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.

Yamaha 300 HPDI Outboard Review and Test

The Yamaha 300 HPDI outboard is worthy of a test and review even in this day of four stroke dominance, because this is one two stroke that packs a heck of a punch and will be of interest to anglers. Why? Haven’t four strokes completely taken over, especially considering Yamaha’s new line of SHO’s which have the light weight and acceleration of a two stroke? Almost, but not entirely. Many guys want to stick with twos in this size range because the new four stroke SHO’s only go up to 250 horses, and even with 50 fewer horses, cost significantly more than the HPDI’s. On top of that, to put it bluntly, many fishermen are simply set in their ways and have a hard time changing over.

The 300 HPDI is a 3.3 liter 76 degree block that has a 3.66 bore x 3.23 stroke, six throttle valves, and six high pressure direct injectors that push fuel at 1,000 psi. It has a 50-amp alternator, a pair of high-speed fuel pumps, and an extremely low water intake which allows mounting on a jack plate or elevated transom bracket. The brain of the beast is a TCI microcomputer.

The HPDI weighs in at 539 pounds, which gives it the best horsepower-to-weight ratio in its class at .56 hp/lb. And you’ll feel the net result when you slam down the throttles. I first tested a 300 on a 22′ bay boat, and to say the acelleration was “head-snapping” would not be an exaggeration. Time to plane was too fast to accurately measure with my thumb and a stopwatch, and at wide-open throttle we blew past 60-mph and would have kept going, were it not for a chop that sent us airborne every time we tried to open it up all the way. Down sides? It was louder then a four stroke (though not as loud as an old-tech two) and it needs to be fed a steady diet of two-stroke oil. I also caught a whiff of smoke on occasion, though it’s greatly reduced from the old two stroke days.

Will the 300 HPDI survive in the age of the four-stroke? It’s a coin toss. If (should we say when?) Yamaha expands the four stroke SHO line to include 300 horses, the HPDI’s days could be numbered. But up until then, if you want 300 horses with a kickin’ hole shot and top-end at a reasonable price (plan on spending around $20K), the HPDI needs to be on your short list.

yamaha outboard hpdi 300 horsepower

The Yamaha 300 HPDI outboard has 50 more horses and a lower price tag than four strokes with a similar horsepower to weight ratio.

Bacteria in the water, Chesapeake Bay Warnings

Bacteria in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay is a problem we’ve grown used to, and today there are new warnings out. According to the Baltimore Sun, so far there have been 24 reported cases of the Vibro bacteria causing gastrointestinal illness and/or skin infections this summer. In an average season about 30 cases are reported, but since there are several more weeks of summer ahead, it looks like the 2010 season could be worse than the norm.

The culprate? Along with the usual suspects (over-nutrification, high nitrogen and phosphorus levels, and low oxygen levels), water quality in the Chesapeake Bay tends to decline as temperatures go up. And as anyone in the region knows, it’s been hotter then heck all summer long.

Scientists say that as long as temperatures and pollution levels stay high, we can expect increasing cases of Vibro. Does that mean you shouldn’t let bay water touch your skin? Heck no. Health officials recommend against bathing in the bay waters if you have any open wounds, and of course, don’t drink the water.

The bright side to this sad story? At least we’re not seeing another big (human) outbreak of  myco, the bacteria that currently infects a huge proportion of Chesapeake stripers. A few years back several people contracted the illness, sometimes called “fish handler’s disease,” including two friends of mine. The resulting infections were extremely nasty. Well, maybe calling this a “bright side” is a bit of a stretch…

bacteria chesapeake bay striped bass infections

Many stripers in the Chesapeake Bay are infected with the Myco bacteria, and lately Vibro has been a problem for people.

The Best Marine Cooler, Engel, Yeti, Igloo, Frigid Rigid, or Coleman?

Engel, Yeti, Igloo, Frigid Rigid, and Coleman all make marine coolers, but which one is the best? You’ve almost certainly used Igloos and Colemans in the past, since these two brands account for the vast majority of all marine coolers sold in the country. They’re also the least expensive of this crowd, by a long shot. But, is it worth the extra bucks to buy one of these other brands?

As usual, you get what you pay for. All of the others listed above are built tougher and hold ice better then the common Igloos and Colemans. And you’re surely familiar with the broken hinges that plague these common brands (be happy if two seasons go by, without one or more breaking) and the cheap, sub-standard cushions that snap on top of them for seating (and are built so poorly that the straps often rip free on their first use).

