than a fouled engine. Do this with a
tank low in fuel to save money and time.
Also use good filters (I like Racor) with
vacuum valves on the filter body. I change
my filters regularly. If the vacuum reads
too high on the gauge, it’s definitely time
to change the filter.
With gasoline engines, many technicians recommend adding fuel stabilizers
to help counteract the adverse effects of
ethanol. This is particularly important
during winter storage.
I appreciate all the good information
you regularly provide on traveling the
Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), so I hope
you don’t mind answering an open question. My wife and I are retiring and want
to travel the ICW from the northern
Chesapeake to Key West. We plan to
travel aboard our 42-foot Carver with
twin gas engines. We normally cruise at
8 to 10 mph to conserve gas. Any tips
you have as a seasoned snowbird would
be gratefully appreciated.
T.N.: This is not just a question about
running the waterways; it’s also a question about equipment (your engine) and
how to use it for that trip. We see people
doing the trip in boats similar to yours
all the time. I’d prefer the 8- to 10-knot
speed not only to conserve fuel but also
to better enjoy the trip and have a much
safer run. There’s a lot to see, and there
are many areas where you must be careful
to avoid problems.
When you’re running those engines
fast, it’s easy to miss an aid to navigation
in the sunlight, miss signs of shoaling
water ahead, miss logs floating in the
water, or skid out of a channel as you
round a sharp bend. It’s much harder
to keep up with your chart or even your
chartplotter. The newer and better ones
will refresh their displays pretty rapidly,
but when you’re in tight passages, zooming through narrow channels in marshes
or forest or mud flats, the combination of
speed, multiple-layer target acquisition,
and imperfections in GPS and display
recovery time can cause problems. And
you need to carefully look at what’s
around you, not just at the chartplotter.
And, yes, you should frequently consult
paper charts and guides.
Fast speeds can drastically impair
your ability to do this, especially in
the narrow, winding channels typical
of the ICW. I’ve seen many a boat
skid far up onto the flats, with loss
of all running gear and holes in the
bottom, just because the skipper didn’t
make the turn and/or his navigational
gear didn’t keep up. In addition to the
safety factor, there’s much to enjoy on
the trip and many stupendous views.
Rushing through it defeats the purpose,
in my opinion.
But it’s also great to have the ability to
get up and go should weather be coming
or you must make a destination before
dark. When you need to go, you need
to go. Although you’re in a hurry, watch
your wake and speed.
Have a question for our experts? Email
it to Magazine@BoatUS.com. We’ll
publish the answers to select questions
in future issues. Include your full name
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