Boating Tips 4

  • Close the air vent on your portable fuel tanks at night. Fuel tank contents expand and contract with changing temperatures, which causes condensation around open vents to get drawn into the tanks. Morning dew and a rising barometer will also push water through an open vent; enough to cause engine troubles.


    With ethanol fuels, moisture from the air in the fuel tank gets attracted by the alcohol on a molecular level. It collects more and more water until the weight of the water causes the alcohol/water combination to precipitate to the bottom of the fuel tank. This is known as phase separation. With fuel pickups being at the bottom of fuel tanks, this can cause serious engine problems. To minimize the effect, keep the fuel tank full and the vent closed (if equipped). Better yet, refrain from using ethanol fuels in boats and never exceed the maximum percentage of ethanol recommended by your engine's owners manual. Like never exceeding maximum RPM and using good oil, this is critical to your engine's long-term survival.


    Remember to re-open the vent when you use your engine! It's the first thing to check if you see a collapsed primer bulb.


  • Use Tabasco Sauce to bear-proof plastic fuel tanks. This is an outcamp guide trick. If you keep a boat in a remote area, you may already know about how much bears love to chew red fuel tanks. Sprinkle Tabasco on the tank and hose and be sure to wash your hands after handling!
  • Fuel leaks are extremely hazardous in inboard or inboard/outboard boats. Be certain the filler hose to the fuel tank is in excellent condition, along with all other fuel system hoses. Never turn on the ignition if a spill or leak is suspected. Always run the blower at least two minutes before starting.
  • Keep your eyes out for airplanes. No, really. It's helpful to a seaplane pilot landing on a busy lake if boaters steer clear of him. It's easy to be surprised by the appearance of a landing plane, which has much less ability to manoeuvre than a powerboat. Make it a habit to watch for them, just like you watch for other boats. Legally, a landing aircraft has the right of way over a boat. Also, take a look at your surroundings if you see a float plane passing low overhead. Is yours the only boat in the middle of what would otherwise be a good landing path? To help you predict a landing zone, pilots prefer to land directly into the wind. They try their best to stay well clear of boats, too.
  • Boat Operation Considerations
    • "Three quarters" throttle reduces speed slightly and fuel consumption and noise substantially. 'Nuf said.
    • Avoid boat overloading. The capacity plate is there to help you determine a safe load. Overloading causes boats to take on water at the bow, lose manoeuvreability or capsize. Once these situations start, it's too late to change your mind about poor loading decisions. Remember, passengers have a mind of their own and they might all decide, without regard to the balance of the boat, to rush to one side.
    • Use power trim to neutralize steering torque. Starting up with the engine fully trimmed in, the bow of the boat will stay down better and the boat will plane faster. Once this is accomplished, though, steering torque will be evident on the steering wheel - something to avoid. This may not be very noticeable with low-feedback steering systems but if it is, it can be reduced by simply trimming up the engine. The boat - engine configuration will now be very near optimal efficiency for the speed in question. Trim it back in when you cut back the throttle (intending to drop off plane) so the boat is already trimmed for another fast jump start without cavitation or having the bow rise too high.


      If the boat starts to porpoise, the engine is trimmed too high. If this occurs before steering torque is eliminated at normal planing speed while your boat has a normal load, your drive unit may require a trim tab adjustment (assuming it has an adjustable trim tab). This is a simple procedure but following a trim tab adjustment, be careful the next time the boat is used, since the adjustment may have been incorrect. Often, the trim tab ends up adjusted in the wrong direction! If this happens, steering torque will be worse. When having the adjustment made, be sure of the direction of pull on the steering wheel and that the mechanic knows how to correct it. Avoid steering torque as much as possible. One side effect is strain on the steering cable.


    • Navigation lights are required by law for night driving. On a dark night, an unlit boat is virtually invisible to other drivers on the waterway. Night operation requires special attention and reasonable speeds.

...continued on Boating Tips 5: maintenance & storage.

These tips are only general guidelines. Safety under the circumstances of operation is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the boat operator. Please be in control at all times and review all the operator/maintenance manuals for your equipment.


Name/nickname for public display.

Optional confidential Email. We don't spam.

Please leave blank

Enter code from image below.



Genuine comments moderated & appreciated.

P.O. Box 3000, Lac du Bonnet, MB Canada R0E 1A0
Manitoba Ph. 204.345.6663 | Fax 204.345.6945
Located just NE of town on Hwy 502 (Winnipeg River side).