Little Things Sometimes Count Most

So we have some downtime because, let's face it, nobody fishes or takes a boat ride every day or every weekend during winter. Let's get the year started on the right foot by going through the boat and catching up little things we tend to neglect during busier seasons.

I want to talk this month about one of the tiniest and most obscure of your boat's components; the boat will generally run with or without it being operational, yet this device can be of greatest importance when it comes to protecting the investment you have made in your outboard engine. Allow me to introduce your boat's warning system horn–loud when working properly and dangerously-deafeningly silent when out of commission.

This topic is very helpful when purchasing a new or used boat, especially from an individual owner or when boat builders or rigging technicians do not install engine manufacturer's standard equipment gauges. After-market components sometimes do not communicate with the engine the way standard equipment gauges are designed to operate.

Outboard manufactures designed this system to warn the operator of engine conditions that are detrimental and happening in real time. Low oil, no oil, cylinder overheat due to lack of water or aerated water in cooling system, injector failure, combustion spark failure, detonation knock sensor, fuel starvation, low voltage, water in fuel, engine over-rev, and a host of other operating conditions are communicated to the operator via this warning system and they are all important.

Do you know how to tell this warning system is working properly before a problem is incurred and do you know how to interpret this system information in the real time being presented?

Most warning systems have a self-test, either when the key is switched on and/or when you attempt to start the engine when the kill-switch lanyard is removed.

Do you look at the tachometer or information panel when you turn the key, did you see the lights or digital language go through a system check and hear the audible alarm when the key was turned?

If you find the answer is "no" then cancel your trip and have your system analyzed by a qualified technician. Most folks grow to ignore the "check engine" light on their car's dash display when they are starting the engine with no real consequence, but ignoring alarm messages from your outboard engine is another matter entirely.

Remember that your outboard is not your car or truck engine and the habits you fall into should not be applied complacently to your boat. Outboard engine operating alarms were designed with good intentions to protect it. That "beep" or "chirp" you hear when you turn the key tells you all is good with the system. When you cannot hear it–do not start the engine. You may have only one chance to protect your investment!

Best Wishes for the New Year!
Chris Mapp

"What can we do for you?"
Coastal Bend Marine
Port O'Connor, TX