Boat Batteries

Photo by: National Boating College

A common cause for breakdown on the water is due to battery problems. Batteries are the centre of your vessel’s electrical system. If they stop so does everything else.

Boat battery checklist:

  • Do you have the correct size battery for your engine? The size of your vessel’s engine and the compression ratio required to turnover and start your engine determines the size of marine battery you need. Talk with your local marine dealer or a specialist battery retailer for advice.
  • Do you have dual battery system on board? One for engine cranking and one for auxiliary power use such as navigation lights, VHF radio and general lighting. A dual battery is the safest option as it ensures that the engine cranking battery is fully charged for the sole purpose of starting the main engine.
  • Make sure you fit a dual battery isolation switch to alternate from bank to the other. Isolate (turn off) your battery bank at the end of each trip.
  • How old are your current boat batteries? The life expectancy of a marine battery is approximately 2-3 years. Signs of battery failure include; sides bowing out, corroded terminals, fluid inside battery has become milky or oily. Don’t forget to mark or record the date you purchased your batteries. For peace of mind have your “battery plate” tested by a qualified electrician annually.
  • Don’t install anything but marine grade batteries on your vessel. Marine grade batteries are designed specifically for the marine environment and are constructed with extra supports to accommodate vibrations and movement at sea.
  • Check that your battery cables are the correct size, terminals are firm and lightly lubricated with vaseline or light-grade grease to help prevent corrosion and salt build up.
  • Check battery water levels every three months. Fluid should just cover the plates.
  • Do not overcharge your battery by trickle charging continually. If your battery has completely discharged you may need to replace it.
  • Make battery checking part of your pre-departure check list. Keep a hydrometer in your tool kit to check the state of the battery charge for each battery cell.
  • Batteries on board should be well ventilated, housed within a box and secured firmly with straps. Take the batteries out of their box at least annually to clean the inside of the box, checking that the battery ties downs are still in good working order.

Battery servicing
Battery checking should be part of your 100 hour engine servicing program. Keep a servicing log. Don’t hook up an old battery with a new one as the ability of the new battery to recharge maybe affected by the old battery. It’s a good idea to buy your battery banks at the same time.

Attention to your batteries will help to ensure a trouble-free boating experience.

What’s needed for a fisherman’s picnic

Photo by: National Boating College

Food which is heavy to carry and gets in the way of fishing gear won’t be popular. Easy to eat food is essential as they’ll be concentrating on reeling in, casting out and baiting hooks.

Think about food which can be easily eaten in one hand and which is substantial such as a beef or pork pie and salad. Fill a plastic container with potato salad and wrap up the pie separately. Add a bread roll or two. Extra food for fishermen might be a container of bite-sized things like small squares of hard cheese, cocktail sausages, cherry tomatoes, nuts, and dried fruit. Morsels to enjoy while waiting for the fish to bite. More fisherman’s  food ideas could include; crumbed lamb cutlets, cold sausages in a long roll with BBQ sauce, roast chicken legs or slices of a vegetable or meat loaf. As it’s still winter it can be very cold especially, early dawn until the sun comes up, so a hot flask of soup is a good idea.

Remember to pop in a knife, fork , spoon, paper towels and a rubbish bag, as well as bottled water and a flask of tea or coffee. Pack the picnic inside a suitable sized Esky, so the food won’t be crushed. The Esky can also double as a fisherman’s foot rest or even as an extra piece of safety equipment.

On March 8, 2011 newspapers reported four men who were rescued after their boat sank. They had been fishing off Cleveland Bay at 7.30 am when the boat started taking on water. After losing radio contact they set off their EPIRB and then abandoned the boat. They were sighted by the Emergency Management Queensland rescue helicopter desperately clinging to their eskies.

Snacks are a necessity to keep energy levels up and if the fish aren’t biting they will need a little something sweet to console them!

Try out our Fisherman’s Chocolate Slab Cake recipe and then let us know how you rate it.ChocSlab


½ cup (50g) cocoa powder
½ cup (125ml) boiling water
160g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1½ cups (330g) castor sugar
1½ cups (200g) self-raising flour
⅓ cup (50g) plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk

Chocolate icing (Optional)
100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped coarsely
25g butter
1 cup (160g) icing sugar, sifted
1½ tablespoons hot water


Pre-heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease 19cm x 30cm lamington pan; line with baking paper.Blend cocoa with water in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, stir in sifted flours and soda, and buttermilk; stir in cocoa mixture. Spread mixture into pan. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 20 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.
Make chocolate icing. (Optional) Spread cold cake with icing and throw in some whole strawberries to eat with the cake. Cut cake into squares.

Chocolate Icing
Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan, stirring, over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in sifted icing sugar and water until smooth.

Prep & cook time 55 minutes + cooling. Makes 20.

This cake can be made the day before the fishing trip. The iced cake can be frozen for several weeks. Thaw the cake in the fridge the night before. This cake is also good just with a dusting of sifted icing sugar applied once the cake is cooled.

Before heading out on your fishing trip

  • Check that your boat is seaworthy.
  • Check that you have all the required safety equipment aboard.
  • Report your trip. Let someone know where you are going, how many will be aboard and when you plan to return.
  • Make sure you and your crew know how to handle the boat.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure you have sufficient fuel and water aboard for the duration of the trip.
  • Go easy on alcohol.
  • Keep in touch – use your marine radio to log in and log out with the local volunteer marine rescue.

Why is it green for starboard?


Starboard and Port Marks

Here’s how starboard became green

Ships of the City of Dublin Steamship Company were equipped with white masthead, green starboard lights and red port navigation lights.
The P&O Company of Southampton had a different arrangement; green for port, green and red for starboard.
The British Admiralty ordained that starboard was to be green and port red.
The Prussian Ministry of Trade prescribed the British lighting rules for its steamers.
France, Austria, Hungary and the North German seaboard countries also signed up.
27 other seafaring nations followed suit and adopted international maritime regulations ( known today as the International Collision Regulations ColRegs )

This colour code also applies to lighthouses. Lighthouses on the  starboard side of harbours (when coming in from sea) are always green. Except for the Americas, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines which are opposite.