A trio of boating beauties

The good news is the snow and frigid temperatures of January are now history. February is here and that can only mean one thing—the boat and sport show season is coming up with some marvelous new products to be unveiled for Sunset Country outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the neatest is the MarKeze Boat Guide System, designed by Thunder Bay angler and hunter Rob Marchese. It is so practical and innovative that it won the Northern Ontario Technology Award.
If I have anything bad to say about the product, it is that it could end forever one of the best spectator sports: watching people try to drive their boats onto trailers at busy launch ramps.
With the MarKeze Boat Guide System, it is impossible not to drive your boat on perfectly straight every time you pull it out of the water.
The system uses large foam pads connected to sturdy aluminum rails to channel your boat. But the key is the unique pivoting action of the guide rails. When you disengage them, the arms rotate and the foam guides float level on the surface of the water as you back in your trailer.
So it doesn’t matter how windy the conditions, or rough the launch ramp, you’ll drive your boat onto the trailer perfectly centered every time. It is impossible not to do it correctly, as fishing guide and buddy John Monteith and I intentionally tried to do with the unit he put on his boat.
Marchese’s system is so unique that Cabela’s, the giant American retailer, has approached him about distributing it in the United States.
By the way, Marchese will be attending the Mid-Canada Boat Show in early March and my guess is the product is going to be hit with every wife, girlfriend, daughter, or partner who has ever been handed the keys to the tow vehicle and been asked to back in the trailer while her husband, boyfriend, father, or significant other waves, shouts, and otherwise tries to give incomprehensible directions.
Another hot new product you’ll want to take a look at is the “bluetop” deep cycle marine battery made by OPTIMA. These things pack more punch than any other deep cycle battery. Indeed, they don’t even look like batteries, resembling giant six-pack cans of Pepsi or Coke.
There also a distinction behind their birth. They were developed for the U.S. military requiring reliable sources of power in remote locations.
The “bluetop” features what OPTIMA calls “spiracell” technology. It means the batteries immobilize the electrolyte in spiral wound absorbent glass mats that contain high purity lead grids.
The six two-volt cells give the “bluetop” its unique appearance and the strongest, longest-lasting 12-volt performance of any marine deep cycle battery.
Indeed, the new “bluetops” are so efficient you’ll have difficulty drawing them down. That means more reserve capacity, much faster recharges, and hugely improved battery life—up to twice as much life as most other marine deep cycles.
And they’re constructed so perfectly, they’re completely sealed and leak proof. In fact, the “bluetop” is the only battery the U.S. Department of Transportation and the International Air Transport Association have deemed “shippable” by air.
With so many new fishing techniques relying upon trolling tactics involving electric motors, the new “bluetops” are sure to be a hit with Sunset Country anglers.
The way I look at it, if they are good enough for the U.S. military under the harshest of desert battle conditions, imagine how they’ll power your trolling motor on Lake of the Woods, the Winnipeg River, or Rainy Lake when the biggest fight is with a walleye, bass, or muskie.
But deep cycle batteries only are as good as the charging system that maintains them. That’s why you’ll want to take a close look at the new MinnKota on-board battery chargers with automatic temperature compensation.
If you’ve been reading any of the boating reviews and fishing magazines, you know recent studies have shown that most charging systems fail to fully restore your batteries.
Most only bring the levels back up to about 85 percent, which is bad enough. However, most deep cycle batteries develop a “memory” so, over time, 85 percent (or less) is all you’re going to get.
But not if you replace your existing on-board battery charger with one of the new MinnKota units. The reason they’re so superior is they use what is called a “multi-stage charging system” that features automatic temperature compensation.
It is a three-stage (bulk, absorption, and maintenance) charging process that automatically controls the current and voltage during each phase of the charging cycle.
And because heat is the enemy with most chargers, the MinnKota on-board units feature automatic temperature compensation that adjusts the output voltage so your battery reaches its important “gassing threshold” without boiling over.
So there is never gassing or thermal runaway.
I spent an intriguing hour with MinnKota’s head honcho, Dave Duffin, and his technical staff at the ICAST show in Las Vegas, where the new MinnKota on-board chargers recently were unveiled, and my head was spinning after I saw what these things will do.
I always knew it was important to properly maintain your batteries and fully recharge them, but I never realized how difficult that can be to accomplish. Just because a green light flashes on your existing charger doesn’t mean your batteries are anywhere near up-to-snuff.
Fortunately, they will be in peak condition if you invest in one of these new MinnKota units. Which is why some of the biggest boat-makers in the world soon are going to be installing them in their boats.

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