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The danger of propeller strikes

Spinning propellers are extremely dangerous and propeller strikes can cause serious damage and even death. Read on to find out more about propeller strikes and how they can be prevented.

Did you know?

  • A typical three-blade propeller running at 3 200 rpm can inflict 160 impacts in one second?
  • A typical recreational propeller can travel from head to toe on an average person in less than one-tenth of a second?
  • Most propeller accidents CAN be prevented!

What you can do to prevent propeller strikes

  • Wear your engine cut-off switch lanyard and your life jacket at all times. If the lanyard is removed from the switch, the engine will shut off.
  • Assign a passenger to keep watch around the propeller area of your boat when people are in the water.
  • Consider purchasing propeller safety devices for your boat.

Propeller strike safety tips

  1. Before starting your engine, walk to the stern and look in the water to make certain there is no one near your propeller. Those that are near the propeller may not be visible from the helm.
  2. Never allow passengers to board or exit your boat from the water when engine is running. Even while idling and in neutral, your propeller may continue to spin.
  3. Educate passengers about the location and danger of the propeller. Call attention to and discuss any propeller waning labels around your boat.
  4. Be especially alert when operating in congested areas and never enter swimming zones.
  5. Take extra precautions near boats that are towing skiers or tubers.
  6. Never allow passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs or other locations where they might fall overboard.
  7. Children should be watched carefully while onboard.
  8. Establish clear rules for swim platform use, boarding ladders, and seating (if possible, passengers should remain seated at all times).

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If someone falls overboard

  1. STOP!
  2. Slowly turn the boat around, and keep the person in sight as you approach.
  3. Assign a passenger to continuously monitor the person in the water.
  4. Turn your engine off FIRST and then bring the person to safety.

NEVER reverse your boat to pick someone up out of the water. If necessary, go around again.

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Safety devices

There is no “one-size fits all” solution to eliminate the risk of propeller injuries. Boaters must carefully review all options and determine which devices make the most sense for their particular boating experience. The most effective preventive measure is to remain alert. Boaters who are aware are those who responsibly manage propeller injury risks. A variety of safety devices are available to help prevent propeller strikes:

  • Wireless cut off switches
  • Propeller guards
  • Ringed propellers
  • Propulsion alternatives (jet drive)
  • Interlocks
  • Sensors
  • Anti-feedback steering

This post first appeared on boatsafe.com.

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.

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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.

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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 boatingmag.com.

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.

 

One outboard or two?

A 27-foot center-console boat with a single engine? What a silly idea. It’s surely under powered and missing twin-engine redundancy. It must be an unrealistic loss-leader that ­Boston Whaler set up to attract customers whom the sales folks will quickly convince to upgrade to a proper pair of twins.

Or is it?

In today’s boating world, we assume that a 27-foot center-console has a ­deep-V hull (20 to 24.5 degrees of deadrise), weighs 5,000 to 6,000 pounds, and is designed to run offshore. Ergo, it needs twin engines. That’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s not always true. We ran the same model boat with both a single Mercury 300hp Verado and twin 225hp Verados to give you a true comparison. One outboard or two? Let’s find out.

The place to start the discussion should be the boat’s intended mission. In this case, the 4 800-pound 270 Dauntless represents a low-side “family center-console” with a modified-V hull (18 degrees of deadrise at the transom). It’s long (27 feet 4 inches) but relatively narrow (9 feet 0 inches), with a shallow draft (17 inches). This boat’s design runs counter to the concept that only a wide, high-side hull is stable, seaworthy and safe. Stability, by the way, is determined not by beam alone but by hull volume on either side of the bottom’s centerline as well. The 270 Dauntless, in fact, follows the classic 3-to-1 length-to-beam ratio of some of the most efficient and able workboats of New England and the mid-Atlantic. In today’s marketing terms, its design is more as a multipurpose bay boat.

