Fouled Propeller – Are You Prepared?
It was early December; we were nearing our chosen anchorage, Shark River, on Florida’s west coast at the western most point of the Everglades. The seas were calm; the weather has been partly cloudy and warm all day. A nice cool cocktail on the fantail watching the sun set over the Gulf would be great. In just another hour or so we would be there.
Suddenly, thump, thump and the port engine died. What happened? A quick look down below by me produced nothing amiss. But our First Mate’s watchful eyes spied a crab trap float, suspended from a line attached to the boat.
We had been avoiding these floats all day; there were thousands on them in the gulf set by the local crabbers. But we obviously missed spotting one and now had the line and the crab pot wrapped in our prop. We were miles from civilization and we didn’t have a mask and fins, much less any dive gear. There was neither cell phone service out here nor any VHF reception. Things didn’t look good, not at all.
Could that hypothetical scenario happen to you? Think again! Most of us boaters don’t think about it often as it is rare that things like that do occur. I have made the same trip I described numerous times, praying that we could avoid those traps and we always did. But the possibility is there and it’s best to plan and be prepared for the worse.
On a calmer note, how about just checking the bottom of your boat regularly? For boaters that have larger vessels that remain in the water year round, especially in salt water, inspecting your yacht’s bottom regularly is a necessity. Yes, bottom antifoulant paints do keep marine growth such as barnacles and oysters from the bottom, but the running gear always manages to lose the paint and attract the growth. And the boat zincs, the sacrificial metal placed there to protect the remainder of the boat, they nee
d checking too as they only last for 6 months or so. And of course, there is always the slime that manages to grow at the waterline.
But finding a diver isn’t always easy to do. Here in north Florida, divers are rare, pricey, and they are usually less than dependable. And you never know exactly what they did or didn’t do below either. So what’s a mariner to do?
Some time back I determined that if I wanted my trawler to have her bottom inspected as often as I liked, my best choice was to do it myself. After all, most mariners learn early on that you must become reasonably self sufficient to own a boat. It’s not that saving some cash wasn’t good, but you just can’t rely upon others to help maintain a boat.
I had seen divers go under my boat saddled with tanks and such and felt it must be cumbersome to get all that gear on and it must surely get in the way. There had to be a better way. I came across a gentleman named Dennis Parker. Dennis is a yacht owner himself and had his trawler here in Florida at one time. Dennis and his team had developed a tank less dive system that might do the trick.
His dive systems began in 1996 as an effort between several boaters, divers, research & development field engineers, mechanical engineers and manufacturing professionals. The common need was to come up with a practical system for the average boater to clean the bottom of their own boat, or do underwater inspections without expensive scuba diving outfits.
The system was born, utilizing an oil-less electric compressor to supply air to the diver without fear of carbon monoxide. A regulator, air hose and belt comes with the package. All you need to furnish is a mask, wetsuit and fins. Although the system is designed to allow divers to descend to 30 feet, most boaters will go under only about 3-4 feet.
All total, the system, wetsuit, mask, and fins the price came in at under $1000.00.
It works great. I can now clean and inspect my trawler’s bottom when I want to. A complete inspection and water line scrub only takes about 30 minutes. And if I ever do encounter that stray crab pot, I have what I need to correct the problem.
To find where to get yours, visit my website.
Mike Dickens, the author, is a boat owner and owner/Yacht Broker of Paradise Yachts located in Florida USA.
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Electric Boat Trailer Winch Makes Loading Easy!
Electric boat trailer winches make loading your boat quick and easy. These electric winches are designed for easy loading and unloading of your boat. They also leave you with a free hand to guide the boat as needed. On the other hand, a hand crank requires greater strength and effort and, depending on the weight of your boat, can make loading your boat more difficult than it needs to be.
If you’re in the market for an electric boat winch, look for one that can handle the weight of your boat, including fuel and gear. Since your boat is in the water as you load, the trailer winch can handle a greater load capacity than its rated line pull capacity. The pull capacity of your winch should be at least three-quarters of the combined weight of your boat, motor, fuel, and gear. When you estimate the required load capacity of your trailer winch, keep in mind that the loading incline and other factors can also increase the load on your winch.
Even though you might be tempted to rely on your winch to secure your boat to the trailer, an electric marine winch is not designed to act as a tie-down. After loading your boat, unhook the cable from the boat and use separate tie-downs, such as racket straps, to secure your boat to the trailer.
Some electric trailer winches include a backup hand crank in case of winch failure, so even if your electric winch stops working, you can still load the boat manually.
Regularly inspect your winch line for damage or wear. Replace the cable if it shows signs of deterioration. A cable that breaks under load can lash through the air, creating a dangerous situation for anyone in its way. Some electric boat winches include a corded or wireless remote th
at allows the operator to stand clear of the winch in case of cable failure.
If you wind the cable back into the shaft when it’s not under load, keep the line taut to prevent the cable from kinking or tangling inside the winch housing. Also note that a trailer winch is not designed for use as a hoist or lift. It is only approved for horizontal pulling or for pulling on a slight incline.
By: Jesse K. Taylor
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Learn more about how to use an electric boat winch at the PROMARK OFFROAD Blog (formerly Gorilla Winch Blog).