My wife and I bought our first boat in 2010, a 2002 MasterCraft X9. At the time, we lived far from the nearest dealer, so I dug into understanding the boat mechanically. I collected a cache of parts for the most common reliability issues, one of which was the in-tank fuel pump, according to a MasterCraft owners forum. I practiced replacing the pump to ensure I had all the correct parts and tools at the ready—very proactive of me.
Fast-forward to 2012. We bought a cabin on a lake in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. It was a boater’s dream of a day in late June, and my wife invited a couple of families to come out with their kids. While greeting our guests, my kids encouraged our friends’ kids to play inside the boat, using it as a swim raft.
Soon it was time to head out. I cranked and cranked and cranked, but the engine didn’t fire. Looking at the long faces in the boat, it suddenly occurred to me—it must be the fuel pump!
I removed the pump assembly from the tank and headed for the boathouse. With my handy parts kit, I reassembled the pump, and it was back in the boat within 45 minutes. But for the second time that day, I went from hero to zero. The engine still would not start.
Sitting in the captain’s seat pondering troubleshooting steps, I decided to check the emergency cutoff switch lanyard. I could not believe what I saw. It was lying on the floor next to my seat! One of the kids must have knocked or pulled it off while playing in the boat.
The lessons I learned were that my boat is not a playpen and not to jump to the most complicated root cause. It always pays to take the time to think through the basic levels of troubleshooting before assuming the worst.
Wanted: Your Stories
Share your boating mistakes and mishaps so that your fellow boaters might learn from your experience. Send us your first-person accounts, including what went wrong, what you’d do differently, your name and your city, to [email protected] and use “ILAB” in the subject line. If your story is selected for publication, we’ll send you a $100 West Marine Gift Card!”