Now think about how the 270 Dauntless compares with offshore center-consoles of approximately the same weight. They are almost invariably a foot or two shorter and wider, with deeper V’s that require more power to push. Within Boston Whaler’s model lineup, for example, the closest ­­center-console, weightwise, is the 250 Outrage. It’s actually 250 pounds heavier and rides on a 21-degree hull bottom, which makes it a great mini battlewagon for reasonable offshore ventures. This model too is available with a single engine, but most buyers will opt for the second for open-water ventures, and any larger deep-V center-console almost certainly boasts twins — or more.

The 270 Dauntless is designed for fishing, all right, with plenty of rod holders, fish boxes and livewell capacity. With its flared bow, self-bailing cockpit and unsinkable construction, it is certainly seaworthy enough for prudent operation on coastal waters, but it’s not a hull that a hardcore blue-water angler will choose for canyon runs. Instead, its shallow draft and optional bow ladder set it up for double duty on beach picnics, while an optional swim patio folds down from the port side of the cockpit to provide safe water entry for swimmers and a removable transom pylon serves tow sports.

There’s plenty of space inside the console for a dressing room/head that can accommodate, ahem, goodly size adult males. There’s ingenious and abundant seating in front of the console, complete with an adjustable table that offers comfortable lounging, sunning, eating and conversing on creek explorations and sunset cruises. The whole area, though, converts quickly to a casting deck for angling action. Given these inshore/nearshore missions, single-engine power just might make sense.

Two more things to think about

If you’re interested in the single-engine rig, but are still concerned about whether you’ll have enough power, consider ordering your 270 Dauntless with Mercury’s new 350 hp Verado. As fellow contributing editor Charles Plueddeman pointed out in an April piece (“The Big, New Mercury Outboards), the company’s engineers did a lot more than just boost the supercharger’s pressure to get that 16.7 percent of extra power and keep the engine both durable and reliable. Those extra 50 are real ponies, and if you want them to work super-hard, feed them a tank of 91 octane fuel. They are still a lot less expensive than twin 175 hp engines.

Finally, whichever rig you choose, match the right propellers to your boating needs. Our test boats were both fitted with Enertia three-blade, stainless-steel props, but for real pulling power, especially with a single 350, a Revolution 4 four-blade may be the way to go. Just make sure that your engine(s) can turn up to the specific full-throttle operating range for Verados, 5,800 to 6,400 rpm. If not, you aren’t getting full horsepower at any upper range, and you’re overstressing the engine(s). Installing the wrong propeller is like choosing the wrong gear ratios in your car or truck.


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The single-engine boat tops out around 40 mph and cruises easily at speeds in the mid-20s. On our test day, it loped comfortably through a 1- to 2-foot chop at speeds to 4,500 rpm — 27.0 mph — realistic speeds for coastal bodies of open water like the Chesapeake Bay, where we tested. (I was especially sensitive to ride quality, since our sea trial included a photo shoot to which I was not invited, so I rode it out comfortably inside the console, sitting on the lid of the portable toilet.) Acceleration from the supercharged Verado was quick, especially at midrange speeds, but the big engine was otherwise quiet and silky-smooth.

The twin-engine boat has, by contrast, truly brutal acceleration. The frame for the hardtop is integrated into the console’s structure, and it offers plenty of handholds. That’s good because crew need to hold on when the captain punches the throttles. Top speed in our test was 52.7 mph, with efficient cruising at 3,000 to 4,000 rpm (22.6 to 30 mph). That range of cruising speeds is reasonable for weatherwise exploration of coastal bodies of water from Buzzards Bay and Long Island Sound to Tampa Bay and Puget Sound, but safe or comfortable uses for that top speed will be less common.

So how do you make a decision?

Remember the ground rules. They are for this boat and for your needs. Consider the following profile of attributes for each rig. If you want to count, you’ll note that both versions of the 270 Dauntless get at least 32 points out of 45 in my ranking. Each does certain jobs well, and both do some jobs equally well, but even a quick look shows different personalities.

