Coming Soon To A Gas Station Near You ... Maybe
E15 fuel, a blend of 85-percent gasoline and 15-percent ethanol, could start showing up at your local gas station by the end of this year. The new label (pictured) will be affixed to every E15 fuel pump and, according to the EPA, will provide sufficient warning to boaters that E15 should be avoided at all costs in marine engines. While the move toward E15 has been vigorously opposed by BoatUS for lack of adequate research on the effects of the new blend on marine engines, there’s a new issue faced by E15 advocates: Both the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers, which account for 80 percent of retail fuel sales in the United States, are on record opposing E15 because it will cost upwards of $200,000 to outfit a station with new pumps and storage tanks. Many of these stores would prefer not to incur such an expense during fragile economic times.
Texas always does things in a big way, and when the topic is precipitation, the Lone Star State has recorded a big loss of rainfall this year, resulting in boat ramps, such as this one, being closed for lack of water. Note the docks, high and dry. Normal rainfall for Texas is 13 inches every year. As of August, total rainfall was .16 of an inch. The result? All 11 boat ramps on Lake Travis near Austin have been locked up until water levels can increase. On nearby Lake Buchanan, only one boat ramp was open for the summer. It’s the third-worst drought in the state’s history.
Also testifying was Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, who is pushing the move to E15. “The hearing is an obvious attempt to inject politics into a decision made by the EPA based on science and the most extensive vehicle testing ever.”
During a hearing last summer before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment to examine the science behind the move to E15, emissions engineer for Bombardier Recreational Products Jeff Wasil testified that the higher blend is incompatible in marine engines. “When the fuel changes in the marketplace and additional oxygenates [are] added — such as by going from E10 gasoline to E15 — engines run hotter, causing serious durability issues and increased emissions either in the form of increased nitrogen oxides (due to enleanment) or increased hydrocarbons (due to misfire). Additionally, ethanol is hygroscopic — meaning that it attracts water.”
More hearings are scheduled but boaters are warned to be aware of, and avoid, the new E15 blend when fueling at a gas station.
More Ramps For Morehead City Waterfront
A six-lane boat ramp is up and running and bringing in fishing tournaments in Morehead City, North Carolina. Within weeks of the ramp’s dedication, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament attracted 135 entries, while other anglers have taken advantage of a fishing pier that’s been expanded to 415 feet. The boat ramp has parking for 60 boat trailers and is the center of the town’s effort to develop its waterfront. Funding was provided by the town ($150,000), Carteret County ($500,000), and state grants ($2.3 million).
Anywhere But Here
The Gulf Island Pond boat ramp plan by the Auburn, Maine, city government has been put on hold again. Residents told city officials they fear property values will drop, traffic will increase, as will drinking and noise if a facility on Andrew Drive is built. NextEra Energy, providing hydroelectric power to this central Maine area, is required to build the ramp along the Androscoggin River, but needs city approval of the location. Residents tell The Sun Journal newspaper the city should find another location altogether.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, there’s a different conflict between boats and dams. Spokane, Washington, officials have put restrictions on a popular boat launch along the Spokane River. KXLY.com reports there is concern about tow vehicles pulling boats across a hydroelectric dam to launch at a ramp that is intended for use by the power station but has been used also as a public ramp. The city is telling newcomers to the neighborhood by the boat ramp that access is no longer available while telling residents that if they sell their house, the ramp is off limits to the new owner.
No Catch And Release
Two anglers were fishing the St. Clair River near Algonac, Michigan, one evening when they heard splashing near their boat. They motored over to where the sounds were coming from and found a guy swimming while pulling a backpack. Figuring a boat must have sunk nearby, the fishermen called 911 and pulled the swimmer aboard their boat. After getting back to the boat ramp, they learned the man was from the Czech Republic and illegally swimming from Canada to the United States. The swimmer was arrested and charged with trying to enter the United States from a place other than a designated port of entry.
Your Tax Dollars DO Work
It took 13 years to build but the boat ramp, parking lot, and restroom facilities at Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area in Carrier Mills, Illinois, is open for business. Access to the 100-acre lake has been delayed because of funding troubles, but the state found a way to dedicate dollars to pay for one-fourth of the renovations cost. The other 75 percent came from sportsmen buying hunting and fishing licenses as well as excise taxes on bait and fishing equipment.
