About Lenny Rudow

Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including Boats.com and Yachtworld.com. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design who has won 28 BWI and OWAA writing awards.

Fishfinder Transducer Transom Mount Location, Hold Bottom at High Speeds

transom mount transducer fishfinder performance hold bottom

Transom mount a fishfinder transducer deep and clean, to hold bottom at high speed.

Holding bottom at high speed is a common problem with transom mounted fishfinder transducers, and location is usually the reason. Just yesterday, a friend who bought a new boat was asking me about this issue. The one problem he has with his new boat is a flaky bottom reading; at speeds over seven or eight mph, the fishfinder totally loses its grip.

The first question I asked him, and the first you should ask yourself if you encounter the same problem: Is the bottom face of the transducer even or ever so slightly lower then the bottom of the boat? He answered “no,” and went on to tell me that it’s mounted about an inch higher then the boat’s bottom. Well, problem solved – if the face of the transducer is higher then the bottom of the boat, turbulence will roll off the edge of the boat bottom and interfere with the unit. The solution is simple: lower the transducer. Most installation manuals will tell you to make it dead-even or slightly below the bottom, and I’ve found it best to mount the leading edge of the transducer even with the bottom edge of the boat, and cock it back ever so slightly, so the back of the transducer is about 1/16th of an inch lower then the bottom of the boat.

If this isn’t the root of your problem, there are a few other potential issues to look for. Is the transducer mounted as low on the hull as possible? If not, it could be riding clear out of the water when the boat comes onto plane. Is there a strake, high-speed water pick-up, or any other irregularity forward of the transducer? If so, it could be creating turbulance at planing speeds.

The bottom line? Make sure your transducer is as deep as possible, not one iota higher then the boat’s bottom, and in a turbulence-free area. If you do, you should get decent performance up into the 20 to 30 mph range. You want your unit to work at speeds faster than this? You’ll probably have to go to a through hull transducer – even when mounted as well as possible, transom mount transducers have their limitations.

Are Humminbird or Eagle Portable Fishfinders Worth the Cash?

Portable fishfinders made by the likes of Humminbird and Eagle may seem like a good idea for folks who regularly rent or use multiple small boats, canoes, or kayaks, but are they really worth the cash? After all, just how well can these things really work? In most cases the screens are small and have low resolution, their transducers stick to the boat with a suction cup, and the power capabilities are puny. But…

For years I’ve used a hummingbird portable fishfinder, and frankly, I love the thing. It costs a mere hundred bucks, and takes all of 10 seconds to set up on my car-topper, canoe, or jon boat. One caveat – don’t plan on using the suction-cup transducer on a polyethylene boat (that’s what my car-topper is made of) because it won’t stick on the textured surface. The solution? Use an iron to melt a small, smooth, flat spot onto the transom. 

I’ve tested portable units from all of the above-mentioned companies, as well as the ”Fishin’ Buddy” type (these used to be made by Bottom Line, but they were bought out by Humminbird)  that clamps to the side of your boat. (The clamp-ons work fine but in my experience, may not fit well on boats with rolled edges, rubrails, or protruding hull-to-deck joints). And I think I’ve liked just about all of them. No, you can’t expect to differentiate between structure and the fish hanging around it. No, you won’t hit bottom in 200′ of water with one of these little guys. And no, the transducer won’t stay put at anything faster then a crawl. But to be able to find submerged trees, weedbeds, stream beds, and underwater points makes them extremely valuable. And yes, that value is most certainly worth the cost. You’re heading for a lake or river on a small boat sometime soon? Don’t hesitate to pick up one of these portables – it’s money well spent.

Humminbird hummingbird portable fishfinder

This Humminbird portable fishfinder comes in a carrying case, along with a suction cup transducer mount.

New Hatteras GT Series, GT54, GT60, GT63 Convertible, is Coming!

Hatteras Yachts has a new GT series,  with a GT54, GT60, and GT63 Convertible. Sweet – boat builders are back to building new boats!

The GT 60 has already hit the water, but for 2011 it’s redesigned (and being reintroduced at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show in October), and joined by the GT 54 and GT 63 (to be premiered at the Miami boat show inFebruary).

So, what’s new about these Hatteras yachts? All are built with resin-infusion, which creates a more uniform, lighter, stronger structure. Hatteras says this helps them “slash the weight” in the GT models, though “trim” might be a more appropriate term; the old 60 Convertible displaced 90,000 pounds and the new GT60 displaces 87,000.

