Monthly Archives: January 2014


Stand up paddling — Fort Hampton Outfitters

It’s been a cold winter but warmer weather is just around the corner (we hope).  It’s none to early to line up your upcoming adventures for 2014 and there’s no better way then trying something new.  How about stand up paddling (SUP) to top the list?

According to, the Outdoor Foundation’s 2013 Report stated that stand up paddling was listed as the most popular outdoor activity among first-time participants in 2013.  The report also cited the median age for stand up paddling was 28.

Stand up paddling (often miscalled paddleboarding) originates from Hawaii.  It became a popular sport in 2005 and has grown ever since.  To get paddling you will need a properly sized paddle and board.   A common rule of thumb for the correct size of paddle is a “shaka” length, or 5 to 7 inches, over your head. To use a SUP, hold the paddle with one hand on the handle and the other hand approximately 1/3 of the way down the shaft and “row” the board forward.

Looking for a great place to get training and rent SUP boards in North Alabama?  Check in with:

Don and Tonyia Bowling

  Fort Hampton Outfitters.

They rent SUPs at Joe Wheeler State park (Elkmont,  AL) and are a BOTE authorized dealer.  We talked with Don Bowling at the Huntsville boat show and found Fort Hampton Outfitters to be an impressive and family friendly company.  They see the great benefit of outdoor play and pleasure and hope to get others to get out and enjoy it too.  They know first hand how being outdoors and getting exercise is life natural way to boost your energy.

Fort Hampton Outfitters open for public rentals/sales in May and throughout the summer.  Get in touch with them through email at or at their website at  They’ll get you hooked up and answer all your questions.

Not interested in stand up paddling?  Fort Hampton Outfitters rent kayaks too!

Try it out!  SUP is certain to be a great adventure tradition!

Like fly fishing?  Check out the potential of SUP boards and fishing!  It’s very popular in Montana!

Photo taken by Stan Shebs

Water Monster disappearing

Even if you are a slimy monster that grows a foot in length and has an odd curly smile, we’re going to do everything to save you!

That’s what’s going on now for the axolotl (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) salamander.

‘Water Monster’ Axolotl Salamander disappearing.

Axolotl Salamander
Axolotl Salamander contributed to wikipedia by LoKiLeCh

Found in the Mexican lakes, these water monsters are disappearing fast.

Great information about axolotl salamanders:

National Geographic

Featured image taken by: Stan Shebs

Help save the Axolotl – facebook

yellow hammer lure

Yellow Hammer Lure Review

As we entered the Birmingham Alabama boat show, we were greeted by a huge, really cool fish tank displayed by Yellow Hammer lures.  A large, relatively slender tank full of bass fish was set up with rows of chairs on either side.  At certain times throughout the boat show they would show their famous lure and let everyone see how it worked.  They removed the hooks(so they didn’t actually hurt or catch the fish) and cast the lure into the tank where you could see the lure and the fish in action through the glass walls.

Yellow Hammer Fish Tank
Tank by Yellow Hammer Lures

The fish were definitely interested in the lures.  Every cast resulted in a strike.  Now, I was born on a Sunday, but it wasn’t last Sunday.  I’m sure the fish  were very hungry and would go after almost anything…but, that doesn’t really matter.  The demonstration gave you an excellent idea of how the lure moved in the water and how fish would attack it (especially when hungry).   Their slogan, ‘the best rig in town’ really seems true.  To be honest, the demonstration also showed me how accurately some people (read: not me) can cast.

Yellow Hammer CEOAfter the demonstration, we spoke with the Yellow Hammer representative, who also happens to be the Yellow Hammer C.E.O. (and, I suspect, the Yellow Hammer marketing director, chief financial officer, I.T. guy, …).  But, you don’t need a large company to make a good lure.   And the Yellow Hammer 5-wire is a very well-made lure.

With a shad-like lure in the middle and five wires arranged in a spoke-like configuration moving backwards from the center bait, it simulates a school of bait fish.  At the end of each wire is a spinner and a swivel where you can attach your preferred swim-bait.  Furthermore, it’s made in Alabama and no-one knows fish better than the South.

We were so impressed that my son bought one right there for my birthday.  Neither of us could wait to rig it up and catch some bass.

