20 Boating Myths Busted

We bust 20 of the most common boating myths!

20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Lakes don’t exhibit very rough seas. The very fact that lakes aren’t vast and limitless is what can make them treacherous. Shallower than the oceans, lakes have waves that are steeper and closer together for any given amount of wind. Surrounded by relatively close shorelines (even on the Great Lakes) compared with the ocean, lake waves are reflected, bouncing off opposing shores and amplifying other waves, creating confused seas with waves often twice the height of those produced by the wind alone. Think lakes are calm? Try some lake boating. At the least, research how waves really work. Myth: BustedNOAA
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Sailboats always have the right of way. Despite the fact that sailboat skippers think they always have the right of way, they don’t. When running on its engine, a sailboat is just another powerboat, albeit an underpowered one. To ensure that you don’t get hit by an arrogant guy in a slow boat that can’t get out of its own way, steer clear anyway. Myth: BustedBrian Daugherty
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: You should always fill your tank with gasoline when winterizing your boat. According to many engine manufacturers’ published winterizing procedures, you shouldn’t. Also, if you fill the tank, fuel is going to pour out of the vent on the first warm day, creating a hazard. However, other sources say filling the tank fills the airspace, limiting the amount of condensation that can occur. Prior to ethanol in gas, we recommended that procedure. Ethanol is hygroscopic: It absorbs water. That’s good, to a point, since by holding water in suspension it can burn through an engine. But, if too much water gets into the E10 fuel, phase separation occurs. This is a chemical reaction in which the ethanol “drops out” of the fuel, taking octane levels and the water with it. The result is a useless sludge, unsuitable as motor fuel, that requires you to hire an environmental services company to dispose of it properly. By running down the tank, you’ll have less to deal with if phase separation occurs. In either case, use a stabilizer like ValvTect. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Turbine-powered boats are jets. If you think that boats with turbine engines use airplane motors and jet propulsion, you’re wrong on two points. The majority of the turbine engines used in performance marine applications are helicopter engines. Regardless of the application, the power is put to the water through a transmission and propellers. It’s a V-drive linked to a straight shaft in an unlimited hydroplane. For offshore catamarans like the 50-foot Mystic Miss Geico, the choice is BPM surface drives. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: The more blades a propeller has, the faster the boat goes. The fastest boats on the water, drag-racing hydroplanes, have two propeller blades and they put thousands of horsepower to the water to hurtle a boat down the liquid quarter-mile at more than 200 mph. In his book The Nature of Boats, designer Dave Gerr cites single-blade props as being most efficient, though they would vibrate like crazy. More blades can minimize vibration, but they don't add speed. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Performance boaters are the most dangerous on the water. According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics, speed ranked third behind alcohol and drug use as the primary contributing factors in accidents and fatalities. As for propulsion type, both inboard boats (1,077) and outboard boats (1,904) were involved in more accidents than sterndrive-powered boats (1,066). The vast majority of “go-fast” boats are, of course, sterndrives, as a quick perusal of spec sheets will confirm. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Don’t run down your gas tank past half full. The fear is that your fuel system will pick up contaminants from the bottom of the tank. Then they will get sucked into the engine and destroy it. Guess what? All fuel tanks draw from the bottom, so you’re always drawing from there. Myth: BustedThe Works
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Deadrise is the best determinant of ride quality. Deadrise certainly contributes to ride quality, but it’s not all-important. Length-to-beam ratio plays a huge role, since a proportionately wider boat presents more surface to the water upon re-entering a wave and thus causes the boat to fetch up hard and decelerate with more of a bump. Chine geometry, longitudinal and vertical centers of gravity, bottom loading, and the displacement-to-length ratio are other equally critical factors. The balance of all make for a good ride. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Ethanol causes problems because it wrecks engines. Marine engines are compatible with E10 gasoline, meaning they can burn it without damage. The problem comes from fuel that is stored for more than a month: Stored here means gas that remains in the tank for more than a few weeks, not just seasonal storage. For boats, unlike cars, the fuel supply isn't burned and replaced frequently. When E10 fuel sits in a tank, a chemical reaction called phase separation can occur. When water levels reach a certain percentage in E10 fuel, the ethanol separates from the gas and forms a layer on the bottom of the tank. The remaining "fuel" floating above drops its octane level and lubricity, making it risky, if not unusable, for an engine. The goop on the bottom, if run through the motor, can cause immediate and severe damage. Stored E10 fuel can wreck engines, but ethanol itself does not. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Boating is expensive. A season pass for your family of four to ski at Killington in Vermont costs about $4,000, according to the resort website, making that $2,500 slip fee for a season of boating not look so bad. Golfing? A popular course in southern Maine, where I live, is Point Sebago Resort. A season pass for one person, including a cart, in 2012 was $1,440. Multiply that times four and your family is spending a lot of money to get frustrated waiting for tourists from Massachusetts who keep losing their balls in the woods. If you’re going to play, you’re going to pay. Myth: BustedThe Works
