Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Take Care of Your Pontoon Canvas

Bennington pontoons come with lots of canvas. First, you have the playpen cover, which helps maintain interior cleanliness and prevent damage when your pontoon is not in use. Next, there is the bimini top, which provides some shade for those very hot days out on the lake. These two pieces of material will turn out to be very useful, so you'll want to make sure they live just as long as your pontoon boat does. Here, then, are some tips for taking care of your pontoon canvas (many taken from Bennington themselves):

Store your bimini top in the radar position with the boot (bimini cover) zipped into place. This helps prevent wind, sun and bad weather damage over time. Remember: your top is comparable to a large umbrella, so keep it buttoned up when not in use!

When the playpen cover is fully installed, your Bennington will require the proper storage position of the bimini top, as the cover does not have forward strut cut-outs.

Use all tent poles under your playpen cover, and tighten them securely. The cover helps keep your boat dry and clean, but it is not 100% moisture proof and it is NOT a winter weather cover. A playpen cover is not designed to support heavy piles of snow and ice, or any other additional weight. So if you aren't going out on the lake every week or two, do check up on your Bennington every once in awhile to make sure nothing is weighing the canvas down (this is necessary even after a very heavy rain).

Cleaning your bimini top and storage cover regularly will help maintain its integrity (and will keep it looking new!). They are pretty easy to clean, too - just brushing off any loose dirt or particles and hose them down with fresh water. If you've let stuff build-up, use a mild detergent (like dish soap) and fresh warm water. Never use solvents to clean the canvas.  

When hauling your Bennington, be sure the bimini top is locked in the radar or trailering-strut positions with the boot securely in place.

Bennington does NOT recommend towing with the playpen cover installed. Its purpose is more of a "mooring cover" for when the boat is at the dock or out of water on the trailer. Although you could likely tow your pontoon at low speeds and short distances and not have an issue, snap-whip from a loosened snap, snap-strain from high speed towing and various other situations can cause damage to your cover. In addition, the cover may catch in the wind in particularly windy situations, which may lessen the amount of control you have over the boat.

How often do you use your playpen cover and bimini canvas? 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Tige MyWake Global Challenge

Have you always wanted to go head-to-head with other wake boarders (or surfers or skaters) and see how you compare? Now's your chance. And you get to compete against others around the world, not just in our area!

Tige Boats started an annual MyWake Global Challenge last summer, and they're bringing it back in 2013. It seems pretty simple: take a few rides on the lake and show off your best tricks while you have a buddy record you. Then submit your videos online to the challenge. You can submit as many videos as you'd like! But you have to do it between June 1 and August 31. Winners will be chosen monthly.

Visit the challenge's Facebook page and watch this video to learn more about the challenge:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using Your Phone as a Boating Tool

Are you the type of smartphone user that downloads a new app every day? Perhaps you're the opposite and you've only downloaded the few you need to get by. (Though you should make sure to have FacebookTwitter and Google+ to keep up with us on the go!) But now, turn your attention to your nautical side and consider a few apps that can enhance your favorite hobby: boating.

New and experienced boaters alike can learn from the Boater’s Pocket Reference, an app chock full of information like U.S. and Canadian navigation rules, tips on boat handling, how to tie marine knots and much more. When your boat is out of the water, you can refer to Boater’s Pocket Reference for information on trailering and regular maintenance. Visual learners will appreciate the variety of charts, graphs and illustrations throughout the app that makes the content extremely easy to understand. While the app isn’t free – in fact, it’s $4.99 – it is highly ranked by iPhone users and includes a search function so you can quickly and easily find the information you need, right when you need it.

Keep your finger on the pulse of current weather and tide forecasts with the NOAA Buoy and Tide Data app, which accesses data from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center. You can search for buoys by name or location and view a range of weather data, including wind speed, gusts and pressure. Tide predictions are also included, as are moon phases. The app is very reasonably priced at $1.99.