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to check out an Engel, the one brand listed above I didn’t have any experience with, and it was pretty darn solid. The Engel, Frigid Rigid, and Yeti coolers are all built at least twice as tough, with parts of a far higher quality. If I had unlimited funds, I’m sure I’d choose to buy one. But… let’s do a quick price comparison: A Coleman or Igloo in the 100 quart range lists for under $200; a Yeti costs closer to $260, an Engle 120 is more like $350, and a Frigid Rigid tops the charts at $685 for a 105 quart model. That’s quite a price difference between these brands. And while one can imagine spending a bit more for the better construction of the Yeti, could it be worth nearly twice the price for the Engel, much less six or seven times the price for the Frigid Rigid?

I don’t know about you, but before I’d drop this much cash for the “better” marine coolers, I’d look back at the common ones and review their high points: the shell of these coolers lasts more or less forever, those crappy hinges can be replaced for under $20, and you can purchase the replacement parts just about anywhere. It would seem that considering these facts (and assuming you don’t care if a pound of ice melts in 10 hours versus 12 hours), the cheaper cooler may actually be the smarter choice. Wait a sec – visit your average mega-box discount store, like Sam’s or BJ’s, and you can sometimes find the big Colemans or Igloos at reduced prices. In fact, this spring I spotted a 100 quart model for about a hundred bucks. So the price difference is even more dramatic then it seems, if you shop around a bit.

the best marine cooler reviewThere’s one glaring exception: if you’re in bear country. The Engel guys made sure to mention the fact that an average sized bear can rip a common cooler to shreds, and when they find a camper’s food stash, they often do. Some more expensive coolers, the Engle included, are officially bear-proof. Then again, I can’t remember the last time I went boating in bear country…

NEW ENTRY: Pelican has come out with a new line of super-coolers; see Pelican ProGear Elite Coolers: So Rugged They’re Bear-Proof to read our review. Your boat has integrated fishboxes? Read “In Search of the Perfect Fishbox” to find out what makes for the best onboard fishboxes.


Which marine cooler is the best? That depends on your cash flow…

Convert LORAN TDs to GPS Coordinates, with the Furuno GP33

Do you need to convert LORAN TDs to GPS coordinates? Since LORAN is now dead for real, many anglers will need to make the conversion or lose their old fishing spots. You have the feds to thank for this; after years of on-again, off-again, LORAN is really dead this time… just as e-LORAN looked like it had a bright future. PREDICTION: After the next time GPS is knocked out (yes, it has happened before), the feds will realize what a big mistake this is and will bring LORAN back. GPS is simply too shaky, because it’s easy to jam and can be flummoxed by solar flare-ups. As soon as the military can’t tell exactly whom they’re dropping their bombs on, you can bet they’ll have the LORAN system fired back up.

In the mean time, you’ll need to make those conversions, and Furuno has just introduced a new and easy way to go about it. The GP33 is a GPS which automatically converts your old LORAN TD’s into GPS, and displays where you’re going on a 4.3 inch color LCD display. It’s NMEA 2000 and 0183 compliant, so you can integrate it with the rest of your system, and it’s pretty darn inexpensive at $595. If you’ve been using TDs and will have the need to make lots of conversions, check it out at www.FurunoUSA.com/LearningCenter/Product-Guided-Tour-Videos.aspx. Furuno’s put up a “guided tour” of the GP33, so you can see exactly how it’ll help you out. But this unit remains untested by yours truly, so I’m not yet willing to say just how close it’ll get you to your original hotspot. And we need to note that in the past, conversion programs haven’t been satisfactory. Still, at least with the GP33 you don’t have to do a darn thing beyond plugging in the numbers. Stay tuned; the request is in for a unit, for hands-on testing.

furuno gp 33 convert loran tds to gps coordinates

The Furuno GP33 will convert your LORAN TDs to GPS coordinates.

Final Judgment, the Best Boat Stereo, iPods, and the Fusion MS IP 500

fusion boat stereo ipod ms ip 500

Cruising with music, not problems, thanks to the Fusion MS IP 500 boat stereo.

After years of testing boat stereos, Fusion has finally convinced me that an iPod is the way to go, with their MS IP 500. Here’s the scoop: this Sunday we made a 60 mile run to deep drop for tilefish and monster sea bass. On my boat, that’s a two and a half hour run. On the way out it was rather bumpy, and on the way in it was pleasantly calm. In both directions, we listened to music without interruption.

