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mjbet91

Broken off tracking fin...boat almost sunk. Series of unfortunate events - help appreciated!

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mjbet91

So a few weeks ago i posted that my 99 sportster LX had a leak and almost sunk days after my first time putting it on the water. Before getting scorned i've owned a few DD boats and i generally take great care of my units.  i just got this boat and was told before launching that it had no known issues by the mechanic who services and stores it.

After taking on water I presumed it to be an HDS leak (or less likely shaft packing),  as the bilge killed my battery while i was out of town, and without the bilge the boat took on a decent amount of water in 2 days and came close to sinking (see photos). The HDS box seemed to have been plexar / fiberglassed by previous owner...

My neighbours did what they could in my absence and beached the nose on my sand beach while boat was taking on water, and put in a submersible pump to get rid of all the water. There was 4" of water above the engine compartment cover at its worst and the back seat was almost completely under to the gunnels. i didnt expect the oil to be ok or it to start..

 

After drying it out and inspecting, it started no problem and was able to drive it to the launch while bilging out any incoming water. 

 

After trailering it and inpecting for a leak, i now see my first tracking fin / gorilla fin is completely missing...from bad (HDS) to worse (hull damage). couple questions: 

 

1) Do you think the tracking fin was likely off before a leak started ? or do you think beaching it broke it off? nowhere to be seen on shoreline. after filling to the bilge, only leak i see in hull is from the fin and no dropping from HDS area or shaft packing... 

 

2) what am i looking like in replacement costs (ball park) ? i just inherited the boat from an estate and its only covered under general home insurance as estate is still in probate.. thus max 4K insured. Is this a type of issue insurance would typically handle ? i have no idea if fin came off from watersports or the beaching, or potentially even at launch. I have never hit anything and the rest of the hull is fine. Second tracking fin isnt so much as dented. 

 

3) is it possible to operate with 1/2 tracking fins and just fill in the holes where the fin used to be as a seasonal fix ? my local shop is backed up until the end of August and wont so much as look at this..

 

4) anybody from Kawartha Lakes / Haliburton Ontario Canada have any malibu service recomendations  ?

 

pics below:

 

https://ibb.co/mVrc6y
https://ibb.co/iY9mzJ
https://ibb.co/nfsTDd

 

thanks guys...

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UWSkier

Yikes!

Those fins are bolted in from below with lag type bolts.  The only way one comes off is if it's removed manually or it strikes something.  The fact there doesn't appear to be any other damage suggests someone took the thing off.  Usually when they rip out, they take chunks of glass with them.  You might be able to tell if there's damage to the holes if it was ripped off or removed.

The good news is yes, that's 99% likely where your leak was coming from.  Yes, you can run with only one tracking fin.  You can probably find another tracking fin and screw it in yourself if you fill in the holes a bit to give it some purchase.  You will likely have other problems though with how much water was in your boat.  Suspect your starter is not long for this world.

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mjbet91

thanks, @UWSkier. I already replaced the starter, emptied and refilled all of the gas to be safe (rear exhaust and how close to water it was). The oil is normal so i didnt need to change it and i lubed all of the engine components with wd40. The engine runs fine which is the good news. thankfully its a DD or id be toast with a vdrive. 

 

do you think beaching the boat would have been enough to knock of the fin? the previous owner has passed away, but his family says that the boat always had a small leak the bilge took care of (i presumed HDS as its been tampered with).

 

also, if you look at the photo, the holes do have some minor fiberglass damage and are no symmetrical... i imagine somehow ripped out

 

do you think its possible the missing fin was the culprit all along or it would leak too fast for a bilge to take care of? no lift and always was left on the water. 

 

the boat was winterized by a mechanic who was supersede to see the fin was missing. 

Edited by mjbet91

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oldjeep

Bolts on the right side of the other fin look loose too. 

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wdr
28 minutes ago, oldjeep said:

Bolts on the right side of the other fin look loose too. 

Like 5 finger discount loose.

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oldjeep
2 minutes ago, wdr said:

Like 5 finger discount loose.

Doubt it.  Holes for other fin look like they were tore out.  More likely the boat got smacked real hard on a trailer, lift or log.  My inlaws ripped a fin off on their lift crossmember. 

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Woodski

@mjbet91:   No insight on Q1 other than perhaps not much bonding material used so if knocked off by impact, less damage was done to hull.  Q2 - Marine Hardware is the primary running gear supplier, they have a website, Great Lakes Skipper is a source for mfg parts, but it can be hit and miss on their supply as they buy at auction and resell.  Q3 - not sure what your use is, but no way could I as a short line slalom skier use a boat with just one tracking fin, I notice a big difference between a Sportster and a Response that has 3.  The missing fin also changes the pivot point of the boat so it will change the handling of the boat and since most have never probably experienced how it will handle with one fin, you are entering an untested area.  If you do run it on one fin, I suggest you do a few evaluation runs to understand how it handles before you grab the gang and go ski/board/barefoot, etc.  Skier side loading (hence fins / pylon located together at boat CG) and turning will be the affected operating events.  BTW - it is a great barefoot boat.

