The boat show has once again shown us a lot of pretty boats, motors, and a myriad of accessories that are all good-looking, expensive, and they do shine. The overabundance of electronic gizmos and gadgets completely overload my modest and practical idea of a fishing boat, but if you dig deep enough there are still a lot of those available too, so I can’t be the only simpleton on the water.
Beside all of the sparkling new offerings there have also been some important safety concerns that many may not know about or pay attention to and that is the weight we expect our boats to carry.
When I have been to England and Europe over the years, I have marveled at how small the clothes for both men and women were three or four hundred years ago. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the small size of the suits of armor and weapons either.
As you explore the museums in the great state of Texas and the Wild West from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains to the Canadian border, you can see how the people were larger than the 16th and 17th Century Europeans, but not near the size we are at this point in history. We are getting larger and not all of us are attaining bulk because we have forgotten how to push away from the table.
Most people will admit that folks are getting larger and have been over many years, not only are they getting taller but they’re getting heavier.
This may not give as much to think about in our daily lives but one thing for sure is it is important when it comes to boating and the load that we can safely carry in our boats. This can be especially problematic if we replace a two-stroke engine on our boats with a new four stroke engine.
Repowering with a newer outboard is one way to get more life out of a good boat. However, after seeing the recent repowering of a 22-foot center-console vessel with a comparably powered heavier four-stroke, and seeing first-hand the resulting loss of freeboard and performance, I would like to point out to owners to consider engine weight. With a potentially heavier four-stroke motor and resulting lower freeboard at the stern, swamping is a concern and your boat may handle differently than with the old engine.
Four-stroke engines come in virtually every size now, making them viable candidates for installation on more boats. While recently there have been some two-stroke and four-stroke models with comparable power and weight, by and large four-stroke outboard engines remain heavier. A four-stroke’s more complex valve systems typically add 10 percent to 15 percent or more weight than their two-stroke counterparts.
If you don’t know the weight of the engine you’re replacing, you can contact the manufacturer before you find you have spent a lot of money and end up with too much weight to hang on your transom. A boat dealer or repair facility may also be able to provide that information to ensure that, regardless of horsepower, the engine weights are similar. Twin engine installations compound the weight problem.
Something else to consider if you get a wild hair to update the electronics in your boat and can get plum out of hand if you get fanatical about it. One byproduct of such a decision is it can become necessary to start adding batteries to power all of the new electronics and batteries are heavy. I was looking at marine batteries to help carry the extra electrical load and saw one battery that cost a little over five thousand dollars.
So nowadays people are heavier, engines are heavier, electronics complete with the needed extra power can add weight, so let look at other items that we should be mindful of.
I see more and more boats with more luxurious seating which adds weight. Refrigerators are common place on boats today and refrigerators add more weight and then when you fill them up with goodies and drinks the weight of the refrigerator can double or more. They can add more electrical requirements and potentially more weight. Even if you stay with a good old fashion ice box and fill them up with a trip to the lake, refreshment requirements can add up to a lot of weight.
Once past the engine weight you may not consider it a big deal that a few extra pounds can have on your boats performance. The effect of excess weight on any boat has a big impact on performance and economy. Boats are designed to perform their best with a specific payload in mind. An overweight boat increases friction between the hull and water and reduces speed and fuel efficiency.
So folks when considering a new engine for your boat, it is important to keep engine weight at the foremost of your mind for both safety and economy of operation.
Other things you can do at this time of year is to go completely through your boat and remove all of the items that you do not need and that only adds unnecessary weight. After you get rid of all of the junk then look at weight distribution of the items you do need in your boat. There is an old slogan that says: Lighter boat = fatter wallet.