Best Sound Systems for Your Boat

Photo courtesy of southernboating.com

If you enjoy listening to music while driving your car to work, you know that a high-quality sound system can enhance your daily commute. The same goes for boats. A well-made built-in speaker can turn an average, pleasant boat ride into a fun-filled afternoon on the water, blasting Jimmy Buffett.

However, unlike cars, speakers for your boat require different standards. With their proximity to the lake, boat speakers need to be water-resistant and powerful enough to carry sound over the noise of a boat engine. In short, you’re looking for something that’s built to last.

As a quick caveat, these boat sound systems are not to be confused with VHF radio — a necessity for boat safety. Instead, we’re talking about luxury items that will enhance your boating experience on the lake. While some of these recommendations are speakers, some are radio systems, and others are the whole package, they’re all excellent recommendations to add to your boat this season.

Fusion Apollo MS-RA770 Marine Stereo

Image courtesy of westmarine.com

This small, yet sleek radio for your boat is an excellent choice. Made with a water-resistant front panel that offers a solid layer of protection from the elements of nature, this product is also durable against salt, fog, temperature, vibration, and UV and has an IPX7 and IPX7 rating. With its modern design, touchscreen, stereo grouping capabilities, advanced sound technology, Wi-Fi capabilities, and more, this product is at the top of the game when it comes to the newest advancements in boat stereos. If you’re not into the new technology, there are also USB and Aux plug-in options. There is even a smaller version of this product offered on the website if you’re looking for a similar product, but more compact.

Sony DXS-M5511BT Marine Digital Media Receiver

Image courtesy of Walmart

If you’re looking for something a little less pricey than the Fusion, this product from Sony is a good, budget-friendly option. With the Sony brand name, you’re assured of high quality as well. This product has an LCD screen with a contrast 5x higher than conventional screens and is equipped with a USB port that can be used for charging your phone. Made from water-resistant materials that also offer UV protection, these speakers are made to withstand potential contact with water. Additionally, the integrated Bluetooth technology connects to your devices and allows for wireless operation. It comes with both radio and speakers — a package deal that won’t hurt your wallet.

Pyle Wireless Bluetooth Marine Stereo

Image courtesy of Amazon

This sound system from Pyle is all you need and more for your boat. With 300 watts of power and EQ configuration, so you can customize the sound to your preferences, this receiver is a great option. Additionally, it offers several options for playing your music. Choose between Bluetooth, USB cord, AM-FM radio, and aux cord to blast your favorite tunes. Besides these features, this system also comes with a hands-free calling device with a microphone built-in. This way, you won’t miss a single call while driving your boat. Another perk to this product is that it is very affordable at just under $50.

JBL PRV-175 Marine Digital Media Bluetooth Receiver

Image courtesy of Amazon

Since JBL is a popular manufacturer of speakers, you know this one is going to be high quality. With clear audio and an easy-to-use LED display interface, you’ll always know what song you’re listening to or what radio station you’re on. This sound system comes with several plugin options from USB to aux to radio, providing versatility. As a bonus, this JBL product is easy to install with a small weight of just a few pounds.

BOSS Audio Systems MG4350B Marine Gauge Receiver

Image courtesy of Amazon

This sound system from BOSS has been rated across multiple sources as one of the top sound systems for your boat in 2022. Small yet powerful, this product allows you to control and play music through your smartphone via wireless Bluetooth or a USB port. Complete with state-of-the-art weatherproofing and UV coatings, this system is built to withstand water and sun damage for years to come. 

When choosing a speaker system for your boat, there are several factors to consider. Does it have UV and water resistance necessary for close water proximity? Are there multiple plugin options for listening to music? Does it have enough power to carry sound across the water? For all the products listed above, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. We hope these sound systems help you enjoy your best boat life!

Benefits of Boat Club Memberships

Photo courtesy of discover BOATING

During the pandemic, people have been investing in lake houses at higher rates than usual due to the social distancing benefits of the lake lifestyle. In particular, boating is a popular socially distant activity that also has clear benefits for your mental and physical health. If you’re new to boating, joining a boat club is a great option. 

