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Skiff Usage



Safety:
  1. Shut off the engine if the propeller is within 6 feet of a person in the water
  2. Wear the red kill switch lanyard on your wrist when driving
  3. Seat passengers before proceeding from a stop

Preparing Skiff in Yard:
  1. Check the clear bowl underneath the fuel filter in the skiff for water (water will sink to bottom of bowl below fuel).
  2. Fill the Fuel Tank.  It holds enough gas for two hours of running at full throttle. Don’t run out!
  3. Check the crankcase oil — lift latch at back of engine to remove cowl, pull out the dipstick (yellow handle on starboard side of engine), wipe and stick back in all the way, then remove to check oil level. If there’s no oil on the hatched area of the dipstick, add four stroke outboard oil – ½ quart at a time, remove yellow fill cap on back of engine to pour in oil.

Checklist for Skiff:
  • Fuel
  • Anchor
  • Tow line
  • Extension tow line
  • Drain plug for well in transom
  • Spare drain plug
  • 2 PFDs, large and small
  • Battery tied to boat
  • Fuel tank tied to boat
  • Anchor line stowed neatly, anchor ready to use
  • No trash or unnecessary items in boat

Hoisting
  • Don’t let anyone get under hoisted skiff!
  • Use large hoist (small one works, but strains clutch on hoist motor)
  • Put drain plug in well in transom before hoisting from trailer
  • Put out fenders (round orange bumpers)
  • Sling should be in middle of boat, on port side of steering console, not on starboard side of console where it might catch on throttle/gearshift handle!
  • Have someone hold bow painter if you’re going to drop skiff at dock.
  • Or drop skiff in water next to ladder, use hoist sideways buttons to move skiff close to ladder before boarding
  • When hoisting back onto trailer, position trailer so that skiff hull first touches trailer on the carpet about two feet in front of the “Y” in the trailer frame, and so that when the skiff hull sits on the trailer, the engine and prop clear the back of the trailer’s metal frame by 6” to 12”

Engine Start-up:
  1. Check that fuel tank vent is open
  2. Squeeze the rubber bulb
  3. Turn the key
  4. Check that engine is peeing water

Leaving Dock:
  1. Either push the bow away hard and drive forward, or
  2. Back away with the motor turned to pull the stern away from the dock.

Docking:
  • Drive the skiff up to the upwind side of the dock, and stop the skiff a few feet from the dock, parallel to the dock. The wind will bring you up against the dock.

Tight Turns at Slow Speed:
  • Turn the steering wheel all the way to one side, then apply full throttle. This is especially useful when you’re trying to maneuver to bring the skiff next to a boat or windsurfer—drive a short distance away, do tight slow-speed turn, and drive up next to the boat or windsurfer.

Backing Up
  • Don’t back up into waves!  The waves will break over the transom and flood the boat.

Shallow water (low tide, 3’ or less water depth)
  1. Tilt motor up to raise the prop so that the prop is just below the surface. There are two electric tilt up/down switches--one on the side of the gearshift/throttle lever, and another on the side of the motor.
  2. Don’t go faster than idling speed when the motor is tilted up!
  3. In very shallow water (1.5 ft depth is minimum), go in reverse (back up rather than going forward) and stand in front of the steering console. This keeps the prop in clean water.
  4. Check all the time that the prop is fully submerged and clear of the mud.
  5. Seeing mud 10 feet behind the boat is normal. Seeing mud in the water churned by the prop means there’s too little water to use a Whaler skiff
  6. Use the sketchmobile if the water depth is less than 1.5 feet.

Tow Line Wrapped Around Prop
  • Don’t let it happen!  Once you put the tow rope over the side of the boat, keep your eye on it continuously while driving so that you don’t accidentally get the turning propeller near a dangling tow line. The propeller’s wash of water will suck in the tow line and tangle the line around the prop. If the tow line is taut, it won’t get sucked into the prop. But if you put the motor in reverse while the tow line is just floating on the water, or if you just drift backwards into the tow line and then drive forward without looking where the tow line is floating, you will wrap the tow line around the prop and you will be dead in the water, with the prop no longer able to turn.
  • Shut the motor off immediately!  Tow line on prop is signaled by the motor suddenly losing power while you’re trying to maneuver during a rescue. Jamming on more throttle just wraps the tow line tighter on the prop.
  • Raise the motor. There’s a switch on the port side of the motor, about a foot and a half below the top of the cowl. 
  • If you can’t immediately unwrap the tow line from the propeller, ANCHOR!  You’re going to need some time and you may need a rescue; don’t drift onto the rocks while you’re trying to get the line unwound from the propeller. The skiff drifts downwind very quickly in strong wind, so you need to get the anchor down right away. Once you’re anchored, you can try to untie the cleat end of the tow line, or try to pry the line off the propeller using the tip of an anchor fluke, or maybe cut the tow line with a knife if you have one.

