In the summer of 1985, before cellular telephones were affordable and satellite communication reigned; my family went to Table Rock Lake in Missouri to spend a day on the water with dear friends and our beloved ski boat at the cabin. My friend, Jeremy Deerwester came with us and we spent the entire day skiing, tubing, and Zip Sledding (hey, it was the 80’s!). Later that evening, Jeremy and I were going to my girlfriend Lorie’s house to watch Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, and presumably make out with Lorie and the friend she brought for Jeremy.
There we were, shredding Angler’s Bend on water so soft, my slalom ski felt like I was standing on a pillow-top mattress shooting 15 foot roosters into the deserted cove. The late afternoon sun was just starting to fade over the Ozark Hills, and the air was cooling just enough to make the 80 degree lake more comfortable than sitting in the afternoon air. The fireflies were visible along the shadows of the shoreline though plenty of blue still shown in the sky above.
I released my grip on what was my final run, and the 1978 Cobalt Blue Arrow Glass boat banked gently to come around for my pick up, and take us back to the cabin for a quick shower before my mom drove Jeremy and me (I was only 15) to Lorie’s house, for what was going to be a great night of Sheena, Doritos and awkward teenage kissing.
Except, that isn’t what happened.
When the Evinrude 85hp outboard stalled, I thought, “That was weird.”
A quick fuel tank change was needed…. Whew! I thought! That was close.
But after the fuel line was primed I heard the unsatisfying gear clenching of the starter getting weaker and weaker and I screamed, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”
Somewhere in time, the sound of my scream still echoes against the summer air as the horrible sound of our battery offering its final “click click click” foretold of the next two hours of Jeremy and I swimming our boat back to the dock, the COLLECT-calling of Lorie to inform her we would be even more late than we already were, and that there would be no kissing of the fair-haired Lorie or anyone else for quite some time.
If you’ve ever had your summer day ruined with a bad battery, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, know this: You don’t want to.
This whole sad scenario could have been avoided had my family done everything they could to ensure our Marine Battery performance was at its peak. Today, The Battery Genius will explain a few keys in properly maintaining your Deep Cycle Marine Battery, the Best Dual Purpose Marine Batteries for your application, and some precautionary steps and equipment you can utilize to make your time on the water fun and enjoyable.
In March, I told you how to maintain your deep cycle batteries. (If you didn’t read this post, please bookmark it for later as some of the information I am giving you here is explained in better detail in that post.)
Maintaining your Marine Battery is important. This means, charging, testing, and adding water (when necessary) to ensure that your battery is operational when you need it. This also means, that before you decide to head out on the water (hopefully WEEKS before, not HOURS before – cut your battery shop guys a break, yeah?) you’ll have to get up off your lazy bottom and do some preventive maintenance.
An often overlooked area of maintenance around batteries is cables and connectors. Look at your cables connecting the battery to your boat’s electrical system… Go ahead, I’ll wait…. Are they frayed, rusted, worn, or weak looking? No? That’s good. Because if they were, you would probably want to replace them.
Next check your battery water level (if it’s not a sealed or maintenance free battery). When you pop the cap off and look down into the battery, can you see the lead plates? No? That’s good, too. If you could see the lead plates, your water is too low and you would have to add some distilled water.
Now, grab your volt meter. That’s okay if you don’t have one. You can buy one here from Powerstride Battery (includes FREE ground shipping). Your Volt Meter will tell you the state of charge on your Marine Battery! Is it low? No? GREAT! If it were, you would probably want to charge it.
You can charge your Marine Battery one of a couple ways… The BEST way to charge your marine battery is to use an On Board Charger. This is a permanently installed charger that you plug into shore power whenever you aren’t using your boat to maintain your batteries. I can’t honestly recommend a charger like this because so few of them are at a price point WORTHY of consideration UNLESS you are an avid avid avid boater and spend more than 60 days a year on the water. Only then can The Battery Genius recommend the expenditure.
Otherwise, a good portable charger like an Associated Intellimatic is great for Lead Acid Batteries of all kinds (deep Cycle or Starting). They are available in three different models and all are made in the USA by Associated Equipment. You can buy them from www.Powerstridebattery.com where all are shipped direct from the factory with FREE Ground shipping! They are a very good, cost- effective charger ($175-$500) that will last longer than your batteries…
But, Battery Genius, you ask. Can’t I just put a 2 Amp trickle Charger on my Marine Battery in between uses and get just as good a charge? In a word, no. Here’s why:
You may have just spent all weekend partying it up on Lake Idon'tcareboutnuthin' and your Flooded Marine Deep Cycle Battery is now at 75% Depth of Discharge. Well, your flooded battery will lose a half to 1% of its remaining charge per day just sitting there waiting to be used again. If you’re only TRICKLE Charging it at 1 or 2 Amps to bring it back up, you’re only replacing what the battery was going to use sitting there hooked up to your starter. Next time you go to hit the lake, you’re starting your fun at the same point you were when you came home last time…. And soon you’ll be swimming your boat back to shore and mad at your battery dealer or battery manufacturer instead of yourself.
FACT: Most battery failures aren’t failures at all. Rather, they are instances of UNDERCHARGING whether by alternator or charger!
The biggest consideration when hitting the lake with your shiny toy is this: WHAT KIND OF BATTERY IS POWERING YOUR FUN?
You would be AMAZED at how many people I know will spend 30, 50, 150 THOUSAND DOLLARS on a boat and suddenly get “Un-Named Discount Store”- cheap when buying batteries!
My apologies in advance to those of you who are this type person but I have one thing to ask: REALLY?
It is truly amazing to see Bass Buddy Bob and Pontoon Pete with an outboard that requires 750 Marine Cranking Amps, a fish finder, trolling motor, stereo, and refrigerated cooler all hooked up to a couple of $65 discount store flooded lead-acid batteries, and then wonder why after 8 – 12 hours of fun on Saturday, their boat won’t start on Sunday Afternoon.
The math is quite simple… The battery you own is MAYBE a Deep Cycle Marine battery with a useful life of 227 Minutes at a (conservative) draw of 15Amps. That’s only 3 and a half hours of runtime! If you have a Dual bank of batteries, that’s only 7 hours! And if you aren’t running the motor (using the alternator to recharge the batteries), you’re killing your Sunday and Jeremy and I are swimming your boat in and missing Lorie and the movie again…
The very best Marine Battery on the market today is the Lifeline AGM Deep Cycle Battery. It is a DUAL PURPOSE (Cranking and Deep Cycling) Absorbed Glass Mat – that is – AGM Battery that recharges faster, last longer, and is completely Non-Hazardous and maintenance-free – unlike your Flooded Lead Acid Battery. You can read more about Lifeline here. The Battery Genius recommends buying them from Powerstride Battery because they generally have the best pricing and you always get FREE ground shipping with every order.
JUST IN CASE
Let’s suppose that you’re still not convinced that you need to go and spend a lot on batteries or that you even care to buy a new charger for your boat because you have yet to have a battery failure or because you never boat that far from home and really don’t care if your paddling back to shore.
I seriously have to wonder about your sanity, but in any case, The Battery Genius recommends buying one of these. It’s a portable Jump Starter that gives you plenty of power to get you started and back to where you need to go.
It is the opinion of TBG that EVERY Boater in the WORLD has a jump starter with them, just in case… But what are you gonna do?
I hope you feel like TBG has helped you ensure you have a fun and POWERFUL summer on the water. Remember, you can always get more useful info from the wonks at Powerstride Battery. Simply call TOLL FREE (877)5-POWER-9 for free information or to find a dealer near you.
Now, go have a good time on the water. And don’t let ANYTHING get between you and your weekend!