begins, as reported to Stephanie Lin for NBCNewyork.com. It takes 16 students 13 weeks to complete a single boat, from the raw wood and parts to a finished hull ready for the water.

Since August 1998 over 400 students from more than 40 different high schools have been involved in building 22 traditional wooden boats. The program highlights diversity form one of the nations poorest inner city areas. Boys and girls participate in equal numbers, and represent Latino, African-American, West Indian, Indian, Asian, South American, and African cultures. They are drawn mostly from the Bronx but also Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

In March, Rocking the Boat officially opened its new 6,000 square foot building in Hunts Point. There is a continued interest in boatbuilding and the opportunity it brings for personal growth and accomplishment.

Although Go2marine did not supply parts to the Rocking the Boat organization, we support special interest groups similar to Rocking the Boat. Go2marine supplies 1000’s of boatbuilders and owners each year with parts and support for projects ranging from non-profit groups to father/son activities to vessel repower and rebuild ventures. With over 170,000 boat parts, ranging from both powerboat and sailboat parts to complete engines and drive systems, there is something for nearly any boater.

Rocking the Boat, boat building project in the Bronx is unique and offers hope and skills that end up on the water and in peoples lives; this is certainly a case of when the boat is more than just a sum of the parts that make it up.

Riviera 43 Open Flybridge

At the Sydney International Boat Show on July 29, the Australian pleasure boat-maker, Riviera, will reveal its latest model, the 43 Open Flybridge.

Riviera’s CEO, John Anderson, anticipates a successful release, as the company’s most recent models have all been well received on the pleasure boating market, BYM News reports.

“The sales performance of our new models, including the 5800 Yacht, 5000 Sport Yacht, 51 with IPS and now the 43 with IPS have all generated a significant volume of sales,” Anderson told the news source.

The vessel includes sleeping accommodations for up to six people in two large cabins. The Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System (IPS) is designed for greater fuel economy and lower exhaust levels.

Barr Exhaust System Parts by Engine Make

Managing boat exhaust is a consideration of many boaters, from yachters to captains of smaller powerboats. The manifold collects exhaust gasses from the engine’s cylinder, cools the gasses with water, and pushes them through an exhaust hose, outside the stern.

Generic exhaust manifolds bought for a V8 or V6 engine are sold in sets, including both right- and left-handed models. Boats with ‘straight’ engines of 3, 4 or 6 cylinders usually contain a single manifold and riser located near the top and along the cylinder bank.

These smaller boats can use generic or aftermarket exhaust manifolds to replace a vessel’s original equipment.

Pearson Composite’s new Alerion Express 33 runs silently even under power - by EastBayRI.com

A new boat engine constructed by Warren’s Pearson Composites uses a Master volt Lithium-Ion electric saildrive system to navigate the waterways without the use of gasoline.

The motor of the Alerion Express 33 can travel for 15 to 20 miles on a single battery charge, depending on the vessel’s speed, crew numbers, wind and weather, EastBayRI.com reports. Additional battery packs can be added to extend the boat’s range.

Boaters who have tested the vessel reported that the quiet operation and smooth navigation were the most surprising attributes of the Alerion Express.

“I didn’t realize we were under power until I noticed our wake and saw moored boats passing us,” wrote one review, according to the news source. “It took time to adjust my behavior, throttling back when underway.”

Barr Marine Exhaust System Parts

Despite this recent design breakthrough, the vast majority of boats still operate on either diesel or gasoline fuel, and require replacement mechanical parts to maintain proper function.

Internal combustion marine engines contain a marinized exhaust manifold that dispenses exhaust from its cylinders. High velocity exhaust, long-term use and harsh environmental conditions can threaten the life of this part. Barr manufactures replacement manifolds that can be substituted for corroded, failing manifolds.

Even if you don’t own a cutting-edge electric powered boat, you can make you own boat engine operate efficiently and offer a long service life with quality replacement marine parts.