Kyla & Pip on a towable boat  tube

Two lazy dogs on a towable

One of my most favorite things to do – of all time – is to take kids boating. Boating and tubing, to be more specific. Boat, tubing and spilling, to tell the whole truth. It is sooo fun. And they LOVE it. Even my dog, Pippin, loves it, although he and I are towed at a much kinder, gentler speed than I tend to tow rascally teenagers.

So – before summer ends and school takes up all our attention – here are my tried, true and most favorite towables and inflatables on the market. With something for everyone, including slides, bouncers, and accommodations for adults with beverages, you’ll find all these boat tubes and inflatables on the Savvy Boater website.

Wacky Whopper boat towable

The Wacky Whopper gives you a wild and wonderful ride

1. The Wacky Whopper 

This boat tube’s name says it all. The Wacky Whopper boat towable from Sportsstuff delivers a ride that kids love. (Some adventurous adults love it, too.) Riders will want to experience the side and middle positions of the dual wave as they are each very different. It’s also easy to sit or lay in different positions with soft knee and elbow pads. On sale right now from $676.72 to $429.95.

2. WOW Thriller 1-Rider

If you want a smaller boat towable, and one that’s a little more “spillable,” the WOW Thriller 1-Rider tube towable gives your passengers “wild ride action.” As the driver, you can deliver wild wake action without submarining the riders and having to start all over. The tapered design maintains position without sacrificing performance. Get on if you dare! On sale right now from $155.12 to $96.95.

Big Banana Water Lounger

The Big Banana offers a more sublime water experience

3. Big Banana Water Lounger

Aaah! With extended foot rests, two cup holders, and a high back rest, the Big Banana 1-Person Water Lounger from WOW offers a much more sublime water experience. Technically, this isn’t a towable, but it is so worth mentioning, because after the tubing and towing, thrilling and spilling are over, mommy needs a little propping up of her own! On sale right now from $118.32 to $73.95.

4. Waterboggan 5-Rider Towable

This is a boat banana of another sort. No one wants to have to wait their turn, and with the Rave Waterboggan, you can tow up to five people (or 850 pounds). Put the whole crew on this baby and still have a fast and smooth ride, over and over. On sale right now from $1,279.92 to $799.95.

Mach 2-rider boat towable beginners

Mach Two 2-rider boat towable beginners

5. Airhead Mach 2

If you’ve got little ones who have some trepidation about this whole boat-tubing concept, the Airhead Mach 2-Rider is the perfect beginner towable. Inflated floors provide soft seating, the four handles come with neoprene knuckle guards, and deep walls help kids feel secure on the water. Tuck in those little darlings for terrific experiences behind the boat. On sale right now from $243.12 to $151.95.

6. FunStation Water Bouncer

Technically not a towable either, but way too fun to pass up, the Funstation Water Bouncer from Sportsstuff delivers all-day bouncing fun on the water. The removable boarding platform makes it easy for anyone to get on and gravity helps you get off – from high up in the wild blue yonder. On sale right now from $655.92 to $409.95.

7. Rave Aqua Jump

The Cadillac of water trampolines is the Aqua Jump Trampoline from Rave. Add the Aqua Slide and Aqua Log, and it becomes a full-on water park! Comes with a 12-, 15- or 20-foot platform and a 5-step ladder to get you on board. How you get off the platform … that’s entirely up to you! (Jumping and leaping highly recommended.) On sale right now from $3,199.92 to $1,999.95.

Water Whoosh from Rave

The slippery Water Whoosh provides hours of fun and doubles as a dock platform

8. Water Whoosh

When I was little, we’d soak the lawn in water until we could slide across it on our rear ends. We actually spent many gleeful hours careening across the yard. Nowadays, the Water Whoosh from Rave takes this concept to a whole new level. Its slippery, flexible surface provides hours of fun and can even double as a dock platform for skiing, tubing or wakeboarding. On sale right now from $1,599.98 to $999.99.                                                    

9. Tube-A-Rama:10-Person Water Lounger

Take your party to the water with this 10-person water lounger. Or seat 8 people and use two seats as coolers – so no one has to make multiple trips to shore to re-supply. The cooler seats are built in, so you can stow your ice and refreshments right in the lounger. How perfect is that for an afternoon of social relaxation? On sale right now from $551.92 to $344.95.

