A Shipping Vent

I do a lot of my boat supply shopping online. Sometimes the orders are large but often I just need something small. As was the case the other night when I went looking for a nylon replacement vent for my fuel tank. Now when placing a small order online, it drives me nuts to get to checkout only to discover an exorbitant shipping fee. This is what happened the other night. It seemed like site after site wanted $10 to ship this $4 part.

So I decided to do a comparison of shipping rates. I searched for the same item on a dozen or so large boating supply web sites. (If a site didn’t have the exact item, I chose a similarly priced one so I could still compare their shipping rates.)

What I found was  a range in shipping fees from free shipping (Overtons) to $16.18 from Go2 Marine ($11.18 shipping + a $5 small order handling fee).  And Go2 Marine might not have been the highest: While Boat Owners Warehouse stated on their shopping cart there would be an $8 handling fee, I never got the actual shipping cost as the site would not show it until I entered my credit card info first (somethingI declined to do).

One other thing I dislike when shopping online: having to gp through checkout before you can find out what the shipping fee is. Fortunately, many sites include a calculator that lets you see the estimated shipping as soon as you put an item in your cart. Just punch in a state and zip code. Others though make you fill out all of your personal information first. And Boat Owners Warehouse, unbelievably, also wanted my credit card number before it would quote a shipping fee.


Site Cost to Ship Cheapest Shipping Method Site Has Calculator? Notes
Overtons 0 UPS Ground Yes Free shipping. Did not carry the specific item.
IBoats 3.59 USPS First Class Yes
Discount Marine Supplies 5.99 USPS Priority Yes
Jamestown Distributors 6.00 USPS Priority Yes Did not carry the specific item.
Boaters World 6.95 USPS Priority Yes Did not carry the specific item.
Boat Owners Warehouse 8.00+Shipping No Did not get shipping method/cost as site would not reveal without first getting credit card info.
Boat Mania 9.30 UPS Ground Yes
Wholesale Marine 9.80 Fedex Ground No
West Marine 9.95 USPS Priority No Did not carry the specific item.
Boaters Marine Supply 9.95 UPS Ground No Did not carry the specific item.
JMS Online 10.91 UPS Ground Yes
BoatFix 12.01 UPS Ground Yes Did not carry the specific item.
Go2 Marine 16.18 UPS Ground Yes 11.18 for shipping plus $5 small order fee.


Wahoo! bilges: an explanation

As a companion piece to the post on the Wahoo!s above-deck drain system, here’s one on the Wahoo!’s below-deck plumbing. Like the self-bailing deck, the Wahoo! hull interior is one of the most confusing features of these boats. As with the post on the deck drain system, I’ll update this article if and when new info becomes available. Note also that this post deals specifically with smaller Wahoo!s–the tri-hull models. For all I know the larger Wahoo!s (say, those over 21 feet) and/or the V hulls had a very different design. So your mileage may  vary.

The Wahoo! hull: What’s in there?

Basic to understanding the design of a Wahoo! is knowing what’s going on insider the hull. Some key points:

Wahoo! hulls contain foam. This helps with buoyancy of course. Boston Whaler hulls are foam “filled.” The “filled” part means every bit of the hull interior is filled with sprayed-in foam. This not only maximizes buoyancy, it also in theory keeps water out of the hull because there’s no literally place for it to collect. But there are a few potential drawbacks to this design. For one, because there is the assumption of no water ever entering the hull, Whaler hulls do not have a drain plug. That means if somehow water DOES manage to get in there, there’s no easy way to get it out. A second concern is that over time the hull foam may begin to absorb water, not unlike a sponge. The water could come from the outside or it  could come from condensation inside the hull. Either way, as the foam absorbs water it takes on weight. That causes handling problems. And over time the moisture can cause the foam to break down.

Distinct from Whalers, Wahoo! hulls are foam “lined.” The “lined” part means that the top, sides, and bottom of the hull interior are coated with blown-in foam but there is an air cavity in between. Also the Wahoo! hull includes a drain hole in the stern. The advantage of this design is that the cavity allows the interior foam and stringers to “breathe”; that is, the ability to dry. And any water that does get into the hull can be drained. The downside, compared to the Whaler design, is that with less foam comes less buoyancy, and the air cavity allows water a place to collect.

