Authors Posts by Erin B

Erin B


Coastal City Wish List

Coastal City Wish List
What’s on your coastal city wish list? There is something inexplicably better about a city on the water. It could be the scenic views or the attitudes of the locals or it could be the access to boating.

I’ve been lucky to travel to a lot of coastal cities. That’s in part because I grew up on a tiny island, went to college in a coastal city (Go Seahawks!), and worked as a stewardess on a yacht that cruised the ICW from Annapolis to Miami, and then had the opportunity to work in The Bahamas. I got a pretty good head start on the coastal city circuit!

But there are more cities I dream of visiting. I still get the stunned, chin-on-the-floor look from most when I say I’ve never been to Charleston, SC. That look is usually followed up with a “What? You have to go!”

Where else do I have to go? Let me know in the comments.

Seattle, Oregon is on my coastal city wishlistSeattle, Washington
What I’ve heard: Eco-friendly, scenic and very boater-friendly. Bring a raincoat. Go fishing or at least eat some salmon.



Charleston, South Carolina is on my coastal city wishlistCharleston, South Carolina
What I’ve heard: “You haven’t been to Charleston? It’s beautiful and so charming! It’s the perfect Southern city! You have to go. You have to GO!” …and so on and so on forever.



Captiva Island, FL is on my coastal city wishlistCaptiva Island, Florida
What I’ve heard: Apparently no stoplights to see, but some of the best fishing and boating in the state of Florida. Boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. I also heard it’s physically impossible to leave without a souvenir shell.



galveston-island texas is on my coastal city wishlistGalveston, Texas
What I’ve heard: Rife with retro amusements, historic houses, and spectacular fishing. There’s also a museum that created from an older offshore drilling rig—that has to be a must-see.



Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin is on my coastal city wishlistSturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
What I’ve heard: Go in the summer because you’ll eventually get hot enough to dip your feet in the clearest water you’ve ever seen. Also cheese curds. Did I mention cheese curds?  I <3 cheese.



I know there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of coastal cities I’m missing. What’s on your coastal city wish list? Tell us in the comments— you could win a bottle of Oak & Cane rum! 

Steer by App: New products make steering easy

Steer by app
New electronics updates make steering easy. Just steer by app!

Steer by app: New electronic products make it possible to maneuver your boat with precision and ease.

 Minn Kota

You’re in the back-country fishing at one of your favorite spots. Then a gust of wind moves the boat, and you have to reel in your perfect cast to reposition the vessel. For owners of Minn Kota® trolling motors equipped with i-Pilot® and i-Pilot® Link™, there’s a revolutionary new app for anglers that allows them to use their smartphone or tablet to control the motor via Bluetooth® (where there’s data coverage).

The goal of the apps was singular: to enable anglers to catch more fish. Brad Henry, brand manager for Minn Kota, says that controlling the boat is essential to that endeavor.

“The new Minn Kota apps help make that easier than ever,” adds Henry. “From setting speed and direction to activating Spot-Lock and our new Spot-Lock Jog feature, we are putting a host of features into the familiar, convenient interface of phones and tablets.”

Minn Kota programmed the apps with the most frequently used commands by anglers when they’re on the water: Propeller On/Off, Left/Right Steering, Speed Control, AutoPilot activation, and deployment of Spot-Lock and Spot-Lock Jog—a feature that maintains position in wind and current. Furthermore, High-Speed Bypass boosts the motor to rapidly accelerate if moving the boat quickly is required.

Updates to the app are communicated to users and can be activated as needed, even while out on the water. “Since integrating Bluetooth into select Minn Kota models, it has opened up a new frontier on upgrades and functionality. On-the-fly software updating is just one of many benefits,” Henry explains.

The Minn Kota apps for i-Pilot and i-Pilot Link were designed with a user-friendly screen layout that mimics Minn Kota’s handheld remotes with which anglers are already familiar. The navigational icons are the same, and the response time is immediate.

Some anglers have reported using the new app as their primary control or as a back-up to their wireless remote, while others prefer to use the foot pedal for control. Ultimately, it comes down to angler preference, and Minn Kota delivers options for anglers to choose how they control their trolling motor.

Simply download the Minn Kota i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link app to an iOS or Android device, then pair it with one of the Bluetooth-enabled Minn Kota trolling motors: Ulterra, Terrova, PowerDrive (i-Pilot only), and Ultrex models. The push-button task is fast and easy.

Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Outdoors and consists of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird® is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fishfinders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products.

Minn Kota® is the  world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as a complete line of Talon® shallow-water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon® is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories. 