Child on water slide

Water slides have the unique ability to bring out the kid in everyone

10. Rave Slides

Inflatable dock and pontoon slides seriously bring out the kid in everyone. With a slippery 9-foot sliding surface and accommodating up to 200 pounds, just try to resist a quick trip into the cool water on a hot day. The Dock Slide is on sale right now from $719.92 to $449.95. The Pontoon Slide is on sale right now from $799.92 to $499.95.

Aside from the fact that all these towables and inflatables are on sale at the moment, another thing I love about Savvy Boater is that I get free shipping – on everything, every day. You’ll also find video clips of these boat tube towables that demonstrate their size, shape and performance. If you’re looking for accessories, such a tow ropes, flags, pumps and valves (can’t tell you how many of those I’ve lost…) click here … And let the fun begin!

Boat Fenders & Buoys: The Top 5 On the Market

July 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Kyla in Boat Fenders & Buoys - (Comments Off)
Used by the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and commercial fishermen alike, these fenders  are ideal for areas with large waves or tidal fluctuations

Used by the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and commercial fishermen alike, these fenders are ideal for areas with large waves or tidal fluctuations

Round, oblong, cylindrical? Solid core or inflatable? Horizontal or vertical? Red, green, blue, or yellow? You have a lot of choices when you purchase fenders and buoys for your boat, and I am happy to help you navigate your way to the best choices for your purposes. And maybe even offer some ideas you haven’t thought of yet. Here are my Top 5 Favorite Buoys and Fenders on the market today, and why:

1. Polyform A Series

These are the stable, sturdy ones. Their round shape offers maximum standoff, making these fenders ideal for rafting onto other boats and mooring in all conditions. Designed for very large boats and yachts, the extreme strength of the Polyform A Series provides terrific protection in undulating waters. These fenders also make great anchor pulls, marker buoys, and floats for fishing nets. Whether you’re pleasure yachting or commercial fishing, if you’ve got a large boat, you need reliable fenders to match your purposes … backed by a lifetime warranty.

Lighted marker buoys offer unbeatable illumination, durability and the convenience of solar power.

Lighted marker buoys offer unbeatable illumination, durability and the convenience of solar power.

2. Aqua Lanterns

These solar-lighted buoys are soooo cool. When the sun sets at night, lakes, rivers and oceans become dark and mysterious places … and often dangerous places. If you use lighted marker buoys, however, you can protect yourself and your property from imminent dangers caused by darkness and adverse weather conditions. You can also turn nighttime waterways into beautiful, magical places with battery-operated, lighted marking and mooring buoys. Aqua Lanterns are powered by photocells in the solar panels that automatically turn the lighted buoys on at sunset and off when morning comes. They are durable, long lasting and can be seen almost a nautical mile away at night. Read more here.

Polyform HTM boat fenders provides durable protection for boats up to 60' long in most mooring, anchoring or rafting situations

Polyform HTM boat fenders provides durable protection for boats up to 60′ long in most mooring, anchoring or rafting situations

3. Polyform HTM Series Boat Fenders

My favorite thing about the inflatable HTM Series is their versatility for medium- to heavy-duty applications. They are great for mooring, protecting trailered boats and running through locks. And get this: they mount horizontally (as well as vertically) with a single line. The molded-in, vertical ribs and reinforced tube ends give these fenders great strength and resistance to abrasion, tears and punctures. And, unlike some other fenders, the HTM boat fenders have an even wall thickness from one end to the other, for maximum strength and durability. Nice, huh? And they come in ten different colors, including white, red, green, black, and three shades of blue, to name a few.

4. Polyform F Series

These are the big guys, used by the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and commercial fishermen alike. Their heavy-duty construction is designed for large boats, 20 to 70 feet long – and longer. These commercial grade fenders are ideal for the most rugged marine applications, including mooring, anchoring, or rafting to other large boats. They are certainly the best choice for rough water, wind, large waves and tidal fluctuations. The rope holds have multiple-ribbed and reinforced material, and the fenders also boast a secure vinyl valve for maximum seal … so your fender won’t deflate or wear the rope away. So rough, tough and rugged, the Polyform F Series are backed by a lifetime warranty.

