How to Launch a Boat the Right Way

There’s nothing worse than hitting the lake and realizing you don’t know how to properly launch your boat. By the time you pull up to the ramp, it’s too late to take a crash course in maneuvering. Instead, save yourself both time and embarrassment by taking a moment now to learn how to launch your boat the correct way.

That means preparing ahead of time by disconnecting electrical outlets and stowing all safety equipment, transom straps, and mooring lines inside the boat. It also means learning how to back up into the water slowly and in a straight line, making only fine-tuned corrections until the water is just above the wheels of the trailer. To get the best results, practice your moves ahead of time in an empty parking lot. That way, you’ll be ready for launching the moment you pull up to the ramp.

Follow these simple steps outlined in our infographic, and you won’t have to fiddle haphazardly with your mooring lines and winch straps to the tune of honking horns and the shouts of impatient drivers.



Cautionary Tales in Boating Safety: Part 1

As part of our series of posts on safe boating, we will be presenting four real stories of people who have had dangerous or scary boating experiences. These individuals have shared these tales in hopes of helping others who may encounter the same situations. Regardless of whether or not an accident is unavoidable, the most important factor is what’s ultimately learned from it.

Ken Beckstead

Ken Beckstead (right) and friend Jeff Moschin. Photo courtesy of Ken.

There’s one unsettling boating experience Nevada resident Ken Beckstead will never forget.

While waterskiing at Kings River, he said he suddenly saw a jet boat traveling toward a narrow part of the river. The boat was equipped with a jetovator, a device that sprays water out of a jet propulsion system.  Because the spray is about 50 feet high and 200 feet back, it cannot be traveled through due to risk of bodily harm.

Although Beckstead was able to get to the side of the river and away from the jet boat, he said other boaters had no escape route. One of the trapped boats contained children.

“The jet boat actually went over the top of the boat with kids in a side on collision,” he said. “The kids were pressed down in their boat by the jet boat hull.”

Ambulances were called, and there were no serious injuries, Beckstead said. However, it remains an example of how some people get terrible results from showing off their fast boats at the worst times.

“Luckily the jet boat had no external propeller,” he said. “The kids would have been cut to pieces.”

He said he remembers another similar story of a man on a jet ski who left the shore and was suddenly side impacted by a boat traveling about 60 miles per hour. No one saw the man lying face down in the water except Beckstead’s friend on shore.

“It was too far to swim out to the guy,” he said. “He died before anyone in the water saw him.”

He said although he has owned different kinds of freshwater and ocean boats for the past thirty years, he never utilized fast speeds unless he was the only boat around for at least a mile. If the motor in any jet propelled vessel suddenly dies, the driver has no control over steering or braking.

He suggests never letting anyone without experience drive a boat because the wakes can sink a boater not familiar with crossing waves correctly. In addition, people should scan around their boat at least every minute for their own safety.

“The best advice I can give is to take a safe boating class,” Beckstead said. “Once you actually get on the water there is only one rule, never trust anyone.”


National Safe Boating Week is Almost Here!

If you weren’t already aware, National Safe Boating Week is approaching quickly! Starting the 19th, those with a love of spending time on the water are encouraged to put on a properly-fitted life jacket and refresh their boating safety knowledge.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eyeline-Imagery

We have a series of goodies coming up next week in preparation for National Safe Boating Week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, take a few minutes and check out the FLW Boating Safety Challenge:

Entering is easy. Take the 10-question quiz until you pass with seven correct answers. Then, submit your information for a chance to win a trip for two to the FLW Forrest Wood Cup! Share your results on your social media pages for even more opportunities to win!

If you want to brush up on your boating knowledge, here’s our Boaters Safety Quiz:

The quiz can easily be shared or added to your website.

Image courtesy of National Safe Boating Council

We, as well as everyone involved in National Safe Boating Week, always encourage responsible and safe boating practices. We look forward to the next couple weeks and hope you do, too!


How To Save Fuel In Your Boat – Boating Fuel Efficiency Tips

The days of dollar per gallon gasoline seem like little more than a distant memory these days. This isn’t lost to us (we think about more than just making awesome pontoon boats, y’know…). So with that in mind we compiled some of our own fuel saving tips and also asked some other prominent boaters. 

high gas prices

From Chuck Fort at BoatUS

  • Lightening the load is one of easiest no-cost things to save on gas. Boats tend to collect stuff over the years; clear out all of the junk that’s been stored that you no longer need. Don’t top off fresh water tanks, just keep enough for the day – water weighs eight pounds per gallon, which can really add up.  Also, keep your fuel tank between 1/4 to 1/2 full.  If, for example, you have a 135 gallon gas tank, keeping only 50 or 60 gallons in the tank can make you lighter by about 500 lbs (gas weighs about seven pounds per gallon).
  • Get a tune-up. An annual tune-up is a must if you’re truly serious about saving gas.  Make sure your engine air intakes are not restricted – you will burn fuel less efficiently if they are.
  • Check the prop. A dinged and bent prop can rob you of 10% of your fuel costs. Prop shops can use a machine to tell how far out of specification your prop might be and repair it like new. They can also advise as to whether you might need a prop of a different diameter or pitch for best efficiency.
  • Paint the bottom. For boats docked in salt or brackish water, keeping the fuel-robbing “green gunk” growth from adhering to your boat’s hull can save a lot of fuel.
  • Check the trim tabs. Unbalanced boats chew up the gas. Ensure that trim tabs function properly and make sure you know how to use them.
  • Avoid excessive idling and warm ups at the dock.
  • Finally, check out some locations that are nearer to you – you might find a hidden gem and save fuel to boot.

From our own staff here at Manitou

  • Make sure that your hull does not have growth (barnacles, algae, etc.) and is clean to ensure maximum speed and efficiency.
  • Follow the procedures on maintenance from the engine manufacturer for your outboard engine.
  • Decide what speed you would like to average most of the time and go with an engine that is larger than what you require. Running a 200 Hp engine at half throttle will be more fuel efficient than a 115 or a 150 that is running at maximum speed and RPMs.
  • Correct prop selection is key. A bad match up for specific boat and engine combination will destroy efficiency.
  • Prop condition, keep in as new condition. Damaged prop blades will negatively impact efficiency.
  • Every boat/engine combination has an optimum cruise speed. When traveling distances using the optimum cruise speed will ensure the best fuel economy. Boats equipped with ICON, Smartcraft or other digital set-ups can utilize these systems to optimize fuel consumption. This data can also be obtained through performance reports done by engine companies.

From Bryan Hermann (Manitou customer)

  • Weight Distribution. Try to keep the bow of the boat light. Store anchors, tools and spare props towards the rear of the boat, life jackets, towels and dock ropes towards the front. A bow heavy boat will push more water, causing excessive fuel usage. Loading like this will keep your bow high and dry.
  • Prop for economy. The use of a 4 blade prop or a “Round Ear” 3 blade will diminish prop slip. The better the bite, the better the fuel economy. Bigger diameter, less pitch will also create less slip.
  • Document Trips. Use a GPS and track your miles traveled, compare that to gallons of fuel used. You can track your economy for different driving habits. Once you figure out where your best economy range is. You can stick to that RPM range and trim setting.
  • Drop your top! When your bimini top is up, even in the bimini cover, its like a parachute catching wind.  Put your top down low, in the “Trailering” position. If you normally run with the top completely up, on nice days when the sun is not partially out.  Go ahead and take it down. You wouldn’t believe the fuel savings, just by going topless.
Have any more gas saving tips? Let us know in the comments section below.