Cutaway showing Wahoo! foam liner and air cavity.

The original Wahoo!s from the mid 80s design did not include a bilge pump. Since that time 25 years’ worth of Wahoo! owners have wondered why, because water certainly finds its way into Wahoo! bilges, as it does with any other boat. It’s not immediately clear what the the absence of a pump meant from the manufacturer’s perspective. Maybe it meant the company  had a misplaced faith that water wouldn’t get into the bilge. Or maybe it meant they assumed that most Wahoo!s would be used as trailer boats whose drain plugs would be opened after every use. Or maybe it was simply an attempt by the company to cut costs and leave it to customers to add their own bilge pumps. Whatever was behind the initial decision to omit a pump, it was not adequate. Within a several years Wahoo! brochures began mentioning an “optional” bilge pump.

How water gets into the hull

So does your Wahoo! need a pump in the bilge? First, let’s talk about the ways that water can get into the bilge. Leaving aside leaks in the hull exterior (but all the more reason for a bilge pump), you have:

  • Condensation (aka “hull sweat): If you store your boat in the water, condensation will form inside the hull. The amount will vary based on temperatures but can easily result in a gallon a week of water in the bilge.
  • Cracks in the deck drain system: The Wahoo! deck drain system (discussed in this post) consists of a series of deck flanges and below deck PVC tubes. It’s quite possible for these to develop cracks that allow water into the hull.
  • Power and steering cable deck port: On many Wahoo!s the power cables from the battery and the steering cables from the engine pass into the hull and then up into the console through a hole in the the deck. This deck hole can allow quite a bit of water in.
  • Access ports: Access ports, either original or after market, are notoriously leaky.
  • Other screw holes or cracks: Lastly, any screw hole in the hull, especially the deck, if not properly caulked, can allow water to leak in. After 25 years or so, odds are good at least some of the screws securing your console to the deck are not sufficiently caulked any more.

These things together or alone can allow quite a bit of water into you hull. Water is especially good at finding its way in when its got some force behind it, such as wind-driven rain or when you’re hosing the deck. Given the relatively small size and weight capacity of Wahoo!s, and that a gallon of water weighs seven pounds, it doesn’t take much to affect performance.

Adding a pump in the bilge

So to the question of whether your Wahoo! needs a pump in the bilge, I say the answer is, yes, absolutely. Even if you keep your boat on a trailer, the added safety and security that a bilge pump gives you make it well worth it. The installation is easy and inexpensive. I would not waste time considering a manual pump–put in an electric one and be done with it.

Locate the pump in the spot shown in the diagram above, at the rear of the bilge along the keel. This is the lowest section of the hull and where all water will run to. Most Wahoo! tri-hulls come with a five inch access port in the center of the stern through which you can install the pump. If  yours does not include an access port you’ll need to add one.

Here are a few notes on the pump I installed in case it’s helpful to anyone. There are certainly other ways to do it.

  • I chose just about the smallest pump possible, a Rule 360. It fit easily through my existing access port and its capacity in more than adequate for my 16.2 Striper.
  • I chose not to install an automatic float switch. But I can get away with that because the marina where I keep my boat is ten minutes from my house. So I can run over there any time to turn on the pump. If I had to leave the boat unattended for days or weeks at a time I would add a float switch or one of those chip driven pumps that cycle on and off checking for water.
  • For mounting the pump, I did not want to screw into the hull. One alternate mounting method I read called for gluing in a piece of marine grade plywood and mounting the pump on that. But I decided that was overkill. Plus it would have raised the pump up 3/8 to 1/2 an inch from the bottom, allowing that level of water to sit unpumped in the bilge. The simpler solution was to apply some 3M 5200 directly to the bottom of the pump’s basket and glue the basket right to the bilge floor. In 10 minutes I had a well-fastened mount that isn’t going anywhere.
  • The hose I ran it straight up and out of a hole I drilled in the access port cover. Like the pump I installed in the deck sump basin, the bilge pump drains into the splashwell.
Rule 360 bilge pump. Hose from bilge pump exists through hole in access port cover and drains into splashwell..

