Prop inspection checklist

Once a boat’s hauled out of the water, it’s a lot easier to inspect the propellers, prop shafts, seals and zincs. It’s also a good time to get any needed repairs or maintenance done, rather than waiting until the start of next season when everyone else is clamouring to get their boats fixed. Here is your go-to prop inspection checklist.

Prop inspection checklist

1 Blades

Whether you own an inboard, sterndrive or outboard, carefully scrutinise the propeller blades for damage. Dings and missing chunks are easy to spot, but a slightly bent blade may not be readily apparent, though you can often feel it when underway because it usually creates vibration. Looking at a prop from the side makes it easier to spot a bent blade.

Another way to determine if a blade is bent is to measure the distance between the outermost edge of each blade and a straightedge suspended from a fixed point such as the anti-ventilation plate of an outboard or sterndrive or the bottom of the hull of an inboard. If the distance substantially deviates for one or more blades, you have an issue such as a bent blade.

You can often fix small dings and chinks in prop blades by filing them down, but be careful not to remove too much material, because this can throw a prop out of balance. Major damage such as broken or bent blades requires the expertise and equipment of a prop shop for repair and rebalancing. While many shops can perform near miracles in fixing mangled props, sometimes a wheel is beyond repair and you’ll need to buy another one.

2 Shafts

Vibration while underway can also be an indicator of a bent prop shaft. Any variation in the distance between blade tips and a fixed point, or a visible wobble, can also mean a bent shaft. For inboards, check out the bearings: The prop should be centered within them. Ultimately, if you suspect a shaft is not true, have a shop check and replace or retrue it as necessary. The shop should also check related components such as bearings, seals and couplers, which can be damaged by running a boat with a bent prop shaft.


3 Hubs

Propeller hubs on outboards and sterndrives are designed to give way if the prop strikes an object to prevent damage to the rest of the drivetrain. However, hubs — particularly the old-style rubber hubs — can wear out with time and heat. So if your prop is 10 years old or older, it is a good idea to have a prop shop check the hub and replace it if it is on the verge of giving way.


4 Seals

Errant fishing line — especially the newer braided line — can quickly melt and become a sharp-edged disc once it gets wrapped around a prop shaft. It can then can slice into the prop-shaft seals. With inboards, carefully inspect the outside of the shaft seals and have the yard replace a seal if there is any indication of fishing-line damage.

On outboards and sterndrives, remove the propeller and hardware and check for fishing line. Remove any line you find and look for leakage of gear lube, which might have a milky hue if the seal has been leaking for any period of time. Even with no sign of leakage, drain the gear lube and have a shop pressure-check the gear case. If the lower unit does not meet its pressure specifications, have the seal replaced, and then refill the gear case with fresh lube.

5 Prop-Shaft

  1. Grease before installing the propeller
  2. Inspect the prop hardware and replace any worn components such as a cotter pin or key way.
  3. Apply a generous coat of fresh marine grease to the entire shaft and install the prop, tightening the prop nut to the engine builder’s specification.
  4. Greasing the prop shaft will make it easy next time to remove the wheel, particularly if the shaft and prop are dissimilar metals.

Quick Tip: Wedging a block of wood between a blade and the anti-ventilation plate or hull will keep the prop from turning while you remove or install the prop nut.

This post first appeared on

When your boat doesn’t start

Here are a few tips for what to look for when your boat doesn’t start!

1. Check the fuel

It might sound simple – but checking the fuel to make sure that there’s enough is one of the first things to consider. There’s nothing more embarrassing than scratching your head to try and work out what’s wrong, only to realise you’re out of fuel.

When your boat doesn't start

2. Check the kill switch

Make sure the kill switch is in! Most powerboats have a kill switch. It’s a clip that kills the engine when it’s pulled out. The idea behind it is that you attach the other end to yourself so should you fall overboard, the boat will stop moving. However, it needs to be attached in the first place or else the engine won’t start!

When your boat doesn't start

3. Check the gears

Check that the engines are in neutral. Just like a car, outboard engines won’t start if they’re in gear. It’s a simple thing – but easy to overlook.

When your boat doesn't start

The previous three tips are simple oversights that may occur. However, if the boat still doesn’t start after checking these then there is obviously another issue. Without going into too much detail, there are three components of the outboard engine system that might be causing the issue.

5. The electrical system

The electrical system – this provides the power to the engines to get them running. If nothing happens when you turn the key, the problem might lie with the electrical system. Check the battery, connections at the battery as well as the connections at the engine. If all of these are working, it may be faulty cables or worn out spark plugs.

4. The air/fuel system

This is how the fuel is delivered to the engine. If the engine is turning over when the key is turned but not starting, it’s probably a problem with this component. Check that the primer bulb (bulb you squeeze to inject fuel to the system) is hard, check that there are no cracks in the fuel lines and that there’s no water in the fuel filter.

