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Strange Event on the Water


Soon2BV

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We spent this last week on a houseboat at Dale Hollow. On Tuesday night, we (7 of us) went from the houseboat to a marina / restaurant down the lake about 20 miles and took the Malibu. The restaurant is a family favorite and we were celebrating our 30th anniversary with our kids and spouses.

After dinner (about 7 PM) we headed back up the lake to our houseboat. About 5 minutes in, we hit something submerged (a large branch we thought) and the boat started to vibrate pretty bad. We stopped and shut down, idled, sped up - it got worse as we accelerated. I got out and checked the prop with my feet and it felt fine, but the vibrations were pretty bad. We decided we would idle back to the houseboat, and started that way. Then we realized we should maybe go back to the restaurant / marina and make a different plan. Several factors in this decision. 1) no marinas between where we were and our houseboat if it got worse, 2) it was less than an hour from dark and with 15 miles to go, we were looking at 3 hours+ to get there and, 3) since the prop felt OK, I was afraid we had bent the shaft and did not want to run that long.

To further complicate the situation, my trailer was at a repair shop on the west side of the lake (stuck brake caliper), my truck was at a marina where we rented the houseboat, and the houseboat was about 1 mile from that marina.

We finally got back to the restaurant marina (about a 10 minute ride at barely above idle speed), rented a slip, and I called a tow service. The could get me the next morning, but would not do a night run since we were safely at a marina.

So I checked for a cabin at the marina restaurant. First they said nothing available, because they have a 2 night minimum. After I explained my situation, they relented and let me rent a 2 bedroom cabin for one night (a deal at $225!). Remember, we went for dinner, so we only had the clothes we were wearing, and I had been in the water already to check out the prop...

So we bought some hard lemonade (not many choices in the marina), went to the cabin and played cards until midnight and then slept.

The next morning the towing guy called me and we made a plan for him to get me at 9 AM. We hook up and he pulled us the 15+ miles at about 7.5 MPH. Did I say if was already about 95F at 9 AM? Well, we finally got back to the houseboat, paid the bill (about $550), and made a plan.

Our plan was to idle to the marina, get my truck, go get the trailer, pull the boat, inspect the prop and shaft and then change the prop (I did have a spare with me), then re-launch the boat and take the trailer back.

When we left the houseboat, we idled out and then slowly accelerated to "document" what vibrations we had so we could confirm we had fixed it after the prop change. Crazy thing is, all the vibration was gone. I drove slow and fast, hard turns, quick starts, everything. Solid as before the impact. We used the boat the rest of the week and when I got it on the trailer yesterday everything is fine - not signs of any impact.

I am guessing that there was still something stuck between the rudder / structures / prop and it either worked loose on the tow, or maybe when my son backed out of the slip for us to hook up to the tow boat.

Whatever it was, I was bummed to have paid for a cabin when I had a houseboat up the lake, but still think I made the right choice in not trying to drive it there that night. And I was pretty excited when the problem was gone and I didn't have to spend all afternoon changing a prop and trying to figure out what damage there was. And, I think my boat insurance will cover the tow.

Always an adventure!

Edited by Soon2BV
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Homerun all the way.

Yes, expensive, but that is part of what vacation is all about. Don't beat yourself up, there is no doubt you made the right call based on the information you had at the time.

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Absolutely right choice ! You had other peoples lives on the line literally. A little more expensive than you would like, but that decision made sure all would be safe.

Sometimes these detours also lead to unexpected good things, like meeting good samaritans and such, and hopefully this did too.

I used to ski on a very narrow tree lined river for years. Sometimes an extremely small piece of a branch could get caught on a sharp prop blade and cause extreme vibration. You'd be surprised how hard it was to get off when you'd grab it with your hand.

Just glad all is okay for you,

Steve B.

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You definitely did the right thing by not driving the boat with a massive vibration.

Most likely something was caught in a prop blade and worked itself out.

A little expensive but, better safe than sorry. Think about it this way, at least you're not making an ins. claim for massive damages and not having your boat for the next couple of months.

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I had a similar experience (minus the at night far from home etc). Big vibration, shut down. Start again, more vibration. dove under the boat and we'd caught a random rope. Hit reverse for two seconds and the rope was gone and as if it never happened.

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Maybe a stick caught in the skegs?

I guess a mask would work better than checkin with your feet.

As luck would have it, I have a mast and snorkel that we keep on the boat for just this type of thing. However, we had been snorkeling around the houseboat during the day, watching the fish and the turtles, and it was hanging on the houseboat to dry....

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Had almost the same thing happen to me, minus the cabin/tow stuff. Anyway had a load of people aboard, first summer with the boat, just cruising along when all of a sudden the boat just starts vibrating like mad, thought I had hit something and bent something, any ways it turned out to be a hat that must have been floating it got caught around the prop, hardest part was getting it off the prop, had no mask or anything, kept banging my head on the boat, swimplatform, wedge etc. but got it off and no problems after that. Now I dont boat without my $25 snorkel kit ever :crazy:

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I used to ski on a very narrow tree lined river for years. Sometimes an extremely small piece of a branch could get caught on a sharp prop blade and cause extreme vibration. You'd be surprised how hard it was to get off when you'd grab it with your hand.

:plus1:

I was pulling a wakeboarder mid-morning a couple of summers back. All of the sudden, I felt a horrible vibration and

stopped. Fortunately, I did have my mask and snorkel on board. I dove under and discovered all was fine except for

a surprisingly small piece of hardwood impaled on the edge of one of the prop blades. I mean, this thing was less than

2 inches long and half as wide as a finger. I was astounded at how much vibration that little piece of wood caused.

You did the right thing. Glad everything worked out okay.

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I was also on a houseboat trip on Dale Hallow about 3 years ago when the same thing happened. We were luckily about 15 min from the houseboats so we continued at idle. When we got there, we went under and it turned out to be a railroad tie stuck on one of the prop guards!! It was about 6 feet long and you can imagine the vibration. None the less, once it was removed everything went as expected. Driving at night can certainly present some hazards.

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I was also on a houseboat at Dale Hollow all last week. Put 20 hours on the Bu and luckily no major problems. We make a long run from Holly Creek to Sunset every year just for the ride and to get Ice Cream. When we got ready to leave, my boat decided to vapor lock again. No problem though, 1 squirt of ice water from the cooler on the fuel pump and we were on our way.

What area of the lake were you hanging out at?

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We had the houseboat near Wisdom, just at the entrance to Illwill Creek, back in a small cove.

There is a ski course right there, and so we mainly stayed in that area of the lake - the course was pretty empty and that area was also good for wakeboarding.

We made the trip to Sunset for dinner, went to Star Point for Ice Cream on Wednesday night, and ran back and forth to the State Park Marina for fuel and ice. I had saved up a bunch of $25 gas cards from BP from a rewards program so i didnt use any "cash" for gas all week!.

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we hit something submerged (a large branch we thought) and the boat started to vibrate pretty bad. We stopped and shut down, idled, sped up - it got worse as we accelerated. I got out and checked the prop with my feet and it felt fine, but the vibrations were pretty bad.

Sounds like you picked up something. We get that from time to time from running the river. Normally if we stop put the boat in reverse and back up it will come free.

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Good call.

Kenw beat me to it though. We picked up part of a silt fence one time. I put the boat is reverse and it unraveled itself.

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