preventative maintenance boating
The 1981 15hp Johnson Seahorse two-stroke outboard hadn’t seen action in 20 years.

Preventative maintenance prior to going boating

preventative maintenance boating
Peter Coppock bought his 3.4m tinnie 25 years ago with this bomb-proof outboard.
Nice buck mud crabs caught from Lake Cootharaba.
The author’s EPIRB back from GME with a new free battery is good to go for another six years. The only cost was the $10 for postage.

HI, it’s Craig Tomkinson here.

I have a few trips planned this year including some trips north (let’s hope they still go ahead). The first one planned is with my mate Dave Kowitz is a boys’ fishing trip for three to five weeks to Janie Creek on Cape York. Needless to say, I am in Cape York mode, which translates to preventative maintenance on all my gear.

As 99 percent is near new, the preventative maintenance is just a matter of jacking up each wheel on the four-wheel-drive and boat trailer and checking the wheel bearings have no movement. If they move, I’ll nip the bearing nut up a bit. I’ll check the brakes, make sure all suspension rubbers are in good condition and test all bolts are tight. Then give all the motors, diffs and gearboxes a bit of maintenance in the form of an oil change and new filters.

It’s also time to drain the radiator, fit new hoses and change the coolant because it’s been a few years since these were done. Packing will begin closer to the date. Having never camped at Janie Creek before, I am looking forward to whatever happens. We decided on this spot because it’s 25km from Kerr Reef and 30-40km to other areas of reef I haven’t fished. Another consideration is if it’s windy, we are just a couple of kilometres from local reefs.

On returning home, the boat will remain loaded, the 4WD will get an oil change and I might go to Inskip Point to catch crabs and squid. Then I’ll repack the 4WD and hook up the caravan as Donna, the kids and I head up to the tip of Cape York.preventative maintenance

On the fishing front, in close off Noosa should be great, though I haven’t been out of late. Working two shifts a day and on weekends mowing the lawn and spending time at home, I just haven’t felt like going fishing. Regardless, grass sweetlip should be in numbers around Halls and Sunshine reefs. Pillies and fresh squid dropped to the bottom on a running sinker rig should catch a hefty feed of fish.

Nice buck mud crabs have been caught in the mouth of Lake Cootharaba. Though not plentiful, the pots have been full and this should continue as long as there isn’t another flood in the Noosa River system.

A mate of mine Peter has taken the plunge and bought an 8m trailer boat. He sold his 4.9m AMM plate boat on a near-new Vindicator tandem-axle alloy trailer, his 6.2m Kevlacat with fresh Yamaha F115hp outboards and his latish-model 79 Series dual-cab LandCruiser to buy a second-hand 3000 Kevlavat sitting on a relatively new tri-axle alloy trailer. One of the older motors on the 3000 dropped a valve on the inspection day, so Peter got the boat package $20,000 cheaper.preventative maintenance

He bought two brand-new 250hp four-stroke Yamaha outboards from Frank and Glen Watson of Watson’s Marine Centre in Gympie. The motors were fitted and trials done, with a top speed on calm water of about 81km/h. To say Peter was happy was an understatement.

Peter has since had the boat cabin gutted and rebuilt to suit him. Being an ex-Coast Guard vessel, it was set up for looking for boats and people, not for fishing and overnight trips. Hopefully, once the water trials and teething problems have been sorted I’ll get to go fishing in this weapon.

The boat has an FCV-295 Furuno colour sounder with 1kW and 2kW transducers for reef fishing and hunting the deeper waters and has been rewired with heavy-duty wire to run big electric reels. On the bow is a free-spool stainless steel anchor drum winch that is playing up. Peter plans to replace it and add a big Mason Supreme slide plough anchor to make anchoring a pleasure not a chore.

Peter has also bought a Ford F350 heavy-duty 4WD as the tow vehicle because it can tow up to eight tonnes on a 65mm ball. His tri-axle alloy trailer needs modifying before it can carry the big Kevlacat loaded with fuel and gear. Peter is aiming to chase red emperor and deepwater fish around Tin Can Bay, possibly Gladstone and even Cooktown. With the new setup and 4WD he’ll be able to do that, no worries.preventative maintenance

Another mate, another Peter (Coppock), was talking about the 3.4m tinnie he bought about 25 years ago. He used it for a few years and then it sat in his shed for 20 years and didn’t start it in that time. When he asked if the motor would still be all right, I said to bring it around and I’d have a look to see if we could get it going and maybe give it some maintenance. The 15hp Johnson Seahorse two-stroke outboard looked in good nick for a 1981 model. I gave the starter rope a pull and it hadn’t seized. I thought, well, that’s a good start.

We dug the fuel tank out, cleaned it and fitted a new primer bowl. Then we mixed up some two-stroke fuel, hooked up the fuel hose, put the earmuffs on the motor and turned on the tap. I pumped up the fuel and tried to start the old girl. Nothing happened.

So I took out the spark plugs and they had fuel on them but it looked like it was flooding. We checked the motor was making spark, which it was. I tapped the gap on the spark plugs a little closer and refitted them. We took the carbie off and cleaned the jets, making sure the needle and seat were not stuck, then refitted it and pumped the fuel again.

We gave her a few pulls and away she went, running after 20 years! It was even pumping water. We let it run for 20 minutes before stopping her.

Then I changed the gearbox oil and it was black. For the final piece of preventative maintenance, Peter is buying a new water pump impeller and fuel primer bowl. He will drop around once he’s got the parts and we will fit them – then I think he’s going crabbing! The old Seahorse motors are bomb proof.

‘Til next month, be safe on the water. preventative maintenance prior to fishing

About Craig Tomkinson

Craig has been fishing for 45 years and specialises in using bait. Fishing off Double Island Point is his favourite, followed by beach fishing. He also loves fishing Cape York around the Pennefather River.

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I totally understand how families can spend one, two or even more years travelling around …

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