SeaStar Solutions

You love your boat, your outboards have plenty of power and are in fine shape, but when it comes to steering, especially at certain speeds, the combination of the two leaves something to be desired. Maybe it’s the factory-installed electrohydraulic steering system that’s giving you grief. Or, perhaps, you’re driving your boat differently now than when you bought it and you haven’t adapted accordingly.

If you own a boat with Mercury® Verado™ outboards, there’s good news. You can now replace your factory electro-hydraulic steering system with SeaStar Solutions’ Optimus Electronic Power Steering (EPS), which provides an easier boat-handling experience with more precision and control. According to Tom Douglass, vice president of sales and marketing for SeaStar Solutions, the Optimus EPS system was developed in response to boat owners who wanted to upgrade to power steering in order to improve the handling of their boats and their boating experience.

“Now, we can extend the benefits of Optimus EPS to more boaters that are looking for ways to make driving a little easier—and a lot more fun,” says Douglass. The Optimus EPS system also offers speed-adaptive technology, a feature that enables programmable steering resistance based on the engines’ rpms. For example, it will make maneuvering your boat easier at low speeds around docks and in marinas, yet at higher speeds it will help to maintain a straight course while cruising.

To install the Optimus EPS system, remove the factory helm, hoses and power assist pump and replace with the Optimus electronic helm, NMEA2000® harnesses, CANtrak display, hoses, and hydraulic pump. Take note that on typical hydraulic steering systems (and on the Mercury Verado system), the autopilot controls a separate steering pump and actuators that steer the boat when the system is engaged. With Optimus, you don’t need that second pump as these autopilot systems that are compatible—from Garmin, Raymarine or SIMRAD— just plug into the Optimus system and use its pump and controls. This makes installation very easy and much less expensive.

For boats with two helm stations, adding a second station is simple because this is a drive-by-wire system. All you have to do to is run a wire from your network up to the second station and plug it into the Optimus electronic helm. The Optimus EPS system is now available for boats powered by up to four outboards.

By L.N. Evans Southern Boating Magazine August 2017

Diesel Engine Murder

diesel engine murder

Murder! Whodunit? YOU committed diesel engine murder!

The deed is done and it is murder most foul. Your loyal diesel engine has met an untimely end, but it wasn’t Colonel Mustard in the library with a Yeti paw or even Miss Scarlett in the foyer with a loofah. It was YOU who murdered your diesel! You cut it down in the prime of its life due to lack of maintenance. Let’s gather the world’s greatest detectives and sleuth through the clues at the scene of the crime to uncover the surprisingly simple ways you sent your engine to an early grave.

CLUE NO. 1: “It’s elementary, my dear Watson.  You failed to change your oil.” 

It doesn’t take a trip to 221B Baker Street to discover that regular oil changes are the single most important thing you can do to increase the life of your engine. Most engine manufacturers recommend oil changes every 100 hours (or annually, at a minimum).

Some manuals may allow for longer intervals, but more frequent oil changes are a better strategy to extend the life of the engine. It is certainly better than stretching out the period between them. This is particularly true for diesel engines, which tend to be harder on oil lubrication properties than gasoline engines (one reason many experts suggest the oil for diesels be changed every 50 hours of use rather than the 100 hours that are more commonly quoted).

CLUE NO. 2: “Read the smoke signals—six, two and even, over and out!”

Detective Dick Tracy doesn’t need a two-way wrist radio to communicate the cause of your engine’s demise—exhaust smoke is your diesel’s way of telling you what’s going on. Noticing the signs early can head off expensive repairs later. A well-maintained engine may smoke when initially cranked or while idling, but typically not while under load.

White smoke during start-up of a cold engine is normal, but it should clear up after the engine warms. If it continues, it’s normally an indication of unburned fuel. But it can also be a number of other issues, from water or air in the fuel to a faulty injector or injection pump. Black smoke upon startup is also common; however, its presence after the engine is at load signifies incomplete combustion. Possible causes include air intake or exhaust restrictions, compression problems and faulty or worn injectors.

Blue smoke means the engine is burning oil, which is also not uncommon at start-up. Continued smoking may mean trouble with  valve guides and stems, worn piston rings or even failing turbo- supercharger oil seals.

CLUE NO. 3: “Observe, Number One Son—air filter
not replaced!”

You don’t have to be as smart as Charlie Chan to see a pattern here regarding routine maintenance. Even simple ones, such as maintaining your air filter, can make a big difference when it comes to increasing your engine’s service life. A clogged air filter not only affects fuel economy, but it can also cause your engine’s turbo (if so equipped) to spin faster in attempts to provide it with adequate airflow. Severe damage to valves, pistons and the turbo itself can occur if dirt and debris from a severely clogged air filter are ingested by your engine.

