Portable battery chargers a must-have on fishing boats
There’s a good way and a usual way to learn the starting battery in your boat has been run down. The good way is to check it the night before you plan to go fishing, find the battery dead and have time to find out why the battery lost its power and to recharge it before your planned departure.
The usual way is you pile your gear in the boat, load up fellow fishermen, turn the key and then get a sad look on your face when nothing happens. The usual problem, at least on my boat, is often because some battery-powered devise – light, pump, radio or other – was left on at the end of the last fishing trip or inadvertently switched on between then and now. It’s seldom the battery’s fault or a loose connection, bad starter switch or corroded wires, although those have all occurred on my boat at one time or another.
On land, a pair of jumper cables and a spare vehicle can save the day. On the water, if you have a set of long jumper cables and if there’s a friendly fellow boater at the launch ramp you may be in business. But don’t count on it.
What you can count on is what I call a “Tote-a-Jolt.” It’s basically a portable, 12V battery with an attached set of battery clamps. The battery has enough power to run the starter on a car or boat.
I don’t leave home without one and I don’t leave home without two of them when I’m heading for the lake. My original model is about the size, shape and weight of a bowling ball bag. Packing it along isn’t much of an issue in my tow vehicle, but there isn’t a convenient place to stow it on my boat. Still, it’s nice to have along when the “usual” dead battery situation occurs. Hike back to the truck, grab the booster and we are soon in business.
As with most electronics, these things have shrunk. I now have a tote-a-jolt that stays on the boat, mostly out of sight, out of mind. Using some sort of new-age battery technology, not counting the wires and battery clamps, it’s about the size of a paperback novel.
I’ve used the on-board tote-a-jolt exactly once for the “usual” reason since I got it. I’ve used it multiple times to power-up a low cell phone battery or for the built-in flashlight feature.
Several brands and models are available. The ones–– I have each cost less than $60.