An exceptional alternative to buying a boat, joining a boat club offers plenty of benefits. These clubs are monthly memberships that allow their members access to a group of boats for a fee. Maggie Maskery of Discover Boating comments, “Boating is one of the safest, most enjoyable things to do to escape pandemic stress. If you are not quite ready to purchase a boat but want to test the waters, a boat club membership is an excellent alternative.”

Low Costs

Statistics courtesy of Champlain Fleet Club

One of the most apparent benefits of boat club membership is the lower costs. Especially compared to the cost of buying a boat, the price of boat club memberships is incredibly affordable. While the average cost of purchasing a boat is $20,000, an average boat club membership fee is between $1,000 and $6,000 with a couple of hundred dollars monthly fee. Plus, you don’t have the extra responsibility of maintaining the boat or handling insurance!

More Variety

Photo courtesy of @Barefoot_Traveller via Twenty20

One of the key benefits of boat club membership is the ability to check out multiple types of boats. You have an entire fleet of boats available to you. Especially if you’re trying to decide what kind of boat to buy, boat clubs are an excellent way to do extensive test drives and discern your favorite. Maskery adds, “Joining a boat club provides access to a wide range of boats, which allows you to experience different activities whether it’s fishing, watersports, cruising or sailing – you get endless adventures and something for everyone!”

Fun Perks

Photo courtesy of discover BOATING

If you’ve just moved to a new lake area, boat clubs are excellent ways to connect with your lake community. By joining a boat club, you have immediate access to social events such as social club gatherings, parties, and cruises. If you’re new to boating, you’ll also benefit from the boating classes and on-water training that many boat clubs offer. Further, many boat clubs provide a complimentary supply of water skis, slides, and other water toys to enjoy. This way, you’ll be able to make the most of your time on the lake.

Location Flexibility

Photo courtesy of @f_zahn via Twenty20

If your lake house is in a different location than your home state or if you frequently travel, a boat club might be perfect for you. Many boat clubs include reciprocal rights to rent boats at locations in different areas of the country. “You may be able to utilize your membership from coast to coast,” says Maskery. Of course, some policies have changed during COVID, but once things open up again, it may be possible to rent boats wherever you go. 

Given all the benefits of boat club memberships, it’s no wonder that boat sales have recently reached an all-time high. Take advantage of this safe and fun water activity as soon as possible!

How to Practice Social Distancing at the Lake

Photo courtesy of A Storied Style.

There’s no sugar coating it — social distancing is a bummer. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, public life has been paused. Video calls have replaced all face-to-face interactions except for those who share our homes. Of course, such isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness. However, scientists recommend that to improve mental health in these times, spending time in nature is beneficial. In fact, rather than turning first to medication, some doctors are beginning to prescribe depressed patients with gardening projects. 

For those of us with lake homes, we’re well aware of the benefits of time spent in nature. It’s simply good for the soul. In these times, where social distancing is crucial, being on a lake makes it easier than ever to comply with these guidelines without sacrificing enjoyment. Below are several ways that you can enjoy your lake house while keeping your physical distance from others.

Walking Down Country Roads

Photo courtesy of Alabama Living.

Since stay-at-home orders have been passed around the country, many of us turn to daily walks as our remedy for cabin fever. When you’re living on a lake, these walks are much more scenic. While urban and suburban areas have concrete sidewalks for these excursions, many lake areas sit comfortably off country roads. They’re easier on your feet and showcase more greenery. Even better, you’re less likely to run into other people to dodge on your walk. 

Going Boating

Photo courtesy of Teva.

Although social events have been postponed, no one said we have to keep a six-foot distance from fish, ducks, and birds. You can still enjoy proximity to wildlife while obeying state guidelines. Now is the perfect time to spend time on the water. While it may not be warm enough to swim, you can still grab your fishing gear and try to reel in the big one. Whether you own a motorboat, canoe, or kayak, this is an excellent opportunity to spend time in both green and blue spaces at once.

Finding a Hiking Trail

Photo courtesy of Explore Asheville.

In most lake areas, you can find local hiking trails to enjoy some exercise and time outdoors. Although many are closed due to COVID-19, several trails remain open and have limited their capacity for visitors. To locate accessible greenways and nearby trails in your area, check out TrailLink.com and put on your hiking boots. If you have a furry friend, you may also want to check out BringFido.com for information on dog-friendly hiking paths. 

