Once in every boat owner’s life, it’s likely to happen. A Titanic tragedy it is not; someone just forgot to replace the drain plug, and your boat lies submerged at the ramp. Fear not! Saving your outboard—whether it’s a two or four stroke—from a watery death in fresh or salt water isn’t as hard as most people think, but fast action is crucial regardless of salinity. Once a waterlogged motor comes into contact with air, corrosive rusting begins.
Portable outboards of 25 horsepower and smaller are the most likely engines to go under. Marine mechanics call it “the classic late Saturday afternoon emergency save,” but how it gets to that point is up to fate. For example, while carrying a 9.9-hp outboard you stub a toe at the dock, and you and the motor hit the lake bottom. Or, you fail to tighten down the thumbscrews on the clamps, and normal vibrations loosen the connections to the boat until it is bath time. Most outboards of 60 horsepower and larger are bolted to the transom, so unless the entire boat actually sinks you probably won’t dunk a large engine. Regardless, the techniques used to save an engine work for all sizes.