10 Simple Solutions for the Most Common Boating Breakdowns...
You've seen the bumper sticker: A bad day of boating is better than a good day at work. Cute, but would you really feel that way if you were adrift 10 miles from the ramp, with a boatload of tired, cranky passengers and an engine that won't start? At that point, you don't need a slogan, you need a plan.
Sometimes, your only option might be to ask for help - either from a professional towing company or a fellow boater. But in most instances a well-prepared skipper can make the necessary repairs to get the boat back to port without assistance. We surveyed a group of respected boat mechanics to come up with the 10 most common reasons boats break down, and then compiled a consensus on what it would take to save the day - and how to prevent future outings from premature endings.
#1: It's Sputtering and Losing Power
Your boat feels like it's running out of strength (and you've ruled out the No. 1 breakdown reason - running out of fuel). You most likely have a filter problem or fouled plugs.
Solution: Replace the in-line fuel filter - you did bring a spare, didn't you? If not, you can at least remove and clear the filter element of any debris, and drain any accumulated water. Afterward, I/O owners should remember to vent the engine box thoroughly before restarting. If you don't, a clogged filter will seem like a minor issue. Prevention: It's possible to buy a bad load of fuel, but it's more likely that the fuel went bad while in your boat. Leaving a tank near empty for long periods of time can cause condensation and water in the gas. For long-term storage, fill the tank, and for periods of more than three months, you might want to consider a fuel stabilizer. If so, make sure to run the boat long enough to get the treated gas into the engine as well.
Older tanks might have debris at the bottom, which can get stirred up as the fuel level drops. The best solution might be increased filtration. Consider adding a larger aftermarket fuel filter. And don't forget the spare elements.
If it isn't the gas, it might be the spark plugs. This is a more common problem on older outboards, but might be worth a quick check on any engine. Carry spares, along with the tools to change them.
Carry Onboard: Spare filter or filter element and a filter wrench.