2 band-aid fixes for outboard engines

outboard boater

Three ways to jump-start your engine

  • The easiest solution 
is to carry a portable jump-starter onboard. These range from $60 
to $150 (many come with a compressor for inflating water toys) and are simple to 
use—just remember 
to keep it charged.
  • If you have a set of jumper cables onboard, you can try hailing another boat, rafting up, and getting a jump-start. It’s the same 
process as with a car: Have the operator 
of the assisting vessel shut down his or her engine, then use the cables to connect the cranking battery terminals on the two boats, positive to positive and negative to negative. Have your rescuer start up their engine, then try to start yours.
  • Another way to get 
the extra juice needed to start your engine 
is to link a house battery (a separate deep-cycle battery that some boats have, used to power accessories and electronics) with the cranking battery. If your boat has a battery switch with an Emergency Parallel setting, turn it on to link the two batteries. If not, you can do it manually with a set of jumper cables or two short lengths of battery 
cable (equipped with terminals). Connect 
the terminal posts of the house battery to those of the cranking battery (positive to positive, negative 
to negative) and try to crank the engine.

How to change a prop

A prop that’s bent, 
broken, or spun (when the sacrificial bush
ing or insert slips on 
the prop shaft) can ruin your day on the water. Carry a spare prop and 
a floating prop wrench. 
If you can get into 
a shallow, calm area, anchor your boat so that you can change 
the prop while standing in the water. 
Warning: Remove the 
kill-switch clip or dis-
connect the spark plugs before attempting to loosen the prop nut, 
to avoid accidentally starting the engine.

If you need to change the prop while onboard, place a towel or T-shirt inside a landing net 
and have another person hold it under the lower unit to catch any parts (such as washers, 
cotter pins, or bushings) that may fall off. Keep track of the order in which all these parts will fit back together when you install the new prop. Take a photo of the parts laid out in the right order, or make a sketch to guide you.

Another tip: Do you boat in rocky waters and regularly ding your prop? Piranha composite propellers feature removable blades, allowing you to change a damaged blade in minutes. The spare blades cost about $20 each and take up less room than 
a full propeller.