Filed Under (Boat/Trailer Maintenance) by Debbie on 10-05-2007

Boating can help relieve stress and frustration and it had been a long and frustrating three-day weekend. We’d worked most of it and needed to have some fun time. I suggested we pack a lunch, load the fishing gear and take our new ‘old’ boat to Detroit Lake for that much needed time off. My hubby agreed and before too long we were on highway 22 heading east from Salem to Detroit Lake.

It was our first trip to this lake and we pulled into the first State owned launch ramp we came to. It’s not a big launch area but we managed to back into the water and float the boat over to the dock. At this time in our new boating career I was the ‘bimbo holding boat babe’. So I’m on the dock, holding the boat away, waiting for my hubby to park and come back down. There was quite a bit of activity on the ramp and even more on the lake, as it seemed like there were lots of boats with places to go as they zoomed past.

Finally my hubby gets back, he climbs aboard and starts the outboard engine. I get in and we very carefully move away from the dock. The sun is shining and we’re trying to be relaxed even though we don’t really know where to go or exactly what we’re doing, as we’re so new to boating. There’s an island off in the distance and we head there thinking maybe that’s where fishing would be good.

We’re about half way there, things seem to be going good and I’m thinking about breaking out the sandwiches when all of the sudden we hear a loud bang. Two pairs of startled eyes stare at each other and fearfully turn towards the back of the boat. Unbelievably, a huge cloud of black smoke rises from the engine…it sputters, it spits, it stops running.

My husband’s jaw drops, the boat starts drifting, my hubby starts screaming that we’ve ruined the engine and my stomach falls to the bottom of the lake. We fuss and fiddle around with the engine even though we don’t know a thing about it. He keeps trying to get it to start and of course, nothing works…it’s dead…now we’re really starting to drift and the ramp from whence we came is getting smaller and smaller.

Several boats cruise past and we waive at them hoping for help. They smile and wave back as they zoom past. I grab the small paddle and head for the bow. The other boaters continue to zoom around the lake. I settle down on the bow, dangle my toes into the freezing water and start paddling. After a bit I manage to get the boat turned around towards the ramp but it’s a really long ways off.

My hubby continues to fiddle with the engine hoping to fix it. No tools, no parts, no knowledge…humm. I keep paddling. Another boat goes past and I wave the paddle in their direction, they wave back and I frowned.

“Is everyone on this lake stupid?” I ask my hubby. “You’d think they’d offer a tow in. It’s really obvious we need some help.”

I kept paddling. I’m not sure how long it took to get back to that area of the lake but I know I was really getting tired. We had tried repeatedly to flag a passing boat for a tow but it was as if they all were blinded by the sun; a possibility here in Oregon. Finally, when we were about 50 feet from the dock two kids in a dingy with an electric trolling motor asked us if we could use a tow.

I said yes and tossed them a line. One kid held onto the line and the other reved up their little motor. The dingy charged forward and the kid holding the line nearly fell into the water once the slack was gone. They did however manage to tow us the remaining distance to the dock. They left with a couple of bucks and our heart felt thanks.

Getting the boat back onto the trailer without the engine was not fun. We had completely ruined our outboard. It seems the impeller (water pump) hadn’t been replaced in a long time and no water had moved through the engine to cool it and we burned it up. Expensive lesson, as we had to buy another engine.

This little part is easy to take out and replace and is certainly cheaper than a new engine, even a new ‘used’ engine like we’d bought. This should be replaced every couple of years unless you’re using the boat really hard. Always carry a spare with you. You can tell if you need to replace it by checking either the water coming out the back of your boat if you can see it, or by looking at the flow coming from the outboard or by looking at the impeller itself. If it’s cracked or damaged or worn down, change it out. If there’s very little water or worse no water, change it.

That same day on our way home from the lake we learned another good lesson about boating. I’m trying to convince my hubby to pull off on one of the truck turn out’s and fish from the side of the lake while we eat our sandwiches and have a beer. Suddenly we hear this loud crashing sound followed by a repetitive swishing that sounds as if it’s moving into the distance. We pull over. Perfect end to a perfect day, the wheel fender had come off and flew backwards knocking the right break light off the back of the trailer. We picked up the fender and went home.

So, check your boat’s water impeller to see if you need a new one and as far as the trailer goes? Well I guess you need to read the post about trailer maintenance.

2 Comments posted on "Water’s Important for Boats" » Blog Archive on August 29th, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

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Old Marine Boat Parts on May 25th, 2008 at 5:35 pm #

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