Watching the Sunset from the Boat Dock

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travels.

If you have a boat dock, you already have a front-row seat to a beautiful, socially distant show. Without the glare of lights and intrusion of tall buildings, the sunset is much more visible from the lakefront. So when the clock starts inching towards 7:00 pm, grab a glass of your favorite beverage, prop your feet up, and enjoy the view. If you want to practice mindfulness while you’re there, consider bringing a yoga mat to your boat dock and going through a peaceful vinyasa flow as you watch the sky turn orange.

Reading on Your Patio

Photo courtesy of Suitcase of Happiness.

In these tough times, there’s a reason that book sales — particularly children’s books, adult fiction, and thrillers — have increased. In addition to having more time to read, people are looking for exciting stories to engage with while social distancing. If you live on a lake, you can read from the comfort of an outdoor sofa on your screened-in porch. With the sunlight streaming in, you may get so comfortable that you drift into a nap. 

Whatever your preferred pastime, we hope you find some ways to enjoy life on the lake — even while social distancing! 

Boat Lingo: Boat Terminology 101

One of the best parts about living on a lake is the opportunity to sail or go boating. Especially as the weather is getting warmer, more people will be enjoying the fresh air and sun while out on the water. Whether you’re new to boating or you’re a seasoned sailor, we all can share the common nautical language. That language is different from the terms we use on dry land. Boating jargon can undoubtedly be confusing (what does starboard mean anyway?) but no need to worry. We’re here to help you out with the basics of boat lingo. Not only is it a necessary, common language shared among boaters — it’s also fun. We’ll cover several standard boating terms, their meaning, and history. Whether it’s directions, parts of the boat, or other nautical terms, you’ll be talking like a real sailor in no time!

Port and Starboard

Photo courtesy of SouthernBoating.com.

Port and starboard refer to the right and left sides of a boat, with port, meaning the left side, and starboard, describing the right side. At first, it may seem silly to introduce new words in place of pre-established terms — why not just call it right and left? It’s because the words right and left are subjective to position, and they’re different depending on where a person is standing on a boat. On the other hand, port and starboard refer to fixed locations and will be standard no matter which way your crew is facing. 

But why the names port and starboard? In the early days of sailing, the steering oar was located on the right side of the boat since most sailors were right-handed. The steering side fuses two old English words, steor (steer) and board (side of the boat). Eventually, this was shortened to starboard. On the side of the boat opposite the steering wheel, sailors would load shipments. Since the loading side faced the port, the term port became shorthand for the left side of the boat. And if you have trouble remembering which is which, remember this simple trick — ‘port’ and ‘left’ both have four letters. 

Stern and Bow

Photo courtesy of WorldwideBoat.com.

Just as the terms right and left have been tossed out of the porthole (window) when it comes to proper boating lingo, front and back are history as well. Instead, stern refers to the back of the boat, while bow refers to the front. When moving towards the bow of the boat, sailors use the term forward while aft refers to moving towards the stern. If that’s not perplexing enough, you can also use combined terms like starboard-bow to refer to the front right of the boat, just as you might use the word “northeast” when giving directions for a car.

Tacking and Jibing

Photo courtesy of BoatingGeeks.com.

Tacking and jibing (gybing) are both sailing maneuvers that involve turning the boat’s bow towards the wind, so the wind changes from one side of the ship to the other. While tacking refers to turning your boat against the wind, jibing means turning your boat directly into the wind. As the idiom “may the wind be at your back” implies, tacking is the most common technique to create smooth sailing. Jibing is less common and used when the destination is downwind on the opposite tack. That said, you might not hear sailors use the word “downwind” to describe this direction — the name leeward refers to downwind, while windward refers to upwind (the direction from which the wind is blowing). 

Mainsail and Headsail

Not every sailboat has the same number of sails, but most boats have at least one headsail (head-sill) and one mainsail (main-sill). Both sails are attached to the central pole or mast, while a system of ropes, chains, and cables called the rigging holds up the mast. The difference between the two sails lies in their function and positioning on the sailboat. 

