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Thread: News on weekend venture: Good, bad and the ugly

  1. #1

    Default News on weekend venture: Good, bad and the ugly

    As planned, put the boat in the water out of Whittier (5/12/07). First trip of the year since we winterized it back in late Sept/early Oct. (I always HATE the first trip of the year)

    The good: Pulled it down from Anchorage to Whittier without a hitch. Hit the tunnel with very little wait time. Launched the boat and made the trek up to the parking area. Just as I made it back to the launch area, watched a couple who had launched just before me try to make it out of the launch area, lose power and drift into another boat in one of the slips adjacent to the dock. Not to worry, they caught themselves and were able to push off and get the motors started with only that slight delay.

    Climbed in, primed the bulbs, fired up motor #1 (good), fired up motor #2 (good); pushed off from the dock, turned the boat to make our way and both engines die. (Bad) Thinking that spectaters may see a double header today, I quickly restart one engine and throttle away from the slip area.

    After firing up the other engine and clearing the port, we were on our way. I took it a little easy at first to give the engines a chance to warm up a little only running them at 2400-2500 rpms. Motors seemed to be perfroming fine. I throttled up to about 4000 rpms; still no problem. Engines were very responsive (read not sluggish). At 4000 rpms we were cruising right at 38.5-39 mph. (Good) There was a slight breeze, but nothing that would hinder a faster voyage, so I decided to drop the hammer. One engine climbed right up to 5400-5500 rpms. The other climbed up to about 4400 rpms and wouldnt move higher. Even after messing with the trim I couldnt get any real increase in perfomance. (Bad)

    So I throttled back down to 3800-3900 rpms and we cruised out to the head of Blackstone at a brisk 38 mph pace (making 2 stops along the way to view the scenery and shutdown and restart the engines).

    Let me say I was more than a little disgusted at the amount of snow still found in the Sound with a tentative Black bear hunt planned for the weekend. Wanting to get a better idea of what some of the terrain, weather, and shoreline would offer in one of the bays, we made our way over towards (i think) Surpise cove (inbetween Blackstone and Cochrane). No real surpise on the snow pack; snow was very prevelant on the north/west facing slope, but even on the South/East side there was still a bunch of snow. With the exception of the tightly packed trees right by water's edge, snow was still very visible throughout the hill side.

    Not sure what to do, we kinda hung out there talking and doing a little bit of glassing rethinking/reguessing our upcoming bear hunting plans. Watched a couple of other boats both enter and exit the little cove. Thinking that we may as well cruise over into Cochrane, I fired up both engines, got the boat pointed towards the mouth of the cove and slowly started to accelerate. Within seconds, there was a great jarring of the boat and a loud 'crunch'. OH *&^*! (very bad) Turned off and raised both motors. Nothing. Didnt notice any damage to either prop of lower unit or anything. (???) It really felt as though we had hit something, but 1) we were still 100yds away from any shoreline (I know, that really doesn't mean much) 2) although I wasn't actively (meaning devoting a substantial amount of time/energy into) looking for difference in the water color, which could indicate a depth change, I was (and always do) continously scan the area for debris or any other obstacles, and 3) after raising both engines I hadn't noticed any real damage to either engine. I slowly lowered one engine down and started her up. Then while actively watching the water, I put it into gear and slowly motored out towards the middle of the cove.

    Fired up the other motor and started on our way out of the cove. Both engines seemed to be doing fine. Once we made our way thru the maze of Shrimp pots and other boaters, I accelerated until we were back up to our cruising speed of 38-39 mph. Hmm.....

    Well, not wanting to push our luck, and still very unsure what had happened, we made our way back into whittier. No complications. Tied up at the dock, grabbed the truck and hooked up. Pulled it out of the water, up the launch area to the staging area. Hopped out to tie it down and prep it for the trip back to Anchorage.

    Well, it was as I had originally thought; we had hit something. Our port engine's prop has a slight ding in it (stainless). The starboard engine's Skag (at least I think that is correct) has about a 1/4 inch jagged tear from about 3/4 of the way from the top down. No damage to its prop though. (the ugly) Neither seemed to have any effect on performance whatsover though.

    So, here are my questions to you:

    1) What caused (can cause) my one engine to not peg at anything above 4500 rpms, when last year I could peg it at 5500+ without a problem.

    2) Without noticing a performance difference on our return trip, can I just file out the ding in the prop and smooth out the Skag and continue on? or do I have to find someone to replace/fix it?

    And before I get pestered with a bunch of other questions: No, I didn't have my depth/fish finder on. Why? We werent fishing, I thought I had plently of room, no depth change indications, etc . . . And two, I left my maps on the table at home, so No, I didnt have any marine maps with me either.

    Sorry for rambling . . . needing a little advice and perhaps a little venting (at myself)

    -- Gambler

  2. #2


    Take the prop to a prop shop, smooth out the skeg, check for runout on your prop shafts, change lower unit oil, pray.

    Always a good move... saving that electricity a depth finder burns.

  3. #3
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    I'd pull the plugs in both engines and compare them. I'd also run a compression test on both engines. If compression is down in the weak motor, that's your culprit. The only reason for the motor to not be able to run the same rpm as before is if it's lost power.

    Oh yeah, keep a copy of the Letcoe's cruising guide in your boat and check it on every anchorage. There are plenty of shallow rocks well away from shore all over the sound, and not all of them are charted!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    I would also check the fuel suppy for the slower engine. You may have a pinhole leak or a defective bulb or restriction

  5. #5
    Member Snagger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    An electronic chart like the Garmin blue chart is very handy as it will show most of the rocks, enough to save a prop or two anyway.
    I keep a close eye on the sounder when in less than 100' looking for that uncharted pinnacle, like a few of the ones in Bay of Isles.
    Better luck next trip.

  6. #6
    Charterboat Operator
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Anchorage AK.

    Default Floats

    my guess on the weak running motor is that you had left fuel in the carbs over the winter and you have got some blockage going on. I have had this happen before. need to clean the carbs and all should be well!

  7. #7
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States


    I had that same problem with one of my engines last year. I could not get past 28 RPM. Thinking it was the spark plug I was wrong. It was a defective piece of wire about 2 inches long.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK


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