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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went sailing Sunday and my 12hp Tohatsu quit just as I reached the channel back in to my home harbor. It's an older model (late 80s or early 90s I think) but has been very reliable for me. After using it successfully to get out of the harbor in the morning and motor into and out of anchorage for lunch, it started right up, ran for about a minute, then quit. After that it cranked normally but would not catch.

A very similar thing happened last year, both times I neglected to raise the outboard out of the water while sailing in seas of 2-3 feet. My father's theory was that the wiring got wet, I was thinking a problem with the fuel supply. When it happened last year, the next weekend I went down to the boat, cleaned the spark plug & fuel filter and the engine started right up, though I did not try the engine before executing those tasks, so I'm not sure if that helped or if it just needed to dry.

Any ideas what's going on? I'd like to understand (and avoid) this situation in the future, especially since the channel to my mooring is narrow and usually directly to windward when returning in the afternoon. I will be at the marina this weekend and I'm hoping the engine will start.

Thanks in advance for any advice...

Cal
 

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Misanthrope
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115 Posts
Mid 80's or older...Your symptom screams water in the fuel, but, it could be anything from a bad ground to a bad CD, exciter, or trigger. The electronic parts are no longer available(except the CD) due to its age. I would test for fire on the plugs. If you have fire then it has to be a fuel system issue.
 

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With a Tohatsu and many other outboards, You may find it will kick off and run when you next try it. Just overall dampness under the cowing.

Always keep a spark plug wrench and possibly one plug and a clean cloth in a dry bag on board. If it does not start quickly Remove the plugs and wipe them dry with the cloth, clean around the spark area as best you can. Wipe down as much of the wiring as possible and unplug and replug anything with an electrical plug. If you have a water trap in your fuel line dump it and re-prime. Fresh gas is always a good thing.

Reinstall the plugs, prime and choke the engine but be careful not to flood it. Start and let it run at marginally higher RPM than idle. If it now runs smoothly your ready to go.... until it get wet next time when you have to repeat the same process. This process works best when the sun is helping dry things out but does work most of the time for one of my dinks with a similar dislike for wet conditions.
 

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Telstar 28
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I'd highly recommend putting a fuel/water separator filter in the fuel line if you're using an external tank.
 
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