In the past I’ve tried CD’s (Hah! Unless the boat’s parked these are useless, thanks to continual skipping), satellite radio (no skips, but you can’t choose exactly what you want to listen to) and an external MP3, which plugs into the stereo (which works well, until the first sheet of spray hits the MP3 player and fries it).

Then Fusion came out with their line of marine stereos. These have faceplates which swing down, allowing you to insert your iPod directly inside of the stereo itself. Once it’s inside you swing the gasketed door back up, and lock it shut. Your iPod stays safely locked inside, protected from the elements, as you cruise for the canyons for hours on end.

I’ve been using this system, a Fusion MS IP 500, for a while now, without any problems. (One note: the locking mechanism on the door to the Fusion could be a bit beefier; I’ve had mine swing down once or twice when in nasty seas. Solution: once the tunes are dialed in,  put the cover back over the faceplate). In fact, I’ve even blogged about the MS IP 500 here on Boatermouth before. But now I have dozens of hours of use with the Fusion in all kinds of sea conditions, and Sunday was the clincher. At the end of the trip, all five guys who had been onboard made some sort of comment about how sweet it had been to cruise with tunes the entire time, and never have a problem with the seagoing stereo. You want jamming tunes that you choose, which don’t cut out on the waves, or result in a waterlogged iPod? At this point, I’m ready to make final judgment: check out a Fusion.

fusion ms ip500 boat stereo

Swing down the faceplate, and the Fusion MS ip500 eats your iPod, to make the ultimate boat stereo.

Sportfishing Boat Attacked by Commercial Fishermen!

A sportfishing boat was attacked by commercial fishermen last week, off the coast of Costa Rica, by a Venezuelan-flagged operation. The Silver-Rod-O, an American owned and operated sportfisher, was trolling for yellowfin tunas and billfish around a school of spinner dolphin, when the incident occurred. Just after they released a sailfish, a small helicopter appeared overhead, and the purse seiner La Rosa Mistica changed course to head directly at the sportfish.

Other commercial boats have “pushed” sportfishers out of their way before, when bearing down on schools of fish off Costa Rica. But this incident became far more dangerous then past ones when, according to Gary Carter (owner of the Silver-Rod-O), the helicopter started dropping incendiary devices around the boat.

“Several explosives landed within 50 meters of the boat,” said Carter. ”The purse seiner continued to power straight toward our boat. It was threatening to either encircle us in their net or to plow us into the sea unless we abandoned the school of dolphin.”

Fortunately the Silver-Rod-Oescaped before being encircled, which – as incredible as it may seem – has occurred in the past. In fact, according to Ellen Peel of  The Billfish Foundation, this is the 10th attack on a sportfish by commercial vessels in the past two years off the coast of Costa Rica.

This occurs  just a few weeks before The Billfish Foundation formally presents the results of its study on the economic contribution of sport and commercial fishing in Costa Rica, which, according to Billfish Foundation scientist Dr. Russell Nelson, documents that “sports fishing tourism contributes more to the Costa Rican gross national economy than commercial fishing, adding over $599 million annually, and $138 million of that comes directly from folks like Gary Carter who maintain a vessel and crew in that nation.”

commercial fishing boat attacks sportfishing boat

The La Rosa Mistica swoops in, after its helicopter drops incindiary devices around the sportfishing boat. Photo by Gary Carter.

WMO: Few Changes, Angler Speared By Billfish Recovering

shark white marlin open billfish tournament

Shark and wahoo categories are still wide open, in the White Marlin Open.

As the angler speared on Monday in the White Marlin Open recovers, there have been few changes in the leaderboard in the past days. No surprise, there, with a 1,010 pound blue marlin and a 97.5 pound white marlin sitting in the lead(s), it’ll take a heck of a catch to bump them out of first place. The tuna division is open to attack, however, with the same 76.5 pounder caught early in the tournament still sitting in first place. And a qualifying shark or wahoo has yet to be brought in to the scales. Thought he pay-out is significantly less for these species,winning their categories will be the last, best hope for many in the torunament.