The GT series also has a single, integrated fuel tank built into the boat; enhanced visibility in the salon; mezzanine-equipped cockpits; and custom-designed interior furniture packages. As always, cockpit layout can be specified by the customer. Take a gander at these renderings of the GT54, GT60, and GT63, which Hatteras sent out yesterday:

hatteras yachts gt 54 60 63 gt54 gt60 gt63 convertible

The new Hatteras GT series, the 54, 60, and 63 Convertible.

Garmin Nuvi GPS Recall, Batteries Overheat, Fire Hazard

Garmin is recalling 1.25 million Nuvi GPS units, because the batteries can overheat and cause a fire hazard - ouch! About 796,000 of the affected units were sold in the US, but so far, there have been fewer then a dozen cases of actual melt-downs.

It’s a bum rap for Garmin, however, which notes that the battery supplier is chipping in to replace these units. Hmmm… wonder who’s fault this was? Unfortunately, Garmin – along with other GPS manufacturers – has already been taking a beating lately thanks to the rise of GPS equipped cell phones. Why spend money on a Nuvi, when you can plan your route on your iPhone? Of course, Garmin’s no pushover – ever heard of the Garminfone? If not, you can bet you will soon.

Garmin says the affected phones are the 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx and 7xxT (where xx is a two-digit number) models. To take care of its customers, they’ve set up a web site, www.garmin.com/nuvibatterypcbrecall, where you can get info on whether or not the battery in your Nuvi GPS could overheat, and if so, how to get a replacement.

Garmin Nuvi GPS battery overheat recall

Garmin Nuvi GPS Navigation units are being recalled, due to overheating batteries causing a fire hazard.

New Viking 42 Convertible Sportfishing Boat, with Zeus Pod Drives

There’s a new Viking 42 Convertible with Zeus pod drives on the way, and this sportfishing boat will be ready in time for the fall boat shows. The new 42 will be the smallest boat built by this company currently available, and will feature a real departure from the norm for Viking Yachts with the Cummins diesel, Zeus pod drive arrangement.

Viking says the 42 Convertible will be followed by a 42 Open express, which should be ready to demo by the Miami boat show in February of 2011.

The new 42 features a two stateroom, two head layout, and will have a bi-level galley with bar stool seating. Surprisingly, it’ll also feature a cockpit mezzanine – an unusual perk in a convertible fishboat this small. The bridge is said to have a centered helm, port and starboard lounges, and forward seating. From the early pics one can also make out a port-side cockpit freezer, a centered transom livewell, and a port side transom door. The mezzanine looks to be on the small side (which should be expected on a 42), with maybe enough room for two people to spread out or three to cram on. Overall cockpit space is 122 square feet according to Viking’s web site, but they don’t say if this measurement includes the area consumed by the mezzanine and bait freezer; different companies take this measurement in different ways, and out of 122 square feet we could be looking at a 15 or even 20 percent difference. LOA is 42′7″, beam is 15′10″, and displacement is about 36,000 pounds. There’s a nice rendering of the boat on Viking’s web site, www.vikingyachts.com. For now, you can check out this construction shot of the new Viking 42 Convertible with Cummins diesels and Zeus pod drives, which the company e-mailed out yesterday.

Viking 42 conbvertible cummins diesel zeus pod drives

The first new Viking 42 Convertible with Zeus pod drives makes its way down the line.

Flying Stingray Stinger Skewers Boy, in Freak Event Like Steve Irwin Death

stingray freak event steve irwin

Stingrays like the one that killed Steve Irwin have a dangerous barb on their tail. This one was caught while fishing in the surf.

A 10 year old was skewered by a flying stingray stinger last week, in a freak accident reminiscent of the Steve Irwin death-by-stingray event. File this one under strange but true: according to the Baltimore Sun, the 10 year old boy, Quentin Tokar, was on vacation with his family while fishing on the Avon pier. They caught a stingray, hoisted it onto the pier, and were preparing to release it when an angler walked up and said he wanted to snip off the stingray’s four-inch barb. When he clipped it off, however, it shot through the air and caught Tokar right in the midsection.

The flying stinger hit with enough force to pierce Tokar, entering several inches into his body. Every time he took a breath, the stinger worked its way farther and farther in – until it disappeared from view, leaving behind a nickle-sized hole!