Marker buoys like the Sur-Mark II help boaters safely navigate waterways

Marker buoys like the Sur-Mark II help boaters safely navigate waterways

5. Taylor Made Sur-Mark II Marker Buoy

This is the buoy for safety in navigating waterways. With the durable and vibrant Taylor Made Sur-Mark II, you can clearly mark waterways with navigational and safety messages. Made from UV protected polyethylene, their bright colors resist fading and are visible 37 inches above the waterline. Seamless construction, with a concrete ballast, provides maximum durability and long life. Choose from 19 optional buoy labels (sold in pairs); bright orange marking tape is included.

Link here to find more fenders, mooring and marker buoys.

For fender and buoy accessories, including fender lines & hangers, pumps, dock lines, and more, link here for a great selection with great value.

Marine Coolers: The New Age of Cool

June 27th, 2014 | Posted by Kyla in Marine Coolers - (Comments Off)
The 12 volt Engel Electric Travel Cooler is designed for use on the road or on your boat

The 12 volt Engel Electric Travel Cooler is designed for use on the road or on your boat

We had a Styrofoam cooler when I was growing up. Once. Cheap, limp and ineffectual, the only thing you could count on from this cooler was that its broken pieces would never sink. Poor, sad cooler. It ended up as target practice.

We’ve certainly come a long way, baby, since those days, when the only marine cooler choices were heavy, red clunkers or the flimsy Styrofoam jobs. Now, coolers come on wheels, in stainless steel, aluminum and mahogany, and can double as cup holders. They hold more, weigh less, and stay colder than their predecessors. These days, you can even find portable electric coolers – and freezers – that offer continuous cooling and constant temperatures. Some coolers also double as seats. As in, sit-on-them seats.

Here’s a rundown of some of the best marine coolers on the market today, at the best online prices, with the best customer service standing behind them.

Engel Portable Freezers  are designed to withstand the rigors of boating and travel, with sizes from 16 to 43 quarts and durable steel bodies

Engel Portable Freezers are designed to withstand the rigors of boating and travel, with sizes from 16 to 43 quarts and durable steel bodies

Electric Coolers & Portable Freezers

If you have access to either a 12-volt or 110-volt power supply, there are some real advantages to a portable electric cooler or freezer. An electric cooler can provide continuous cooling and constant temperatures for as long as it is connected to a power supply. Use it as a portable refrigerator, make ice to replenish your larger marine cooler, or freeze your catch for the transport home. Engel Electric Marine Coolers are designed to handle the stresses of travel while providing reliable, power efficient service. This makes them a great option for that extended cruise, cross country road trip or weekend at the cabin.

Engel Electric Travel Cooler

This efficient electric travel cooler is designed for use on the road or on your boat. It has a 14-quart capacity, new convenient lid hatch, and variable temperature thermostat that maintains a constant internal temperature and cools from 40° to 0° Fahrenheit. The 12-volt power cord plugs into your standard boat or auto socket with an optional 110v AC converter available. Engel also makes a similar marine cooler with a much larger carrying capacity at 40 quarts. See it here.

Engel Portable Freezers

These portable freezers are designed to withstand the rigors of boating and travel. Sizes range from 16 to 43 quart capacities with durable steel bodies, low 2.5 amp power draw, and variable temperature control – from 40° to below 0° Fahrenheit. They auto adjust to 110V or 12/24V power and offer highly efficient compressor-based refrigeration.

The large capacity for either dry storage or Livewell cooler & seat rod holders make this Todd cooler seat the choice for any serious angler

The large capacity for either dry storage or Livewell cooler & seat rod holders make this Todd cooler seat the choice for any serious angler

Marine Cooler Seats

Maximize space on your offshore boat with cooler-seat combinations from Wise. Keep your catch fresh while enjoying all-day seating comfort and style. Wise marine cooler seats come in capacities of 15.5 to 23.5 gallons. They have 3-year fabric warranties and 6-year frame warranties. Get double duty out of these double-walled insulated cooler and swingback seat combinations. Enjoy Wise quality with all of the functionality and comfort you need.