Yellow Hammer Lure

Even though it was January, the following day was warmer than usual and even a bad day bass fishing is better than a good day at work!  We loaded up the kayaks, put on warm clothes and hit the local creek.  Unfortunately the local creek hit back and we lost the lure before getting much of a chance to test it out.

After several casts, and a few bites, we snagged a rock and broke the line.  While this is a sad ending to an otherwise awesome day, I am still impressed with the Yellow Hammer 5-wire lure.  It is immediately obvious that it’s construction is top-notch.  Just make sure you have a strong line!

So, if you’re looking for a bass-catching lure that’s well-made and decently priced, check out the Yellow Hammer lures website at:, email:   Or, you can give Todd (205) 527-7980 or Kyle (208) 368-7596 a call.

Yellow Hammer Sign


Check out our follow up review:  The lucky replacement – Yellow Hammer Rig!



Scuba Diver

Scuba Diving in the South

Want to go on a scuba trip?  See these Beautiful photographs by Mark Tant and it will get you itching to go.  Southern Skin Divers Supply in Birmingham Alabama will get you hooked up.  Diving is their business!  It’s what they’ve been doing for over 60 years!

We first met  Spencer Phillips with Southern Skin Divers Supply at the Birmingham Boat Show 2014.  He gave us some great information about diving and even pointed out that anyone 10 and up could try out scuba diving in their  heated indoor pool for free!  Yes, free. You can dive down 14 feet in the deep pool at their location in Birmingham 4515 – 5th Avenue South.

Southern Skin Diver Supply has a colorful website:  According to the website Southern Skin Divers Supply opened in 1953 and is the oldest  shop in the South.  Bill Tant, also known as ‘Cap’n Scuba’, started the business and created scuba diving on the Gulf Coast.  He started a diving school named Bill Tant’s School of Scuba.   Bill even had his own certification since his school predated all other certification agencies that now exist.

Unfortunately, Cap’n Scuba (Bill) passed away in 2013 but the business is in good hands with Spencer Phillips, Steve Phillips, Forrest Phillips and Mark Tant.  Check them out in Birmingham and get diving!

Additionally, Southern Skin Divers spear fish and treasure find on their many scuba trips. They’ve found marine life teeth worth more than $2,500!  Below is a photo of Spencer with a great tooth find!

Southern Skin Diver Supply Spencer with Tooth

Southern Skin Divers Supply has a  facebook and  twitter page.  check it out to follow the great things they do.

You can find it all on the webpage at or call (205)595-3052




WPTwitter copy

Setting up Twitter in WordPress

The WP to Twitter plugin is convenient for automatically sending out a tweet when you create a post/blog with WordPress.  The process does not take much time to set up and is a huge convenience as it automatically sends out a tweet everytime you blog.

To start off, download the WP to Twitter plugin into your WordPress Plugins by going to the Plugins category on the left menu bar.  Then search for the new plugin by clicking on the ‘Add New’ button and typing in WP to Twitter in the search box.

Click on install for the WP to Twitter plugin.  You will need to provide information about your twitter account and log in through the WP to Twitter application process.  Click on the link to start the application process and log into your Twitter account.

From here, follow the instructions step by step given on the WP to Twitter plugin page.  This will include copying your WP reference name to Twitter and your Twitter access tokens to WP.  The codes can be long and jumbled so I suggest using the copy and paste commands to transfer the data.  Since the information on the plugin page is step by step, I won’t reiterate those steps here.

(For further detail step by step information, continue with the tutorital by Joe Dolson’s )

Once you have followed the plugin instructions and have the account set up you will see the WP to Twitter plugin at the lower right hand side of the Posts page.  After you have created your post/blog and published it, a tweet will automatically be sent out.  If you want to you can add additional text or just have WP automatically send out the title and url for your newest post.

Happy Tweeting!


The 2014 Birmingham Alabama Boat Show

The Birmingham, Alabama 2014 boat show is the perfect opportunity for water-lovers to check out the latest gear, new boats and win some swag! The boat show is a perfect weekend activity for adults and kids. Obviously, the kids will love crawling all over the new boats. But, there are also fishing demonstrations, fishing tanks and free giveaways.

