Weekend was a bit of a bust......


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Gather 'round, mateys and hear my story
As I was out on the water in me plastic dory.
On a dark dark night out there fishin'
with me son and grandson, we're on a mission...

.....to catch somethin' other than hardheads.


Well, it was a little past 9pm and dark, of course. I'd been anchored on the edge of the shipping channel in Port Aransas. Tankers in and out of there all day going to/from the terminals in Corpus Christi and the LPG terminal in Ingleside. As I said, it was night and since we had driven half the day to get there, we had dinner and decided to fish for just a couple hours that night.

After catching nothing but hardheads all night we decided to weigh anchor and head on in. My grandson (a Coastie, by the way) hauled in the anchor and I turned on the igniton key of my Suzuki DF150. NOTHING!! Except for the electronics and lights that are powered by the house battery, the helm was dead. As I tried different things, thinking it would surely start, I found that I had drifted into the center of the channel. Uh-oh! So now we're watching for tankers. There's a lesson here, mates.

Anyway, by God's good grace, no ships came along as we sat there dead in the water. I anchored again where I had drifted on to the other side of the channel in about 10 feet of water and called for a tow. Happy to have an account with US Boat, so the tow was free.

Now my main purpose for this confession of my stupidity for not dropping anchor immediately (or not weighing anchor in the first place) without starting the motor to ensure I had power, was to point out a few things that I've found since this episode with my 195CC.

I've had this boat since new in 2009. It's a 2008 model 195CC, and I love the boat. But there is some really poor design involved in the wiring of my boat, either by the dealer or the factory. I'm pretty sure the factory installs the outboard on a new boat.

I can't speak about any other brand of outboards, but the Suzukis all have what we Zuke fans commonly refer to as the "white wire." It basically serves two purposes. It is a separate wire directly from the start battery to the ECM relay to ensure that the ECM gets full power from the battery without any voltage drops caused by other loads on the main battery cable. It also supplies power to the helm. It has a fuse to the controls at the helm, and if you find that the helm is dead, as I did, then the first thing to look for is a blown fuse on that white wire.

I have never, in 14 years, had the problem of a dead helm. Never had so much as a hiccup from my outboard until that night a little over a week ago. But we didn't have the boat for the rest of our time together last weekend. And I've been looking for that fuse ever since I got home.

Now, normally those who have encountered this problem before have found the fuse on a short pigtail behind the dashboard. It's on the section of wire that goes through a short section of harness to the ignition switch, where it connects to everything else when the switch is turned on. And that fuse is right there as the wire comes off the battery, (or the main battery switch). The other section of the white wire goes directly back to the motor to that ECM relay. The people who wired this boat (lousy design, in my opinion) decided to connect the white wire to a positive buss inside the stern, starboard side, and run from there to the ECM relay. Then from the ECM relay, the white wire runs back to the helm with an inline fuse. So that fuse sits back there hidden behind a 1x1 foot panel held by 8 screws. There are also two relays inside there (to what, I know not), the fuel lines, the fuel/water separator filter, primer bulb, etc. Plus there were two huge mud wasp nests there glued to the relays and the relay board. All sorts of wasp and wasp pupae crap and slime everywhere. I've found the blown 15 amp fuse now. But I sure do have a lot of clean up to do back there. I also intend to seal that compartment up with some spray-in foam to keep those buggers out in the future. Maybe someday in the future, I'll just rewire the boat and run that white wire like it should have been done in the first place, where the fuse is readily accessible under the console, and the white wire from the batteries to the ECM relay actually serves its intended purpose of providing full power to the ECM relay.

A few pictures.... you can see in the last picture where daylight is shining through. That's what I intend to seal up with foam.

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Thanks for sharing your experience Mike. And the pictures will be VERY helpful to anyone else who encounters this. Glad you were able to anchor up on the other side of the channel and wait for the tow. Been there, done that. :)
The two relays in the stern compartment are the PTT relays. I've decided to give closed cell backer rod a try to seal off both stern compartments instead of spray foam.
As I read this and look at the pictures I can't help but wonder what in the heck the rigger was thinking by putting a squeeze bulb as well as the fuse block behind a difficult access panel. What were they smoking during that process?

Harper, can you enlighten me on what is a "Hard head"?
The hard head is our local name for the sea catfish. Usually pretty small (8-12"), too small to clean and eat, but a very prolific fish and skilled bait stealer. I have a 95 year old mom who still likes to get out on my boat and fish, ( I take her twice a year in the cooler months) but all she can manage anymore is bottom fishing for gafftop (gafftopsail catfish) which many never keep because they can't get past that protective slime on the fish. But the gafftop grow considerably larger than the hardheads and are pretty tasty when fried. Neither of these grow anywhere near as large as some of your river cats.

Sea catfish, AKA hardhead
Sea Catfish.jpg

and the gafftop (usually 18-22", but I've caught a few at 26")


Here's a stringerful of gafftop from the last time I took Mom out.
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