Todd Deluxe Angler’s Dry Storage/Livewill Cooler Seats 

Any serious angler will flip over the large capacity marine cooler for either dry storage or Livewell cooler with seat rod holders. It has a 17.5-gallon (70 quart) cooler capacity, 4 integrated slots for fishing rods, dry storage or cooler option, marine grade vinyl, and a one-year warranty.

Todd also makes dry storage and swingback cooler seats, with capacities from 12.5 to 17.5 gallons, stainless steel or mahogany arms, and 1-year warranties. These popular cooler seats have everything you need, from rounded corners to prevent trapped bait, to drain fittings, rubberized gaskets, marine grade vinyl, and more.

Welcome to the New Age of Cool.

Canvas Boat Covers: Installation & Repair Is a Snap

June 20th, 2014 | Posted by Kyla in Canvas Snap Tools - (Comments Off)
Using the right tool to install and remove your canvas boat cover makes the work a snap

Using the right tool to  install and remove your canvas boat cover will make the work a snap

If you’re like me, you went outside to greet your boat for the summer season with high hopes and happy expectations You are going to have great times on the lake this year! But why, why, WHY, does your boat cover always look so sad and droopy after a long winter’s rest?

Elements of wind, rain, sleet and sun can be very hard on a boat cover, stripping off snaps, shrinking and tearing fabric, and corroding metal. So if your canvas, snap-on cover isn’t living up to your expectations, or is a hassle to take on and off, perhaps you don’t have the right tools for the job.

As my grandpa always told me, “Use the right tool for the job, and that will make all the difference.” Nowhere have I found this more true than when attaching and removing the canvas top from my boat. (Perhaps with the sole exception of hanging curtain rods, but that’s a story for another day).

Consider these ingenious tools from to take the frustration, inefficiency, and limp results out of covering your boat:

The Canvas Snap Tool makes it easy to snap and unsnap boat canvas

The Canvas Snap Tool makes it easy to snap and unsnap boat canvas

Top-Snapper Snap Tool: Top-Snapper is the only canvas snap tool that works on either inside or outside snaps and features:

  • Easily snap and unsnap boat canvas
  • Align and fasten inside and outside snaps
  • Dual stainless steel blades
  • Ideal for unsnapping snaps without damaging the canvas
  • Easy-to-grip rubberized handle
  • Works on corroded snaps and shrunken canvas
  • Lifetime warranty

Snap Setter Locking Plier Snap Tool: The Snap Setter Tool is ideal for both the small shop or do-it-yourself canvas installer and features:

  • Heavy-duty plier with welded snap dies
  • Locking plier design provides greater leverage than die-and-peg snap tools
  • Quickly and easily install the cap side of the snap
  • Works great in combination with the Canvas Care Kit
The DeckMate 6-in-1 stainless deck key tool combines six essential boating tools in one handy package

The DeckMate 6-in-1 stainless deck key tool combines six essential boating tools in one handy package

DeckMate 6-in-1 Stainless Deck Key Tool: The DeckMate deck key combines six essential boating tools in one handy package and features:

  • Six essential tools in one package
  • Accommodates both right and left-handed users
  • One end includes two universal deck keys, a boat shackle key, flat head screwdriver and ¼” hex driver
  • The other end includes a zipper/toggle puller and bottle opener
  • Lifetime warranty

Pocket Size Canvas Snap Repair Kit: With the Canvas Snap Kit you can easily repair canvas boat snaps yourself. The kit features:

  • 10 complete replacement snaps
  • Punch & anvil tool for setting snaps
  • Snap lube for easy snapping
  • Convenient pocket-sized case with lanyard
  • Plastic case will float, even when full of snaps

See more “right tools for the job” to help you with your canvas cover, at this link from

The Washington Recreation and Conservation Office just released a few new app that helps boaters find boat ramps, moorage and amenities

The Washington Recreation and Conservation Office just released a few new app that helps boaters find launch ramps, moorage and amenities

Let’s say you’re cruising around the San Juan Islands. Everything is perfect – the water, the breeze, the sun, and the company. But the day is winding down and you need to find a place to moor for the weekend. Where you dock, to some degree, depends on available amenities, such as fuel, provisions, showers, laundry, and pump stations. So, you drag out the usual manuals and maps and begin scouring them for suitable accommodations.

