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Home / Fishing / Articles



"What Every Boat Owner Fears"

-By Larry Elshere-

If you enjoy the sport of fishing and own a boat, there is nothing like being on the water. When you are on the water, the cares of the world just pass you by. You're whole attitude changes. Your mind is on fishing and not on your daily problems. Your buzzing around from spot to spot. Just having a blast. Catching a few fish. It just doesn't get any better than that. If you spend a lot of time on the water, like me, your boat is your best friend. It doesn't matter if you have a small aluminum boat with an 8 horse power motor or a 20 foot bass boat with a 225. You come to rely on your boat and motor just as much as you're favorite tackle or lure. You spend a lot of time making sure your trailer, boat and motor are in perfect operating condition. You do all you can. The outboard motor is by far the most important and costly part of your setup. You spend a lot of time making sure the motor is in top running

condition. You check the lower unit gear oil often. You remove the prop on a weekly basis and check for fishing line that may have become wrapped on the shaft and check the seal. You remove the engine cover and check for leaks or wiring problems. You have the motor serviced regularly by a certified mechanic. You keep the motor clean enough to eat off of. The same holds true for your boat. You wash and wax it after ever time out. You clean the inside and inspect for wear or damage. You take pride in your boat. Next is the trailer. You check the tires for damage and wear. You check your wheel bearing every 3-months. You keep them packed full of grease. You check the lights and wiring constantly. You do everything you can to make sure everything is ready to go. After you have done all of the above, sometime things go wrong. Must of us can fix the minor repair to the trailer and boat, but the motor is something most of us can't really work on. Small things we can handle. When it comes to the major items, we need a certified outboard motor mechanic. "What Every Boat Owner Fears" is a major motor problem on the water. 

Here is my story. Last September I purchased a bass boat from a very reputable dealer so I could start fishing tournaments with my kids. Eric was 15 and Michelle was 13 years old. It is a 1985 Ranger 350V with a totally rebuilt 1985 Johnson 150 HP motor. The boat looked if it just came off the show room floor. It was like the boat package was vacuum pack and placed in storage for 13 years. I could not afford a brand new boat, but this package was as good as new. I did question the motor. I was reassured it was totally rebuilt and would not have any problems. My previous boat had a 1986 Mercury 150 HP. I did not have any major problems with it in the 12 years I owned it. I ran it in salt water twice a month for 12 years. So, a rebuilt motor should last as long in fresh water. All was going great. It's been great fishing with my kids in both the WON Bass and ABA circuits. The other night I was heading in after a late day of fishing at Lake Casitas. I was about 1 minute from the marina when all of a sudden there was a loud noise coming from the motor and it just shut down. Not only did the motor stop, so did my heart. I tried to start it back up and it would not turn over. I tried this twice and nothing. I could not believe what had happened. I raised the motor to see if a rope or something had wrapped around my prop. It was clear. I tried to turn it over again and it fired up. I lowered the motor and took off at a slow speed. Before I went in, I made one more pass to see if there was a problem. As I increased my speed the noise started up once more. I backed down on the throttle and knew there was something-terrible wrong. I limped into the marina. As I went up to get the truck, I could not believe what had happened. "What Every Boat Owner Fears" had happened. A major problem with the motor. The next day, I took my boat over to my mechanic to see what was wrong. Randy pulled all the spark plugs

and asked me to turn it over. He was checking the compression of all the cylinders. Number one, 60 pounds, number three, 70 pounds, number five, 0 pounds, number two, 70 pounds, number four, 60 pounds and number six, 60 pounds. I could not believe what I was hearing. They should have been around 120 pounds. As we pulled the head off we could see that the rings where gone on number five cylinder. It was clear that it was not a quick fix. It was also clear that this motor was not totally rebuilt. The price of a new motor is around $10,000.00. I don't have that kind of money. The next option is a new power head. This is around $3,500.00 installed. I still don't have that kind of money lying around. Raising two teenagers in California isn't cheap. We where just starting our new tournament season. We are dead in the water for a while. The one thing I will miss, is the time on the water with my tournament partners, Eric and Michelle. The other thing that I have learned from this whole episode is don't take anyone's word. When you purchase a new or used motor, have it checked out by a third party mechanic. Someone that you can trust. If the motor was rebuilt, ask for a warranty in writing. This may keep you from "What Every Boat Owner Fears". A simple compression check can tell you a lot on the life expectancy of a motor. Hopefully my story will keep someone else from having the same problem. I am a very trusting person and it is a shame that there are a few out there that are not so trust worthy. This is not a very happy story. Maybe there is a few fellow anglers out there that can help us get back on the water. If you would like to help, drop me a line at

-Happy Boating and God Bless-


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