When Disaster Strikes

By Scott Hammer

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You plan your fishing vacation for weeks in advance. You go over all of the maintenance items on your tow vehicle and boat with a fine tooth comb. You’re fully loaded with more Yamamoto baits than you could throw in six months, and you head out in anticipation of beautiful days and multiple fish catches.

After two days on the road, you stop at the first lake on your list. You have a great day and then head off to the next lake where you will be spending two weeks with the boat tied off to a dock 100 yards from your rental cottage. Total. Fishing. Bliss. After a couple days of fishing you notice your outboard, in my case a 250hp Yamaha HPDI, is making a strange whine. Since the boat is in the water and your trailer is stored at the marina, your options are limited to self-diagnosing the problem. 

Out comes the cell phone and calls are made to every friend back home who has more experience in outboards than you do. Options are considered, the cowl is pulled and pictures are sent. The consensus is to “baby” it for the remainder of the trip. 

Making one last attempt to diagnose the problem, you put your cell phone in your tool holder attached to your rear pedestal seat so that you can try to document the strange sound via video. 

That’s when disaster strikes.

As you run down the lake that pesky whine is captured on video. Also captured on video is the violent bang and shudder as your boat dies on the water. Now what? Your options are pretty clear: take the boat back to the marina, load it back on the trailer and enjoy two weeks of gazing at the water, or get the boat diagnosed and repaired in an attempt to salvage the rest of the trip. 

As is usually the case, the lakes you frequent are home to a majority of Evenrude and Mercury dealers, with no Yamaha dealers in close proximity. With the help of Google and a recommendation from a local marina, you find a Yamaha repair shop close by. It’s the busy season here in Wisconsin (where you’ve planned your fishing vacation) and all of the shops have a two-week waiting list. After a liberal amount of begging and a small amount of bribing (which may have included a case New Glarus Brewing Company Spotted Cow beer found in Wisconsin), you hope to be back on the water soon enough and salvage the last week.

Moral of the story is that you do what you can to prepare but when things go south, it pays to stay flexible, keep your cool and work it out. That’s what I would do anyway, if this had happened to me.


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