Or … with the new Washington Water Cruiser App, launched by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, you can pull up all this information at the touch of your fingers – and  you can view it in aerial, street map and nautical chart views.

The new smart phone boating app – free for iPhones and Androids – details all state-owned boat launches and moorage sites open to the public, along with amenities for boaters at each site. You can find places to launch your boat and tie up for the weekend. You can find a place to dine, shower, fuel up and do laundry. The app will also help you avoid certain water hazards, such as derelict vessels, shoals, and environmental issues, according to the Google Play App Store.

“This app will be really helpful to a lot of boaters,” said George Harris, president of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, the nation’s largest regional marine association. “In the past, you’d have to carry a couple of cruising manuals or visit several Web sites to plan an outing. Now, you can see the information you need on your smart phone or tablet while you’re on the water.”

The Washington Boater App displays maps in street, aerial and nautical views

The Washington Water Cruiser App displays maps in street, aerial and nautical views

“This app brings together information from three state agencies,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “It has information on boat launches, moorage slips and pump locations, in both eastern and western Washington, from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Recreation and Conservation Office.”

Read more about Washington Water Cruiser – the free new app for Washington boaters – at the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office website.

Description From the Google Play App Store: The Washington Water Cruiser is a real time mobile boater engagement platform. Utilizing existing public data as a mapping back drop, the Water Cruiser provides a free, simple, and intuitive platform empowering the boating public to keep the data that’s important to them (boat launches, marinas, pumpouts, docks, etc.) up to date and to identify water hazards (derelict vessels, shoals, environmental issues, etc.); an opportunity for government to use technology to save time and money plus improve data quality and accountability; and a positive, collaborative platform for real public engagement. A map communicates to all and the Washington Water Cruiser makes sure that map is accurate.

Pontoon boat seats instantly upgrade the look and value of your pontoon boat, and can be purchased in individual pieces or furniture groupings

Pontoon boat seats instantly upgrade the look and value of your pontoon boat, and can be purchased in individual pieces or furniture groupings

Upgrading your pontoon boat seats is a fantastic way to make a big splash for the opening of boating season, a special vacation, a big party, or simply adding value to your boat. But don’t rush into your purchase without getting out your tape measure. There is a right way to choose pontoon boat seats, so that you will be thrilled with the results – instead of investing your time and money into a configuration that isn’t functional for your particular pontoon boat.

How to Measure: For the most accurate and consistent measurements, use the inside of the rails as your guide. Allow for rail support braces in your final calculations, subtracting the diameter of the brace from your widths and lengths.

Front and Back, Side to Side: Your pontoon boat seats and furniture can be divided into two main groups: front and back. The side gates determine the mid point.

Your Measurement Check List: With these measurements you know the footprint of your two sections, front and back, and can select pontoon boat furniture that fits, is fully functional, and maximizes available space.

  1. Measure distance between port and starboard rails
  2. Measure distance between rear rail and side gate
  3. Measure distance between front rail and side gate

Choosing Your Pontoon Boat Seats and Furniture: You may be happy to learn that you do not have to follow the exact same configuration that came with your pontoon boat when you bought it. When you are upgrading or replacing your pontoon boat seats and furniture, you can select an arrangement that best suits your needs and budget.

Choices of Pontoon Boat Seats and Furniture: SavvyBoater offers pontoon boat seats and furniture from WISE. WISE boat seats offer a long tradition of quality and experience, utilizing only the best design, processes and components to deliver the ultimate in comfort and durability.

  • Highest quality materials
  • Rugged, durable designs
  • Attractive color & pattern options
  • Genuine manufacturer accessories
  • Industry leading warranty

WISE manufactures pontoon boat seats and furniture in Deluxe and Premier – so you can choose according to your budget. Seats feature hinged design and embedded cup-holders as well as generous storage underneath each seat. Here is a sampling of product choices from WISE, sold individually: bench seat, high-back seat, bucket seat, flip-flop seat, recliner, corner section, steering console and armrest. Accessories include tables available in three shapes (rectangle, oblong or octagon) and separate cup holders with plastic or stainless steel inserts. To save time and money, you can choose from pontoon furniture groups, in Deluxe or Premium, with 11 or 15 pieces in traditional or L-shaped configurations.