6. The mechanical component

The final component of the system is the mechanical component. Finding problems with this component is the most difficult, unless you have engineering experience or a good working knowledge of outboard engines.

This post first appeared on Oceans Campus Blog.

Mercury Marine expands product range

Mercury Marine expands product range: Pro XS series of outboard engines has long been recognised by freshwater and saltwater boaters – and especially tournament anglers – as among the best performing, most reliable engines on the water. Mercury, the world leader in commercial and recreational marine propulsion and technology, is raising the bar even higher today by introducing the new 115 Pro XS FourStroke outboard.

Check out the new 115 Pro XS FourStroke in action

Based on the popular Mercury 115 FourStroke, the new Mercury 115 Pro XS delivers significantly better performance than any other high-output 115hp outboard on the market today. In fact, the new 115 Pro XS is 16 pounds lighter than the two-stroke engine it replaces and 18 pounds lighter than the nearest competing 115hp engine. Its 2.1L displacement is higher than that of any competing 115hp engine. This unbeatable combination delivers higher torque, better performance and greater durability.

Building on its Pro XS heritage, the new 115 Pro XS was intelligently designed to provide consumers exactly what they’ve been asking for – an outboard that is light and second to none in performance. It delivers:

  • Fastest top speed: Up to 3 mph faster than its nearest competitor and more than 1 mph faster than Mercury’s standard 115 FourStroke. The 115 Pro XS FourStroke’s higher rpm range delivers improved performance out of an already-powerful engine.
  • Quickest acceleration: More than 1 second quicker than Mercury’s standard 115 FourStroke. The ability to run lower-pitch props puts the boat on plane quicker, reducing 0-to-20mph acceleration time by 1 to 2 seconds. This enables anglers to carry more gear onboard and provides an edge in getting back to the tournament dock for weigh-in.
  • Higher full-throttle rpm: Increasing engine rpm from 6000 to 6300 allows prop pitch to be reduced, resulting in maximum performance benefits.
  • Idle-charge: This new feature provides up to 48% more battery charging at idle speed to support the greater power demands of today’s sophisticated marine electronics and accessories. What’s more, it lets boaters and anglers safely stay out on the water longer.

In addition, Mercury also introduced the following products in Miami, all designed to enhance the boating experience.

New Side-Mount Mechanical Remote Control

Mercury Marine makes boating easier and more efficient with its completely redesigned Side-Mount Mechanical Remote Control. Featuring a modern design, improved shift quality and feel, and state-of-the-art ergonomics, the new Side-Mount Control sets the standard for mechanically-controlled engines.

Next-generation Joystick Piloting System

Mercury’s engineering team has made a series of evolutionary improvements to the Joystick Piloting System, part of the SmartCraft digital technology suite. Together, these enhancements will take boaters to an entirely new level of driving ease and enjoyment.

Expanded series of fuel-saving Enertia ECO propeller

Mercury Propellers is pleased to introduce a new series of 18″, 20″ and 22″ pitch Enertia ECO propellers. This new series allows more boaters to dial-in their boat’s performance and save money at the fuel pump.

Active Trim

Active Trim provides a system designed to make boating easier and more enjoyable by automatically trimming outboard and sterndrive engines.

VesselView502, VesselView702 displays and VesselView Link digital interface

Mercury has launched two new state-of-the-art VesselView multi-function displays, the VesselView502 and VesselView702, as well as VesselView Link, a system that integrates a Mercury-powered boat’s SmartCraft data and control system with specific Simrad and Lowrance instruments to provide a fully-functional Mercury VesselView user interface on those units’ displays.

This post first appeared on the Mercury Newsroom.


DIY – Installing a boat canopy

A boat canopy is a great way of creating shade, while also offering the versatility to fold it back to catch some rays, trailer home or store your boat. While boat canopies can be mounted in a variety of ways, the simplest tops are anchored at the gunwales and utilise adjustable web straps forward and aft to keep the canvas taut and the structure secure. The most affordable models have aluminum bows with reinforced nylon fittings, while more expensive versions feature stainless-steel bows and fittings, offering greater durability in salt water. In either case, make sure the top has at least three bows for proper support.