Pros and cons

  • Top speed: The twin-engine boat wins hands down. Think, though, about whether you have a use for it on the waters where you’ll run this boat.
  • Useful cruising speed: Both run well in that 20 to 30 mph range where most boaters do most boating, and they are both efficient even into the low 30s, though the twin-engine boat is still loafing there while the single is turning up a thousand rpm higher. On the other hand, when seas really force the skipper to throttle back, the single-engine boat is efficient even down into the teens.
  • Hole shot: The twin-engine boat wins walking away, but its acceleration is so powerful that it borders on extreme. Remember that Verados are supercharged. They spool up immediately. For the same reason, the single 300 is no slouch itself, unless you have a dozen people aboard and a skier in tow.
  • Towing power: The twin-engine boat wins again, of course. It’s a good choice if you’re going to pull a gang of barefoot skiers, or carry a lot of people most of the time. For families and casual tow sports, though, the single engine will be plenty.
  • Fuel economy: For the best analysis, compare similar boat speeds (mph), not engine speeds (rpm). Yes, at cruising speeds, the numbers are close, but the single wins, even though it’s working harder than the twins. (Remember that two lower units create more drag in the water than one.) Then look at low speeds. There’s a big difference. How much of your running time will be slow, either by choice or by regulation or because you’ll be trolling a lot?
  • Purchase price: Simple math. One 300 hp Verado gets more pluses because it’s less costly than two 225s. Ditto for ­propellers and rigging systems. How many seasons’ worth of fuel will you save with a single instead of twins?
  • Maintenance costs: More simple math: One 300 hp Verado is less expensive to take care of than two 225s, so it gets more pluses. Ditto for propellers and rigging systems.
  • Reliability: Murphy’s Law loves boats, but modern outboards take lots of the risk out of running a single. That said, with twins there’s always one in reserve to get home.
  • Useful interior space: Boston Whaler’s 270 Dauntless is a really spacious boat to begin with, but if you’re buying one without the optional swim patio on the port side and plan to spend time on the swim platform, or if you’re worried about leading a big striper, cobia or salmon safely around the transom, notice how much space the twins take up versus the single.

For more information about twins vs. singles contact our head of sales, Craig, using the contact form below. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Send us an email

This post originally appeared on www.boatingmag.com.

Flo-Torq SSR HD

Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion and technology, introduces the Flo-Torq SSR HD, a propeller hub system designed to improve shift noise and vibration on high-horsepower outboards that use a heavy-duty 1.25-inch propeller shaft.

This new hub system is the first of its kind to employ Mercury’s new SSR technology. SSR stands for Soft Shift Rubber, which delivers a 25 percent improvement in shift noise and vibration during shifting events. The SSR hub delivers these benefits without sacrificing the strength and durability of a solid hub designed for high-performance marine engines.

The SSR system starts off with a traditional solid steel hub, but adds a bonded rubber sleeve to one end of the hub that provides cushioning to the system. The bonded rubber sleeve cushions the propeller during shifting events, absorbing shock and vibration. As soon as the propeller is under load, the stainless steel end of the hub engages the core of the propeller, creating a solid hub that can reliably transfer the significant power generated by today’s FourStroke outboards.

“Propeller hubs are an integral part of the full marine propulsion system,” said Jared Reichenberger, brand manager for Mercury Propellers. “This product provides the strength of a durable solid hub with the cushioning of a rubber hub for quiet operation. It is a win-win for boaters – particularly those with high-horsepower Verado like the 350 and 400R.”

The Flo-Torq SSR HD hub can be purchased from Silver Lake Marine. Contact us to get yours today.

Mercury’s magical Enertia ECO prop

This is a blog review by Capt. Steve Lamp, host at @DreamcatcherCharters in Key West, Florida, of the all new Enertia ECO Prop from Mercury. The original post can be viewed here.


Mercury Enertia ECO prop specs

Mercury Enertia ECO prop specs

I am not a fan of gimmicks. When a snake oil salesman comes my way, I go the other. When I was presented this propeller, I was less than enthused. 10% fuel savings? Really? That’s what they told me. I actually took on this project to run it on my boats just to quietly expose the myth that I thought I was dealing with. My thought was, if this idea is so great, why are we just hearing about it?