A one pump system?

Just as I was finishing this post I wondered whether anyone had ever configured his Wahoo! so that a single pump handled both the above and below deck drainage. You could achieve this pretty simply by installing a pump in the bilge and then drilling about a  one inch hole in the bottom of the deck sump basin. That would dump all water that enteredd the boat into the bilge. It seems like a bad idea for a few different reasons, but man if anyone has ever tried it I’d love to hear how it went.

More reading

Here’s a little more reading on the subject:


(Note: in this message thread Monstawhala states that the top hole in the deck sump basin drains into the bilge, and that both stern compartments also drain directly into the bilge. That is not correct. The stern compartments drain into the sump basin via the aforementioned top hole in the sump basin.)


Sometime around Christmas the vessel pictured below broke loose from its mooring in Lynn Harbor and washed ashore near the Nahant rotary. For the first few weeks it was a curiousity. I assume other passers by expected, like I did, that the owner would be there in short order to get his boat. But time went by and there it sat. With each passing week it settled a little lower in the sand.

I’ve been told that in most US states the law is that any vessel run aground and abandoned by its owner, even if just for a short time, can be claimed by anyone with an aim to do so. Even if this is correct in practice it’s probably not that easy. There must be papers to file and legal hoops to jump through. This is, after all, America. In this particular case I suspect that the owner actually abandoned the boat even before it broke its mooring, as there’s been no attempt to retrieve it and from the day it washed up it had a look of neglect.

I stopped off to take a closer look at it a few times. And apparently I wasn’t the only one. Because even if no one is interested in the hull, for sure bit by bit scavengers have removed pieces of it: the anchor and lines; compass; deck hardware; life vests; ring buoys.  It’s reached the point where there’s not much salvageable left outside of some minor hardware.  I scraped some sand away and discovered Doel Fins on the motor. Just so happens I was planning on fitting my Wahoo! with Doel Fins this year.


Wahoo! self-bailing decks: an explanation

There are two things I’d planned to write about this winter: the Wahoo!’s above deck drain system and the Wahoo!’s below deck drain system. Both are among the quirkiest aspects of these boats and among most commented on/asked about. They sure had me stumped when I first bought my Wahoo! It’s the third week in February all of a sudden and Spring is just around the corner. So time to get writing before the boating and fishing season take over.

This post will be about the Wahoo!’s above-deck drain system. Specifically it will be about the self-bailing deck drain system employed by most smaller Wahoo!s, whereby water from the deck is designed to exit out of a scupper in the stern. I may not get all the facts complete or correct the first time. So if you are are a Wahoo! owner past or present and have corrections or additional info, please add a comment or send an email. I’ll continue to update this article as necessary.

The self-bailing design concept

Smaller Wahoo!s have a deck draining system that is designed to be self-bailing. The idea is that, when underway, any water that accumulates on the deck, be it from rain, spray, waves over the gunnels, or whatever, is designed to run to the rear of the boat and collect in a small sump basin located just inside the stern. A scupper connects the basin to the outside of the boat. Gravity from the boat’s forward motion forces water from the sump basin through the scupper and out of the boat. (Note that it is only the Wahoo!’s deck only that is designed to be self-bailing, not the hull interior (that is, the bilge).) Continue Reading…

Replacement Wahoo! decals

Completely by accident tonight I came across a web store that sells replacement Wahoo! decals–the decals that came on the port and starboard sides of every Wahoo! near the stern. Until I found these it hadn’t even occurred to me that the decals might still exist for purchase. A little Googling turned up a second site selling them. I didn’t find any others although there might be at least a few more.

So if the decals  on your Wahoo! are faded, peeling, or otherwise messed up, replacements are available. How cool is that? Prices ranged from $40 to $60 for a pair.

Two sources:

Mass boating registration, taxes, and other fees

I have a tendency to forget what bills are due when. But those jamokes in the government never do. So for my own reference I put together this check list of all the annual government fees related to my boating. I included my Seatow membership dues in the list as it’s another fee I might forget otherwise.