GPS Mess, Take Two
More than 15,000 letters from BoatUS members were handdelivered to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in late July, asking the agency to ensure GPS signals won’t be affected by a new wireless telephone system that is being developed (see BoatUS Trailering, Summer 2011). Earlier this year, LightSquared was granted a conditional waiver to begin expansion of its system, subject to testing and public comments. At issue is the company’s plan to build 40,000 ground stations using a radio frequency bandwidth that has been shown to interfere with GPS. “We hope these 15,000 comments indicate to the FCC the critical need of having a reliable navigation system,” said BoatUS Vice President of Governmental Affairs Margaret Podlich, “not just for boaters and anglers, but for pilots, drivers, outdoor adventurers, and first responders.” More information and updates are available at www.BoatUS.com/gov
Job Well Done
Brian Mohr, a New York Cattaraugus County sheriff’s deputy, took his son Travis to the Kinzua Dam & Allegheny Reservoir in November 2008, when they noticed two fishermen without life jackets about to leave from the boat ramp. Mohr handed the two anglers a pair of his personal life jackets and the fishermen headed out onto the water. Later that afternoon, Mohr heard screams and could see the fishermen in the water hanging on to their capsized boat. Mohr, who had been hunting with his son, called 911, found a small paddleboat onshore, and went out into the 60-degree water to rescue them. Though the fishermen had been in the water for almost 45 minutes, they survived as a result of Mohr’s quick thinking. Both Brian and Travis have received the Recreational Boater Life Saving Award from the New York state Office of Parks. It should be noted, in 2009, the Cold Water Mandatory Life Jacket Law was implemented, requiring anyone in a boat less than 20 feet long, between November 1 and May 1, to wear a life jacket.
The Look Of Future Inspections
Imagine a video inspection of your boat and trailer for invasives at the top of the ramp. It’s happening right now in more than 20 locations throughout the Midwest and at Raquette Lake, New York. The Internet Landing Installed Device Sensor (I-LIDS) is set up at the boat ramp near the water and records any boat being launched. Prior to the boat passing the sensor, an audio message is played, outlining the areas to inspect prior to putting the boat in the water. The images are transmitted to a viewing site where any potential invasive plants are identified and the boat’s registration number is sent to local conservation officers for follow-up. “It’s a tool that complements DNR inspectors,” creator Eric Lindberg tells BoatUS Trailering, “and its intent is to encourage boaters to take the time and look at their boats and trailers prior to launch.”
Boats have always been good teachers, but now there’s high school credit along with the lessons learned. Hudson River Community Sailing (www.hudsonsailing.org) is offering high school freshmen a chance to earn credit hours by sailing and building boats. A physical education credit is available in the fall by sailing a 24-foot boat on the Hudson with a certified instructor; a science credit is available in the winter by building a ninefoot dinghy; a math credit is earned in the spring while learning to plot courses, determine time to destination based on winds and speed; and a summer internship provides job training.
To Home Page
Colorado has begun mandatory boat trailer inspections
for invasives prior to boats entering lakes and reservoirs.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Division of Wildlife.
We spend a lot of time on stories about efforts to keep invasive aquatic species out of lakes and reservoirs throughout the country. Here’s a chance to be a part of the story.
Over 10 years ago, BoatUS helped to develop the first voluntary guidelines to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, now part of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers campaign. Those guidelines are currently under revision and we would like to hear from you about your experience with preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil.
BoatUS wants to hear opinions and anecdotes from trailer boat owners on a number of questions:
Are invasive species a problem on your local waterway, and how are boaters helping to prevent the spread and educate other boaters and waterway users?
What means have you found to be the most effective and efficient for cleaning your boat and trailer?
If your boat and trailer have been inspected for invasives at a boat ramp or prior to arriving at a boat ramp, what has worked well, and why?
Was the experience efficient or frustrating, and why? How could the inspection process be improved?
We want to hear from you. We love to hear your stories, good and bad! Send an e-mail to Trailering@BoatUS.com with “Task Force” in the subject line and we’ll be sure to include your opinions about developing a framework for future inspections for aquatic nuisance species at boat ramps. We’ll also include this in a future issue of BoatUS Trailering magazine.