Going out on a lake or pond with an RC boat can be an exciting and
fun time. After all, what could be better than sitting on the
waterfront on a bright sunny and enjoying time with
friends, family, and your hobby? But while this scene may seem idyllic,
there are some things that you should keep in mind before you think
about launching your boat. We have put together a list of the top
concerns when boating to ensure a fun and safe time.
Read the Manual
the biggest mistake that people make is to assume that they do not need
to read the manual, and then they act surprised later on when they
encounter problems. The instruction manual contains valuable
information that every modeler needs to read, from charging
recommendations, if it is a battery-powered boat, to how to start and
tune your nitro engine.
Your manual will also address many of the
common mistakes that are encountered, saving you time and frustration
down the road.
When reading your manual, have a highlighter handy. As you read
through the manual, use your highlighter to mark sections that you feel
contain important information that you may need to reference later.
Information about engine tuning, starting and stopping, and more is
found in the manual.
Use Fresh Batteries
your boat uses electric or glow power, you are also going to be using
some sort of battery. From receiver packs, main battery pack, or
transmitter packs, batteries are a big part of your RC experience. Most
nitro boats are set up to use 4 AA alkaline batteries to provide power
to the receiver and servos. You can improve performance and save money
in the long-run by using a 5-cell rechargeable battery pack.
The additional voltage provided by the extra cell will improve the
reaction time and holding power of your servos. You also get the
additional bonus of being able to recharge and reuse your receiver pack
instead of just tossing them out when they are dead. Do not overlook
your transmitter batteries either. Always error on the side of
replacing or recharging your transmitter and receiver batteries; your
batteries can never have too much voltage, but the voltage can be too
low causing runaways.
You can keep track of the voltage in your boat receiver pack by
using a voltmeter. You could also use a standard VOM and measure each
individual battery if you are using alkaline batteries. But what about
receiver packs? You can actually use an inline voltmeter to
conveniently keep track of your packs status.
Use a Fail-Safe
Having a runaway RC car on land can be very scary; imagine what a
runaway boat might be like. Unlike a car or truck, it can be difficult
to chase down a runaway boat unless you are already on the water in a
boat yourself. For this very reason every nitro and gas boat should be
equipped with some sort of fail-safe device. The Dynamite Micro Race
Guard (DYN2553) will cause your throttle servo to return to the idle
position in the event of signal loss. This extra safety precaution will
prevent a boat from careening out of control towards other watercraft,
or worse, towards people or animals in the water.
Make Sure Your Frequency is Clear
While components inside your model can cause minor radio
interference, you can compensate for that with noise-canceling
capacitors or through other methods. Nothing, however, can protect you
if someone else is on your same frequency. To prevent this, make sure
that you are either operating in an area where there are not any other
models being operated or someplace that has a dedicated frequency
board. If there are other modelers in the area and there is not a
frequency board, using the frequency flags that come with your radio
can also help to eliminate anyone from stepping on someone else
Sometimes identifying what frequency others are on and avoiding
conflicts is as easy as asking someone what frequency they are on.
Another way to prevent frequency conflicts would be to upgrade your
radio system to a 2.4GHz DSM system.
Stay Clear of Moving Parts
What harm can a spinning piece of plastic be, right? Wrong! The
props on boats can spin at very high rpm, and all it takes is a
momentary lapse of judgment and you can injure yourself pretty
severely. On electric powered boats, the props are easily reaching over
10,000 rpm, and those have plastic props; most of the nitro- powered
boats feature a metal prop that spins even faster. This can be rather
dangerous if you are not careful or are not paying attention to what is
going on. Always treat moving parts with great respect; keep hands,
fingers, long hair, and loose clothing away from moving parts such as
props, clutch bells, or blades.
there is ever a time that your boat stops running because weeds or
plants have wrapped themselves around the prop, approach this with
great care and caution. Much like a snow blower that becomes clogged,
there still may be considerable tension on the prop that may cause it
to spin unexpectedly once the weeds have been removed. If possible, try
to loosen the main shaft inside the hull to remove any tension before
servicing the prop. You should also disconnect any power from the radio
system, whether itâ€™s a receiver pack or main battery pack.
with moving parts, there may be many hot components on your boat to be
aware of as well. Things such as exhaust pipes, clutch bells, engine
heads, headers, or the cans of electric motors can all be extremely hot
and possibly burn you. If you are not quite sure if everything has
adequately cooled down to the point where you can touch them, error on
the side that they are still hot and wait before working on these
components. You can also invest in a temperature gun, such as the
On-board Temp Gauge.