Tokar was airlifted by helicopter to Kitty Hawk, then driven by ambulance to Norfolk, VA, where the stinger was removed. Unfortunately, an infection quickly set in and Tokar had to be admitted to the Hopkins Children’s Center.

Though his return to school has been delayed Tokar is now doing fine, and said that if someone tries pulling the barb off a stingray in the future,  ”I’m running to the other side of the pier.”

Laura Dekker Solo Sailor, Skishing, and Other Weird Nautical News

When it comes to Skishing, Laura Dekker (another youngest around the world solo sailing trip), and other weird nautical news, sometimes you just have to wonder if mankind has run out of things to do. Now, we’re inventing strange and unusual activities, pushing the limits of old ones, and generally behaving like we don’t have one iota of seagoing sense.

First, let’s look at this new attempt to become the world’s youngest girl to sail around the world single handed. Yes, girl; once upon a time we’d have said woman, but at this point girls are trying to go around the world on a blowboat before they’re even old enough to legally drive a car one mile down the road. This comes just months after 16 year old Abby Southerland made the attempt, and had to be rescued after being slammed by a storm in the Indian Ocean. As a mariner and a father, I have one word that sums up this “race” to become the youngest circumnavigator: stupid. It’s a blatant quest for publicity, and all the talk about accomplishment and challenges is a smoke screen. Would you let your kid try to take a dog sled to the North Pole, simply because no one that young has done so before? I didn’t think so. Meanwhile, other people’s lives are put at risk when they have to board helicopters and cutters to go on SAR missions. Like I said: this is just plain stupid.

Meanwhile, for those who have grown bored with fishing while standing on a boat or casting from the shore, evidently a “new” sport has evolved: skishing. A New Yorker named Paul Melnyk gets credit for this one, since he started the craze by entering the water in a wet suit, fishing rod in hand. He swims out from shore before deploying his line, then attempts to hook a fish large enough to tow him through the water.

I’m all for fun new ways to fish; I’ve experimented with billfishing from a Jet Ski, ultra-light giant bluefin tuna fishing, and kayak fishing for pelagics offshore, so it’s fair to say I’m open-minded on this topic. Here’s the problem: Melnyk does it at night, where other guys are fishing. He’s been hooked twice, and almost run down by a boat at least once. Common sense would dictate skishing where there aren’t other hooks in the water, and maybe adding a dive flag or a flashing light, to provide some visibility. Why should the rest of us care if these guys want to go skishing? Because someones going to get sued when they skewer a skisherman with a 10/0, or run ‘em down in the middle of the night. There’s a word for this… it begins with an “s”.

skishing striped bass night fishing

What a skishing fisherman won't do, to catch a striped bass…

New Jerkthatjig Octojig, and Blueline Tilefish Fishing Tips

Jerkthatjig has a new lure called the Octojig, which I tested recently while fishing for blueline tilefish. This is one of the wackiest jigs ever created, similar in nature to Shimano’s Lucanus. There’s a large roundish leadhead skirted by rubber hairs, wings, and trailers, with a pair of relatively small hooks swinging around in the middle of them. Here’s what one looks like:

jerk that jig octo jig

The Octojig, from Jerkthatjig jigs.Yep – pretty darn weird, I know. But it also works – in fact, it's a killer. When we found a mixed bag of blueline tilefish and sea bass in 310 feet of water inside the Washington Canyon, the Octojig proved its worth. In fact, we caught more fish on these things than we did on "regular" jigs, or on multi-hook rigs. Why? Two reasons: first, they sink incredibly quickly. When you're in 300-plus of water, that makes a big difference is how long you stand around, waiting to reach bottom. Secondly, the fish just plain like 'em. And for whatever reason, the hook placement means very few short strikes and missed bites. Most of the time you'd hook up on the first strike, using the Octojig. Most people give them a slow retrieve, or bounce them along the bottom. But for the blueline tilefish, here's what we found most effective: Put a single slice of squid about half an inch by one inch, on each hook. Drop straight to the bottom. As soon as it hits, raise your rod tip by about two feet, and hover the jig in place for three to five seconds. If there isn't a bite, drop it back to the bottom, and repeate the hovering technique. As soon as you feel a strike, set the hook – and whammo – it's blueline tilefish for dinner!Blueline tilefish like this one are suckers for the Octojig.