Kudo's to your neighbors for bailing you out, sorry about the pun.

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rakr

Are there nuts rolling around in the bilge/bottom of the boat? I am not sure how the fin is fastened, but I would guess that it is a machine screw through the fin, through the hull, through some sort of backing plate inside the boat, with a nut on top. From the pictures, it doesn't look like the nuts pulled through? I can't quite tell. If the nuts were loose when launched and water was entering the boat via the holes while your neighbors beached the boat, there could be a possibility that the fin could have worked it's way out (taken the nuts off the last set of threads on any remaining screws) during the two days. it looks like there is damage around the screw holes, but not enough to indicate it was ripped off. Just an alternative thought...

I would have thought there would have been more damage to the hull/hole areas, if it was removed "catastrophically".

 

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UWSkier
3 minutes ago, rakr said:

Are there nuts rolling around in the bilge/bottom of the boat? I am not sure how the fin is fastened, but I would guess that it is a machine screw through the fin, through the hull, through some sort of backing plate inside the boat, with a nut on top. From the pictures, it doesn't look like the nuts pulled through? I can't quite tell. If the nuts were loose when launched and water was entering the boat via the holes while your neighbors beached the boat, there could be a possibility that the fin could have worked it's way out (taken the nuts off the last set of threads on any remaining screws) during the two days. it looks like there is damage around the screw holes, but not enough to indicate it was ripped off. Just an alternative thought...

I would have thought there would have been more damage to the hull/hole areas, if it was removed "catastrophically".

 

I don't believe they're through-bolted.  Pretty sure it's just a coarse-grained screw directly into the keel that holds those on on direct drives.  They're through-bolted on that era V-drive... which was a pain last year when the front fin on our 01 VLX came loose.  Whole floor had to come apart to fix.  On a DD, if there's not substantial damage, you can just putty up the holes and screw in a new one from below.

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oldjeep

Yup, no nuts.  Resin and soacked patches of glass mat shoved up through tge holes then redrilled was how my inlaws fixed theirs. 3m 5200 to glue the fin on. 

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BSUBU_Kris
Quote

 

First, really sorry you are having to deal with this, never any fun even if you are really good at fixing things.

The other fin does look like it could be slightly bent to the Starboard side which could explain why the bolts on the Port side look a bit loose.  If it were my boat I would remove that other fin and inspect underneath to make sure it is not about to come off also.  I am not sure if the factory uses a bonding material in addition to the screws.  If so, it might be tough to take off even with the screws out but from the picture it does not look like there was any bonding material on the front fin that is missing..  Beaching the boat on sand will not cause a fin to come off, they are very tough.

I have not driven a response but would assume for normal boating you would not have any issues but it will handle different than with both fins.  I assume that most anyone that drives your boat will not know what normal handling for that boat would be so hopefully they just use good judgment.  I would definitely avoid high speed power turns.  If it were me, I would be OK with finishing the season on the one fin.  That said I would also take that remaining fin off and reattach it to the hull.  If a replacement fin is available it would not be much additional work to do both at the same time.  Even with a fin missing I am sure that boat will handle better than many boats that I have driven.

Lastly, I would definitely not leave it in the water overnight until I was certain I had the leak fixed.  There are not a lot of places for these boats to take on water.  I would make sure the hull is completely dry and then inspect every through hull fitting for any leaking water as soon as you get it launched.  I would launch somewhere that you can tie up easily at the ramp and not even start the boat.  Just bring a picnic lunch and hang for a couple hours looking for any leaks.  I would pay attention to the rudder, shaft packing, raw water intake and hoses, speed sensors, depth finder and anything else that has been installed through the hull.  If the fin was not the cause you should see very quickly where the leak or leaks are coming from with as much water as the boat took on in two days.

Hope the fin is the issue and you can enjoy the boat the rest of the summer.

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nosnarb

It doesn't take much of an impact to dislodge the fin.  I'd say you are actually pretty lucky.  When the front fin on our echelon bumped a submerged rock it rotated the fin and drove it upwards into the hull leaving about a 2" square puncture.  I think in your situation they can fix the holes / redrill and install a new fin from outside the boat.  On ours they had to cut the floor of the ski locker to get access to the back side.

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jmayerik

I lost a fin a couple weeks ago on a family vacation.  In my 2000 SS lxi, it's NOT through bolted.  However, to get through the week I sandwiched a couple rubber washer with some fender washer above and below.  The bilge never kicked on for the rest of the trip.  Just having fun on the lake, tubes and free skiing I didn't notice driving differences.  It's getting glassed in now, but if I didn't get such a quick turn around time I would have just kept the rubber washer in till the end of the year, will little worry.  

 

Also, from now on I'll keep a few rubber washers/fender washers in the boat toolbox to save a weekend.  

Edited by jmayerik

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