Hello all, I figured I would share my misery with the group. I enjoy reading other posts about mechanical issues and knowledge always helps. About a month ago I got my 2002 196 SSI, 5.0 carburated out of storage. I store it at a storage lot down the street, outside but under a large awning. Put the boat in the driveway at home and did my Spring ritual of cleaning, waxing, charging battery, starting, the whole 9 yards. Realized my 4-year old battery was not holding a charge so I figured it was time for a new battery, no big deal. I had not actaully put the boat in the water until this past Saturday of Memorial day weekend. Weather and honey-do list was getting in the way. Anyway, we loaded up the truck with the family of 4, plus each kid brought a friend, 6 of us in the Nissan Pathfinder towing the boat to Lake Gaston. I live in Richmond, VA so this is about a 90 mile trip one way. *** Yes I broke the cardinal rule of making sure the "Shakedown" should be close to home. Beautiful day, backed her down the ramp at about 11 am, loaded all of the family, plus lunch, coolers etc. for a nice day on the lake. Oh, I stopped at a Walmart on the way and picked up a new Marine battery to replace my old one. Plus I had my jumper box battery on board. Had to jump her real quick at the ramp to start the boat, started right up. I was about to pull away from the ramp and I looked back and my bilge pump was pumping out water with a vengence. I KNOW I had the plug in the hull, I always check it. So in a rushed panic, I lifted up the motor hatch to find water pumping directly out of the port side of the engine. When your boat is filling up with water faster than your bilge pump can keep up your mind races very quickly. Just to be safe, I made a mad dash for the truck & trailer and would have won the gold medal for the speed backing of a trailer down a boat ramp. Got the boat pulled out of the water and started to inspect the situation. For the life of me I could not locate where the water was coming from. Since my kids each had a friend, I did not lose any Sunday School credits with cussing, a character flaw of mine when things are tense. So, at this point I still thought it could be something "simple" so I backed the boat down the ramp in order to get the Mercruizer drive in the water again. Started it up, and there goes the crazy water flow again. Water was quite warm pumping out so I shut her down and started to feel around the engine and what do I find ?? A core plug or freeze plug fell into the bilge when I was feeling around with my hand. At this point, I got a real sick feeling.... I am smart enough to know that if a freeze plug popped out over the winter, than there is usually a 50% chance that the block got cracked also. But... I still could not locate the hole from where the plug came from. You have to understand, the wife and 4 teenagers are standing there in the hot sun expecting a wonderful day on the lake and I standing on my head in the engine compartment, was not a calming atmosphere. So, loaded the 6 of us back in the truck and had a very quiet 90 mile ride back home. We did stop at a wayside park and eat our lunch. Backed her down the driveway and my oldest son asked what the plan was, I told him I was going inside to cry and then I will do some more investigating into the location of the freeze plug. Did a litte online research on freeze plug locations and the prognosis of having a cracked block was not encouarging. BTW, I know what you are thinking, did this idiot winterize his boat properly ? Answer, yes, I do the winterization myself. I have for the last 4 years as long as I owned the boat and follow the manual, open the drains and refill with antifreeze. Have never had an issue, plus this past Winter in Richmond was extremely mild. So, with the boat in the drive and in some shade I did find the hole and of course it was DIRECTLY behind the front port engine mount. No way to get access to putting the plug back in. The only way to get to it would be to remove the engine mount from the block. My neighbor has an engine crane but since my boat is on a roller trailer it is fairly high. Next morning a bought myself a nice 4X4 from Lowes and laid it across the gunwales, had to take the motor box hatch off the boat which was a real pain, it was very heavy. With some ratchet straps I took the weight off the engine mount. I only had to keep it in place, not lift it up but about an inch or two. Still very tight quarters, ended up having to remove the bracket from the hull support also, I bought a new brass freeze plug, put some red permatex around the edge and tapped it in with a large socket and hammer. SInce the motor hatch was off, I removed the 4 steel brackets that had some rust on them, wire brushed and painted with rustoleom. Put everthing back together, accessing that motor mount was still a pain, I contorted my 6' 4" body into all kinds of positions to ratchet in the bolts. Started the boat in the drive and the plug held and did not see any other leaks with the muffs connected to the drive. This was about a 4 hour job to replace a 1.50 part. OK, sorry for the long story, too much detail I guess. Took the boat out to the lake 20 minutes from the house and she ran like a top. Normal water temp on the guage, ran her wide open for a little bit, and I bet I lifted the hatch about 5 times to check for any leaks. So, it looks like I dodged a bullet and it was only a freeze plug that popped. I am going to re-evaluate my winterization procedure because I am guessing that there may have been a pocket of water that froze near the plug. Or maybe the plug just unseated itself, not sure. BTW, some of you may have cringed when you were thinking about that 4x4 resting on the gunwales. I put thick towels underneath the wood and figured I was not anywhere close to putting all 575 lbs of the engine weight on that support, I was only taking the weight off the one support. Maybe we will head to Gaston next weekend.