Boating Tips from Master Outdoorsman Jerome B. Robinson

Added: 9/24/07 Don't Burn out the Trailer Lights
Boat-trailer lights can burn out when the hot bulbs are submerged in water. Disconnect the trailer's electrical wiring plug from the vehicle and let the lightbulbs cool as you load gear into the boat before launching. Hang the wiring plug over a high point so that it will not get dunked.
John Rice
Added: 7/12/07 Avoid River Obstacles
When two people are canoeing downstream, the best way to steer around danger is for the bow paddler to use draw strokes to the right and left. The stern paddler should make both draw and bracing strokes to pull the body of the canoe in line with the bow and hold it as the craft drifts past treacherous areas. Use forward power strokes only to avoid emergencies.
John Rice
Added: 7/12/07 Make Your Own Anchors
Stand a piece of 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe on a wooden board and fill it with ready-mix concrete. While the concrete is wet, insert a ring-eye bolt in the top. Once it hardens, you'll have a tangle-free anchor that is perfect for small-boat fishing. Make a pair so you can anchor from both ends, or drag one anchor on a short line for slow drift fishing. Use different lengths of pipe to adjust the weight as needed.
John Rice
Added: 10/02/06
Balance your boat
To keep a small boat or canoe on an even keel when you're traveling alone, use ballast boxes to offset your own weight and the boat's load. A common plastic battery box filled with used lead tire weights (available for free or at little charge from auto mechanics) concentrates about 100 pounds in a small space. Half-filled battery boxes nest efficiently and make convenient 50-pound ballasts.
John Rice
Added: 10/02/06
Kill the motor from any spot onboard
Attach two strong cords to the kill clip on your boat motor ignition switch and run them through screw eyes mounted under the gunwales on both sides from the stern to the foremost bow seat. Should the operator fall overboard, any passenger in the craft will be able to turn off the motor without scrambling around dangerously, simply by pulling on the cord.
John Rice
Added: 06/08/06 Operate a Quiet Boat
When fishing shallow water, staking the boat with a pushpole is quieter and easier than anchoring, and it doesn't spook fish. Outfit your boat by mounting a 2-foot length of 2-inch-diameter, thick-walled PVC electrical conduit vertically on the transom with two U-bolts. When you stop to fish, push the tip of your pole down through the conduit and into the bottom.
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Added: 7/11/06 Protect Your Rod in Boats
The safest way to carry a fishing rod in a boat is to hang it under the gunwale with the tip shielded inside a 1-foot section of PVC pipe. For easier stowage, flare the rod-tip end of the pipe by heating it until it's soft, then press it down over the neck of a glass bottle to form a funnel shape. Mount this under the gunwale. Support the butt end of the rod in a loop of stiff cord.
John Rice
Stash Your Registration
A plastic 35mm film canister makes an excellent weatherproof place to store your boat registration. Drill a hole in the bottom of the canister and use a stainless-steel screw and washer to permanently attach it to the boat in a hidden place, such as underneath the bow deck. Store your registration inside the canister where it will be available when you are checked by authorities.
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Install a Kill Cord
If you take your boat into open-water situations, attach a strong string to the end of the elastic kill-switch cord on your outboard motor and mount it under the gunwale along the full length of the boat. Now any passenger can pull it to shut off the power in an emergency, should the operator fall overboard or be unable to stop the engine.
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See More Fish
Consider gluing your fishfinder's transducer inside the hull. Signals will pass through without affecting reception, and you'll get a clearer picture when moving at high speed. Degrease and dry a spot near the boat's centerline, close to the transom and away from structural supports. Seat the transducer in epoxy glue on wood or fiberglass; silicone glue on aluminum.
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Find the Optimum Trolling Speed
Current and boat speed can alter the action of a lure when you are trolling. To check whether yours is running at its best, drag it on a tight line beside the boat and adjust the throttle until you find the speed that makes the lure most enticing. Set the throttle there, or note the engine rpm on your tachometer, and hold it as long as you troll that particular lure.
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Get Better Sonar Reception
Don't fasten the transducer and receiver of your electronic fishfinder directly to your boat. Instead, mount the units on short wooden boards extending below the level of turbulence caused by the hull. Use carpenter's clamps to fasten the boards wherever you want them. You can move this setup around to establish the best reception points.
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Back your trailer easily
To smoothly back a boat trailer down a launching ramp, use your sideview mirrors instead of twisting around and trying to see out the back. Grip the steering wheel at the bottom with one hand and watch the back end of the trailer in the mirrors. Simply move the hand gripping the steering wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.
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Release your anchor quickly
It can be difficult to land large fish from a boat anchored in strong current if you can't slip anchor quickly. To make a quick-release system, tie a loop in the anchor line and attach a buoy or plastic jug to the loop, which you will place around the bow anchor cleat. When you hook up, slip it off the cleat and toss it overboard. After you've landed the fish, retrieve the anchor and buoy.
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Avoid fouled outboards
Avoid contaminating your outboard's fuel system by purging the gas line before you start a motor that hasn't been run recently. Disconnect the fuel line from the engine and hold the connector over an empty container. Use a screwdriver to depress the plunger in the connector and squeeze the primer bulb repeatedly to pump out contaminated fuel that has been lying in the line.
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Paddle Around an Obstacle
The draw is the most effective paddle stroke a canoeist can use to avoid an oncoming obstacle. To make a powerful draw stroke, lean out over the gunwale farther than is comfortable, stab the paddle straight down into the water, and use the strong muscles of your back and shoulders to pull the craft sideways. Repeat the stroke forcefully until you've maneuvered into a safe position.
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Reader Tip: Plug a Gas Leak With Soap
If you ever get a small leak in your boat's or car's gas tank, rub a bar of Ivory soap over the hole. When the gasoline comes in contact with the soap, it will form a puttylike substance that will plug it temporarily. But it has to be Ivory-"or at least that's what the Canadian outfitter who showed me this trick claimed. -"John Case, Katonah, N.Y.
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Protect Your Hull From Abrasion
Allowing your beached boat to wallow in the waves can damage the hull very quickly. To prevent this, lay a sturdy 3-foot 2x4 at the water's edge, and slide the bow up onto the board. This will keep the keel, which is the area most susceptible to damage, from rubbing against rocks and sand. Stow the beaching board in the boat so you have it handy every time you go ashore.
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