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Learned my first major lesson about my local boating area....


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Picture this...a gorgeous pre-Spring Saturday in the middle of March in Southeastern Louisiana. The temperature is approaching 80F and everyone is getting boating fever, myself included. Not a cloud in the sky and and spirits are high with the anticipation of spending a beautiful day on the water with my wife. After a smooth launch we are in the river and headed the short distance to notorious Lake Pontchartrain. Within 10 minutes we are at the mouth of the river and entering the Lake, still at no wake speed. The Lake is calm and wind is at a bare minimum. After surveying for any whitecaps, I determine that we will head into the Lake for a while before turning around and going up river. My depth finder was on because I know that the Lake is substantially more shallow than the river, and currently we are in 8-9 feet of water.

Then, without warning, or so much as a beep from the depth finder.......BOOM! An awful noise and a slight rise out of the water....we've hit something! Now suddenly the depth finder is beeping like mad, telling me that we are in 2 feet of SOMETHING. I do a quick 180 turn back to the river but it's too late. The boat is vibrating like mad and something is clearly wrong. We limp all the way back to the launch and during that time I lifted the hatch just to make sure we weren't taking on water. Thankfully it's dry as a bone in there. After having to wait for 2 people in line, I eventually get her back onto my trailer and pull her out of the water to survey they damage, expecting the worse but hoping for the best....

All 4 blades of my prop...gone! Thankfully the outdrive and hull were not damaged whatsoever. I've already ordered a new prop from the dealer and will pick it up Wednesday or Thursday and install it myself.

Total time in the water before disaster: 10 minutes. Oh lord was my wife upset, lol.

It was only after the incident that several people I spoke to told me how treacherous that area is and that apparently there is a channel dug in the Lake that I'm supposed to follow. Lesson learned! I've also ordered a navigational chart of the area for future reference.

Silver lining: I wanted to replace the prop anyway, so maybe the is the Universe's way of making sure I do so? I'm so glad I can laugh at this now...

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Holy s%$%$t. I can't believe you got back to the ramp with those nubs. You know what, when you were asking about props on another thread, I was suggesting SS props. Well it's a darn good thing you had an aluminum prop on. When you do go out again with the new prop, pay attention for the first few minutes and make sure you have no vibrations. There is still a chance you may have damaged the shaft even though by the looks of things the prop took most of the impact damage. That chart is a good investment. I look at my maps and charts the night before I go out, even though I am very familiar with every lake I ever go on. Good to refresh your memory. Anyway good luck and stay away from that area!! :thl_speedboat:

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If boating in water that skinny I'd buy a second prop as a back up. Most prop shop sell reconditioned used props for spares.

That's a good idea. When you pick the new one up, ask if they have one. Even if it's just a three blade, it would be usable, and at least your whole day won't be ruined.

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I have never seen a prop lose so much of all four blades before :) Glad everyone is safe and sound. Since you have single prop out drive, I would definitely get a second prop as a spare and keep it and a wrench on the boat. And I would stick with aluminum if your waters can be that unpredictable. Aluminum single props are cheap and can save many other problems by breaking so easy.

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All great suggestions above...after making sure that you did not damage anything else, get yourself a chart, and an extra prop and prop wrench.....at least that way if you have another incident, you will not ruin the day for your wife!!!! If you have a depth finder, make sure you are watching that very closely in areas that you are not sure of...if you can catch it fast enough you might see a shallowing trend, and be able to catch yourself...sometimes it is best to go neutral, see if you can see the bottom, and put the drive up and paddle or wade the boat out of danger.....sometimes you will run up on something too quick and nothing will help you, although decreased speed will help to minimize the damage . Good Luck! Can't believe your skeg is still intact!!!

Rich

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Troy i know exactly where that happened. I almost did the same thing but i felt it hit and trimmed up & pulled back the throttle as soon as i could. When you exit the river & head in to the lake no matter which way you want to go, you have to follow the channel markers and go to the right. ALWAYS, then once you get past that old half sunken tug boat the you can head left towards Lacombe or straight out into the lake. Dont feel like the lone ranger, we go to the beach alot right there across from T-Rivers and alot of people do it all the time. My boat came with a stainless 4 blade prop and the original owner left the original aluminim prop in the boat, but im going to get a prop wrench this week. Good luck, we need to hook up out there ! Mike

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Holy s%$%$t. I can't believe you got back to the ramp with those nubs. You know what, when you were asking about props on another thread, I was suggesting SS props. Well it's a darn good thing you had an aluminum prop on. When you do go out again with the new prop, pay attention for the first few minutes and make sure you have no vibrations. There is still a chance you may have damaged the shaft even though by the looks of things the prop took most of the impact damage. That chart is a good investment. I look at my maps and charts the night before I go out, even though I am very familiar with every lake I ever go on. Good to refresh your memory. Anyway good luck and stay away from that area!! :thl_speedboat:

I checked the shaft this evening (to the best of my ability) with the broken prop still on and everything spins smoothly just like it did pre-incident, so I'm hoping it's fine. Luckily there is a satellite office for the dealer conveniently located right at the launch site we always use and I spoke to the guy there and he said he would gladly install the prop for me after I pick it up from the main dealership (roughly an hour away) so I know he will be able to look with a more knowledgeable eye and determine if indeed the shaft is at all bent. After I install I'm going to launch it right there and make sure all is good.

