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Make sure boat ready to run

Thousands of fishermen, skiers and pleasure boaters will be taking to the waterways this holiday weekend during the start of summer vacations.

This weekend, however, could be trouble for boaters who didn’t take care of their motors during the fall and winter seasons. The Boat Owners Association of the United States estimates that 3,400 recreational boaters and anglers nationwide will need assistance this weekend.

Scott Brech, service manager at Brech Marine in Selma, said he expects two main problems for boaters who didn’t take precautions.

“The biggest problems would be if they didn’t winterize their motors and if the fuel has gone bad,” he said. “You have to do preventive maintenance in the fall and winter. If you don’t, you can get out on the water and find that the carburetor has gummed up. Then you will need to take the motor to a service department to have it repaired or rebuilt.”

Because E-10 gasoline has been phased in since last year, boaters also need to be aware of any ethanol-based gasoline problems.

“As long as the gas has no more than 10 percent ethanol, there shouldn’t be any problem,” Brech said. “We’ve been getting information from the manufacturers that they want to raise the level to 15 percent, which would hurt the engines.”

BoatUS Towing Services has more than 290 locations on coastal waters as well as freshwater lakes and rivers throughout the United States.

Towing service vice president Jerry Cardarelli said he also believes the nation’s economic troubles are affecting the volume of calls.

“Recreational boating is largely middle class, and right now many household budgets are tight, leaving less money for maintenance and repair on the family boat. The leads to more breakdowns,” said Cardarelli.

Another factor has been fuel prices. “Lower fuel prices bring more people out on the water, which also correlates to increased use of towing services,” he said.

The economic downturn is not keeping boat owners off the water, according to a recent BoatUS membership. Ninety-six percent of respondents said they will be boating this year and most remain positive about their boating plans for this summer.

Brech said local boaters who have been diligent during the fall and winter shouldn’t have problems.

“Fill it up with fresh gas, even if there’s old gas in there now,” he said. “At least have a mix of good and old gas. And make sure your batteries are fully charged. Then if there’s a problem, you can go from there.”