Fee Due Description 2012 Cost
Boat registration August 9 of every even numbered year In Massachusetts boat registration is good for two years from date of issue. The state is supposed to send a reminder one month before the registration expires. Can be renewed online. $60 (for 2 years)
Boat excise tax By August 1 (according to the assessors web site) In Massachusetts, excise tax on boats is paid to your town of residence or where the boat is principally situated. The tax applies to boat 16 feet and up. The current rate is $10 per $1000 of assessed value.  $10
Trailer registration Before you hit the road In Massachusetts your trailer must be registered annually. The registration is good for the calendar year. Can be renewed online. $40
Trailer excise tax In my town, Feb-Mar (according to the assessors web site) In Massachusetts your town of residence is responsible for charging and collecting excise tax on trailers. The current rate is $25 per $1000 of assessed value.  $15
SeaTow membership September 28 Good for one year (365 days). $169
Freshwater fishing license Whenever Good for calendar year. Can be purchased online. $27.50
Saltwater fishing license Whenever Good for calendar year. Can be purchased online. $10


Paperwork Storage:

As proof the afore-mentioned levies have been paid, I keep the following documents in these locations (with copies of each at home):

  • Boat Registration: On boat. (Required by law.)
  • Trailer Registration: In towing vehicle. (Required by law.)
  • SeaTow Card: In wallet. Also keep copy on boat.
  • Freshwater Fishing License: In wallet
  • Saltwater Fishing License: In wallet. Also keep copy on boat.


A new year…

The whole month of December without a single post! After a busy boating season I needed a little down time. But it’s time to get busy again. Been working on some bugs/enhancements to the gallery/upload pages and got most of it figured out yesterday while watching the NFL divisional round games (the Giants look like they’re peaking at just the right time…they’re going to be very tough).

Finally (finally!) in the first week of January got the boat tarp/cover fixed on in such a way that it won’t blow off in a high wind or cave in and pull loose  after a heavy rain/snowfall. Up to this point I had the tarp tied with sash cord. But a good rain would load the top of the cover with water causing it to belly down into to boat. This in turn would stretch and loosen the sash cord, and then the next really wind day would just lift the whole thing off. I solved the bellying issue by cutting a bunch of wooden slats to the width of the boat and then laying them atop the gunnels (plywood would have worked too but I figured that’d be heavier and more awkward to put on and off). I solved the loosening problem by doing what you’re supposed to do…affixing the cover with heavy duty bungee cords.

The battery is still in the boat, instead of down in the basement on a trickle charger like it should be. I wanted the option of still being able to raise and lower the motor. But now that we’re into the truly frigid months here in Massachusetts it’s time to put it where it belongs.

Tasks for the month:

  • Get that battery stored.
  • Gearcase Screw: When I went to change the gearcase lube last fall, I couldn’t get the top screw for the gearcase loose. It was frozen and the screwdrivers I had were in danger of stripping it. Just bought a larger screwdriver at Home Depot (the bigges they had…I’ve seen swords smaller than this thing) and will take one more crack at it. Maybe the cold will have caaused the metal to contract enough that it’ll loosen more easily. If it still won’t budge it’ll have to wait until spring.
  • Boat and Trailer Paperwork: I am habitually late when it comes to certain forms of paperwork…most especially registrations, inspections, excise taxes, and things of that ilk. Between the trailer and the boat, I still don’t have a clear list of what needs to get filed/paid for every year. AND in the off-season I picked up a second, smaller boat that needs to be dealt with as well. And then there are fishing licenses, Seatow membership fees…creating a list of this stuff seems like a good way to get organized.
  • Safe Boating Course: I took one of these when I was a kid, sponsored by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Time for another one, especially as the waters of Boston Harbor are much, much more dangerous than the Pennsylvania Lakes and upper reaches of Chesapeake Bay I knew growing up.

Shopping lists for boat/trailer parts and fishing equipment will have to wait until February.

New Wahoo! brochure on download page

Thanks to forum member Stickball, the Download Page now boasts a Wahoo! brochure for 1995 1900, 2100, and 2400 CC EFS models. Thanks Stickball!