The Birmingham, Alabama boat show, like years past, is located at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (BJCC) in downtown Birmingham. The 2014 show marks the 43rd anniversary of the Birmingham boat show and is the oldest and largest in the State of Alabama! The Birmingham Boat Show was the first public event ever held at the BJCC back in 1972. When the BJCC expanded in the 90’s the East Exhibit hall was built. The Birmingham boat show was again the first Event held in the new expanded hall and it happened to be exactly 20 years later to the day of the first boat show.

With over 250,000 square feet, the show highlights the Boating, Fishing, guides and all kinds of outdoor and water gear. There’s so much to see and do at the show that we’ve split our review into several different articles.

Click HERE for reviews of the various wakeboard boats at the show.

Click HERE for a review of the 2014 Stratos fishing boat review.

See below for a gallery of pictures from the show.

Renew Our Rivers Booth Display Birmingham Boat Show 2014B.M.S. Marine and Floater Dock DealerAirport MarineKawasaki Jet Ski
Wedowee MarineBay BoatCATSSurf Size Sign
CaravellInfo StandBoat $31K
Lakeside MarineSingleton MarineSauce for PurchaseTracker Boat with Price Tag
Information StandBass Tracker BoatSkiers MarineCruiser

2014 Enzo

Birmingham Alabama 2014 Boat Show — Wakeboard and Watersport Displays

The 2014 Birmingham Alabama boat show had several excellent wakeboard displays and wakesurfing displays. Most of these were not booths oriented exclusively to wakeboarding or wakesurfing, but oriented towards wakeboarding, wakesurfing and other watersports.

Displays from Skiers Marine, Rambo Marine and Singleton Marine presented the best wake and surf-specific boats available from some of the biggest names in the business. Skiers Marine had the new Axis T22 along with Supra, Moomba and Malibu wake-specific boats. Rambo Marine had several beautiful models including the X-25. Singleton Marine had numerous Nautique models including the super air Nautique and the G-series.


Axis T22
Axis T22

Wedowee Marine also had several Centurion Enzo’s available at their display along with numerous pontoons. The Centurion Enzo is an impressive boat–their color schemes were striking and the CATS system looks very interesting. The Enzo is a large, long boat with huge mounts of ballast. While I haven’t ridden behind one of these, I hear they’re excellent for surfing.


Skier’s Marine had a small “lounge” area set aside with a couch, T.V. and some pro-shop gear. All of their 2013 gear was marked down 50% which made for some excellent deals.

Singleton Marine had a large display area with a tower-speaker display where customers could experiment with the Nautique in-dash system and stereo. A thumping sound system and a big-screen video display above the booth finished off their display.
Check out our gallery of wakeboard display and wakeboat images from the 2014 Birmingham Alabama boat show below:

WakesetterCenturion Enzo 2014Axis T22


Stratos 2014

Pros and Cons to the Stratos fishing boat

Review:  2014 Stratos  by  CJ, age 11

I went to the Birmingham Boat Show with may family last weekend and I thought I would write about a fishing boat that I really liked.  The 2014 Stratos.  Comparing to the other fishing boats around it had a  fairly good price for a nice fishing boat.  At the show it was offered for $17,500.

Stratos Boat
Stratos Boat

Here are the pros and cons.

Pros: large compartment to hold fishing poles with hydraulics, good quality, lightweight aluminum,  very stable, fish finder, trolly motor,  windshields  for driver and passenger, live fish/bait holder, life jacket compartment with holes to drain water,  front and back fishing seats.

Cons: Small engine, carpet,  some compartments hard to open, some compartments have no hydraulics, and no fish finder on the trolly motor.

And those are the pros and cons I see to the stratos fishing boat. Some day I will get something like this but for now, I will have to wait.

Here are some pictures:

Stratos Boat

Find out more information at
Axis T22

Skier’s Marine & The New Axis T22

While at the 2014 Huntsville boat show, one of the most eye-catching display areas was hosted by Skier’s Marine.  All of the boats looked spectacular and the Skier’s Marine sales associates were friendly and helpful and refreshingly, not pushy.

The Supra SA’s looked great as did the Moomba Mojo and Mondo.  However, the three most eye-catching boats to me were the Axis T22, the Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV and the Bryant Callandra.

I’ve always liked the look of Axis boats and I’ve met one of the founders, Adam Mcall (although I doubt he remembers).  Axis boats have always been very specifically targeted towards wakeboarding.  Recently they have included more wakesurfing specific features while still keeping their prices low…well, low is relative in the wakeboat market…lower than most wakeboat companies.