CLUE NO. 4: “Oh sir, just one more thing… you didn’t change your fuel filters.”

Columbo knows fuel filters always seem to clog at the worst possible moment, such as running a narrow inlet or when navigating a busy harbor. Causing your engine to shut down is bad enough, but it gets even worse. Clogged fuel filters can also damage injectors and injection pumps. Diesel fuel injection systems create a lot of heat and rely on unobstructed fuel fl ow to keep things cool. In extreme cases, excess pressure from a clogged filter can even cause filter damage, allowing a failed filter to dump contaminants directly into the injection system.

CLUE NO. 5: “You poisoned your engine, Monsieur!”

While not as exciting as Murder on the Orient Express, follow Hercule Poirot’s advice to use your “little gray cells,” and you’ll soon surmise that many marine diesel problems originate in the fuel tank. Not surprisingly for boats, water intrusion is a major source of diesel fuel woes. That deck fuel fi ll cap with the missing O-ring is a perfect path for water entry into the fuel tank during every wash down or rainstorm. Limited or seasonal use is also an issue when it comes to boat fuel. Despite the plethora of magic potions and elixirs sold to “kill bugs” or stabilize your fuel, diesel stored on board for long periods can still degrade or become contaminated due to microbial or

Despite the plethora of magic potions and elixirs sold to “kill bugs” or stabilize your fuel, diesel stored on board for long periods can still degrade or become contaminated due to microbial or bacterial growth. Dirty fuel can happen to anyone. If it happens to you, act swiftly to correct the issue, and be sure to maintain good fuel management practices to keep it from ever recurring.

Frank Lanier, Southern Boating August 2017

WATCH: docking tips with Capt Chris

docking do's and don'ts, how to dock, dock your boat, docking, docking tips

Is docking (or undocking, for that matter) the most difficult part about boating? It’s certainly the most visible to fellow cruisers. But don’t fret! With just a few tips from our favorite instructor, Captain Chris, you can dock like a pro. Watch the video below to see tips and tricks.

But first, a simple few tips to get you going:

1. Practice docking at an empty pier.  Practice makes perfect!

2. The wind wins. If it’s blowing from the dock, approach at a steep angle, using reverse gear and prop torque to swing the stern toward the dock. If it’s blowing toward the dock, plan to come “alongside” a boat width or more away, allowing the wind to push you all the way home.

3. Stress with less. When it’s super windy, it may help to take down your bimini and reduce your chances of being pushed where you don’t want to go.

4. Slow and steady wins the race.  If you come in too fast, you increase your chances of error.

5. As the World Turns.  Turn the wheel just before accelerating — not during or after. This simple trick prevents the stern from kicking around.

If you have a question about docking or else cruising related, ask Captain Chris in the comments!

Hinckley Dasher Debuts at Newport International Boat Show

hinckley dasher contains bmw-i-batteries-3

Hinckley debuts the world’s first fully electric luxury yacht – Dasher at The Newport International Boat Show.

Designed from the outset for fully electric propulsion, Dasher achieves a new standard of excellence pairing modern styling with hi-tech composite construction.

“Since 1928, Hinckley has pioneered beautiful, timeless, and highly innovative yachts.  We have a long tradition of innovation in pursuit of the perfect yachting experience.  From the early use of fiberglass in the Bermuda 40 in the 1960’s to the adoption of jet drives on the category-defining Picnic Boat, we’ve always worked to combine the latest technology with cutting edge naval architecture to do what has not yet been done” said Peter O’Connell, President and CEO of The Hinckley Company.

Borrowing her name from the game-changing, original Picnic Boat, hull #1, sports a carbon-epoxy composite hull shape designed by Michael Peters. The boat is hand-painted, lightweight and crafted from composite artisanal teak, ensuring every ounce of weight has been shaved and sculpted. Titanium hardware and console details were both 3D printed to achieve shapes and a level of precision unavailable in typical construction methods.

The yacht powers her 28 feet 6 inches with twin 80hp electric motors and dual BMW i3 BMW i3 lithium-ion batteries.

“The Hinckley Whisper Drive silent propulsion system combines the latest hydrodynamics, electric power and digital control systems to achieve the performance handling and maneuverability that discerning clients will expect” said O’Connell.

Quiet propulsion, zero emissions and zero time lost at the fueling dock make the revolutionary yacht the best way to spend time on the water with family and friends.  Dasher accepts dual 50 amp charging cables, standard on most docks, so it can charge twice as fast as the most popular plug-in electric cars. She gains a full charge in under 4 hours with dual 50amp charging.  Her cruising speed is 10mph with fast cruising at 18-27 mph.  Range is 40 miles at cruising speed and 20-25 miles at fast cruising speeds.

For more information visit