Towing and ungroundings are not the only on-water services that Sea Tow provides to boaters; not by a long shot. Sea Tow Captains routinely help our members get started when a mechanical issue stalls their boat and threatens to ruin their day.
“At least a dozen times a year, boaters will call us to say that their outboard engine is stuck in the upright position,” says Heather O’Brien, manager of Sea Tow Fort Myers. “They might be picnicking on a sandbar or trolling the flats, and raised the engine to keep from hitting the prop. Then, when they hit the power-trim button to lower the engine, nothing happens.”
That’s when Sea Tow Fort Myers Captain Tom Carter gets on the line. “They say, ‘My motor is stuck, come give me a tow,’” Capt. Carter says. “But what they may not know is that with most outboards, there is a way to manually release the pressure from the hydraulic cylinder, which lowers the engine.”
Most every outboard engine with power trim and tilt, Carter reports, have a small release valve on the cylinder that can be opened with a flathead or Philips head screwdriver. You put the screwdriver into the slot, turn it counter-clockwise, and the pressure in the cylinder will release. The engine goes down due to its sheer weight. Once down, re-tighten the release valve.” Boaters should familiarize themselves with the location of this release and which screwdriver type and size is required for their engine while their boat is on a trailer or out of the water, as it does vary between engine brands.
Sea Tow Captains like Tom Carter often talks the boater through the process of lowering the outboard manually. “If you are an avid boater, you’ll likely have the tool you need on your boat,” he says. However, if the boater doesn’t have the right tool on board, he is happy to respond in his Sea Tow vessel and render assistance in person. Captain Carter additionally states it is not uncommon for him to run out belts, fuses, filters or spare propellers to get boaters safely back underway.
"We can tow you in, but that’s the last resort,” Capt. Carter said. “We’d rather get you started, save you time and aggravation so you can enjoy the rest of your day on the water.”