There are many reasons a propeller shaft can snap and leave you stranded. While the possibility of a material or manufacturing defect certainly exists, the possibilities are remote. The more likely cause of such failure usually lies within the realm of improper operating practices; using the wrong prop hardware, a loose propeller bushing, surfacing the prop at high rpm from running too high on the jackplate, etc. Abuse is a strong word but definitely applicable when the outboard’s lower unit is subjected to continued operation that exceeds engineered parameters.
The pursuit of reds, speckled trout, and flounder in shallow water often leads to innocent misuse with no single event precipitating the failure. Repeated shallow water take-offs, when the boat struggles to get on plane, and plowing across a shallow flat to reach deeper water, have a cumulative effect. We frequently see evidence of these in the amount of paint scraped from the skeg along with gouges and sometimes cracking of the skeg material.
Factory warranties will not pay for damaged gears, seals, twisted or broken prop shafts, and snapped skegs due to misuse or abuse. Insurance companies have also become wary of such claims. The seabed and sea grasses in fertile backwater areas are also damaged when the skeg becomes a plow.
A slight change in operating technique and watching the tide charts could save an outing and help the environment at the same time.
Have fun on the water; great fall fishing is around the corner!
Chris MappCoastal Bend Marine & Flats Cat Boat Company
Port O’Connor TX | CoastalBendMarine.com