Still lots for Louisiana boaters to do

This road between LaPlace and Manchac is like a giant fishing pier providing access to fantastic small-boat action.

I remember looking through some old photographs that my mother had when I found one of my mother and dad sitting in one of dad’s race boats. The third person in the boat was me. I was just a little over 1 year old. I was enjoying my first boat ride when the photo was taken.

Boating has been a major part of my life for as far back as I can remember. I have many great memories of fun on the water. Dad would always say that boating was a great way to escape the problems of the world.

The recent rig disaster and oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has created a deep hurt that I am sure will take a long time to go away. As much as I feel this hurt, I know there are many of you out there who feel it even more. There are some in the news media, especially national and international, that would have us believe that Louisiana has been completely destroyed by this disaster. They twist things around to look at only the dark side because nothing sells better than bad news.

I encourage you to look past these doom and gloom prophets. Look at our past history. We have been knocked down many times. Each time we have gotten up, brushed ourselves off and continued on. Louisianans are tough. We will get past this.

Some boaters have given up on their favorite sport. They have seen all of the reports of certain areas of the state that are closed to commercial and recreational fishing, and they have heard the media reports and have not bothered to look for alternatives. If you are one of those boaters, shame on you.

I was searching the web yesterday, and I found some interesting statistics. Geographically, Louisiana is ranked 31st largest of the 50 states. Our state covers 51,843 square miles, and of that area 16 percent, or 8,277 square miles, is covered by water. I guarantee you that a substantial portion of those waters have not and will not be affected by the oil spill.

We have several major rivers such as the Mississippi, Ouachita, Red, Atchafalaya and Sabine. Major lakes include Pontchartrain, Maurepas, Toledo Bend, Grand Lake, Calcasieu and Catahoula. Add to these the hundreds of smaller rivers, lakes and streams, and you have all the ingredients to rediscover the great pleasure of Louisiana boating.

One of the worst things you can do to your boat is to not use it for an extended period of time. When engines are laid up, the fuel in the carburetors evaporates, and leaves a varnish film that will clog the jets and cause the engine not to run properly. If you check the Louisiana Sportsman website, you can read one of my recent columns about ethanol gasoline and the adverse effects it can cause. Ethanol gasoline begins to get stale after as little as 90 days in your tank. Ethanol in the gas attracts moisture from the air, and this will cause water to form in your fuel tank.

All of these problems can result in the need to have your engine carburetors removed, disassembled and cleaned. Carburetor overhauls are expensive, but they can be avoided by using your boat regularly.

Check and service your trailer. Make sure your trailer tires are inflated to the maximum rated pressure, and inspect them for any signs of cracking or dry rot. Grease your trailer bearings, and make sure the boat is securely strapped down to the trailer. Take a close look at the springs, axle and undercarriage of your trailer, and inspect the trailer frame for any excess rust or possible cracks. Have your tow vehicle serviced, and you will be ready to hook up the boat and explore Louisiana boating.

I have found a wealth of information on my computer. Google search “Louisiana geography” and “Louisiana lakes and rivers.” You might decide to pack a picnic lunch, load up the family and take a short trip to Madisonville, where you can launch your boat in the Tchefuncte River. This river empties into Lake Pontchartrain, and meanders inland for 48 miles. The Tchefuncte offers cruising, sightseeing, water skiing and much more.

A litter farther away in the northeastern part of our state is Lake Providence. I have many great memories of our family traveling to Lake Providence for the boat races each summer. When the races were over, we would launch our 15-foot tri-hull with the 65-horsepower outboard motor and go cruising and water skiing until dark.

As I remember, there was a very nice motel right there on the lake. We would drive up there on Friday night and spend the entire weekend. Lake Providence is an oxbow lake that covers approximately 1,350 acres. It is only ¼ mile wide, but it stretches out over 5 miles long.

So what are you waiting on? Are you going to let those doom and gloom mongers control your life, or are you going to get out and explore the many boating adventures that Louisiana has to offer? Yes this oil spill is a terrible disaster. Do what you can to help. Listen to your elected officials. Stay out of areas that are temporarily closed. By staying out we make it possible for the clean-up crews to do a better job and in the long run our wonderful resources will be returned to us sooner rather than later.

If you have any questions about your boat, motor or trailer you can e-mail me at theboatdr@yahoo.com.

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