Mercury Marine is without a single doubt the best of the best when it comes to props and propeller designs across the board for all marine outboard and stern drive applications. With over 20 different designs currently sold in their stable, one would think: another prop? In my career I have had the incredible opportunity to learn from names like the late Dennis Cavenaugh and Scott Reichow, and also to be a part in development of some of the props we all use today for fishing, boating, and hauling ass on the water.

So when Mercury presented this prop to me, I was like, “Okay, let’s test it. Maybe there is something there. But 10%, really? That’s a lot, and if it’s true, this thing will be on everyone’s boat”.

I had my doubts at first…

I ran this prop on was a Yellowfin 24 Bay Boat with a tower and Mercury 300 Verado Pro. When I cracked it out of the box I was thinking, “This thing is ginormous”. The diameter was HUGE at 16 inches. I was normally running a 15 inches and change diameter blade. I had doubts it would even fit under my cavitation plate and spin. The weight of the Enertia ECO prop was not what it should be for all the blade surface and the sheer size of this beast and what I was used to. It was pretty light. In fact, I was impressed with how light it was. This was an added benefit lowering the centrifugal mass that the Verado has to turn before even any water has moved. That’s a big help in hole shot and all round performance. But it’s SO big. The proof would be in the testing.

The characteristics of Enertia ECO prop are pretty cool.

Mercury Enertia ECO prop

Mercury Enertia ECO prop

Hole shot

I figured that the hole shot would suffer from the large diameter and monster blade surface. Nope, it came out of the hole nice and steady, super smooth and no ventilation. I will say though that when I put an additional person on board or carry more fuel that the prop does make the boat a little (very little) sluggish on the hole shot. Nothing terrible, but a little slower. This I combat with 2 inches of lift on the jack and wham back to the drag races. A note: The larger diameter creates a little bit of a low pressure at the tops of the blades pulling some surface air making an exhaust note chamber. Super cool as it makes the 300 Pro Verado sound like a mellow old school V-8 as it comes up on a plane – I love it.

Handling

I always think this should be a consideration when looking for the ‘all-in-wonder’ propeller. The handling and feel this prop provides in and around the dock is amazing. For single engine applications where it can count the most, the larger blade surface coupled with the larger diameter seems to have a more immediate effect on the maneuverability of the several boats I have tried this prop on.

Trim capacity

On my Yellowfin 24, the trim capability of the Enertia ECO prop is a HUGE consideration. It’s like having your own elevator on the bow of the boat. Hit the trim, and due to the larger diameter and blade surface, it carries the bow like the mail dropping my drag coefficient like a bad habit and increasing my speed without a throttle advance. Therefore improving efficiency.

Rough water handling

I truly love this propeller for rough water on my Yellowfin 24 powered by the Mercury 300 Verado Pro. Absolutely amazing. Different propellers respond in different ways across the spectrum when it comes to changing how the water hits the blades of the prop. On this boat the Rev 4 does a fine job staying hooked up through the rough seas and encountering ventilation. BUT when it gets truly sloppy and speed is not the fix to improve ride comfort, the Enertia ECO prop does the trick by being able to utilise the low end torque that is available in my Mercury Verado 300 Pro and go slow and still stay on a plane.

I am able to drop back to 19 mph and stay on top with the Eco Prop versus the 24 – 26 mph needed with the Rev 4. Now that’s HUGE. Due to the larger blade surface and increased diameter, this prop holds me up and allows me to slug my way home without beating my anglers to death.

The Enertia ECO prop – a magic prop?

In this industry I do whatever I can to avoid gimmicks (as I mentioned).

This prop is the real deal and will make many boaters happier.

I am not saying it’s faster in all the applications I have run it, but it certainly allows me to milk even more mileage out of my rigs per gallon of fuel burned. That alone is enough. But add all the other stuff – yup, magic.

I have added several more Enertia ECO props to my fleet and have had some profound results. By the end of this spring, every one of my boats will be running them.

Capt. Steven Lamp