It all ends tonight, bringing to a close the 37th annual WMO, the largest billfish tournament in the world. Meanwhile, John Unkart, professional mate and the author of Offshore Pursuit (www.getgup.com), who was speared in the leg by a white marlin while fishing in the tournament, has recovered well enough that as of last night, he planned on fishing again today. That will make two days of tournament competition completed since being speared, which may set some sort of weird tournament record no one knows about. Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure the only prize it entails is some good-natured ribbing, and maybe a free beer at the bar during weigh-ins. Good luck on those shark and wahoo today, John!

Angler Speared by Billfish in White Marlin Open!

An angler was speared by a billfish in the White Marlin Open, this Monday. Offshore fishing expert John Unkart, author of the how-to fishing book Offshore Pursuit  (www.getgup.com)  took a bill in his leg while 60 miles offshore, mating on the sport fishing vessel Playmate for the tournament.

“We were in five foot seas,” John said, “and we needed to boat the marlin to measure it and see if it would be a contender in the tournament. Unfortunately, as I pulled it up on the gunwale the fish kicked, and drove its bill right into my leg.”

The wound required six stitches to close up, and Unkart spent the evening at the emergency room. Yet he was back onboard and ready to fish, at 5:00 AM sharp on Tuesday morning. “I’m taking today off,” he said on Wednesday morning, “and yes, the leg is very sore. Luckily it looks like Friday will be the next fishing day for us (boats fish three out of five days of the tournament). With a grander blue marlin and a 97.5 pound white caught yesterday we have a high bar to reach, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

 This is not Unkart’s first close encounter with a billfish that became too close for comfort. Last season he was speared in the other leg. When asked how he made it through 40 years of offshore fishing without such an incident – only to be speared twice in as many years - Unkart said “I must be getting old.”

white marlin open tournament angler speared by billfish

Speared by a billfish in the White Marlin Open, Unkart gives a thumbs-down but keeps a smile on his face.

Grander Caught in White Marlin Open

A grander blue marlin was caught in the White Marlin Open yesterday, topping 1,010 pounds – yowza! The earlier mark of 790-pounds for largest fish was already pretty darn nice, but this mark will be REALLY tough to beat. So James Kontos, from the Let It Ride ,is sitting on a $360,000 prize that’s likely to survive the next few days of the tournament. But that’s not all, in the hot news & big fish department: yesterday the white marlin leader was also eclipsed, by a 97.5-pound white caught by Brian Roberts, on the Shelly II. That’s the second-largest white ever caught during the WMO, and it’s worth – are you ready for this – $800,000.

In fact, the only leading fish to survive the second day of weigh-ins were the 76.5-pound tuna, caught on the That’s Right, (which is currently worth $270,000) and a 53.5-pound mahi-mahi on the Top Gun that’ll harvest $4,000.

On a more personal note, the second place holder for white marlin, at 92-pounds and worth $85,000, is held by a friend: Tommy Fowler, a boat dealer at North Bay Marine. I’ve tested several boats with Tommy, who’s the local cat guy, and he was the broker handling my own 22′ Glacier Bay when I found it two Octobers ago, sitting forlorn in a corner of the boatyard. He’s a “regular” guy, not one of the rich dudes trolling around on a 60-footer, so root for that marlin to hold its position – go Tommy go!

white marlin open winner

This 97.5 pound white currently holds first place in the White Marlin Open, and it'll be tough to beat.

Buy a Boat Company, Century Boats Still for Sale

So, you want to buy a boat company and Century Boats would interest you? Well, they’re still for sale. Though Yamaha was in negotiations to sell off Century earlier this year, evidently the deal fell through. In fact, Yamaha announced Century was still for sale just to help get the word out there – sounds like they REALLY want to sell ‘em off.

There’s an old saying in the boatbuilding business: If you want to make a million bucks building boats, start off with two million. As in, when all is said and done, you might end up with one mil left. Yamaha never purchased Century (nor Cobia, nor their other boatbuilding companies for that matter), to make a million bucks. They purchased them because then they could rig them with outboards, and every boat sold was one or two outboards sold as well. Even if selling the boat was a break even proposition, Yamaha would come out ahead. And at it’s peak in 2007, Century rolled a lot of boats through the door – over 1,000, in fact. It seems that now, however, boatbuilding can be so bad that this is no longer true.

So, why would you want to buy Century? You probably don’t… but if you have two million bucks laying around and you like the smell of raw fiberglass resin as much as I do, you might think it would be fun. Still interested? Contact Yamaha – boy, have they got a deal for you.

Century bay boat boats boatbuilder

Want to build boats like this Century 2102 Bay Boat? Now's your chance.