Towing Beginner Windsurfers
  • Get person on boat, have them sit on the red jump seat, tie the tow line to the nose of the board, raise the centerboard, and then you can drive fast to the dock or the sheltered area upwind of CSC’s dock. Make sure they know how to paddle and how to go upwind before letting them continue windsurfing. If they don’t, or if it’s too windy for them, bring them in.

Towing J, J+, and S Windsurf Boards
  • Tie tow rope to footstrap since there’s no nose handle. Or if the board is floaty enough, theperson windsurfing can lay on the board and hold the tow rope at the nose. In any event, you’ll have to go slow.

Towing Dinghy Sailboats
  1. Have them lower their sails
  2. Have them tie tow rope to bow or bow painter
  3. Have them raise centerboard and steer for the skiff

Rescues from the Rocks
  1. If someone’s on the rocks, don’t go out alone to rescue them. Get someone to help, preferrably someone in a wetsuit and booties, they may have to go to the person on the rocks.
  2. Make sure you have an extension rescue line and a bailing bucket.
  3. Make sure your anchor line is ready to go, and not tangled up.
  4. Ditto for your tow line
  5. Drive to a point about 200 ft directly upwind of the person on the rocks.
  6.  Drop the anchor and let the skiff drift downwind towards the person on the rocks.
  7. One person should mind the anchor line, the other should handle the tow rope and the driving.  The driver should always be ready to drive away from the rocks if there’s a problem.
  8. If at all possible, get the person to swim their gear toward the boat.
  9. If not, tie the extension rescue line to the tow line, and throw the line to the person. They may have to swim out to get it, then return to tie it to their gear.
  10. Always keep a watch to see if your anchor is holding. You check by ranging on two objects, one near and one far, that will stay lined up in your sight if the anchor holds. Usually these are a) one of the flags on University Ave lightpoles, and b) an object on the hills in Richmond.
  11. Don’t shut off the motor or raise the engine, keep it idling in neutral, always be ready to drive away if the anchor doesn’t hold.
  12. If the boat gets full of water, bail. You may have to drive away, bail out the boat, and return.
  13. Once the person gets the rope, pull them up to the boat.
  14. Don’t drive away with the tow rope dangling near the prop. If it isn’t stretched taut,hold it up in the air.
  15. Once you have your rescuee windsurfer in the boat, or your sailboat ready to tow, drive forward slowly while your helper pulls in the anchor line.
  16. Once you’re over the anchor, snub the line on the bow and let the waves lift the bow to free the anchor from the mud. 
  17. Clean off the big chunks of mud and rocks from the anchor. The anchor compartment is open to the bay to clean the slime off the anchor.

Flushing the Motor
  1. Good practice, but not absolutely necessary, except if mud has been sucked into the motor. Flushing with fresh water will get the mud out, and also removes salt that might crystallize in the motor’s cooling system if it were left to dry out. However, it doesn’t prevent scaling inside the cooling system which is the worst problem for motor longevity. Scaling occurs when salt water gets warmed by the engine. And the skiff usually will be used again the next day, before salt can crystallize. So please flush the motor, especially after low tide operation, or when both skiffs have been used, but if you are cold and tired, you can skip it.
  2. Put flush attachment on motor in front of prop. The rubber ears should cover the cooling water intake.
  3. Attach hose and turn on water. Don’t start the engine until water is blasting out from the sides of the rubber ears. If the hose connector is bent or if its threads are really banged up, get another hose. Hose ends can be replaced, spare connectors above workbench in board hospital.
  4. Run engine with fresh water for one full minute. Half a minute if you’re in a hurry. Make sure the flush attachment stays in the proper place, and watch out for other hose users who might shut off the water.

