Advice to First-time Boat Owner

A conversation among Whalers
BrentMontauk17
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Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby BrentMontauk17 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:34 am

Picking up my new-to-me first boat this weekend--a [1995] Montauk 17 [with Evinrude] 88SPL outboard engine. [I have] never trailered a boat before and [have spent] very little time on the water with one. I have always fished the beaches and back bays of south New Jersey in kayaks and by foot.

[I am] super stoked to get out on the water with my wife and two boys--ages 5 and 7--as I had always wanted a boat when I was a kid. There seems to be an overwhelming number of things to learn, from trailering to learning how to use VHF radios, fish finders, motor maintenance, etc.

What do you wish you had know when you picked up your first boat that would have made life easier? Any tips or tricks.

Thanks!
Brent

goldstem
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby goldstem » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:56 am

[Recommends installation of a] good fuel filter.

Modern outboards are very reliable.

Most my early troubles were with fuel. A RACOR fuel-water separating filter is a must if your new boat doesn't already have one.

jimh
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:17 pm

Re the mandate to install a large canister-type fuel water separating filter: while RACOR is a great brand for a large canister-type fuel-water separating filter, most small boats with on-deck fuel tanks generally don't employ large canister-type fuel-water separating filters. Most gasoline for small trailered boats comes from highway fuel stations. Millions of cars use that fuel without a fuel-water separating filter. Unless there is a leak in your fuel tanks or you leave the cap off or loose, you won't have water in the fuel unless you bought gasoline with water contamination.

Re fuel: use good quality TCW-III rated oil. Since you will have to pre-mix, become familiar with the gasoline:oil ratio. A ratio of 49:1 is just about obtained with 6-gallons of fuel and one-pint of oil. Do not forget the oil--ever. If unsure, err on the side of slightly too much oil.

If your local highway fuel retailer sells REC-90, a 90-octane pure gasoline with no ethanol, use that fuel in preference to cheapest 87-octane ethanol-gasoline blends.

Check the primer bulb and the fuel hoses. If the rubber bulb or hose is stiff, shows deterioration, or cracks, replace with an Evinrude OEM fuel hose and primer bulb. Do not by aftermarket primer bulbs--they are awful.

An Evinrude 88SPL is not "a modern outboard" but it is a classic and should be quite reliable, if properly maintained.

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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:23 pm

My advice: practice backing up the boat trailer at a church parking lot on a weekday to be sure you have the hang of it.

Make a list of items to check before getting on the highway with the boat trailer: hold down straps, trailer lighting, hitch lock pin, tire inflation, no loose items in boat, and so on. It is quite amazing how much gear can fly out of a boat at highway speeds.

Don't go to a launch ramp for the first time on a the weekend of an early Spring day with great weather; the ramp will likely be crowded. The behavior of human beings at boat launching ramps is extremely abnormal. People become unusually impatient, lose self-control, and adopt hostile and aggressive behaviors. It is quite strange to see, and quite frightening to experience. Try to find some quiet ramp without much traffic for your first attempts at launching and loading.

Test the engine before you go to the ramp by using a hose adaptor (often they look like ear muffs) and trying to start and run the engine. Only run the engine at idle speeds when not in the water.

BrentMontauk17
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby BrentMontauk17 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:43 pm

Perfect. Thanks guys. Keep them coming.

jimh
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:53 pm

Also oriented toward the trailer: check the wheel bearing temperature using an infra-red thermometer. I use an infra-red thermometer laser-pointer type device to monitor wheel bearing and tire temperatures, and I check them often on long drives, usually at every rest stop or driver changeover.

Make sure tires are properly inflated. Get a good tire pressure gauge. I like the old-fashioned dial pointer gauges. Read the maximum pressure from the tire sidewalls and inflate to that pressure, when the tires are cold. (By the way, most gas stations have terrible air compressors these days, so consider buying your own.) I also have a small 12-Volt-powered inflator for emergencies. I do a lot of long distance trailering.

Make sure the wheel bearings have grease. If you use a bearing cap with a grease fitting (like a BearingBuddy) DO NOT pump in too much grease; you will blow grease past the rear seals. It is a good idea to become familiar with your trailer wheel bearings, to have a spare bearing, and have the necessary tools to install a new bearing with you.

Trailers used in saltwater will need much greater care and preventative maintenance than freshwater-only trailers. If you are heading for saltwater, you should thoroughly rise off the trailer and wheels as soon as possible after they have been in saltwater.

