There is a strange noise, something is wrong!
The boat is no longer moving forward, or there is a peculiar smell, or essential equipment has fallen into the water. Awesome. Now, what are we doing?
Well, you must first know what the problem is, and then you must fix it. Not easy if you are the kind of person whose toolbox only contains the phone number of your boat maintenance professional and a credit card! If you are not so experienced, let me give you 20 tips and tricks for boat troubleshooting:
Here are some of the most common potential failures and proven techniques to keep them from ruining your day.
Problem: You are navigating quietly and your outboard engine suddenly vibrates a lot.
Cause: You probably caught a fishing rod or net in the propeller
Solution: Easy. Raise the engine, then untangle the knots around the propeller. Check that no twine has snuck between the propeller and the shaft. Once you are back at the dock, make sure the propeller seal is not damaged. To be sure, drain the base oil and check that there is no water.
Problem: Your new outboard motor is almost new but you notice salt deposits near the candles.
Cause: Infiltrations of water in the cylinder liner
Solution: It’s not uncommon with new engines. Ask the dealer to tighten the cylinder head bolts to the factory specifications.
Problem: During a small ride with your beautiful boat, the bilge pump runs continuously, but there is no water in the holds.
Cause: The float that should trip the pump could be stuck in the up position.
Solution: Put a little WD 40 on the axis of rotation of the float and make sure the shims are clean. You should know how to install a bilge pump in a boat.
Problem: You dock your boat alongside a hard dock. No matter what you try, the threshing machines jump and your boat rakes on the dock.
Cause: On a floating dock, it would be better because it accompanies a little movement of the boat.
Solution: What you need is a ” fender board” as in the drawing below. OK, it is not very practical but effective. To moor your boat you should know about how to moor a boat in a marina.
Problem: Your diesel engine overheats soon after launch. The impeller is brand new.
Cause: Blockage due to air pocket
Solution: Although the water moves air into the hoses when the engine is started, air remains in the tube sometimes. To prevent premature turbine failure, prime the pump by removing the hose cap and adding water before starting the engine.
Problem: There is a slight trace of soot on the living room carpet around the engine hatch.
Cause: The engine needs more air and sucks the exhaust.
Solution: Increase ventilation with either larger outdoor vents, electric ventilation, or both.
Problem: You notice a slight film of oil in the expansion tank of the cooling system.
Cause: A leak in the oil cooler
Solution: Remove the oil cooler and replace the harnesses. If the old ones are serviceable, have them checked before reinstalling them. The oil in the coolant will eventually cause overheating.
Problem: The drive shaft of your engine is rusting quickly ready for the stuffing box.
Cause: There is a water leak (light, spray)
Solution: a cable gland needs water to cool the shaft. Install additional collars or even better, equip yourself with an organ with mechanical seals.
Problem: Your marine toilet is emptying too slowly.
Cause: A regular accumulation of mineral deposits in the drain hose limits flow.
Solution: Disconnect the discharge pipe and scrape the interior with a hanger. Depending on the amount of accumulated grime, you may be able to recover the tube. Otherwise, the replacement is the best the simplest.
Problem: There is an unpleasant odor throughout the boat.
Cause: Gray water empties into the hold (classic)
Solution: Check that the tank of the shower pump does not leak because it will not drain, which causes the soapy water to overflow into the bilge. Another probable cause is a leaking pipe. A concentrated emulsifier bilge cleaner/odor remover will help to clean, especially deodorize.
Problem: Despite a constant throttle setting, the lap count periodically drops as the engine rises in turns.
Cause: Most likely, you have a fuel problem.
Solution: Check the evidence. When did you change the fuel filters for the last time?
Problem: The eclairs of the awnings are blocked, or it is necessary to go back and to go forward several times before arriving there.
Cause: Salt and micro airborne debris tend to clog the zippers.
Solution: One shot of WD 40 spray or silicone grease on the zippers should make all the difference.
Problem: Your VHF radio does not work very well; the reception is correct; you have the impression that it is difficult to understand.
Cause: No need for a new radio. Check your antenna connector. It can be badly plugged or with salt around.
Solution: Clean the connector, spray it with the cleaner from the WD-40 (again!) And see if reception and emission improve. It’s a good idea to go through this process at least once a season.
Problem: When you press the starter button, the engine solenoid clicks but the engine does not run. The other electrical equipment on board works well, so you are sure that the battery is good. (if you only have an array that works and motor)
Cause: The assault or one of the Battery probably has a corroded terminal.
Solution: Unplug both lugs and clean the terminals with a wire brush. Leave the AGM Battery terminals disconnected for the moment. Also, check the end of these cables on the motor side. Remove the motor block ground connector and the solenoid cable and clean the terminals. After redoing these connections, spray a generous layer of marine fat. Do this regularly, especially during the winter season.
Problem: The windlass blows the circuit breaker after a long ascent of the anchor.
Cause: An overload, probably the result of bad connections.
Solution: As with most marine electrical problems, start with the connectors, especially those of the windlass. Remove and clean them, then spray with nautical grease. It is also possible that an unsuitable cable powers the windlass. Because of the energy required to operate the windlass, these cables must be of a large enough section. you should have the required safety equipment in your boat.
Problem: The hydraulic bar seems soft and the answer is not “linear.”
Cause: The system probably has air in its hydraulic fluid.
Solution: Most of these systems can purge the air using a bleed screw, for example. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations, find the bleed screw (or another purge system) and have someone turn the steering system from side to side to purge the air. Then, it will be necessary to refill the oil in the tank.
Problem: The varnish on your teak supplies or finishes is cracked in corners and other places where there are joints in the wood.
Cause: The adhesion of the varnish on the teak is severe.
Solution: The woodwork of your boat moves a bit when the ship is moving and bends. If the varnish chosen before is not flexible, it will crack at the joints. Obtaining polish to adhere to teak is a matter of surface preparation. Sand the cracked areas carefully or altogether remove the old varnish. Wipe with a cloth soaked in acetone before applying the new varnish in thin layers. Tip: do not skimp on the quality of varnish and brushes. I can advise Paint for Fiberglass in the boat is Fiberglass made that I use regularly and are of excellent condition.
Problem: The trim tabs of your boat refuse to retract and there are shells on the axes.
Cause: The fact of not retracting completely flaps back to the edge allows the shells to grow.
Solution: Simple: Remember to go up the flaps as soon as you enter the port
Problem: Especially the hot nights, with the air conditioning, it forms fog on the windows of your cabin.
Cause: The condensation is due to the temperature difference between outside and inside.
Solution: Try a special glass cleaner or another glass cleaner. Coat it with a damp cloth. The idea is to create a film that resists condensation.
Problem: At the shipyard, you discover that the tree anode has slipped on the tree chair
Cause: Incorrect installation.
Solution: Begin your anode installation by carefully cleaning the contact area of the shaft with sandpaper. Once you have tightened the screws, give the zinc a little bit with a hammer just between the screws. Then make a final tightening.
You may also like our 20 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Sails article to increase your boat life span.