E15, Four Gallons and You Gotta Be KiddingPublished: Winter 2013
It is no secret that BoatUS and the National Marine Manufacturers Association have been the lead singers in a chorus of those concerned about the use of E15 (currently available in Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas) in marine engines. Lawnmower and snowmobile manufacturers as well as the American Motorcyclist Association have also questioned the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the new fuel blend and now the EPA has an answer. It is being deemed “the four-gallon rule” but it may create more questions than answers.
If you’re going to buy gas from a pump that offers E15, the EPA now requires that you purchase a minimum of four gallons, regardless of whether your gas tank or container can hold that much. The rule is an attempt to prevent misfueling problems, since most fuel is distributed from a blender pump that offers several fuel choices. Because it’s possible that the customer before you filled up with E15, the residual fuel in the hose is now going in your tank. That is not a big problem if you have a big tank where the ethanol can be diluted, but it is definitely a concern for smaller tanks and containers like those used for outboard engines. Other questions that are raised are whether you have to pay for fuel you can’t use and how to dispose of that fuel. Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Convenient Stores (www.NACSonline.com) John Eichenberger, who represents more than 118,000 businesses that sell gasoline, says, “It is possible that this additional issue could that this additional issue could dissuade many retailers from entering the E15 market."
History Is Made
The first gallon of E15 was sold last September in what could be the first move toward the controversial fuel blend being available nationwide. That famous first gallon was purchased, by the way, in Iowa, the number one corn-producing state.
Lake Mead Good News & Bad News
The Echo Bay Marina on Lake Mead has closed as a result of the economy and low water levels. This means more than 100 boaters are going to have to find new slips and all boaters will now have to travel 30 miles to get to Callville Bay, the closest fuel dock. The existing public boat ramp, restrooms and a fish cleaning station remain open.
Allegheny Out Of "Lock" (PIC)
A pair of locks just north of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River are no longer available to recreational boaters. The reason? The usual: lack of money. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it's reducing lock and dam operations on Lock 6 and Lock 7 as a result of not having enough money to maintain regular operations. The locks are now only available to commercial operators by appointment only. 20 cents of every gallon of diesel fuel purchased by a barge operator is designated for lock and dam maintenance but it covers just eight percent of the total cost. It hasn't increased since 1995, though efforts to increase it to 26 cents/gallon have failed.
Cause Of Fire? The Usual Suspects
When a boat trailer lost a tire along Interstate 90 in Washington state, the axle hit the pavement as the driver pulled to the side of the road. Within a minute, a 50- by 2,000-foot section of nearby brush was on fire, caused by sparks from the damaged axle. Firefighters from three communities and the U.S. Forest Service spent an hour getting the blaze under control.
Searching For A Reason
Ohio lawmakers are looking at legislation that would make random stops of boaters on local waters illegal. Under the bill introduced by state representatives Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) and Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont), law enforcement can only stop a boat if they have reason to believe the vessel, or the vessel's operator, is in violation of marine law or engaged in criminal activity. Michigan legislators passed a similar law that became effective last November.
Long Island Learning
Suffolk County, New York, on Long Island Sound is going to require boat operators to take a boating safety education class and have a certificate onboard. It will start being enforced on November 6, 2013 and may become a bellwether for a future state law requiring the same for all boaters. Under present state law, a safety class is only required for anyone age 10-18 to operate a powerboat or for anyone operating a personal watercraft. There is concern the 68,364 registered boaters in the county could overwhelm the system. That's why there's a year before the rule is enforced. One option that's available for those older than 18 and not operating a personal watercraft: Take the free BoatUS Foundation boating course online at www.BoatUS.org/online course
California Ups Registration Fee
California boaters can expect to pay a maximum of $10 more to register their boats in the coming years. The exact amount and date has yet to be determined but the increase is to help pay for invasive species inspection and education programs. The state's Boating and Waterways Commission will monitor that the new fees are deposited in the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund and used to increase the number of inspections occurring at both reservoirs and waterways. There will also be a renewed effort to show boaters how invasive species can be contained through boats and trailer inspections.
Alsdorf Park Goes Big
Under a plan being put together by Broward County and the state, two more lanes will be added to the six-lane boat ramp of Alsdorf Park in Pompano, Florida. Citing increased use and the need to accommodate larger boats, another 15 parking spots for bigger boat trailers and tow vehicles will be added in addition to the new lanes. The ramp is located on the Hillsborough Inlet and is open 24 hours. County officials hope to have it ready for bigger business next year.
Digging out from Superstorm Sandy (PIC)
When hurricane Sandy combined with a nor’easter to create a hybrid Superstorm and took aim for the NJ/NY coast, forecasters knew it was going to be trouble. The massive storm made landfall south of Atlantic City, New Jersey at 8 PM on October 29 packing tropical storm winds that eventually reached as far west as Chicago. But the bigger punch came from the storm surge that inundated low lying areas in Long Island, NYC, Staten Island, NJ, and CT and reached more than 14 feet at Battery Point, NY and 13 feet at Sandy Hook, NJ. The surge lifted entire marinas off their pilings, toppled boats off their jackstands, lifted boats off their trailers, and, in some cases, carried off boats with trailers still strapped to them. BoatUS estimates that some 65,000 boats may have been damaged. Total recreational boat losses may exceed $650 million making the late October storm the single-largest industry loss since the Association began keeping track in 1966. A video of the BoatUS Catastrophe response team on the ground in New York and New Jersey can be found at www.BoatUS.com/hurricanes. “We have never seen anything like this,” said BoatUS’s Director of Technical Services, Beth Leonard. “Most of the hurricanes we have dealt with come ashore in a narrow band that affects a few marinas. But here we have hundreds of marinas across 500 miles of coastline that have been devastated.” What could trailer boat owners have done before the fact? “This is a case where getting your trailerable boat to high ground was the only effective precaution,” Leonard said.
A Pair Of "Green" Outboards
No need to stop at the gas dock anymore
Outboard engines have come a long way from the days of the pull rope around the starter. If you are thinking about replacing your outboard this winter, take a look at these two green options — "green," as in they don't use gas.
Lehr Propane Outboard
If it is good enough for your grill, it is good enough for your boat, right? Lehr introduces the world’s first propane-powered outboard marine engine. This four-stroke engine comes in 2.5-hp, 5-hp, and 9.9-hp models and can be fueled with either a 16.4-ounce “camping” propane canister or a longer-range five-gallon “BBQ” tank. Propane has numerous environmental benefits including reduced emissions and increased fuel economy. For the operator, these engines also boast easy starting with no choking or priming needed. The Lehr engine is comparably priced with conventional outboards, with propane fuel costing less than gasoline in most areas.
Torqeedo Electric Outboard
With 13 different engines ranging from 1- to 15-hp equivalent, Torqeedo has a wide range of electric outboards with options small enough to power a kayak and large enough for a 24-foot pontoon boat. As you might expect with an electric motor, they are quiet, emission-free, and lightweight. They can travel up to 20 nautical miles on a single charge, or more than 10 hours at low speed. All engines are equipped with onboard computers including GPS-based range calculation, speed over ground, and battery condition. Torqeedo batteries can be charged from any power outlet, but for those looking to get even further off the grid, they offer solar charging options as well.
Both options offer increased efficiency, cleaner engines, freedom from the gas dock and the challenges associated with fueling on the water, and lower maintenance when it comes time to winterize.