In the past, Axis boats have suffered from a cheap-looking interior.  When we purchased our new 2013 Mobius LSV (love it!) last year, we were debating between three boats: the Axis A22, the Mobius LSV and the MB Sports B52.  While I liked the Axis and it had a great reputation, I didn’t want to spend 50-60K on a boat with a sub-par interior.

This has changed for 2014 and the interior is substantially improved.  Not only does it look better–it feels better.  They now offer colored stitching, the vinyl is sturdier and the boat has a much more solid feel.

Axis T22 2014
Axis T22 2014






The Malibu Wakesetter is one of the best-selling wakeboats of all time.  Our previous boat was a 1996 Malibu Sunsetter VLX (the same hull as the first Wakesetters).  It ran strong until the day we traded it in on our new Mobius LSV.  So, I have a soft spot for Wakesetters.

Last year I rode behind a friend’s Wakesetter 23 LSV and was very impressed with the wake.  The new Wakesetters improve the already plush interior and awesome styling.  One of the impressive things about the Wakesetter is how clean the wake stays even at lower speeds (great for beginners) and how insensitive it is to weight distribution.  While I haven’t yet ridden behind a 2014 (hint, hint to anyone with a 2014 Wakesetter), I’m sure it’s still one of the best wakes around.

I was very impressed with the prices Skier’s Marine offered on their 2014 Wakesetter 23 LSV.  At the Huntsville boat show, you could purchase a Wakesetter from Skiers Marine for 20% less than a Nautique 230.  If I were purchasing a new boat today, the Wakesetter would definitely be on my short list.

2014 Wakesetter
2014 Wakesetter






Lastly, though I hate to admit it since I’m a wakeboarder at heart, I was impressed with the Bryant Calandra.  You have no idea how much it hurts to write those words.  For one thing, it’s a stern drive.  For another thing…well…it’s a stern-drive.  But, this Bryant was very well-made, offered huge interior space and had some great, innovative features.  One of the best features was the sun-pad with walk-through.  The sun-pad can be split into two lounges and the walk-through allows you to get from the swim platform into the cabin without stepping on the vinyl.


Bryant Callandra
Bryant Callandra






While my personal favorites were the Axis T22 and the Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV, the Bryant was also a very attractive boat.  While Skier’s Marine has carried Axis and Malibu for years, they just picked up the Bryant line.  So, If you’re in the market for a good wakeboard boat or a good runabout and you’ve missed the Huntsville show, make sure you drop by the Skier’s Marine display at the Birmingham boat show.



2014 Huntsville Boat Show

The 2014 Huntsville boat show is a great way for a water-loving family to spend a winter weekend.  While not as big as some of the other Southern boat shows such as the Birmingham boat show, it is well supported by many of the local boat dealers.





Skiers Marine, Rambo Marine and Erwin Marine sales were all present, among others.  Multiple vendors and businesses had booths with free brochures, magazines and swag.

Located in the Von Braun center, in downtown Huntsville and close to Big Spring park, the Huntsville Boat Show makes a great family weekend event.  TroutPond1X1halfThe show included a free fishing pond that excites even the biggest of kids, food and drinks for purchase and of course, all kinds of boats:   weekend cruisers, wake/ski boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats and jet skis.  There’s every brand name in the business including: Moomba, Bryant, Cobalt, Bayliner, MasterCraft, Nautique, Sea Doo to name a few.


After you make the rounds at the amazing boat show, make sure you take some time to walk by the pond and canal located across the street from the Von Braun center.  If you’re up for continuing a short walk, follow the canal up to Big Spring Park, where you can sit and enjoy watching the spring water spout out of a rock creating a beautiful rock cliff scene reminiscent of Ireland!


After walking to Big Spring park, you may  work up an appetite or feel like a sweet treat.  There are many option in this great downtown Huntsville area.  We ventured to Sam & Gregs Pizzeria for delicious pizza and hand-made gelato (whatever you do, don’t miss out on the gelato)!

If you didn’t make it to the boat show this year, put it on your calendar for next January.  It’s fast becoming a tradition for us.

Click here for a more in-depth review on the Skier’s Marine display and Fort Hampton Outfitters,