Putting away the skiff
  1. Get help early. It takes at least two moderately strong people to push the skiff back to the yard.
  2. No block needed behind wheels. Turning the front wheel sideways will keep the skiff from rolling backwards.

Gas and Oil

Gas for all the motors is regular (87 octane) unleaded. Gas is kept in the motor locker in the yard, in 6
gallon orange containers. Also in the motor locker are crankcase and gear oil.
If we’re out of gas, remember —
  1. Keep receipt from gas station for reimbursement
  2. Close all vents on tanks before transporting, pickup truck best, tarp in trunk.
Crankcase oil is “4 stroke outboard motor oil”, 10-30 Weight. Gear oil is 80/90 weight or 90 weight.


Maintenance
  • Routine stuff that always needs doing is: check the gas containers for water and dirt, wash off any salt accumulation on the engine, especially the wiring, with a dribble of fresh water from the hose (don’t get water into the air intake!), then spray down the wiring with WD-40; straighten out dings in the props (use a hammer/pliers/file) or replace prop, and.
  • If a skiff motor doesn’t pee water when running, stick a wire (kept on side of steering console) up the overflow tube to see if the problem isn’t just gunk that prevents the stream of water from coming out. Often salt crystals or tiny dirt particles will lodge at the top of the overflow tube. If that doesn’t work, the water pump impeller may need replacement, put a do not sail sign on the skiff. 
  • If a motor should be accidentally immersed in salt water, drain all the fluids (including fuel in the lines and filter(s) on the motor, as well as the tank if it got submerged), wash off the outside of the motor with fresh water (be sure to get all the wiring, salt water will short sensors and switches), dry off the wiring with compressed air, undo all the connectors and blow out any salt water with compressed air, remove the spark plugs, spray WD40 through the spark plug holes, change the crankcase oil and oil filter, and finally crank the motor over to evacuate the cylinder while squirting more WD40 through the spark plug holes. Replace all fluids and run the motor for a long time to dry out the last traces of water.
  • If there’s water in the clear bowl below the water separating fuel filter in the skiff: cut off the bottom of a plastic gallon bottle to make a clean container into which you can drain the filter bowl.  The gas tank will also need to be cleared of water by siphoning the gook from the bottom or pouring out the whole tank into a clean bucket. Clear out all the lines, drain the vapor separator and filters on the engine, and replace the filter element. The skiff gas filter cartridges are best unscrewed with a band-type filter wrench, take off the filter bowl with a large slip joint pliers. Spare filter cartridges are in the motor locker; the cartridges should be changed at least four times a year.
  • Gear oil should be changed at least once a year, using outboard motor gear oil (80 or 90 weight). The gear case has two oil screws, a drain screw at the bottom and a vent screw at the top. Unscrew the vent screw completely, and close it off with a finger as you remove the drain screw to stop the oil from getting all over your hands. If the gear oil comes out milky-white, something’s leaking — hopefully just the rubber washers on the drain and vent screws. Replace oil, tighten screws carefully, and check oil again after the next use.

Charles Clausen 11/27/92
revised 6/10 (PKuhn)




Motors and Motoring

Here are key points to know about motoring

Safety:
  1. Never drive the skiff without attaching the red kill switch lanyard to your wrist
  2. Never run a motor with the prop within 3 feet of a person in the water
  3. Never store gas or a motor with gas in the cabin or under the seat of a keelboat

Before Using a Motor:
  1. Peer into the fuel tank and check the clear bowl of the fuel filter for water and crud — the most common cause of motors not idling properly. Don’t use stale gas—if in doubt, pour some into a a clear container and look for telltale streaks and jelly-like blobs and grit that indicate varnish is forming. Gas can go bad after two or three months—return extra fuel to the club, don’t leave it on the keelboats or in a dock box.
  2. How much gas do you need? gas consumption at full throttle is about half a gallon per hour (gph) for the four stroke keelboat motors, and 3 gph for the rescue skiffs.  The tank on the sketchmobile motor holds enough for 20 minutes at full throttle, the one on the motor on Pomodoro (the Capri 25) holds enough for 30 minutes. 
  3. Before you remove or replace a keelboat motor, tie it to the boat in case it falls off (and attach the red kill switch lanyard to the boat) 
  4. Check the crankcase oil--open the top cover, pull out the dipstick, wipe and stick back in to check level of the crankcase oil, and if needed top up with four stroke outboard oil. The sketchmobile’s motor has a window on side to check the oil, use a squirt top to add oil.
  5. Check that the fuel line connector is solidly attached to the motor, when changing lines, clean out the end very carefully. Any leak in the connection will allow fuel to squirt out, then allow air to leak in which will cause the motor to shut down after a few minutes.

