We bust 20 of the most common boating myths!
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Myth: Lakes don’t exhibit very rough seas.
The very fact that lakes aren’t vast and limitless is what can make them treacherous. Shallower than the oceans, lakes have waves that are steeper and closer together for any given amount of wind. Surrounded by relatively close shorelines (even on the Great Lakes) compared with the ocean, lake waves are reflected, bouncing off opposing shores and amplifying other waves, creating confused seas with waves often twice the height of those produced by the wind alone. Think lakes are calm? Try some lake boating. At the least, research how waves really work. Myth: Busted
Myth: Sailboats always have the right of way.
When running on its engine, a sailboat is just another powerboat.
Know the rules of the water – Watch the sails and keep a good distance.
Myth: You should always fill your tank with gasoline when winterizing your boat.
According to many engine manufacturers’ published winterizing procedures, you shouldn’t. Also, if you fill the tank, fuel is going to pour out of the vent on the first warm day, creating a hazard. However, other sources say filling the tank fills the airspace, limiting the amount of condensation that can occur. Prior to ethanol in gas, we recommended that procedure. Ethanol is hygroscopic: It absorbs water. That’s good, to a point, since by holding water in suspension it can burn through an engine. But, if too much water gets into the E10 fuel, phase separation occurs. This is a chemical reaction in which the ethanol “drops out” of the fuel, taking octane levels and the water with it. The result is a useless sludge, unsuitable as motor fuel, that requires you to hire an environmental services company to dispose of it properly. By running down the tank, you’ll have less to deal with if phase separation occurs. In either case, use a stabilizer. Myth: Busted
Myth: Turbine-powered boats are jets.
If you think that boats with turbine engines use airplane motors and jet propulsion, you’re wrong on two points. The majority of the turbine engines used in performance marine applications are helicopter engines. Regardless of the application, the power is put to the water through a transmission and propellers. It’s a V-drive linked to a straight shaft in an unlimited hydroplane. For offshore catamarans like the 50-foot Mystic Miss Geico, the choice is BPM surface drives. Myth: Busted
Myth: The more blades a propeller has, the faster the boat goes.
The fastest boats on the water, drag-racing hydroplanes, have two propeller blades and they put thousands of horsepower to the water to hurtle a boat down the liquid quarter-mile at more than 200 mph. In his book The Nature of Boats, designer Dave Gerr cites single-blade props as being most efficient, though they would vibrate like crazy. More blades can minimize vibration, but they don’t add speed. Myth: Busted
Myth: Performance boaters are the most dangerous on the water.
According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics, speed ranked third behind alcohol and drug use as the primary contributing factors in accidents and fatalities. As for propulsion type, both inboard boats (1,077) and outboard boats (1,904) were involved in more accidents than sterndrive-powered boats (1,066). The vast majority of “go-fast” boats are, of course, sterndrives, as a quick perusal of spec sheets will confirm. Myth: Busted
Myth: Don’t run down your gas tank past half full.
The fear is that your fuel system will pick up contaminants from the bottom of the
tank. Then they will get sucked into the engine and destroy it. Guess what? All fuel tanks draw from the bottom, so you’re always drawing from there. Myth: Busted
Myth: Ethanol causes problems because it wrecks engines.
Marine engines are compatible with E10 gasoline, meaning they can burn it without damage. The problem comes from fuel that is stored for more than a month: Stored here means gas that remains in the tank for more than a few weeks, not just seasonal storage. For boats, unlike cars, the fuel supply isn’t burned and replaced frequently. When E10 fuel sits in a tank, a chemical reaction called phase separation can occur. When water levels reach a certain percentage in E10 fuel, the ethanol separates from the gas and forms a layer on the bottom of the tank. The remaining “fuel” floating above drops its octane level and lubricity, making it risky, if not unusable, for an engine. The goop on the bottom, if run through the motor, can cause immediate and severe damage. Stored E10 fuel can wreck engines, but ethanol itself does not. Myth: Busted
Myth: Deadrise is the best determinant of ride quality.
Deadrise certainly contributes to ride quality, but it’s not all-important. Length-to-beam ratio plays a huge role, since a proportionately wider boat presents more surface to the water upon re-entering a wave and thus causes the boat to fetch up hard and decelerate with more of a bump. Chine geometry, longitudinal and vertical centers of gravity, bottom loading, and the displacement-to-length ratio are other equally critical factors. The balance of all make for a good ride. Myth: Busted
Myth: Boating is expensive.
A season pass for your family of four to ski at Killington in Vermont costs about $4,000, according to the resort website, making that $2,500 slip fee for a season of boating not look so bad. Golfing? A season pass for one person, including a cart, in 2012 was $1,440. Multiply that times four and your family. If you’re going to play, you’re going to pay. So buy a sailboat and fill the tank with diesel once a season and never have to pay for indoor heated storage – unless you want to! Myth: Busted