Several times a year we get calls from boat owners who have lost or broken the LOC wire clip on their boat. Sometimes their boat mechanic had to break the clip to do some work. Sometimes the wire broke from the boat bouncing on the trailer. Sometimes it just mysteriously disappeared. You get the picture. The common element of these stories is that each boat owner is looking to avoid paying for a boat wash because their boat hasn’t been in another body of water. The problem is that the only way we can be certain the boat hasn’t been in another body of water is by that unbroken clip.
Our boat decontamination policy was put in place around 13 or 14 years ago as response to the spread of many invasive aquatic species, but mainly the western advancement of zebra and quagga mussels. These prolific mollusks were first introduced to the great lake region by ocean going ships which emptied their ballast in the inland waterways. That region now suffers over half a billion dollars in damage each year from these invaders. As they spread west and south, experts theorized that they couldn’t survive in various regions due to ecological factors, but they were wrong.
It’s always a good idea to remind ourselves of the purpose of these policies, but never so much as now. The Columbia River Basin is the last river system in the country that is free of these mussels. But they are close. A quagga mussel has recently been discovered in Tiber reservoir, about 130 miles east of Flathead Lake, which is at the eastern edge of the Columbia Basin. Now the Continental Divide stands between those two water-bodies, but given the mussels ability to hitch rides unseen on boats, it is still extremely concerning. Zebra or quagga mussels in the lake would not only cause damage to infrastructure. They would affect recreational uses from swimmers to wake-boarders. Their sharp shells would make walking on the lake bed impossible with bare feet. They clog up intakes causing engine damage. The list goes on.
We have three contracted places that have our clips. They have been trained in the protocol of washing every area of the boat, including the bilge, cooling system and even the trailer bunks. These are all brought up to a temperature that is known to kill the mussels. The veligers (their young) are very small and hard to detect, so each boat will be treated as if they are there. The cost is about $150, but it pales in comparison to the price you would pay should the lake become infested (including a likely drop in your home value). You can read more about these recent developments here. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2018/02/post_264.html#incart_push
So, think about these facts before you make the call. Try to understand why the answer has to be that you need to take your boat and get it cleaned and reclipped before entering the lake. There is too much at stake. Please note that R&M Marine has closed their doors. Their entire service staff, as well as the boat decontamination service has moved to Bare West on McEwan Road. We will make sure their information is available on our website.