CSI in the Boating World

Boat troubles are a real! In fact, I believe it when someone asked what does B.O.A.T. mean to you and I can honestly say that I know I've "Busted Out Another Thousand" several times this year. However, here's my latest mishap--one that ended out well.

Almost a month ago, I was cruising back from the sand at about 3,500 rpms and the engine just stopped. Of course, since everything had been fine up to that point I tried to start it up. After several tries the motor froze. Everything that could possibly go wrong went through my mind. Two great guys gave me a tow back to the dock. In fact, they ran out of gas trying to tow my 18 foot Ultracat with their 40 HP. We took gas from my boat and eventually made it to the park.

The next day I took it in to the shop expecting that something was wrong with the lower unit. In fact, I called the insurance company thinking I would make a claim. That wasn't necessary since the mechanics discovered that the starter had frozen. That was a weird assessment since I don't think that's why the boat stopped.

On the test run we discovered the same problem. After just running about half a mile, the motor cut off again, but this time with the mechanic on board. Okay! I felt good since I had someone with much more knowledge about making things run right on board. We got towed in again. A day later the verdict was a bad gas pump. Awesome!

A couple of weeks ago my son and I went to go tryout the boat and a new trolling motor that I just had installed. We took off from the dock and headed out to the bay. After a mile the motor gave out again. This time the motor sounded like it didn't have any gas. After priming and a considerable choking process, we go the motor to start and headed back out. Two hundred yards later it quit on us again.

Thinking that maybe we were out of gas, we used the trolling motor to get back to the dock. I now see the advantage of a trolling motor. Bobby and I loaded the boat and headed to the nearest gas station. After only being able to put $3 worth of gas in the forty gallon tank, we figured that the problem wasn't a lack of gas. Anyway we added fuel additive just in case that was the issue and tried to head over to the bay again. We actually made it much further, about three miles before the motor stopped again.

The next day the boat was in the shop again. I was pissed! I left a mean message on the answering machine and a note to the mechanic.

A day later we talked. They had tried several things. First they checked the gas tank. They ran it and it stalled. Then they tried a new fuel pump with similar results. This looked like a crime scene investigation. What could be the problem?

Finally, one of the mechanics decided to replace a section of the fuel line. The problem was pretty evident...the fuel line was clogged by ethanol build up. This is what it looks like from the cutout they gave me.

The result was a restricted flow to the gas pump and its eventual failure. Its possible that the first pump was damaged from the same plugged up line. If he hadn't found the problem the result would have been a second fuel pump being destroyed.

We all have allot to learn about the world, but I just got a lesson in chemistry and mechanics.


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