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Save money by doing your own maintenance

January 12, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Even if you are not a talented do-it-yourselfer, there are many very simple boat maintenance chores you can easily perform at home saving you tons of money and time.

One of the easiest things to do is to check propellers shafts to see if they have picked up yards of fishing line discarded by careless anglers. Check not only the propeller shaft on the gas engine but check the trolling motor prop shaft as well.

Fishing line, especially super strong braided line, can cut into your seals letting saltwater into your lower unit eventually ruining it, which equals big bucks, or damaging the seals on your electric eventually killing it.

If you change your lower unit oil yourself (another easy to do home maintenance chore), examine the old oil for a brown milky color which indicates water in the oil (leaking seals) and a problem that needs to be addressed quickly.

Most propellers come off easily requiring a wrench/socket and a pair of pliers. I always like to replace the cotter pin with a new one. When working around propellers and gas engines, always think safety. Turn off battery switches or disconnect power to prevent an accidental startup.

Remember to put grease on the prop shaft before reinstalling the prop.

Since most of my fishing takes place in less than 1-3 feet of water, I go through three or four trolling motor propellers every year. Oyster bars eat plastic trolling motor propellers, nicking them and taking small pieces out causing them to become unbalanced causing vibration and possible motor shaft seal failures. Of course, we all know saltwater inside the motor housing is bad news. Replace them when they get chewed.

A beat up trolling motor prop creates turbulence and is noisy underwater and the main shaft vibration it causes creates further noise alerting the big-boys.

What's worse than damaging an expensive propeller for your brand new 300 horsepower Yamaha? Not having one. It takes only a few minutes to remove a prop in the middle of the night. A prop lock can save the day.

Another type of propeller or impeller that boaters don't often think about till they stop working is the little ones spinning inside bilge and bait pumps. Saltwater loves to eat these.

Make sure flushing these pumps with fresh water is part of your cleanup routine at the end of the day. In many cases it's as simple as inserting a hose into the outlet and back-flushing them. Simple maintenance will save these pumps from an early death and keep money in your wallet.

One thing for sure, the bilge pump must work and should be tested regularly.

Pump failure can often be attributed to once again, discarded fishing line sucked up jamming the impeller. If you have no experience in this department, don't panic as it's an easy fix. Look closely at the pump and you will see a mechanism to hold the top to the rest of the pump body. Pull it apart and inspect the impeller and remove the fishing line. Unless it burned up from being stalled by the line, you should be OK.

Discarded fishing line causes incredible misery for wildlife and lasts for years and years in the environment. Please bring it home and dispose of it properly.

If you are not finding your fish in your usual locations, that's maybe because you passed them on the way out. The Cape's miles and miles of canals and backyard docks host a huge variety of fish with some real trophies thrown in all with one thing in mind - staying warm.

Docks are natural fish holding structures with old crusty docks supporting the most life and usually supporting someone's prized possession, their boat.

Bouncing jigs and shrimp off their boat or permanently hooked in their hammock will not make you any friends, but sure not to cause trouble.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or captgeoget3



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