Legal substitution

Winter haul out of the Seatoad went smoothly, thanks especially to my friend Dave who was in town for the weekend and helped out. Dave is a serious sailor…owns a 45 foot catamaran, the Luna Sea, which he and his lady Susan sail year round between Maine and the Caribbean. Dave is well-versed in all things nautical, including engines. In fact, when it comes to boats, I can say with confidence that Dave knows what he’s doing.

So I asked him about something I’ve been puzzling over recently …is there a real difference between the gear case oil they sell for cars (which goes for as cheap as $4 a quart) and the gear case oil they sell for outboards (which can go for as high as $9 for eight ounces–$36 a quart!). By gear case oil, I mean the lubricant that goes into your outboard’s lower unit. Depending on the brand it may be marketed as gear oil (or lube), lower unit oil (or lube), and a bunch of other names. (The various names, I suspect, are partly aimed at keeping you guessing.)

The standard viscosity for both auto and marine outboard gear case oil is the same…SAE 80W-90. So is there really a difference? Or is this just another case of boat owners getting ripped off?

Dave was refreshingly candid. Not missing a beat he said “Regular old gear oil is all I’ve ever used in my engines” (he has both outboards and inboards). “It’s the same stuff.”

But I’d heard that marine gear case oil was different: that it has additives to keep it low foaming–important to keep you from blowing a seal. And it’s tackier, so that any moisture finding its way into the unit can’t get between it and a metal surface, causing separation.

Dave shrugged. “Yeah, they might add a little anti-foaming agent, but a good oil shouldn’t be foaming anyway. Foaming is usually caused by water contamination not by some failure of the oil itself. And a lower unit is sealed. Keep the water out and you won’t have an issue. Get water in and no oil’s gonna make up for that.”

So after talking to Dave there was no way I was ever spending $9 for an eight ounce tube of Mercury Gear Lube again. But I also wasn’t quite ready to go with the very cheapest WalMart has to offer. So I compromised: Lucas Heavy Duty High Performance Gear Oil (Trans and Diff Lube), $8 a quart at Auto Zone. And to make me feel a little more comfortable with the choice, the back label states “Excellent for use in outboard final drives.”

Good enough for me. :)

A few loose notes…

  • Caveat emptor: While I would not post something I do not feel comfortable with, when it comes to deciding whether or not to follow your engine manufacturer’s specs for oil, grease, and other stuff, that’s your call. Your experience may vary from mine.
  • I asked Dave what’s the difference between “oil” and “lube” and whatever else? He said there are two kinds of lubricants, oil and grease. If you can pour it, it’s oil. If you can’t, it’s grease.” I like that.
  • In general, when it comes to lubricants, there is almost always a good lower priced alternative to what the manufacturer calls for. The one lube that might  not ebe asily be substituted for is OMC’s Triple Guard Grease. That stuff is tacky as heck. It really adheres.
  • For Evinrude and Johnson owners, here’s a great post from iBoats.com that lists alternatives to OEM lubes.


Even as I look for fair days to eke the last out of the fishing season here in Boston, I’m looking ahead to winter. And with a boat in a slip that means two things: haul out and winterizing.

“Haul out” is the day the boat needs to be gone from its slip. The Point of Pines Yacht Club has decreed that to be this Saturday. Given the screwy and limited access to usable boat ramps around here, haul out means first driving the trailer down to the Nahant Town Wharf, then hitching a ride over to the POPYC six miles away by car, and finally running the boat three miles across Broad Sound to the trailer. The many rocks and shoals between Point of Pines and Nahant make that journey a lot safer to undertake when the tide is high. Unfortunately this Saturday high tide is at 6 a.m. :-(

Winterizing of course is the process of getting the boat ready for winter storage; basically six months of sitting. The goals of winterizing are pretty simple but worth listing out:

  • Protect the boat, trailer, and engine from rust and corrosion
  • Protect the boat from incursions of water, that can cause mold, mildew, rust, and freeze and expand causing breakage
  • Ensure the fuel system is protected from moisture and breakdown of the fuel (which can gum up the lines and engine)
  • Protect the boat from leaves, animals, birds, and other things that can damage or dirty it
  • Remove any marine growth from the hull before it hardens
  • Ensure the boat is fully serviced and ready to go in the spring Continue Reading…