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Troy i know exactly where that happened. I almost did the same thing but i felt it hit and trimmed up & pulled back the throttle as soon as i could. When you exit the river & head in to the lake no matter which way you want to go, you have to follow the channel markers and go to the right. ALWAYS, then once you get past that old half sunken tug boat the you can head left towards Lacombe or straight out into the lake. Dont feel like the lone ranger, we go to the beach alot right there across from T-Rivers and alot of people do it all the time. My boat came with a stainless 4 blade prop and the original owner left the original aluminim prop in the boat, but im going to get a prop wrench this week. Good luck, we need to hook up out there ! Mike

Mike, I am glad you can sympathize! It's funny, only after my incident did I have a plethora of people tell me the exact same thing you just did. No matter what, stay to the right! I have ventured out that way before, on my way to Manchac and The Prop Stop, and never had a problem because I did exactly what you said...stay to the right and follow the markers. Only I really was never aware of just how bad it is in there and to be honest I think I was going straight out to the Lake from the mouth of the river. I know we were barely moving though because I had just told my wife to lay the bimini top down because I didn't want to speed up and have it shaking around at higher speeds. Then suddenly while she was doing that, we hit. In fact I believe I was really just coasting with no throttle on at that point while I waited for her to finish.

Lesson learned, for sure and absolutely we can hook up out there. We can exchange contact info through private message if you like. Have you taken yours out yet this season?

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The aluminum prop on the Alpha drive has a rubber hub that is designed to slip when something is hit. It does not save the prop, but it does help protect the drive shaft and gears. I would stay with the aluminum props with the Alpha drive, since were you are boating has some nasty things below the water.

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Even with the plastic Flo-Torq II hub that the newer Mercury and Quicksilver props use, when you get a hit that takes that much material off of the prop blades that close to the hub, damage happens. I would be very surprised if the prop shaft doesn't have a pretty good bend in it. At the very least, you'll need a new prop and plastic hub.

Glad it didn't hit the torpedo of the drive, or the hull bottom. Like football, it's a game of inches...

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Thanks for the replies concerning my eventful day.

Here are a couple of pictures I snapped of the shaft this evening. I also took some videos of the shaft spinning with and without the busted prop on, but I'm not having luck getting them from my Droid to the computer.

It appears to be fine to my untrained eye, and it spins by hand smoothly. I realize that even the most infinitesimal of variations in shaft straightness will cause unnecessary vibrations when spinning at higher rpms, so I'll just wait and see towards the end of the week when I pick up the new prop I've ordered.

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When you buy the prop wrench, get a spare nut, a couple of lock washers and a spare thrust washer. I have taken a blade off my prop before. I had everything I needed to change the prop out. I forgot about the trust washer until I saw it slide off the prop and into the bay! Got a friend to tow me in. I still here about it at the marinea.

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I think you'll be fine. Got your charts? I'd laminate those things. I keep a binder on my boat with all of my maps and charts. Must be nice getting to go out on the water tomorrow. :drool5: It's only gonna be 35 degrees here. The weatherman said on this day last year it was 80 degrees. I've got to move a little more south!! You have a good day out there.

BTW, did you find a cheap spare prop? Even if it's just an aluminum 3 blade it would get you by. It could even be a pitch off. I run a 19 pitch SS 3 blade and my spare is an aluminum 21. Both work.

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I'll put her in the water tomorrow after work, but just long enough to make sure everything is good to go. I have my charts, but this weekend I won't bother venturing out to the lake, but instead we'll be cruising up and down the river. I asked about a cheap refurbished prop but the dealer didn't have any available at the time, but believe me I'm keeping my eye out for one. I replaced the broken one with the exact prop it had, a new Mercruiser Alpha 4.

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I still stand by the fact that if he had had a SS prop on when he had the last incident, he would not have a functioning out drive to put a spare aluminum prop on.

JMHO...

Oh, I agree. I wasn't steering him in that direction. I was just pointing out that a spare emergency prop doesn't have to be an exact match to the one he usually runs. Two boats ago, I dinged up my aluminum props many times running in the same water I do now with my SS prop. I know my turf, er I mean surf, now. :)

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