The mainsail is located behind the mast. It is attached to both the mast and the boom. The boom is a pole attached to the bottom of the mainsail perpendicular to the mast, which improves control. Its purpose is to control the ship’s stern

By contrast, the headsail controls the bow and increases speed. As any sailor knows, the wind is entirely unpredictable. As such, extra sails like spinnakers (spin-acres) and storm sails help sailors prepare for the unknown. 

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of terms. This beginner’s shortlist is only a starting point to the full world of sailing jargon. Just as you would when learning any new language, the key is practice. So get aboard your boat, hoist the mainsail, and enjoy the open waters! 

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Water Safety for Kids on the Lake

three children smiling under waterEvery parent wants their children to stay safe while having fun at the lake.

Just a little preparation can help your kids have a fun time on the lake, and build memories you will cherish for a lifetime.

Whether they are toddlers or teenagers, water safety can start right now!

Here are some water safety tips for parents, big brothers and sisters or anyone keeping an eye on kids at the lake.

 

Near the Water

Imagine a warm summer afternoon. You’re sitting in a lounge chair on your back deck, having some laughs with the family. The smell of barbecue is in the air, the sun is shining off the lake and it’s a gorgeous day.

The water is less than 50 yards away. Everyone’s having a great time – especially your toddler, who is making her way right to the water!

With small children, the most important safety factor is supervision. Even if you are watching them, it’s easy to get distracted. Always keep an eye on your children.

If you have small children, make sure you latch, lock or childproof every possible route between your little one and the water.

As soon as they are old enough, make sure they understand that they are never to go near the water without a parent or adult. Don’t make them afraid of the water! Rather, visit the water with them.

Make sure your kids know to be careful around docks, shorelines, dams and boathouses. One wrong step on a slippery dock can spell disaster.

Consider buying your kids water shoes or boating shoes. These give much more traction than sandals or bare feet, and protect your little ones from rocks, sticks and broken glass.

 

On the Water

Water safety is just as important for boating. Make sure everyone on a boat wears a life perserver, especially children. Many communities mandate the use of life preservers for children on boats less than 30 feet long.

This is good advice, even in calm water. Nearly half of all drownings related to boating happen in calm water. In the vast majority of them, life preservers were in the boat, but not being worn.

It helps to serve as a good example. Wear a life preserver yourself! You don’t have to wear the bulky life preservers of the past, either.

Modern technology has given us smaller, more comfortable life preservers. Many of them lay flat until they hit the water, at which point they inflate automatically. Those which need manual pull-cords to inflate are not recommended for children.

Make sure your child has an appropriately sized life preserver, too. It should close securely around their chest.

If you grip the life preserver securely and lift, this should eventually lift your child. A life preserver that is too loose will slide up around their neck. One that is too tight or small will not close.

Enroll your child in a boating safety course, if you can. Most lake communities have these available for a small fee. A weekend of instruction can not only save your child’s life. You might learn a few things, too!

 

In the Water

According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of four.

If you are supervising kids, make sure you keep an eye on them at all times. Children who are not strong swimmers should have life preservers in the water. Toys such as water wings and pool noodles do not count!

If your kids are in the water, you should be, too. Should your child get in trouble, you need to be right there. It won’t help if you’re busy texting at the shoreline! This is less important if they are strong swimmers, but you still need to be nearby.

Of course, the best way to encourage water safety with your kids is to enroll them in a swimming course. Any child who spends time on the lake should be able to swim, even if they wear a life preserver. This does more than save their lives. It also means they can enjoy the lake, and the water, in every possible way!

Not sure if your child is old enough to learn to swim? If they’re even six months old, they can get started! “Infant swim” classes are becoming more popular nowadays. These programs have decades of research behind them, and are proven to save children’s lives.

Instructors teach children to float, to roll over onto their backs, and not to panic if they fall into the water. Infant swim lessons are not a substitute for parental supervision. They are a last line of defense. They also acclimate children to the water, so they can take proper swimming lessons as they get older.

For more information on infant swim classes, visit infantswim.com or read our Lake Living Basics article for tips on how to teach your kids to swim yourself.

