Boat Motor Sank: Now What?

20 July 2021 On The Water

2-cycle boat motor
When the outboard motor gets fully submerged people often think the boat engine is ruined. That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, a few simple tricks can get your outboard motor running again after it sinks to the bottom of the lake.

Problem: The outboard motor dropped into the lake or became fully submerged

We have all seen a fishing boat and its two-stroke outboard submerged on a cottage shoreline, or one that was still tied to a dock with the back end under water. Rising water levels and heavy rain are normally the culprits.

The amount of time the boat motor is submerged plays a factor in whether the engine can be revived, but you can often save the outboard motor if you follow these simple tips and tricks.

Steps to start an outboard motor that sank

1. Don’t try to start the motor!

2. Disconnect the battery.

3. Label the spark plug wires so you can reconnect them properly.

4. Disconnect the spark plugs.

5. Remove the spark plugs and dry them off.

6. With the plugs removed, pull-start the engine a few times to push the water out of the cylinders through the spark plug holes.

7. Let the boat motor air out and dry for a while.

8. Spray the spark plug holes with fogging oil, if you have it.

9. Replace the spark plugs, connect the plug wires, and connect the battery.

10. Cross your fingers and start the boat motor.  It might take a few tries before it starts.

11. Apply a few squirts of starting fluid in the boat motor carburetor if it needs a bit of help. In Canada people normally make a run to Canadian Tire to pick up a can of Quick Start.

Starting fluid is good to have at the cabin to get all the equipment with small engines going, including lawn mowers, weed trimmers, and chainsaws.

Note: Heavy rain will quickly fill an aluminum boat and sink it at the dock.  If you do not plan to be at the cottage for a number of days, remove the outboard motor and battery from your aluminum fishing boat when a storm is in the forecast, or pull the boat high enough up on shore to ensure the entire engine will not get submerged if the water level rises.

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