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Vol 43 | Num 21 | Sep 19, 2018

Fishing Report Fish Stories Chum Lines News Briefs Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
Ship to Shore

Article by Capt. Steve Katz

End of season thoughts

While the summer season is ending in our area, the next fishing season will be soon beginning for those who are headed to the southerly fishing grounds or who enjoy fall fishing around Delmarva.

Whether you are on your way south or staying in this area, the fall is a good time to get a head start on the maintenance you may have put off during peak fishing season.

Here are a few tips for fall maintenance:

Outboard boats

Along with other preventative engine maintenance, change the lower unit oil. While this often is required every 100 hours when in warranty, changing the lower unit oil at 100 hours or less is a good idea for any outboard. The cost of material is low and peace of mind is high. One of the most important parts of changing the lower unit oil is to look for signs of water in the old oil as it drains out. Water could have leaked into the gear case and this is one of the best ways investigate. Any milky or uneven color of the old oil is a sign that there is something wrong and more work will need to be done to determine the problem. Do not forget to change the gearcase oil drain and vent plug gaskets. They are inexpensive and besides sealing the drain plug, they often act as a retainer, keeping the drain screw tight in the lower unit.

Check the outboard engine tilt/trim assembly. This mechanism is often in or under water most of the time and contains electrical wiring, pump, rams, etc. There are many opportunities for a problem to occur with this assembly, so check it over for problems or potential problems to avoid a costly issue in the future. The most common problem with the trim and tilt is the trim/tilt cylinders seals wearing out and cause oil to leak out of the assembly. If oil leaks out, there is also the possibility for water to leak in, so be sure your seals are good and that the oil level is correct in the trim/tilt reservoir.

If your boat is out of the water, there are a few areas that should be checked:

Transducer(s) - No matter the size, brand or style, you should inspect your transducer. Make sure there is no marine growth on the face of the unit and there is no paint on the face of the unit (except for special bottom paint). Make sure the face of the unit (acoustic window) is smooth and damage free. Check around the transducer to be sure it is has a proper water-tight seal to the hull and that the sealant is not deteriorating. If you have a transom mount transducer, be sure the wiring is in good conditions and properly attached to the transducer and secured to the transom.

Thru-hull fittings - These are often water intakes below the water line for engines, air conditioning, toilets, etc. Be sure each of these metal fittings are structurally sound and adequately sealed to the bottom of the boat. Most importantly, be sure they are completely clean and clear of any marine growth. This may require you to remove the intake screen if equipped. Our warm summer water is perfect for the growth of marine organisms and they like to attach themselves to the intakes. Also in our area we have a lot of sand, silt and mud that accumulate in these thru-hull fittings. Often this can be cleaned with a high pressure garden hose or light cleaning with a descaler cleaner product.

Propellers - Check for fishing line or other debris in the propeller shaft seal of an outboard and the cutlass bearings of an inboard. Even the smallest debris can easily ruin an outboards gear case seal, allowing water to enter the gear case. Check the propeller, shaft (and cutlass if equipped) for any damage or wear that may have happened during the season. The quick way to check a propeller to see if it is bent to look at it from the side or measure from a nearby fixed point and rotate the propeller, looking for any uneven movement or “wobble” while carefully turning by hand (with gloves to protect yourself).

The best way to check the propeller is to remove them and take them to a propeller shop for inspection and balancing. Often a propeller tune-up will restore the smoothness of your boats ride and increase performance.

By performing a thorough inspection of your boat this fall, you will be rewarded with extra time, if needed, to address a problem instead of having to work on it during peak fishing season.

This is the last Ship-to-Shore column of the season. Thanks to all of the readers for a great season. I am already making notes and looking forward to next year’s column.

Captain Steve Katz is the owner of Steve’s Marine Service and holds NMEA, AMEI and NMEA2000 certificates along with ABYC Master Technician certification and factory training from many manufacturers. To reach Steve, call (631) 264-1600.

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