Correct Start-up:
  1. Open the fuel tank vent and squeeze the rubber bulb on the fuel line before trying to start a motor (except Honda 2 hp and Capri keelboat motors, which have tanks on top—just make sure the fuel valve is in the open position, which is back for the sketchmobile, down for the Capri motor)
  2. On keelboat motors (including Capri), put the throttle full on, if the motor’s cold pull the choke out, pull the rope out slightly to engage, and yank hard and fast, (a hard punch in reverse). If you can’t yank hard and fast, find someone who can. On the sketchmobile, pull the choke out, twist the throttle part way open, put one hand on top of the motor to steady it, and check that the boat won’t run into anyone or anything when the motor starts and kicks the boat forward.
  3. When the engine’s running it should pee water—if it doesn’t, try clearing the pee hole with a wire (except the sketchmobile motor, which is air cooled)

Shutdown
  1. Shut off keelboat motors (and sketchmobile motor) by pushing the red button that the red lanyard attaches to. Don’t yank the lanyard off. 

Motor maintenance (sure you can help—manuals are in the clubhouse)
  1. Keep the transom clamp screws greased on all keelboat motors so they won’t corrode
  2. Corrosion kills motor wiring—wash off salt accumulation with water and spray down wiring with WD40 or Lube-E.
  3. If a motor won’t idle, remove and blow out the carb with compressed air, clean out fuel bowl, check fuel tank, line, and filter for water and dirt
  4. If keelboat motors won’t start, open cover, use flat blade screwdriver to open drain screw bottom of carb to check that there’s fuel in the bowl, remove sparkplug with 5/8” open end wrench, clean plug with wire brush, oil or grease threads, replace, and find someone to yank the rope harder and faster than you previously did.
  5. Straighten dinged props with hammer and file; if chunks are missing, replace prop.
  6. Change crankcase oil (when black, or at least twice a year) and gear oil (once a year).

Gas and Lubricating Oil

Gas for all the motors is regular (87 octane) unleaded. Gas is kept in the motor locker in the
yard, in large orange containers labeled GAS NO OIL. Also in the motor locker are crankcase
and gear oil.

If we’re out of gas, remember—
  1. Keep receipt from gas station for reimbursement (write name on receipt, fill out form in clubhouse)
  2. Close all vents on tanks before transporting, pickup truck best, tarp in trunk.
Gas goes bad after a couple of months because it contains oxygenators (an anti-smog
additive) that cause the hydrocarbons to chain up into clots of varnish that clog the
carburetors. You can add gas preservative, but these tend to attack the seals of the
carburetor, so the best plan is to not leave gas around where it will go bad (for example, in
the lazarette of a Commander over the winter) but take it back to the club to be used in the
skiff—we use about a gallon a day in summer, a quarter of that in winter.

Check the fuel containers for water, since water in gas leads to crap in carb, the major source
of motor problems at CSC. Set the tank outdoors in strong light, take off the cap and peer
into the lowest point of the tank. Water shows up as a pool of brownish sludge at the
bottom. If the tank has water in it, don’t use it! Water in tanks can be removed by siphoning
it out of the bottom of the tank, using an Arkansas credit card (siphon with rubber bulb).
Take bad gas to the harbormaster’s hazardous waste collection point.

Watch out for dirt and rust in the fuel line connector that attaches to the motor. These can
cause the motor to suck air and die. Dirt in the connector can be flushed out with gas by
pushing in the pin inside the connector with a key, and squeezing the rubber bulb. Also watch
out for failing or broken O-rings in the connector. Spare connectors are in the motor locker,
or can be easily bought from Wet Marine.

When carrying gas in a car or storing it in the yard, close all the vents on the tanks (but don’t
close the vents immediately after filling them at the station—gasoline contains plenty of
dissolved gases that boil off when the gas is poured, and the pressure can cause a leak that
will stink up your car!).

