Thursday, December 22, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 83

Finished my wax job and full annual motor maintenance.  Doing it myself cost less than $200 and saved me about a thousand under the dealer costs.  Next time will be even cheaper if I plan better and order my parts online in advance instead of paying local retail.  But it's good to stimulate the local economy and some of the advice I got from the parts counter at the Yamaha dealer was worth the extra 10-15%.

I put in 6 new spark plugs, removed/inspected my propellor, re-greased the prop shaft, changed fuel filters, dropped the lower unit of the outboard and did a complete water pump changeout, changed the gear oil, waxed the hull, changed out corroded trolling motor plug and receptacle (last one lasted less than a year so I went for quality this time and spend 60 instead of 20).

My buddy Chuck helped me re-launch the boat from the Charlotte Beach boat ramp.  Boat jumped right up on a plane and ran smooooooth.  I got her back on the lift before dark.  Keeping the trailer that came with my boat turned out to be a really good idea.  Doing maintenance in my yard is much better than trying to do maintenance on the boat lift while floating from my canal barge.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DIY: Outboard lower unit service

Home in PC
High of 81

Sunday we pulled the boat out of the water and trailered it home for annual service.
I changed the spark plugs, upper and lower zincs, drained the gear oil, and pulled the prop.
Only thing left was to pull the lower unit off the outboard and change the water pump.
I bought a kit from the local Yamaha dealer for $58.

After work today I went out to resume the job.  Removed lower unit of outboard, went just like a tutorial video from you tube said it would.  Had trouble removing the anti-knock washers so I took the whole lower unit to the Yamaha dealer and asked a tech what to do.  He said they break them off and replace them with each service.  I bought new ones for $14 and took it all home.  I got the impeller off and saw some wear cracks inside.  Good time to replace.

My model of outboard has a "half moon key" that holds the water pump plate down on the drive shaft.  This key is a  pain in the butt to remove.  Tech said to use a punch and hammer to pop it out.  Nope.  Online boat forums say these keys stick bad for everyone...suggested using a torch to heat the metal, then rust bust spray. Nope.  It got dark and I had to quit for the night.  After this piece it should be smooth to the finish.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
Low of 62, high of 78

I launched the boat and went fishing alone yesterday.  Leaving the canal system, my fish finder lit up with about a dozen targets just before the last bridge out.  I pinned the boat down near the seawall in 2' of water, as the tide was nearing low, and cast live shrimp into the center of the canal channel where it was about 5'.  I caught a catfish, which is considered a junk fish here because we have so many desirable species in our waters.  After releasing the cat I cast another shrimp that produced a small stingray.  You have to be careful with their barbs so after photos I just cut the line and sent her back where she came from.

I pulled up my anchor pin and headed into the harbor.  The conditions were fair, with light winds on the way out.  The forecast was for that to change so I didn't want to stray too far out alone.  The extreme low tide would limit my near shore choice.  I went up the Myakka River in search of redfish.  I was able to run 22 knots per hour, a nice cruising speed in my boat that will easily do twice that.

There are several tidal creeks and tributaries that connect throughout Charlotte Harbor, and both the Peace and Myakka Rivers.  This makes a shallow water boat like mine the perfect boat for these waters.  I arrived at such a creek and, wow, was it low!  I could see many crab traps completely beached on high ground. The tide was about to turn so there was no fear of me getting least not for long, before the incoming tide would free me up.  It was 10AM and the tide would rise by a full 18" by 5PM.

I got as near to shore as I could and raised up my outboard.  I drifted along in the 10 knots of winds.  The water was crystal clear but the bottom had a lot of seagrass mixed with occasional sandy flats.  I could see oysters in the sand but no fish.  I baited two rods with live shrimp and cast off.  Several times my boat got stuck on a flat but I was able to use my anchor pole to push myself free.  My baits kept getting wrapped up in seagrass.  The fishing wasn't too great but, as the photos above show, it was a beautiful day of solitude.

I fished 4 different spots off the river and caught stingrays in 3 of the 4 spots.  They must be migrating in for winter because they were everywhere.  I endured a briefing passing shower and the winds out of the Northeast really began to gain strength by 2PM.  Wave heights were picking up to 2-3' and my anchor pin was struggling to hold me when I was on the Western shore of the Myakka.  I used my binoculars to scan some bays on Eastern shore and saw dead calm waters on the leeward side.  I zipped over to a pristine position and pinned the boat down again.  This area had a sandy bottom that produced more bites...from Stingrays.

There wasn't another boat in sight for miles.  At one point I heard a noise that sound like slow marching footsteps.  I looked up and saw beauty in motion.  Dozens of Pelicans, flying in a perfect V formation, all flapping their wings in slow unison.  I starred in awe as they flew out of sight.  I wondered if there was some significance to the lead bird.  What made him the leader?  Is he always the leader?  Do birds have alpha-males, like dogs?  Yeah...I was pretty bored.  But I was still loving life out here.

By 3:40 the weather radio alerted me that a small craft advisory was issued for Charlotte Harbor.  I peered out through the binos and saw white caps a-plenty in the river.  Time to pull up and head out.  As I brought last line in, it was heavy with another Stingray.  Instead of Redfish I was stung by rays....all day.

The ride home was a choppy one, through solid 3' waves.  I was still able to run at 20 knots, although I did get airborn a couple of time.  I couldn't resist stopping to photograph a rainbow in the distance.  The only camera I had on board was my phone so today's pictures aren't the best.

Nonetheless, it was another gorgeous day of Messing About in South Florida.

Click on pictures for full screen image.