Keep the trailer in top condition; problems with the trailer ruin any day of boating.

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jimp
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimp » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:26 pm

Make your boating enjoyable for the family. If you don't, you will be boating by yourself.

We (me, wife, two daughters) started in a 1982 17' Montauk. No head (toilet) facility. Girls don't like going over the side. We had a forward shelter on the Montauk so I removed the forward Igloo cooler and added a portable head. Not perfect, but better. Later, the 1990 Revenge 22 - W.T. had the cuddy cabin and portable head (yup, the same one from the Montauk was transferred to the Revenge). Now the 1989 Wilbur 34 has the enclosed head, hot/cold running water, shower, 3-burner stove, etc, but that's a different story.

So your boys will be OK going over the side, but take care of your wife otherwise it will be you and the boys boating.

JimP

YorkHarbor
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby YorkHarbor » Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:10 pm

As someone who has experienced the worse let me say always make sure the outboard has a stream of water being pumped out of it. Other than that just enjoy your new Whaler!

macfam
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby macfam » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:02 am

Make sure you positively comply with EVERY Coast Guard requirement.
You can never go wrong with SAFETY FIRST, when your new (or not new) to boating.

Depending what we're doing for an activity, I'm a "checklist kinda guy". It works out great for me.....and every airline pilot in the world. That's why air travel is the safest mode of transportation!
It a great habit to get into for boating!

MillieTheBoat
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby MillieTheBoat » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:10 pm

I would go to Youtube and check out backing up trailer techniques and so on at the ramp. Then do it on a weekday when there is no traffic. People are often offer help if you ask them. I still sometimes forget the straps when the kids rush me.

jimh
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:08 pm

Which one of the 1,000,000 videos on youTube do you recommend to study?

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Don McIntyre - MI
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Don McIntyre - MI » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:22 pm

a bit of advise passed on to my by my father, a WWII USN Vet:

"Never approach a dock faster than you want to hit it"...

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Oldslowandugly » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:50 pm

I agree with all of the above. But I would also advise you to read all you can about trailering and boating. When I first started I was lucky enough to stumble upon this book and I am still learning from it. It is Royce's Powerboating Illustrated and there is a copy on Ebay right now for $4 w/free shipping.http://www.ebay.com/itm/Royces-Powerboating-Illustrated-/142092140090?hash=item211559fe3a:g:3j4AAOSw9NdXuFcW It is a bit dated, but the basic principals and information still apply today. There is a wealth of information in this book. We old timers take it for granted but a newbie needs to be educated. This book was intended as a classroom instructional aid and it covers a ton of topics. Image

underbone
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby underbone » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:02 pm

I recommend that Royce's Powerboating Illustrated as well, I got one on the way.

Florida13
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Florida13 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:18 pm

Buy one of those orange plastic boxes that looks like a surplus military ammo box.
In it keep a spare key, a spare plug and anything else that you think you might need.
Also, if you are going into waters that you are not familiar with, look at a chart (available on-line) and see if there is any shallow water in the area.
I was very surprised how shallow some of the water is in the intercoastal waterway.
There are spots of water 2' deep all over the place.

AZdave
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby AZdave » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:15 pm

I think all of the above advice is good. If possible, I would try to do everything ten times before going to the boat ramp. You could go to a remote corner of a big box parking lot, put out some cardboard boxes or cones, and practice backing in a no stress environment. The same would be true for starting the motor (only when supplied with water) and working the winch. Try to modify anything that stresses your family members, and try to delegate responsibility. It would be nice if everyone knew the starting, steering and engine stop procedures. Have fun!

saumon
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby saumon » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:25 pm

As a start, these are MANDATORY in my mind for a new owner with kids:

1) a boating safety course (usually given by the AUXCG)
2) wearing the PFD's at all time (put them in at the dock)

Regarding the launching routine (prepare up the ramp, remove tie-down, put the plug in, set the ropes ready, etc), the best advice is to

1) don't be in a rush. Go at the ramp on a weekday morning. If there's other boaters waiting for you on your first times, you'll screw up.
2) do it ALONE. If you rely on someone else to help you, you'll inevitably forgot something.