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Four-stroke outboards are more fuel-efficient than two-strokes. You've got to burn fuel to make horsepower. Comparisons are often made between older, carbureted two-strokes and newer fuel-injected four-strokes. In those cases, the enhanced economy comes from the fuel delivery system, not from the number of revolutions in a power cycle. Compare modern two-strokes like Evinrude's E-Tec outboards to modern four-strokes, and the difference is too close to call. Check our boat test database and see for yourself. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Waxing a boat’s bottom will improve performance. During my offshore racing days, there were always guys in the pits pedaling their amazing speed-creating bottom wax. No one bought any. In fact, many racers have found that a rougher bottom is better for speed than a smooth one because the uneven surface lets in air to help break adhesion with the water. “Sanding the bottom of a boat any direction other than front to back increases the speed,” said multi-time world and national champion offshore racer Gary Ballough. He uses a process called “cross-hatching,” in which he crisscrosses the sanding angle at 45 degrees using a long block or a two-by-four wrapped in sandpaper. Myth: BustedMeguiar's
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: You can’t store batteries on a concrete floor. Concrete, wood, shag carpet…it does not matter what surface batteries are stored on. The plastic case insulates the plates. This myth dates back to when batteries were cased in hard rubber instead of plastic. The rubber was somewhat porous and the moisture present in a cement floor could cause a leak to ground. Today’s plastic battery cases are not at all porous. Myth: BustedThe Works
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: A V-bottom turns better than a catamaran does. Anyone who believes this myth has never driven a performance catamaran like a Skater, an MTI or a DCB. Compared with a stepped V-bottom such as a Cigarette, Fountain or OuterLimits, the cat will out-corner it and accelerate harder coming out of the turn. To get a real feel for G-forces in a boat, take a ride in an outboard-powered tunnel hull driven by an experienced pilot. These boats change directions faster than a campaigning politician can swap his stance. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: You can’t dock with an Arneson drive. “When I think about an Arneson drive, I’m comparing it to a boat with [Mercury Racing] Number Sixes or other surface drives, and they’re going to dock the same,” said John Tomlinson, a multiple-time offshore racing world champion and co-owner of TNT Custom Marine in North Miami, Florida. To get more response when backing up, trim the drive deeper into the water. If you’re willing to throw some water, apply plenty of power and the boat will still go where you want. Myth: BustedArneson Industries
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: On a clear day, you can see five miles or more to the horizon from the deck of your boat. Relatively simple trigonometry disputes this, since our sight is a straight line to Earth’s curve. Since we know the radius of Earth’s curve is 3,440 nautical miles, we need to plug that value, plus our “height of eye” — how high above sea level our head is when on deck — into the sectant tangent theorem. Boiled down, all you need to do is plug your height of eye (H) in feet into the following formula to solve for the distance to the horizon (D) in nautical miles: D = the square root of H. So if your height of eye is 6.6 feet above earth’s surface (typical aboard a small boat), you’ll see about 2.5 miles out. Climb up to the flybridge where you’re 13 feet above the surface and you’ll see 3.6 miles away. Myth: BustedThe Works
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: A boat is safer in a slip than on a mooring. A boat on a mooring is subject to only one variable, the weather. As long as the mooring tackle is secure, the boat will ride out waves and swing with the wind, never encountering another boat or the dock. A boat in a slip, on the other hand, is subject to the skill of the driver of the boat next to it and wave action pushing it into the finger, both of which can cause damage. Myth: BustedThe Works
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Stainless steel is the most corrosion-resistant metal. Ever wonder how come most boatbuilders use either bronze or plastic through-hull fittings below the waterline and not stainless? The main reason why stainless steel isn’t used more frequently below the waterline is that stainless steel needs contact with oxygen to resist corrosion. The damp microspace where the fitting passes through the hull is an oxygen-depleted environment, and in that environment, stainless rusts readily by a process known as crevice corrosion. We’ve all seen stainless tow rings and bow eyes above the waterline rusting from the inside out. Remember this: It’s called stainless, not stain-free. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Tide comes in and goes out. We’ve all heard of high and low tides, but not everyone realizes that tide only goes up and down. Tides are extremely long-period waves that move through the oceans as a response to forces exerted by the moon and sun. When the wave’s crest reaches a particular location, we get high tide. Low tide corresponds to the wave’s trough. What makes the water appear to be coming in or going out is the tidal current. A flood current is generated as high tide waters build, while the ebb currents occur when the tide lowers. Myth: BustedNOAA
20 Boating Myths Busted

20 Boating Myths Busted

Myth: Those who run offshore with one engine will eventually regret it. Talk to a recreational fisherman, cruiser or go-fast enthusiast who has sat adrift because his single power source died and you’ll get support for this theory. But consider that if you have a fuel problem, it’s going to affect all the engines. And if you hit something, it’s likely to disable all the props. Commercial fishing boats, tugs and other workboats all have single engines and go out in the nastiest weather. Their secret? Good maintenance. Myth: BustedBoating Magazine