Never store gas or motors with gas in enclosed and unventilated locations. On the keelboats,
lash the tanks in the cockpit if you can. On the Commander, if the lazarette (stern
compartment) isn’t completely sealed off from the cabin, any fumes or leaks which spill over
in wave action will go into the cabin. Occasionally check the tank stored in the lazarette when
sailing in heavy waves, as it sometimes overturns and spills. If the lazarette fills with water,
bail it out, to assure that water does not seep into the tank.

Crankcase oil is “4 stroke outboard motor oil”. Gear oil is 80/90 weight, 90 weight, hypoid,
etc. marked as suitable for modern outboard engines.


CSC Rescue Skiffs and Motors

CSC has two 15’ Boston Whaler rescue skiffs with 4 stroke Mercury outboard motors that are 
kept bolted onto the transoms. The motors have electric lift for shallow water operation.

The sketchmobile (low tide rescue skiff) is a Laser with a rig (made of 2x6 and 2x4 lumber) to 
attach a Honda 2 hp motor to its stern, using the rudder gudgeons. The rig can be detached 
so the Laser can be sailed. The sketchmobile rig also includes a wood daggerboard and a 
tiller extension.


Sketchmobile

The sketchmobile is a red Laser hull with a wood motor mount, a Honda 2 hp, aircooled motor,
and a short wood centerboard. It has a special sling with 4 strings that should be left on the
boat, and it sits on a red dinghy dolly with the nose of the Laser hull slightly ahead of the dolly
handle, and under the handle so the hull won’t tip back. Tow rope is tied to the motor mount
crossbar and kept in the cockpit. No anchor, no paddle, don’t need them. Motor safety line is
tied to the traveller line.

Fill the tank on the sketchmobile motor (Honda 2 hp, aircooled) with gas (holds enough for 20
minutes motoring at full throttle), check the oil (window on side, no need to take off the motor
cover). Tie a small (one or two gallon) tank to the sketchmobile for emergency refuelling.

Tie the boat to the dock with the tow rope, so the motor mount is right next to the dock.

Best windsurfer rescue technique is to get them to sit on the foredeck, either holding mast
across lap (for mini-rigs) or towing board and rig (for big sails).


Skiff Driving

To leave the dock, either push the bow away hard and drive forward, or back away with the
motor turned to pull the stern away from the dock.

To dock, drive the skiff up to the upwind side of the dock, and stop the skiff a few feet from
the dock, parallel to the dock. The wind will bring you up against the dock.

To execute a tight turn when going slow, turn the steering first, then apply full throttle so that
the motor pushes the stern around. This is especially useful when you’re trying to maneuver 
to bring the skiff next to a boat or windsurfer—drive a short distance away, do tight slowspeed
turn, and drive up next to the boat or windsurfer.

Never back the skiff up into waves. The waves will break over the transom and flood the boat.

In shallow water (low tide, or rescues near the rocks), the motor can be tilted up to raise the
prop. The electric tilt is controlled by an up/down switch on the side of the gearshift/throttle
lever (there’s another up/down switch on the side of the motor, which can be convenient
when you foul the prop).

With the motor tilted up just enough that the prop is barely submerged, the motor can be
safely operated at idling speed in about 1.5 feet of water. Never operate the engine above
slow (barely above idle) speed with the motor tilted up. It’s best to stand in front of the
steering console so you can look back and check that a) the prop is fully submerged b) there’s
no mud in the wake (shut off the engine and row if you see mud!), and c) there’s a clear
stream of water pissing from the motor. In very shallow water, it’s best to drive the skiff in
reverse so that you can make sure the prop is above the mud, but below the water’s surface.


CSC Keelboat Motors

CSC has four 4 stroke keelboat motors that are kept locked to the transoms of the two
Commanders, the Capri 25, and the Merit 25. All but the Merit motor were made by Tohatsu
and have the same basic engine. The Capri motor has a fuel tank under the motor cover, the
Commander motors have fuel tanks and transom-mounted fuel filters in their lazarettes. The 
Merit motor is a Honda that is very similar to the Tohatsu design.

There is a Yamaha 8 hp two stroke that is kept in the motor locker in the yard as a spare or
4th boat motor, and needs to have oil mixed with its gas. Please don’t leave it on a keelboat.


Keelboat Motor Installation

If you need to change out a motor, use a safety line when transferring motors from the cart to
the motor mount on the boat. There is usually a safety lanyard attached to the motor -- one
convenient way of rigging a safety line is to tie the end of the main sheet to the end of the
safety lanyard with a sheet bend.