Deluxe pontoon boat seat colors from WISE

Deluxe pontoon boat seat colors from WISE

Choose Your Colors: Wise offers a sassy selection of colors to suit your personal aesthetics. Choose from Deluxe solid colors of white, sand or gray. Your tri-colored choices are: white/navy/blue, white/red/charcoal, sand/chestnut/gold, gray/navy/blue and gray/red/charcoal. WISE will also send you fabric samples if you just can’t decide. Premium color choices are jade/fawn, navy/cobalt and wineberry/manatee.

Link here to see Savvy Boater’s great selection of pontoon seats and furniture, sold individually or in groupings. Link here to Savvy Boater’s How-To Guide for pontoon boat furniture.

The unique hinge design of the EasyTroller trolling plate allows your boat to troll as slow as 1mph, and flexes to prevent damage under sudden accesleration

The unique hinge design of the Easy Troller trolling plate allows your boat to troll as slow as 1mph, and flexes to prevent damage under sudden acceleration

So there you are, trolling along, angling to catch the fish of day. You’re located in the perfect spot, you’ve got the perfect bait, and it’s the perfect time of day. Sigh. Why aren’t the fish biting?

Well, here’s the thing: You can’t catch a fish if the fish can’t catch your bait. Which means you’re going too fast. What you need is an Easy Troller trolling plate. This ingenious design will slow your boat to optimal trolling speeds, as slow as one mile per hour or less, and still give you the control you need to navigate through those great fishing holes.

One of the typical problems with traditional trolling plates is that they bend or brake when the boat accelerates. Good news: The patented spring hinge design of the Easy Troller flexes upward to prevent damage to the trolling plate under accidental acceleration.

The Easy Troller trolling plate mounts directly to the motor’s anti-cavitation plate and drops down behind the prop to slow the boat to trolling speeds. The optional hydrofoil trolling plate model combines two products into one to improve fuel economy and performance.

Key Features of the Easy Troller Trolling Plate:

  • Slows boats to ideal trolling speed, even as slow as 1 mph
  • Patented hinged plate design flexes upward to prevent damage or shear pin breakage
  • Mounts directly to the cavitation plate of your outboard or outdrive, a few inches behind the propeller
  • Standard size fits motors 50 – 300 Horsepower
  • Short size fits motors 30 – 45 Horsepower
  • Optional hydrofoil fins to improve performance and reduce porpoising
  • Made from marine-grade anodized aluminum and stainless steel
  • One year warranty
  • Made in the USA

Easy Troller Comparison crop2How is the Easy Troller Different From Other Trolling Plates?  

Under power, prop thrust can bend or damage the typical trolling plate. As shown in the diagram, right, the ingenious design of the Easy Troller flexes out, to divert the prop thrust downward, preventing damage to the plate itself.

Do I Need the Easy Troller Hydrofoil Fins?

Hydrofoil fins can help boat performance by moving the boat to a plane more quickly, and reducing porpoising in those boats that have this tendency. They can also have a positive impact on fuel economy as they allow the boat to maintain a plane at slightly lower RPMs. To determine whether you need the optional hydrofoil fins for your motor, consider the following factors.

First, the trolling plate itself helps bring a boat up to plane when in the up position. Second, the hydrofoil effect varies widely by boat depending upon the hull design, weight and motor, so it is difficult to project the precise impact of the hydrofoil fins. If you aren’t sure you need the hydrofoil fins, try the Easy Troller without them. Of your boat struggles to get up on a plane, porpoises, or performs better with fins, then the Easy Troller hydrofoil fins would be your best bet.