We've all been there (transom straps and plug are "classics!)...

andrey320
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby andrey320 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:10 pm

Start "small".
Take the boat to the harbor by yourself, launch it, and ride around the harbor or in protected waterways (if they are available).
Do it again a bunch of times until you're comfortable. When you feel like you've got some "miles under your belt" and know how things run, bring your family. If you are planning on doing any "offshore" runs, do the distance along the shore to build confidence. Get your emergency equipment and ditch bag in order. Run through worse case scenarios in your head, plan and prepare. File detailed float plans with people you can trust.

Enjoy! You'll love it! One of the best decisions of my life (despite going against what most were advising).

PeteG
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby PeteG » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:15 pm

Brent,

Does the boat have a swim platform? It's much easier than hauling a boat ladder around...They're somewhat universal on small boats. If not, you can even find one used (ebay or CL).

Take the kids with you to the CGAux boating safety course. It'll give them an appreciation of why they can't sit up on the bow rails while underway etc.

Just my .02

jimh
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:51 am

Re boating instruction courses, there are two national organizations that provide training for recreational boaters:

--The U.S. Power Squadron

--The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

These two groups are organized in local chapters. In any particular location there may be one organization that has more members, more chapters, and perhaps better organization and presentation of educational classes.

I am familiar with the Power Squadron, although at this moment I am not a member. In my area, southeast Michigan, there were many chapters of the Power Squadron. I joined the one of them, and I found it an amazing resource of boating education. The focus of the Power Squadron is on education of its members and of the general boating public. For the public an introductory course in boating is offered. For members, an extensive series of classes is available.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary, from my point of view as a non-participant, seems to be slightly different in its focus. The Auxiliary works with the actual U.S. Coast Guard to provide on-water patrols. Auxiliary members can also participate with the real coasties aboard Coast Guard vessels and become qualified watchstanders in some cases. (At least they used to be able to do this; maybe the new militaristic organization of the USCG has stopped that; I really don't know for certain. Perhaps someone could comment about that.)

jimh
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:58 am

Re Royce's Power Boating Illustrated: although I have been a recreational boater for more than 50 years, I have never heard of that publication until its mention in this discussion. Whether owning a used copy of a book published 22-years ago will be transformative in one's boating education will be difficult to know.

As far as I am concerned, the bible of recreational boating is Chapman's, or more formally, "Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling."

If there is ONE publication you need to own, it is: NAVIGATION RULES AND REGULATIONS HANDBOOK. This publication is REQUIRED to be carried aboard any vessel of 12-meters in length or longer. Cf.:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937196232/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... aKstIL.jpg

Also, I can say without reservation: I learn something new every time I go boating. Experience is a great teacher.

goldstem
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby goldstem » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:35 am

Re: fuel filters; my [problems or malfunctions from] fuel have often been with on-deck tanks and [caused by] water or dirt. To have a [carburetor] bowl float valve stick open or [to have] a [carburetor] jet clog doesn't take much [dirt]. RACOR makes a nice small canister filter that will fit in the [engine splash] well of old 13[-foot Boston Whaler boats] or anywhere near the transom. On my 15 Super Sport [the small RACOR fuel filter is located] on the seat back.

jimh
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby jimh » Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:31 pm

GOLDSTEM--please characterize a bit more precisely the frequency with which your engine has been disabled due to dirt or water in the boat's fuel. I am a bit unclear about your characterization that you have such problems "often." Could you give us more information about the number of gallons of fuel you have consumed on the boat and how often the fuel has been contaminated with dirt and water to the extent that the engine would not run properly. Thanks.

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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Beerspitnight » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:56 pm

Don McIntyre - MI wrote:a bit of advise passed on to my by my father, a WWII USN Vet:

"Never approach a dock faster than you want to hit it"...


That made me chuckle.

When we bought our first boat, my father-in-law advised, "When in doubt, go slow."

