Clearing a fouled prop

Clearing a fouled propeller is important for maintaining your boat engine's efficiency.

After boating season is over, many boat owners will take their vessel out of the water only to find that the propeller is covered in barnacles, tangled plants, fishing gear and other debris that accumulated over the course of the summer months.

While it's tempting to simply leave your props alone and ignore the gunk and slime that gathers, this can have an adverse effect on your boat's efficiency. All of that material on the prop blade will cause it to move less water when it is spinning, and you'll end up using more fuel to cover the same distance.

In this article we'll discuss some of the ways you can clear a fouled prop:

  • Antifouling paint is sometimes applied to boat props while they're out of water for winter. You can apply it yourself, but many boatyards will do this work for you. This paint deters flora and fauna from gathering on the blades.
  • If your prop becomes entangled in some kind of fishing netting, such as a lobster trap, while you're underway, first stop the motor to assess the situation. With an outboard motor, you could tilt the engine up and untangle the netting by hand. For inboard engines, you can try running the motor in reverse to clear it. 

If your prop becomes unusable or corrodes because of debris, it may be time to invest in a new one. There are many places to purchase new boat parts, but you'll find the most affordable prices and the best service if you shop at ePal.

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