Available Easy Troller Models:

Standard Plate                         Outboard /Inboard-Outboard              50-300 Horsepower

Short Plate                                 Inboard-Outboard                                 30-45 Horsepower

Standard Plate with Fins        Outboard /Inboard-Outboard             50-300 Horsepower

Short Plate with Fins               Inboard-Outboard                                  30-45 Horsepower

Fins Only                                For Standard and Short Plates

If you need help choosing a trolling plate beyond the tips offered here, offers expert customer service. Click here for phone, email and live chat options.

Bimini Bling: Bimini Top Accessories

May 20th, 2014 | Posted by Kyla in Bimini Tops | Pontoon Bimini Tops - (Comments Off)
Bimini top accessories, such as the brace kit from Carver, help you get the most out of your boat

Bimini top accessories, such as the brace kit from Carver, help you get the best use out of your bimini

I love to accessorize. My cruiser bike has a basket and a bell. There is a blue tooth in my car and a GPS in my golf cart. So when it comes to my boat, I bring out the bling with cup holders, a special ramp for the dog, and a bimini top to protect against the elements.

I can even go further and bling my bimini with accessories from fishing rod holders to stainless steel fittings. Here are some ideas for you to improve the performance and convenience of your bimini top.

Easy Ways to Store Your Bimini: A bimini top is a wonderful thing when you want to protect yourself from the sun or rain, but what to do with it when you don’t need it? You’ll want a system that is easy to install, and makes it easy to store your bimini when not in use – and then easily move it back to where you want it when you need the shade.

  • Slide Track System: Easily adjust the position of your bimini top with a slide track. Tracks mount to the deck with hinges to lock your bimini in place when in use or stored. Bimini slide track systems come in deck mounts and side mounts from Westland and gunwale and deck hinge mounts from Carver.
  • Brace Kit: Another choice to store your bimini top when not in use is a brace kit from Carver. This bimini top accessory supports your bimini top up and out of the way when it isn’t in use allowing free access to transom seating, swim platforms or rear entries.
  • Rear Strut Kit: A rear strut kit from Westland allows your bimini to be folded back and securely braced up and out of the way when not in use, leaving you free to still move about your boat.

Fittings: The fittings on your Bimini top are most likely made of nylon, which come standard with your purchase. You can upgrade to stainless steel fittings for a comparatively small investment.

Fishing Rod Holders: Fishers of men, and women, will be hooked on the Rocket Launcher Rod Holder from Carver. No fumbling with your fishing rods when your bimini is deployed. Made with the same tough and dependable construction as all Carver bimini frames, this bimini top rocket launcher offers convenient storage and even some light tackle trolling for up to five rods.

Carver Products

Westland Products offers excellent customer service to help you sort out the best bimini top accessories for your purposes. Telephone (866/560-1330) and Live Chat operators are available 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

Stainless Steel Props: Why Steel Beats Aluminum

May 14th, 2014 | Posted by Kyla in Boat Propellers - (Comments Off)
This stainless steel prop from Solas resists dings and is more resilient to damage than its aluminum couterparts

This stainless steel prop from Solas resists dings and is more resilient to damage than its aluminum counterpart

I have to admit I’ve had a few unhappy incidents with boat propellers. (In my defense, silt can be very tricky, quietly laying in wait for unsuspecting boaters.) Fortunately, a little ding here and there isn’t catastrophic to the life of a prop. This is why I chose a prop with strength and durability on its resume.

If you are trying to decide between a stainless steel boat propeller and an aluminum one, let me help you. Both have their unique qualities, but – in my opinion – if you’re a frequent, serious boater, choose the stainless steel prop.

To give aluminum a fair shake, I will tell you that these props cost less than their stainless steel counterparts, they come with a protective coating, and they weigh about half as much as steel. They are less expensive to repair and perform satisfactorily in most situations.

There, I said it: aluminum boat propellers “perform satisfactorily in most situations.” But who wants satisfactory? Bust into the penny jar and pony up the extra money (two-to-three times more) for a stainless steel boat prop. You will find, over the years of use, your investment will most likely pay off. Here is how:

In addition to offering higher performance than aluminum propellers, stainless steel boat props are more resilient to those bump and dings I was talking about. Because the blades are stronger and they don’t flex under pressure, stainless steel props aren’t damaged as easily as aluminum ones. If you hit a rock, for example, and get a dent that affects the performance of your boat, you’re more likely to be able to repair the blade of a stainless steel prop to its original condition.