Getting started

  1. Skill level: 2/5
  2. Time to complete: Under 2 hours

You will need:

  • 6-foot-long boat canopy
  • Eye straps (4) with fasteners
  • Polysulfide sealant
  • T-square (to square the deck hinges)
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line (to snap a line between the two deck hinges)
  • Power drill and bits
  • Countersink bit
  • Screwdriver set
  • Box-wrench set
  • Cleanup rags (to wipe off excess sealant)

1. Select the size

The width of the top is determined by the measurement between the points where the two deck hinges will attach, but the length and height can be varied to suit your needs. For example, if you want to stand underneath, make sure the height, when combined with the distance below the mounting point, offers sufficient headroom. Off-the-shelf tops generally range from four to eight feet in length, with six-foot-long tops ranking as the most popular on runabouts. Choose a canvas colour that coordinates with the boat’s colors.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

2. Position the top

Ask a buddy to hold the fully extended top in place as you decide where the deck hinges should be installed, knowing that these will mark the longitudinal midpoint of the top. It’s important that the deck hinges are exactly opposite and parallel to each other, lest the top would bind when folded. Side-mount deck hinges are available for mounting on vertical surfaces such as cabin bulwarks, if gunwale mounting won’t work. Make sure the folded top will stow with minimal interference in the cockpit.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

3. Mount the deck hinges

Place pieces of masking tape on the mounting surfaces and use the deck hinges to mark the mounting holes for each. Before drilling the mounting holes, be sure the underside is clear of items such as hoses and wires. After drilling, chamfer the holes with a countersink to eliminate gel-coat cracking, and then remove the masking tape, bed the surface with a marine polysulfide sealant and screw each deck hinge into place (use nuts and bolts where possible), cleaning up the excess sealant with a rag dampened with solvent.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

4. Install the top and eye straps

Bolt the bases of the main bow to the deck hinges and erect the top, extending the fore and aft web straps in line with the legs of the bows to form an M-shape on each side. This will tell you where to mount the eye straps. Mark, drill, chamfer, bed and mount each pair (fore and aft) with self-tapping screws at the same position on each side of the boat. The eye straps work best when mounted horizontally. Attach the snap-hooks to the eye straps and use the buckles to evenly tighten the top.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

Quick Tip: Pin Pal: If stowing the top is a problem, mount a second pair of deck hinges and use quick-release “grenade” pins. This way, the top can be moved aft to where it folds out of the way.

Adjustable Aft Stays: Instead of straps, some boat canopies use telescoping aft stays, attached to the boat with deck hinges, to secure the main bow. Forward web straps keep things taut. A big advantage of this system is that you can fold back and store the top in an elevated position, so as not to interfere with seating or deck space. With this system, it’s best to secure the canvas in a zippered boot when not in use.

This post first appeared on

Caring for boat upholstery

Boat upholstery suffers a lot of wear and tear because it is exposed to the elements, such as direct sunlight and water, and is usually stored outside on the water.

Caring for boat upholstery involves regularly cleaning it and keeping it protected.

Correct storage is key

Proper storage of your boat is key to protecting the upholstery. If a boat sits outside in the sun all day, fabric upholstery may become sun bleached while leather and vinyl upholstery may dry out and crack. Caring for boat upholstery involves storing your boat in a garage, or under a carport. If you must store your boat on the water or in a driveway, cover the upholstery with a plastic drop cloth and envelope the upholstered end of the boat with a fitted cover. During the fall and winter months, if you don’t plan on taking out your boat, consider placing it in a storage facility.

Wetter is not better

When taking your boat out on the water, try to keep the upholstery as dry as possible. Although it is inevitable that you will get your upholstery wet from time to time, you don’t want it to soak into the foaming. When the foam gets wet, the upholstery begins to rot. Those that have been in the water should sit on towels to avoid saturating the upholstery, and spills should be wiped up immediately.

Regular cleaning

Cleaning your boat upholstery regularly will extend its life by several years. Boat upholstery comes in fabric, vinyl and leather materials. The type of material you have determines how it should be cleaned.

  • Fabric: This is the most difficult to care for. It soaks up water like a sponge, which will quickly penetrate to the foam. Applying a fabric protectant will extend the life of the upholstery, as water and other spilled liquids will bead up and roll off. Clean the upholstery with standard fabric cleaner every couple of weeks, depending on use. After cleaning, spray the upholstery with a UV protectant to prevent sun damage.
  • Vinyl: This is one of the easiest types to care for. Spills wipe right off, preventing stains from developing. When cleaning this type of upholstery, use a specific vinyl cleaner, to prevent the material from becoming dry. Spray the upholstery and wipe it down with a cloth that has been barely dampened. Spray the vinyl a special vinyl protective finish to prevent sun damage.
  • Leather: Very few boats have leather upholstery, as it is easily damaged by the sun. To prevent over-drying, leather upholstery must be cleaned with a neutral soap, or one that has a pH balance of seven. Spray the leather with the cleaner and wipe it with a dry cloth. Apply a leather conditioner that contains a UV protectant at least once a week, to keep it soft and pliable. Avoid keeping the leather upholstery in direct sunlight for longer than necessary.