Why Some Motorboats Break Down

Boat cover, enclosure, Annapolis MD1: My Boat Sputters and Loses Power. Assuming that it’s not the number one reason for power loss: running out of fuel – you probably have fouled plugs or a filter problem, or both.

Solution: Replace the in-line fuel filter – if you happen to have a spare. If not, you can try removing and clearing the filter element of debris and drain any accumulated water. Remember to vent the engine box thoroughly before restarting. Leaving a tank near empty for long periods can cause condensation and water in the gas. Keep the tank filled.

2: Broken Belt. You won’t hear a drive belt break due to engine noise, but you will know something’s wrong when your “overheat” warning light comes on, or your voltage meter shows your alternator isn’t charging. Broken belts are unique to inboards and and they can shut you down quickly.

Solution: You can try jury-rigging a temporary belt using fishing line but it’s easier to just carry a spare and wrenches to change it.

3: The Engine Overheats. This almost always means you have a lack of water flow in the cooling loop. Outboards and most small inboards don’t have radiators; they use the water you sail on for cooling the engine. Without that water flowing, the engine heats up and can fail.

Solution: In the majority of cases, the problem is an obstruction in the water intake: weeds, mud or plastic bag. Get it cleaned out.

4: It Won’t Start. This is probably an electrical problem: a dead battery or a break in the ignition circuit.

Solution: Try tightening up loose nuts or screws; but it could be a low battery or a loose or worn connection.

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