Snug the mounting clamps on the motor down firmly, but not so tight that the clamp handles
are stressed to the point of breaking (you did grease those transom clamp screws, right?). Tie
off the safety lanyard with a bowline knot to the hole at the base of a nearby cleat.

Be careful not to strain your back when lifting motors. Using levering techniques across your
hip or thighs can reduce stress on your vertebrae.

When removing a motor from the motor mount on the boat, be careful not to back off the
clamp screws so far that their washers (which bear against the motor mount) get pushed off
the screws.

Keep the motors locked to the keelboats using a bicycle cable and a combo lock set to 1066.


Keelboat Motoring

Before you even think about starting a motor, check that the fuel line (hose between tank and
motor) is primed full. Squeeze the rubber bulb until the line stops gurgling and is solidly filled
with gas.

Make sure that the vent screw in the middle of the fuel tank cap is unscrewed to let in air.
Otherwise, you will get a vacuum in the tank after you’ve motored a few minutes, and your
motor will stop dead.

Twist the throttle to the full open position, which is as far as you can twist it to the left. If
the motor is cold, pull out the choke. Now swear at the engine, pull the cord lightly until the
rope grabs the motor, and yank as hard and fast as you can. The motor should roar to life.
Turn down the throttle part way only, not all the way to idle, and push in the choke when the
engine starts to sputter. Use the throttle to keep the engine running at a good clip to warm it
up,which takes about a minute. After that, you can turn the throttle all the way to the right
and the engine should idle nicely.

If the motor doesn’t start right away, you probably aren’t yanking the starter hard or fast
enough. Find someone who can punch harder than you can. If it still won’t start, check the
carb for gas and the spark plug for fouling.

Don’t let the motor race at high r.p.m.’s after starting it. Turn down the motor after it starts
to keep its speed fairly low. Warm up the motor for about a minute before you use it.

Always bring the motor speed down to a low idle before shifting the gears.

Always check that a stream of water is coming out of the bottom of the engine. This indicates
that the cooling system is working.

NEVER let a line dangle in the water next to the motor where it could get wrapped in the
propeller.

Use the tiller on the motor to steer the boat in preference to using the rudder. Using the
rudder will tweak the motor side to side and strain the crappy motor mount on the boat.

When motoring with a full load of passengers, the motor may sink to an extremely low level in
the water. In heavy waves, it may then submerge occasionally. Have your passengers move
their weight forward to keep the motor above the water.

In heavy chop, the motor may sometimes rise high enough out of the water for the propeller
to expose. One of your crew should then be stationed at the motor to throttle it down
whenever rpm's become excessive.

The keelboat motors have adjustment screws or bolts for adjustment of friction on the throttle
and steering. These help if they are tightened so that the motor can be operated ‘no-hands’
while used over long distances.

If you have been operating the motor for some time, check your gas tank level before entering
hazardous areas, such as shipping lanes, busy marinas, or near rocky shorelines, and refuel, if
necessary.

When the motor isn’t being used, raise the motor mount and tilt up the motor so the prop is
as far out of the water as possible. This is both to reduce drag and to prevent the motor from
immersing in the water when the stern dips in wave troughs. (Raising the motor also reduces
exposure to salt water corrosion.)

To raise a motor, first raise the boat’s motor mount—find the lever for the boat’s motor mount
just ahead of the motor mount plate. Pull this lever up and forward, and the motor should
raise up. Then tilt up the motor. Put the motor in forward gear (this is the easiest way to
release the latch that holds the motor from tilting up), and pull up on the back of the motor
cover (there’s a handle built into the cover for this purpose).

To lower the motor, find the motor tilt handle on the starboard side of the motor’s mount. Lift
up on the back of the motor and jiggle the lever until the motor tilts back. Now find the lever
on the boat’s motor mount and pull it forward to release it and lower the motor.

Motors should be flushed with fresh water and Salt Away whenever you can, in order to reduce
the rate of scale buildup. The keelboat motors can be flushed by running them with the lower
end immersed in a bucket of water. The water level in the bucket should be about 4” higher
than the prop.


Keelboat Maneuvering

If you turn a keelboat while motoring by using the motor tiller,
both the bow and stern will swing in wide arcs—the boat turns
around an axis located near the middle of the keel.