Overall, the strength and durability of stainless steel props make them exponentially more resistant to damage from sandy conditions and minor impacts.

It’s entirely up to you, of course. The checklist below compares the basic characteristics of stainless steel and aluminum boat propellers, and will help you choose the best material for your purposes. Unlike other prop features, the choice of material is a matter of personal preference, rather than of requirements based upon your boat’s style and specifications. For more information on propellers, link here to the SavvyBoater’s Boat Propeller How-To Guide.

Choose Stainless Steel Blades For:

  • Higher performance
  • Repairs closest to brand new condition
  • Blade strength prevents flexing under pressure; blades remain in optimal condition longer
  • Durability and lower susceptibility to damage from sandy conditions or minor impacts

Choose Aluminum Blades For:

  • Lower cost
  • Protective coating
  • Light weight (weighs about 1/2 as much as steel)
  • Satisfactory performance in most situations
  • Less expensive to repair

I push my boat hard, I suppose, primarily for wake boarding and spinning teenagers off the inflatable doughnut. For my money, a stainless steel prop is worth the upfront investment, because a little mishap at the launch won’t ruin the entire day’s exploits.

Pitch Perfect: Selecting the Right Boat Propeller Pitch

May 14th, 2014 | Posted by Kyla in Boat Propellers - (Comments Off)
The lower a boat propeller's pitch, the faster hole shot and acceleration, but the slower top-end speed

A lower pitch boat propeller offers faster  hole shots and better  acceleration, but slower top-end speed

The pitch of your propeller determines how fast your boat busts out of the hole; it also affects how fast you accelerate. But the same pitch does not do both. Determining the best pitch for your boat’s purpose is like fine-tuning your recipe for homemade barbecue sauce: too spicy and it will blow your eyeballs out. Too bland and your barbecue becomes as boring as watery ketchup.

For the record, a boat propeller’s pitch is the theoretical distance a propeller travels in one revolution. Pitch affects the performance of a prop more than any other aspect and is measured in inches. A 23-pitch propeller, for example, would move forward 23 inches in one revolution. When choosing your propeller, you will hear the terms “high pitch” and “low pitch,” and each type has its own specific characteristics. A higher pitch, for example, delivers greater top speeds, but slower acceleration. Conversely, a boat propeller with a lower pitch gives you faster acceleration and a better hole-shot.

Because the same pitch does not give you both hole speed and fast acceleration, the first, best consideration when choosing your propeller pitch is the performance you expect from your boat.

Performance boats for wake boarding need a lower pitch prop for speed out of the hole, acceleration, and pulling power

If you use your boat for wake boarding and water skiing, for example, you’ll want a lower pitch prop, because it will give you the hole shot and acceleration you need.

On the other hand, if you use your boat for fishing or diving, you’ll want a higher pitch to give you the speed to travel distances with all your gear and equipment. Similarly, large boats, such as houseboats and cruisers, displace greater amounts of water and need a higher pitch propeller to achieve power at lower RPMs.

Below are the basic characteristics of low and high pitch boat propellers. For more information on propellers, link here to the Savvy Boater’s Boat Propeller How-To Guide.

Low Pitch Propeller: The lower the pitch, the faster you will accelerate out of the hole. Your top speed, however, will be slower, as your engine will reach its maximum RPM at a slower speed.

  • Improved hole shot
  • Better acceleration
  •  Better pulling power

High Pitch Propeller: With a high pitch propeller, you will achieve greater speeds but slower acceleration.

  • Greater top speeds
  • Slower initial hole shot
  • Less acceleration

Other considerations: If your pitch is too high, it will “lug” the engine, reducing both top speed and performance. If your pitch is too low, it will cause the engine to exceed the specified RPMs at the top end. Sustained operation in either of these situations will cause catastrophic damage to the engine.

Your boat should be responsive to your unique expectations and much of that rides on the performance of your propeller. The propeller, in turn, is the most technical and intricate component of your boat. By taking the time to select the right boat propeller pitch, you’ll be able achieve optimum performance, safety and enjoyment from the use of your boat.