Even if your children can tread water on their own, swim classes are a great summer activity. Most lake communities have places for swim lessons for kids of all ages.

Whatever their interests, your children can be safe near, on, or in the water with just a little preparation. Have fun, stay safe and enjoy the lake!

 

Navigating Boating Jargon on the Lake

compass and rope over brown butcher paperDo you love boating but have trouble speaking the language?

Are you sunk when people throw around boating jargon, terms and lingo when boating?

Do you look around lost when someone says there are “fish jumping off the starboard bow”?

We’re here to help!

Here are 40+ of the most common nautical terms on the lake. This cheat sheet won’t make you a ship’s captain, but you’ll be able to hold your own on the waves.

Boating Terms

Aft: the rear part of a boat, behind the middle of the vessel (see “fore.”)

Anchor: object designed to stop the drift of a boat; usually a metal, plough-shaped object designed to sink into the lakebed or ground and attached to the vessel via a line or chain.

Ashore: on or moving towards the beach or shore.

Bearing: the horizontal line of sight between two objects (typically between a boat and its destination.)

Below decks: any of the spaces below the main deck of a vessel.

Bow: the front of a vessel (either side or both.)

Bowline: a type of knot that produces a strong, fixed loop, commonly used in sailing or mooring.

Breakwater: structure built on a coast or shoreline to protect against waves and erosion.

Buoy: a floating object of defined shape and color, anchored at a set location to aid in navigation.

Bunks: wooden supports on which a boat rests while it’s being transported in a trailer.

Capsize: when a boat turns onto its side or completely upside down in the water.

Cast off: to undo all mooring lines in preparation for departure.

Channel: a portion of a waterway that is navigable by boat, usually marked.

Chart: a map used for navigation on the water.

Cleat: sturdy metal fittings to which a rope can be fastened (usually to moor a boat, fixed on docks and/or boats themselves).

Current: the natural, horizontal flow of water.

Deck: the permanent covering over a compartment or hull (usually the main walking surface.)

Downstream: Direction in which the current is moving, or an object in that direction.

Draft: the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of a boat’s hull. This is important to know in order to prevent running aground.

Echo sounder: electronic device that uses sonar to measure the depth of water under a boat.

Fender: cushioning device hung on docks and the sides of vessels to prevent damage to them.

Fore: part of the vessel towards the front, or bow (see “aft”.) Here’s a tip to remember the difference between “fore” and “aft.” If you’re in the boat, “fore” is facing “forward,” and “aft” is what is “after” the boat.

Gunwale: the upper edge of a boat’s hull.

Hull: the outer shell and framework of a ship.

Idle speed: the slowest speed at which steering is possible for a boat; the boat shouldn’t produce a wake at this speed.

Inboard motor: a type of boat motor housed inside the hull, with a drive shaft running through the bottom of the hull to a propeller at the other end.

Knot: a unit of speed, equal to one nautical mile (1.15 miles) per hour. It’s called a “knot” because it was originally measured by paying out a line from the stern of a moving boat; the line had a knot every 47 feet 3 inches, and the number of knots passed out in 30 seconds gave the speed through the water in nautical miles per hour.

Leeward: in the direction that the wind is blowing towards.

Marina: a docking facility for boats, small ships and yachts.

Mast: a vertical pole on a ship with sails or rigging.

Outboard motor: a motor mounted externally on the back of a boat (usually smaller boats.) Steering can happen by turning the entire motor on a swivel, or by using a rudder.

Overboard: anything that has gone over the side of the boat.

Personal flotation device (PFD): a life jacket, buoyant vest or cushion designed to be worn (or held) and keep someone afloat in the water.

Pier: wooden or metal structure that extends into the water from the shoreline, allowing vessels to dock.

Propeller: rotating device attached to a boat’s motor that propels the boat through the water.

Rudder: steering device attached under the boat, usually shaped like a blade, which turns to steer the boat.

Sounding: measuring the water’s depth.

Stern: the rear part of a ship.

Upstream: against the current, or the direction from which the current is flowing.

Wake: the turbulence behind a vessel caused by its passing.

Waterline: the line where the hull of a ship meets the water’s surface.

