So on the first outing this year about halfway through a faint tapping sound started to be heard while we were hauling ass between a cove I like to swim in and a sand bar we mess around on. It was faint and I wasn't even sure I heard it at first. I kept pushing on anyway.
Once we got to the sandbar I poked around and found that the sound only appears in forward gear. When in neutral in reverse the engine purred like I am used to. 'Crap' thought I, 'it is a gear issue.' We putzed around for a bit longer then headed back to dock to get gas and see if someone was on duty who could check it out for me.
No one on duty. We filled up and on a whim I lifted the engine out of the water to check out the prop. Sure enough, one of the tips had bent back at a 90 degree angle. 'Ah ha!' I thought, 'Probably hit a board or a turtle or something on the way to the sandbar that bent the prop. THAT must be causing the sound.' So out we went and spent the rest of the day without incident, just a thumping noise caused by the prop.
On the next outing a few weeks later I bent the prop back and stuck the boat in the water. The battery was dead as a door nail. When I had put the boat in after the last outing I assumed I was going to be back the next week. However, it took three weeks before I could get anyone to go out (what is up with that?) and the battery was drained by then. We were able to get a jump from someone but the engine wasn't timmed all the way down when we pulled the jump cables off. I didn't think much of it at the time because the motor would generate power, right? Wrong. Apparently the engine doesn't generate enough power to trim itself, it pulls from the battery. With the battery dead I couldn't trim the engine down which means I couldn't get the boat on plane which means I couldn't go faster than 10 mph. We putzed around the lake for about 3 hours before there was enough power in the battery to trim the engine down to get on plane. After that, good times. Just had to leave the thing running the entire time.
Anyway, back to the main plot line. After the jump I reversed out of dock. Once the bow came around I put it into forward again. Thump thump thump. 'Shit, it wasn't the prop' the voice in my head said. Knowing now at this point it was a gear issue that I couldn't do anything about it presently we just went about our way.
July 4th was the following weekend. There wasn't enough time to get it into the shop and take it down to the river, so I gambled that I could get through the July 4th weekend without anything bad happening. Afterall, it hadn't gotten any louder, had it?
To shorten this story up a bit I got down to the river on Saturday. I took the boat out everyday the next three days for several hours each day (usually 5+). During the trip on Monday on the way back the thumping turned into a knocking that got louder and started to vibrate the boat some. 'Uh oh, I better get my ass back to port before...' WHACK! *engine whining* 'Shit!' Throttle back, the full boat looking at me, so I say: 'That is the sound of an engine dieing'.
True enough, putting the boat in forward made this aweful clanking noise. Reverse didn't make any weird noises but the prop didn't engage either. We were stuck.
So we flagged down a passing boat and they were kind enough to tow us over to the nearest marina. The plan was to call someone to pick us up so I could then bring my trailer out and pull the boat out of the water. Well, this marina didn't have a ramp. The only one that did that was nearby was a private yacht club and those people are evil. So I called a tow boat service that costs a cheap $175/hour (yes, an HOUR) to come out and tow me across the river to a dock on an island on the other side for the low low price of $255. The plan was for me to meet the guy over there to pick it up.
Well, I get over there and just as the guy comes around the point and under the bridge near the dock this HUGE storm comes in. Lightning and heavy winds. He is out there in his tow boat with my boat on a string about 20 ft behind him. He points his boat up wind and just maintains position trying to keep the two boats from being blown into something. I'm standing on the dock about 150 ft away soaked to the bone watching this spectacle and hoping I don't get whacked by the lightning striking all over the place. Luckily, the storm passes after about 20 minutes and he is able to bring the boat over. I walk it to the trailer and off I go.
So now the thing is at a shop down by the river. It's going to take them up to two weeks before they can look at it. Hopefully I just stripped or broke one of the gears in the transaxel-like thing in the lower unit and it can be replaced easily. If he has to replace the entire unit the part itself costs upwards of $3000. That would be bad, but he doesn't think that is the case.
I've been lucky in that I have had the boat for about 5 years and never had a mechinical issue, always electrical ones. Electical ones are a pain in the ass to find but usually very easy and cheap to fix. The reverse is normally true for mechinical issues.
So to summarize my last three weeks:
1) The fuel pump in my truck crapped out and had to be repaired.
2) The company I work for axed the tech division and me along with it
3) The lower unit in my boat blew up