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rperret 09-02-2007 09:49 PM

cleaning the prop
My prop needs constant cleaning - on the order of every 3-4 weeks. (in saltwater in a crappy harbor in Connecticut).

Yes, I know and have used a diver. But in my quest to save more (new deck, new walkway, new driveway, new patio - all in past 3 months)...boat bucks need to be extended further.

I know people will dive at their mooring to give their prop a quick clean - my question is HOW can one keep that steady underwater to clean the prop - since I assume you need two hands - one to hold the prop, the other to scrape it.

Do folks run a line amidships? Wear a PFD? Wait til dead low tide (not a real option - the harbor where I am moored also has the sewage treatment plant...) so prefer high tide (about 12-13 ft of water.) Can I hang onto the propshaft?

Appreciate any input here - life was simpler when my last boat had the outboard.


k1vsk 09-02-2007 10:45 PM

put the transmission in gear (preferably with the engine off) and hang onto the prop with one hand - it won't move.

hellosailor 09-02-2007 11:28 PM

Rick, the hardest part of cleaning a part is holding your breath while not getting all banged up into the hull. You take a big breath so you can stay down, and you are buoyant so you bang your head into the hull. Not good. And you might want to wear a "painting shirt" because you will be full of bottom paint if you use the ablative kind.

A light weight belt can help if you are too buoyant. GLOVES are strongly suggest. What I do is grab the prop shaft with one hand, to stay down and put (and if there are barnacles on that, you don't want to grab it barehanded, the cuts will infect) and attack the prop, one blade at a time, with a heavy wire brush, paint scraper, or other suitable implement of destruction.
Wearing a PFD would be impossible--you couldn't stay under to work. Wearing a safety line is good practice--if you have someone above to hold it, or you are working in current. More important, every tool you work with needs to be on a leach--or you will drop it and lose it. Or have it float away.
If you have a mask or goggles, wear them to keep the crud out of your eyes. Personally I'd rather leave the mooring field and get into cleaner water--you never know who's been dumping the head directly, and I'd rather not swim in it.
I suppose ti would be easier to tie a heavy paper bag over the prop every time you moor, and just blow it off when you start up the engine. Presumably with a clean prop still inside, and some biodegradable pulp shredding off when you start. (Whoa! Politically incorrect! < G > )

trantor12020 09-03-2007 01:56 AM

Rick, I've just done that yesterday. Dive in with glove and scraper. I won't suggest using weight 'cos when you're out of breathe you want to surface in double-quick time. I lost count how many time I came up for air. Don't forget, you're not just holding your breathe, you're working so your breathe won't last long. Use flippers/fins, it help you ascend quickly and stay buoyant on surface with little effort. If banking your head on hull is a problem, wear a bicycle helmet.
As for the holding, I hang on to the prop, clean one blade at a time (this is the one time I wish I hadn't change from 2 blades to 3, more to clean), you can turn the prop as you clean, also clean the prop-shaft. It certainly help if there isn't much wake.
Ropes along the length of hull is useful for cleaning waterline.

Fstbttms 09-03-2007 11:44 AM

I use a Rubbermaid wire brush/scraper for cleaning running gear. Some divers use stainless steel wool.

Since you're already willing to get into the water to maintain at least part of your boat, you might consider taking a SCUBA course. Then you could buy or rent gear and do all your underwater maintenance yourself in relative comfort and ease. I bet it would pay for itself many times, over the span of your boat ownership.

camaraderie 09-03-2007 11:55 AM

I dove on my boat quite often and found that a weight belt was a must. I use about 8 lbs. but I am a big guy so start with four and work your way up as needed. Wear gloves and use a scraper and a wire brush as appropriate. If you don't have a wetsuit...wear long sleeves to prevent getting sliced by small barnacle. I generally hold on to the propshaft or strut with one hand while cleaning with the other. I would never tie a line to myself but generally leave on hanging overboard to hang on t during rests. It is tiring work and many people who are not comfortable diving with a snorkle would tend to panic a bit so I would not attempt this if you are not really that comfortable with your underwater and swimming skills. An alternative to a PADI course and equipment is a hookah system.

hellosailor 09-03-2007 12:28 PM

"Then you could buy or rent gear"
Not so cheap these days. At least on the east coast, rentals are high. Fills are $6-10 for air, and often ask you to leave the tank for what turns into a week (and two trips of course). Then there are the blasted inspections, no one wants to do a simple annual VIP they want to do a a VIP Plus or something else and turn a $10 job into a $40 annual dog and pony show. Plus the $40-50 hydro every fifth year. (Oh, and leave it for another week or two.)

Casual diving in the northeast can be a pita unless you live within a mile of a shop where the owner hasn't soured on the business yet.

Makes renting a full tank for the casual user into a better idea than owning one. (And I'm afraid to ask what tank rentals are up to.)

Cam, I can only speak for the few folks I know personally who were certified through PADI courses. A step up from "resort" day courses, but the way PADI feeds "nuggets" are certifications for everything individually, makes a lot of us laugh at them. You know, here's a PADI Basic Diving Course, a PADI Swimming Pool Diving Course, a PADI Beach Diving Course, Boat Diving Course, Freshwater Boat Diving Course, Night Diving Course, Compass Diving Course, Handspear/Spearfishing Course, Diving After Lunch Course, Diving Before Lunch Course....
I can see the point of breaking things up into nuggets, I'm just not sure that's a good way to teach a sport where there will be larger issues, and people will "wander" into areas where they have zero knowledge, because it would have meant another course.
I hope the folks I know had untypically poor instruction, or that PADI has grown since those days. I'd be happier to see the whole industry go back to using panic sessions and other ways of screening out folks who simply should't be diving--no matter how profitable the travel pacakages may be.

Fstbttms 09-03-2007 12:29 PM


Originally Posted by camaraderie (Post 187719)
An alternative to a PADI course and equipment is a hookah system.

As a professional diver I don't recommend this to anybody. As I have said here many times, anybody breathing compressed air underwater (whether supplied by SCUBA gear or a hookah) should have the safety and health knowledge provided by NAUI or PADI training.

Fstbttms 09-03-2007 12:35 PM


Originally Posted by hellosailor (Post 187723)
"Then you could buy or rent gear"
Not so cheap these days.

Compared to the cost of having a diver out every 3 or 4 weeks? Again, the initial investment and relatively small cost of tank fills and hydros could be paid for many time over during one's boat ownership. If all you did was clean your prop, a single tank might last you all season.

hellosailor 09-03-2007 12:41 PM

"If all you did was clean your prop, a single tank might last you all season"
A good point. I guess it depends on what price you can get for a diver, bearing in mind that may be whole hull not just prop, which would burn a lot more air. Plus stowing the tank on the boat...and keeping it there all season would mean buying the whole rig, plus (for the casual user) that would mean getting the regulator serviced every year as well as the tank...

They just don't make it cheap, easy, or simple. Add in the value of time and effort, the cost of getting certified...And of course, time and effort to shower or wash down, dry towels, change clothes, all that other good stuff that stops casual sailors from just hopping under the boat. And if there's a diver in the anchorage giving seasonal plans, sometimes it can be reasonable to just pay the diver. (Remember now, I get an agent's fee for whatever business this sends to you. < G > )

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