Enjoy the boat!
1989 MONTAUK 17

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Oldslowandugly » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:40 pm

JIm- I agree- Chapman's is the Bible. But it is a bit overwhelming for a newbie. What you want is BASIC information. I spied it at the NY Boat Show around 1980. Royce's was first written in the late fifties/early sixties when good basic information was unavailable. Outboards were cranky and no one knew why the metals dissolved. They were determined to find things out and report. It has been updated over the years. This book goes into everything you can imagine. Motors, trailers, weather, corrosion, knots, splicing, propellers, hull design, hull performance, carburetors, magnetos, axle bearings, storage, rules-of-the-road, anti-fouling, safety, batteries, fuel, docking, fasteners, etc, etc. All written in a down-to-earth manner with some humor. I think you would enjoy reading it too!

goldstem
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby goldstem » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:44 pm

re: Fuel problems
my 13 (1976 johnson 40) failed once with a stuck float valve. never failed again after filter installed.
my 21 (1981 evinrude 140) failed once with a clogged jet. never failed again after filter installed (including one incident where
the fuel cap was left off and an unknown amount of water <may> have sprayed into the tank)

since then, all the boats I run, including 3 at our sailing club, i have installed filters on. the boats at the club all too often get some water
in the tanks due to member negligence. no fuel problems. so 'often' no, because, i believe, of preventative measures.
also, IMHO, it is easier and cheaper to replace the racor elements than to replace the on-engine filters now present in modern four-strokes.
I understand you disagree.

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Dutchman
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Dutchman » Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:11 pm

Brent you received a lot of good advice with all the answers above. I hope you read my private email and now that you have picked up the boat tell us what you experienced last weekend. Did you practice (without the family)?
EJO
"Clumsy Cleat"look up what it means
50th edition 2008 Montauk 150, w/60HP Mercury Bigfoot

BrentMontauk17
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby BrentMontauk17 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:14 am

Thank you everyone for the great feedback. Sure is a lot to learn... I picked up the boat last weekend and have been cleaning it up every night since. My kids are all about helping clean- which is admirable... Great to see such passion for something. Anyway, I appreciate all of your time!

Rascal
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Rascal » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:31 pm

I'm glad to see people pointed you and the kids towards a boating course. Even piloting a small boat there are things you need to learn to be safe and also to follow the legal requirements. Depending on where you live there may be other options for courses such as through your wildlife commission or other groups. Several groups, including BOATUS, provide online courses that meet the requirements. An in-person course is better since the instructors usually give you some tips about the local waters. Plus, it can be a great experience taking the course with your kids.

Enjoy your new boat! You found the right forum to get answers to any questions you have!
Rascal (Scott)
2015 170 Montauk

cleep1700
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby cleep1700 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:24 am

As a fellow newbie with less than two years boating, check every screw, nut, and bolt on the trailer that can come loose because they will. I will not detail my experience except to say, been there. And check those lug nuts, regularly. A fella gave me a tip I like: make a mark on the lug nut and a matching ( - - ) one on the rim next to it with a Sharpie. With a quick look, you'll know if they need tightened.

Set that emergency brake when launching. There are many videos on youtube of failed launches.

Read, read, read. This site and Whaler Central have helped me immensely.

DirtMike
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby DirtMike » Mon May 15, 2017 9:45 pm

Don't worry too much about "how well" you are backing up on the ramp just because there are people waiting. As long as you are not trying to do prep best accomplished before you get in line (removing straps, loading gear from truck to boat, etc.) most people will understand as none of us were born knowing how to back a trailer. You'll struggle more if you worry about what the other people are thinking.

Try to do at least the basic maintenance yourself. If possible do all your mechanical work. You will know when something isn't quite right much more easily if you have an understanding of the mechanics of it.

Don't go faster than your gut says is ok.

All lessons that I learned somewhere other than on the water, but now that I finally own a boat I find they apply just as well on the water as off.

Have fun.
1990 Montauk 17/90hp Yamaha - "The Girlie"

You can have it cheap, fast, or right. Pick two.

Dr T
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Dr T » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:55 pm

Note: It is not enough to just have a boat plug. You also have to put it in. On the bright side, at least you are in a Whaler so it won't sink :-).

El Rollo
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby El Rollo » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:13 pm

Don't Do It !!!!
Boats are a nightmare !!!
--I laugh aloud-- !

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Dutchman
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Dutchman » Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:20 am

El Rollo wrote:Don't Do It !!!!
Boats are a nightmare !!!
--I laugh aloud-- !


Which makes the Dream that more pleasurable. DO IT and you'll never regret it, people with boats are happier people.
EJO
"Clumsy Cleat"look up what it means
50th edition 2008 Montauk 150, w/60HP Mercury Bigfoot

Dr T
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Re: Advice to First-time Boat Owner

Postby Dr T » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:15 pm

One more simple suggestion: Unplug the trailer lights before backing down the ramp. I replaced far too many trailer light bulbs before getting in the habit.