Windward: in the direction the wind is blowing from.

Of course, these aren’t all the boat jargon terms out there. There are hundreds of others! Find more at http://www.discoverboating.com/resources/glossary.aspx.

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Recreational Boating – Tips for Buying a Used Boat

Recreational boating for family fun, fishing and relaxing is popular among lake home owners.

You can save money buying a boat if you consider a purchasing a previously owned one. In deciding which type of boat is best for your family there are a few things you should consider:

Decide What Type of Recreational Boating You Prefer

Will you stick to recreational boating at the lake or also on rivers and the ocean?

Will you be using your boat for hunting, fishing, skiing, cruising or racing?

The recreational activities you prefer should impact your decision on the type of boat you purchase.

rear view of a white boat in the water with man and woman aboard

Research your options prior to purchase and check out average prices of your preferred style.

Some other questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you want a hardtop, canvas top or no top at all?
  • Do you want an inboard engine or an outboard one?
  • Would you like an aluminum hull or fiberglass hull?

Call About the Used Boat

Once you actually find the boat you are interested in and know reasonable prices, you should reach out to the seller or the dealer. Ask questions about the boats and show interest but do not admit you are ready to purchase a boat.

Make sure to write your questions down before calling them so you can write down each answer you receive.

Some things you will want to know are:

  • The year and the make of the engine and boat hull.
  • How many owners the boat has had.
  • If the boat has been in fresh or salt water, and the last time it was used.

If the person seems very persistent in selling the boat or in a hurry it is possible the boat may have some issues. Request an appointment to take a test drive prior to purchase.

 

man, woman and child riding in a boat, woman at the wheel

Make an Appointment to Test Drive Boats

You will always want to see the boat and drive it prior to purchasing the boat. Most boat sellers will meet you at the water so you can take a test run.

If they do not have time for you or you do not feel comfortable buying the boat without a test run, walk away.

Inspect the Boat

When you test drive the boat make sure check that there are no cracks in the hull. Look for any parts that look new, as well as signs of neglect. Do not be afraid to ask questions about oddities you notice.

It is always better to get more detail and a full observation than to purchase a recreational boat that does not fit your needs or run properly.

 

Also be sure to brush up on your boating jargon before you buy too!

 

Unique Boats for Family Fun at the Lake

For people who live on, or frequently visit, the lake there are numerous ways to enjoy family fun. Here are a few boating activities that increase family fun on the water.

Due to ever-changing technology trends this list is not exhaustive but serves as a starter tool for your own family lake fun search.

Motorized Inflatable Bumper Boatsfamily fun

The bumper boat was originally designed by Edward A. Morgan for use at amusement parks in the early 1970’s.

His patent, granted in 1974, states a maximum speed of 4 MPH and requires a shock absorber around the boat for protection.

The inflatable bumper boats with built in water guns are fun for the whole family. Today, these motorized rafts come in a variety of sizes, styles and shapes.

Pricing varies, but some are listed for less than $100. To view the bumper boat that suits your family best click here or here.

Barbecue Dining Boat

These boats come with a built-in grill, umbrella, trolling motor and table with 10 place settings!

Each spot has three cup holders, a recessed plate and silverware holder alongside six storage compartments for food and supplies.

When fully charged, the battery last up to eight hours and the motor maneuvers the water at 2.5 MPH.

For more information click here.

Tarzan Boat

This boat comes with many features to keep the whole family having fun on the lake. There is also a Tarzan Mini for family fun at a lower cost.

The large version has the following 6 features:

The Monkey Jump is a 6-foot platform that provides an area to leap into the water. family fun

The Gorilla Jump is a 14-foot-high dive.

The Monkey Bounce is a small trampoline.

The Gorilla Bounce is a 12-foot-high trampoline that allows you to bounce up to 20 feet above the surface of the water.

The Tarzan Swing is a rope swing with a 12-foot swing out range.

The Jungle Slide is a 12-foot-high, curving, covered water slide.

With all of those choices, families can just throw on some good tunes, bounce, swing and splash their day away.

For more information and pricing click here.

 

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new ways to have family fun at the lake. For even more ideas on a  variety of ways to be a unique boater check out this cool article!