I personally like to have the rear seat lifted up while I do this. It provides better visibility and easier access to the motor.

Starting a cold engine

  1. Ensure battery connected and battery switch set to position 1.
  2. Ensure fuel line securely connected to both engine and gas tank.
  3. Ensure area around back of boat is clear.
  4. Insert boat key and the emergency shut off toggle.
  5. Lower motor into water with switch on throttle. If support lever on outboard is down, you will have to raise the motor with the switch to release the pressure. Flip lever over, then lower the motor with the switch.
  6. Pump the fuel pump on the gas line until tight. Listen for air leaks that could indicate something is loose or leaking.
  7. Ensure the throttle is in Neutral.
  8. Pump the fuel primer on the side of the outboard engine four times.
  9. Push disk in on side of throttle and move forward. This allows you to give the motor some gas while in neutral. This is a bit of an art, too much and you flood, too little and it will stall. I found it pushes forward free for a about 2″ and then once you feel a little more friction push it forward another 1/2″.
  10. One more check around outboard engine and prop for any obstructions.
  11. Turn the key for 1-2 seconds to start the engine. If it doesn’t start, wait 3-5 seconds and try again. After a few attempts, go through this checklist again.

After the engine starts, depending on how cold it is it will run a bit rough for about 10-15 seconds. During this time you will be playing with the throttle to give the engine just enough gas that it doesn’t stop. Keep your hand on the lever because the engine RPMs will spike and you will have to bring the lever back until it clicks and let it idle.

Make sure the water pump is working properly by looking for the spray squirting out of the rear of the outboard motor. It should be spraying out a few feet. If not, it’s either clogged or the water pump isn’t working. This can be serious, best to shut down the engine and check it if it’s not spraying.

Starting a warm engine

Same as above, but you don’t need to pump the fuel primer (#8) or adjust the throttle (#9). After ensuring it’s safe, turn the key for a second or two.

Ballast, keel and rudder

Just a few comments, will probably talk more about these in a different checklist.

  • Navigating in harbour is easier if the keel is set to 1/4 down and one of the rudders are dropped into the water. This will reduce side slippage and will give you better control while coasting. Just be careful of the depth.
  • It may be tempting to go out without the water ballast full. Resist the temptation. The boat will sit higher in the water and can capsize. Here’s a brutal reminder on how dangerous this could be: 2 children drown in sailboat capsize – Burlington Free Press via New England Trailer Sailors . Yes, the boat was overloaded with eight adults and three children. Yes, the skipper was drinking and blew 0.217. Yes, they were out in the dark at 10pm. Point is, crap can happen, be safe and fill your ballast. I don’t think it’s worth the risk when you have kids aboard.