Inspect the Hull for Damage Before Launching
Before you place your boat in the water, take a few moments to
inspect your hull for any potential cracks, holes, or damage. Not only
could damage to the underside of the hull cause water to leak in,
damage to the canopy or receiver box could pose a potential hazard to
your electronics. If you have any doubt about the integrity or
condition of your hull, do yourself a favor and wait to run your boat
until you can properly repair any damage.
Depending on the severity of the damage to a fiberglass hull, you can
potentially repair the damage yourself. For minor damage, you can use
fast-curing CA. This will
fill any gaps quickly and fix minor damage. If there is a larger hole
in the hull, you can actually use automotive body filler. With the
filler, you can apply several light coats, sanding between them until
you get the nice smooth contoured shape back that was originally on
Proper Refueling Procedures
Fuel spills can be dangerous and potentially damaging to the
environment around you. For these reasons, you need to be very careful
when refueling your boat regardless of whether it runs on gasoline or
nitro fuel. You should never refuel your boat while it is still in the
water for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is
that you could potentially spill some fuel in the water. Another reason
many people never think about is that you could possibly fall into the
water yourself. Just imagine yourself at the end of a pier, leaning
over the edge to refuel your boat and at the least opportune moment you
lose your balance. Besides just getting you wet, you will probably take
your fuel bottle and transmitter with you into the drink. Do yourself a
favor and bring your boat onshore for any refueling, making sure that
you clean up any fuel spills.
Proper Stopping and Starting
like refueling, you should never try to start your engine while it is
in the water. If there are waves or rough waters, you may have a
difficult time holding your boat steady as you tug on the pull starter.
Also, if you are using a hand starter, you will
hate to drop the hand starter in the water. For these reasons, you
should start your boat on land where you can hold the hull securely.
Once the engine has fired, get it in the water relatively quickly. The
reason for this is that the heads on nitro boats are smaller than their
car and truck cousins and are water-cooled. If you keep it out of the
water for an extended period of time, the engine could potentially
overheat. If your boat does not feature a clutch on the prop shaft, be
extremely careful when transporting your boat from the land to the
water. The prop will be spinning at several thousand rpm which could
cause severe injury if it were to come in contact with you. Even if
your boat has a clutch, the prop could be spinning as well. It is best
to simply keep away from the prop whenever the engine is running.
Unlike a gas car or truck, it is actually possible to turn the
engine off from the radio. What you can do is back the idle screw out
on the carburetor so that the air intake can close completely. From
here, you would actually use your throttle trim on the radio to set the
idle speed of the engine. When you push the trigger backwards (what
would normally be the brakes on a car or truck), the carburetor would
become closed off, suffocating the engine, and shutting it off. This is
the easiest and safest way to shut your engine off.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When enjoying your boat and the time outdoors, you need to be
careful and use good, sound judgment. You should never operate your
boat near any people or animals that are in the water. Boats can act
unpredictably at times, and a temporary loss of control could be
catastrophic. Keep away from water fowl or any other type of marine
life. While buzzing a flock of birds may seem like fun, you can
actually be subject to fines or worse if you are seen doing this by any
environmental agencies. Do make sure you follow any posted signs regarding the allowable operation
hours of watercraft, noise restrictions, and wake notices.
You not only need to be cautious when running your boat, but also
when launching or retrieving your boat out of the water. Before you
launch your boat, make sure that you are doing so in water deep enough
that your prop will not come in contact with any rocks or other items
that may be on the lakebed. You also need to make sure that the water
is deep enough so that the rudder does not get hung up either. And when
launching or retrieving your boat, do so in an area where you have
solid footing to prevent a possible fall if you slip on an
Using your head and being safe while boating not only protects you
and your boat, but also protects bystanders and the environment around
you. Being safe while boating is no accident and will also extend the
life of your boat. The steps outlined here are not difficult; they
just take some time and thought before you power-up your model boat.