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tetonguy

On Owning a boat. My Sunday PSA.

12 posts in this topic

A public service message to all boat owners, and those of you thinking about buying a boat.

Boat maintenance is expensive because its hard to fix things on ANY boat. It can be made a lot less expensive if you, the boat owner, do one simple thing.

Know your boat. Every time you prepare to push off and every time you come back in you need to open the engine compartment and take 2 yes 2 and only 2 minutes to look around. When your rig is running perfect and all is good you need to do this most. My father, a lifelong boater  was never towed in over 40 years of boating and I who have over 25 years in, also never towed, both practice this technique. (thanks Dad).

Over time you will have mental picture of your engine compartment. your brain will remember and when anything changes you will easily notice it. A hose changing color/position/diameter. A stain where the wasn't one before or getting larger or darker. A wiring harness drooping or changing position. Very few things on a boat fail without warning. A vibration or sound that wasn't there before, you get the picture. Any boat made after 2003 or so have redundant sensors and systems which can be a nightmare to diagnose but will most likely engage to prevent a total engine/drive failure. Its not a perfect system but if you are a responsible sensible boat owner you can just go around bi&&hing about poor quality service guys. That's not going to put anyone back out on the water sooner. If you have a clue as to what the issue is you are much less likely to be disappointed by an underpaid overworked service tech. Everyone looks for the "guy". Well I am that "guy" and so was my Dad. They never work for dealerships because they make bank being independent and their shops are always full. This means that they too are overworked by demanding customers which means they make mistakes too.

 

One more point on buying a boat. Some engine designs and setups are  flawed. Avoid buying any "New" drive or engine designs.Volvo 5.0l 's come to mind as problematic. You see a lot more posts here for them than you do for Volvo 4.3l sixes. Not sure if its because of poor manufacturing components or mismatched with some outdrives or if there are just more of them out there to break down Just MHO on this. A bigger engine has its rewards I get that, but bigger also means a hotter engine compartment, more vibration everywhere and higher parts costs. I had a Pontiac "Iron Duke" 4 cylinder engine in my first car -62 Tempest, in my second boat - 91 SeaRay 190 and also in a 1982 Camaro - this motor was bomb proof and many of them are still running today. My point being to do your research, some engines are better than others. If you doubt this just look at the older cars on the road, millions of GM350 's still running not so many old FORD302's. So before you buy a boat, check your ego. More HP does not equal more fun if your fuel costs are 50% higher and your down time is 2 or 3 times as much.

The simple beauty of life afloat are what we all share here and are allowed us only by the complexities of the boats themselves. Know your boat, don't engage your ego, you are not above understanding your boat anymore than you would ignore any other complex relationship in your life. If owning a boat is frustrating for you, sell it and take up hiking you'll be happier on land.

 

My apologies if anybody takes offense here, my point is to take your time and learn; its a lotta years from cabin boy to captain, money and ego won't get you there any faster than knowledge or perseverance.

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Sounds like spoken from own (and hard?) experience ...:captain:... yes, know your boat, or else ... :)

 

 

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I always open my engine hatch for the first start of the day and look for any issues as it warms up. 

 

Where I boat I could be 40 miles from any services and deep in a canyon with no cell or VHF signal. 

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Yes, to me that goes with out saying. Know your boat......................

If your on a trip and something happens. You need to know what to do.

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I always take a look every time we get on the boat.  It is a pain in the rear to pull the table, stow the rear bench and pull the deck panels, but it is necessary.  I take a flashlight and look into the dark corners too.  I look at all fluid levels, (trim, drive, oil and the water and holding tank), look for any leaks, and just make sure nothing is loose or about to come loose.  I recently caught a battery connection loosening up and found my holding tank level indicator doesn't work.   Knowing the sounds, feel and even smell are important in my opinion.  I have even taught my daughter to go through the check list with me when we first get on board.  

I also do all my own repairs.  We had a sea water pump fail a couple of weeks ago.  A bunch of guys at the dock were heading out but we were stuck for the day.  I ordered the parts and swapped it out during the week.  When chatting the the guys on the dock the following week, they were surprised to see we were all set.  I had it fixed in a few hours, at about a quarter of the costs to have the marina shop do it.  

So I am in agreement with you.  I was surprised to see how many folks on the docks really don't know how to work on or troubleshoot their own boats.  

 

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20 hours ago, Phillbo said:

I always open my engine hatch for the first start of the day and look for any issues as it warms up. 

 

Where I boat I could be 40 miles from any services and deep in a canyon with no cell or VHF signal. 

I do the same. Look and listen. That's how I noticed the Low Point Drain was leaking, and fixed it before it became a gusher. I keep my boat at home, so I prep the boat during the week. 

brick

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I do the exact same thing, every time I take the boat out.  This year was the first year I had the boat in the water most of the summer too, so I was pretty constantly a bit anxious about the level of water in the bilge every week.

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5 hours ago, brick said:

I do the same. Look and listen. That's how I noticed the Low Point Drain was leaking, and fixed it before it became a gusher. I keep my boat at home, so I prep the boat during the week. 

brick

I usually do a look and listen...I was still the recipient of a near catastrophic low point drain failure this season while miles away from home.  It's that one time that you skip it that gets you.  

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1 hour ago, Chaparral Rider said:

I usually do a look and listen...I was still the recipient of a near catastrophic low point drain failure this season while miles away from home.  It's that one time that you skip it that gets you.  

My leak was a slow drip. Housing cracked where the drain plug threads in. Probably over-tightened. I knew if I did not replace, it could let go at any time. My dealer overnighted the part, so I did not lose any boating time. 

brick

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Just now, brick said:

My leak was a slow drip. Housing cracked where the drain plug threads in. Probably over-tightened. I knew if I did not replace, it could let go at any time. My dealer overnighted the part, so I did not lose any boating time. 

brick

Mine was a no drip or so I thought.  I had a transducer leak that I corrected which was indeed actually leaking slightly and so the then housing cracked like the day after the transducer repair. My bet now is that the housing was leaking but that I just never actually caught it happening and blamed the transducer for all of the bilge water.  The engine room of the 220 is so open and accessible, there is no reason to not check it out often.  My buddy has a 2017 Glastron 220 with the new gen mercruiser and literally I have no clue how they will perform any repairs in the future.   You can't even see the drive fluid.  

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