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Very important! Do not crank the engine with the hose in the bucket of water or you risk getting water in places it shouldn't be (the cylinders, specifically). When the engine catches, THEN place the hose into the bucket.

I would also suggest checking the condition of the impeller first (among other things) -- it if hasn't been started in 3-4 years, it could be in pretty bad shape. If a vane or a piece breaks off and gets lodged in the cooling system, you'll have some work ahead of you.
 

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Why would this cause any problem? When the boat is in the water, isn't that like having the hose in the bucket?

How does the water get into the cylinders from the cooling system?
MorganPaul beat me to it. When the boat is in the water, the best practice, especially if some time has elapsed since the engine was last started or if it is likely to crank for more than a few seconds before catching, is to leave the thru-hull CLOSED while you crank the engine and OPEN it after it catches. That way you're sure not to overload the exhaust system with water and then the cylinders, etc.

It goes without saying that you should close the raw water thru hull (and any others) when you leave the boat. Some people put little reminders (a label or even hanging the key on the valve itself) to remind them to open it after it's started.

BTW, Pretzel, welcome to Sailnet.
 
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