So if you try to turn the bow away from a dock at which
you have just been tied up, the stern will probably hit the dock.
If there are no other boats tied up in front of you, you may be
able to simply push the boat off at stern and bow and drift
away before accelerating and turning.

But if there are obstructions around you, the situation becomes
more complicated. Sometimes your boat must clear a couple
of major obstacles at both bow and stern (figure 2).

One way to handle this situation is to
have someone (your “dock hand”)
hold your bow painter, while you cast
off the stern line, and then operate
the motor in reverse, with the motor
tiller turned to pull the stern away from the dock (figure 3). Until the boat is at 90° from the
dock, the turning action will create a pressure that holds the bow against it, making it easier
for the dock hand to hold the bow stationary.

Before the boat is at quite 90°, the dock hand climbs aboard, and the motor is turned to pull
the boat straight back, as in figure 4. The boat should be backed off until it is in a position
where the bow can be swung around to point in the intended direction of travel, without the
stern also swinging around into obstacles.


Maintenance

You’re encouraged to help out with motor maintenance. If there’s a problem you can’t fix,
label the motor, write a note in the log inside the clubhouse, and email the motor chair.

Routine stuff that always needs doing is: keep the transom clamp screws well-greased,
wash off any salt accumulation on the engine, especially the wiring, with a dribble of fresh
water from the hose (don’t get water into the carb air intake!), then spray down the wiring
with WD-40; straighten out dings in the props (use a hammer/pliers/file) or replace prop,
and check the gas containers for water and dirt.

If a motor (other than the air-cooled sketchmobile motor) doesn’t pee water when running,
stick a wire (straightened paper clip is best, or stainless steel rigging wire from toolshed) or
twig up the overflow tube to see if the problem isn’t just gunk that prevents the stream of
water from coming out. Often salt crystals or tiny dirt particles will lodge at the top of the
overflow tube. If that doesn’t work, the water pump impeller may need replacement.

If a motor won’t idle, the carb probably needs disassembly and a blowout with
compressed air — do this only in a very clean, well-lit location where small parts won’t stray.
Clear out the water from the fuel tank and filter!

If a motor should be accidentally immersed in salt water, remove the spark plugs and
crank the motor with the pull-rope to evacuate the cylinder(s), drain all the fluids (including
fuel in carb lines filter and tank if that went in), wash off the outside with fresh water, spray
down inside the cylinders and exterior with WD-40, squirt more WD40 through the spark plug
ports while cranking with sparks out. Replace all fluids and run motor until warm.

Change spark plugs when they become covered with ash or when the electrodes have been
worn down (rounded edges). Spark plugs that are only blackened are not worn out, just
fouled from the motor having been flooded. Always use plugs of the model number listed on
the sticker inside the motor or in the manual. Spare plugs are kept in in the motor locker (top
shelf). To install a new plug, put oil on its threads, thread it in by hand until finger tight,
then screw in about three quarters of a turn with a wrench to compress the metal gasket
washer.

Change gas filters on the skiffs and Commanders if the clear plastic bowls at the bottom
show two layers of liquid inside. Normally the bowls contain only gas that looks greenish but
clear without a bottom layer. If there’s water in the gas, the filter is fouled, and the gas tank
needs to be cleared of water by siphoning the gook from the bottom or pouring out the whole
tank. Clear out all the lines, drain the carb, then drain the filter (put a container under them
when loosening the drain screw) and replace the cartridge—unscrew with a large slip joint
pliers. Spare filter cartridges are in the motor locker; the cartridges should be changed at
least four times a year. Keelboat motor gas filters should be changed at least once a year;
these are in-line cartridges under the cover. There are also screens in the fuel pump, but
these rarely clog.

Gear oil should be changed at least once a year, using outboard motor gear oil (80 or 90
weight). The gear case has two oil screws, a drain screw at the bottom and a vent screw at
the top. Unscrew the vent screw completely, and close it off with a finger as you remove the
drain screw to stop the oil from getting all over your hands. If the gear oil comes out milkywhite,
something’s leaking—hopefully just the rubber washers on the drain and vent screws.
Replace oil, tighten screws carefully, and check oil again after the next use.
Charles Clausen 11/27/92
revised 4/09 (PKuhn)

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