If, heaven forbid, something goes wrong on your next voyage, the free Sea Tow app can come to your rescue. You can contact their 24 hour dispatch center through the app, a handy feature if your VHF radio is on the fritz. In addition, the app contains tide and forecast information, and you can save up to seven locations for continued weather monitoring. Finally, the app features a compass and speedometer so you can always pinpoint your location on a map.

But before you can use any of these apps, you need to get your boat into the water. That’s where Boat Ramps comes in. This (free!) app allows you to search for ramps near your location, by zip code or by city. Once you’ve chosen a ramp, the app will provide you with directions. Reviews for the app, however, lament that it doesn’t provide more information about ramps, like fees (or lack thereof), restroom facilities or bait shops.

What are your favorite boating apps? How has your smart phone enhanced your boating experience, on and/or off the water?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Revolutionary Convex VX

We brought Tigé Boats to our dealership because we knew they would bring new and different things to the table. And boy, they sure have! We know we’re not the first to write about the Convex VX, but we think you’ll enjoy it all the same.

According to Tigé, the Convex VX is the only device ever created for surf wave ENHANCEMENT. But what is the Convex VX, you ask? It’s a fiberglass hull extension device “ designed to enhance the running surface of your Tigé at wakesurf speeds.” It connects to the swim platform and can be removed whenever you don’t want it on the boat.

How does it work? Well, this is what the Tigé website says: “The center tunnel of the Convex VX effectively channels water from the propulsion system downward under and into the wave. Utilizing the power generated by the prop to increase the size, volume, and density of the Convex VX surf wave.”

What we like about it is that it makes your 20 ft boat a 22 ft-er. So in this sense, less is more! That smaller boat that’s easier to trailer is now the perfect water sports boat.

When will you try out the Convex VX? Give us a call today or visit our site at LighthouseHarbor.com!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Choosing the Best Life Jacket

You might not like to wear them, but life jackets (also known as life vests or PFDs) are an essential part of staying safe on the water. Sure, you might be an excellent swimmer on a normal day, but what happens if you hit a wave wrong, get tossed off your boat and knocked unconscious on the way in the water? Now, we don’t want to be all doom and gloom. But we do think it’s important to know how to choose the best life jacket for you.

In Pennsylvania, all recreational vessels must have at least one Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device on board for each person. Additionally, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one Type IV (throwable) USCG-approved personal flotation device on board (and it needs to be easily accessible). Any person younger than 12-years-old, in a boat less than 20 feet long, must wear a PFD. All life jackets must be in good and serviceable condition and legibly marked showing the USCG approval number. This means the life jacket must be fully functional, free of tears or defects in the material. All buckles, straps, zippers and other closures must be operable.

Finally, remember: boaters are required, by law, to wear life jackets on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak during the cold weather months from November 1 through April 30.


We like this graphic from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission that explains the different types of PFDs:

For adults, chest size will determine what size PFD is necessary. For children, this is determined by weight. Once you’ve selected the right size, follow these steps:

  • Loosen all the straps, put PFD on and zip up.
  • Starting at the waist, tighten all the straps. The PFD should feel snug but not uncomfortable.
  • Have someone pull up on the shoulders. If it moves up past your nose, tighten the straps. If you can’t and/or it still moves, you need a smaller size.
  • If possible, test your PFD in a pool or shallow water. It should not ride up or slip over your chin while floating.

To fit a child, follow basically the same steps. Pick them up by the shoulders of the life jacket, and make sure the vest is snug overall.

We recommend:Once you’ve adjusted your life jacket to the perfect fit, leave it that way! Keep extra jackets on board for your guests. That way, your favorite jacket is always the right size.

Do not alter a PFD to make it fit - choose one that works for you. There are many different styles, and many companies make separate men’s and women’s fits. Further, automatic inflatable vests have become increasingly popular, which allow you to wear a slimmer, more minimal vest that automatically inflates if you hit the water. Choose whatever vest you will be the most comfortable in.

What suggestions do you have for anyone looking to purchase a PFD? Any tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years?