Fletcher 170GTO – First Trip!

After having got the boat ready, an earlyish start was planned for Monday.

I had printed of weather and tidal charts, sorted out boat insurance and charged my VHF radio!! Next was to chuck in a load of life jackets, anchor flares throw line and a whole load of other safety kit. Whilst still amazed that there was plenty of room left, change of clothes food and lunch was also chucked aboard!

This was going to be quite an eye opener today. I did a few years ago take the same type of hull out, but the engine on that was not running well and never really got a feel of it so I still didn’t really know what to expect.

Launching went without issue. In fact I was amazed the boat slid off the trailer without drama and Simon parked the car whilst I attended to getting the engine ready to fire. Now my last boat had a rather tricky old in line 6 motor which took some attempts to get going, boarding on impossible sometimes, fearful of the same the engine jumped in to life without any problem at all.

Simon had now returned and with the girls already on board (!) he jumped in and for the first time I motored away from the shore and headed north up Langstone harbour to get a feel for things. Fortunately there were to be no nasty surprises. Everything worked as anticipated, and with slightly hazy sunshine and a bit of a southerly wind, conditions in the harbour were fairly calm.

After testing a bit further and reminding myself how everything worked I span around and headed south out of the harbour and into the open water. This was the first time I had experienced the bigger hull. It has a much softer ride off plane, and dealt with the moderate rough sea with ease. The winder over tied caused a few waves that would have upset the old boat but we all remained dry and in reasonable comfort.

So I tried a bit more throttle, The boat starts to come up onto plane at about 14mph. This seemed quite high I thought, and I may look into some trim tabs to help level the boat out, however I shortly backed off as the sea was a little rough for this at that point. I also noticed that the engine began to bog down under partial throttle tending to want to stall if the throttle was not opened up briefly. So slightly unsure of how safe everything was (didn’t want an engine failure here as I’m also new to this engine) we headed back into the harbour to settle back down and find a spot to anchor up and have some lunch.

We anchored up at the northern end of the harbour with about, and whilst coming back in I noticed that the engine was very oily – even for a 2 stroke, so whilst the others ate I pulled the inlet to the carbs off to see if anything was obvious. Nothing really amiss here so I started the engine and let it idle.. then a minor problem revealed its self. I noticed that the middle pair of carbs were leaking fuel out of the inlet trumpets. This means that the floats are not closing properly. The cause of this is most likely old needles within them, so I shall order new ones, I know they are not dirty as I’ve already cleaned them. It wasn’t a problem at larger throttles just below 2000 rpm under load where the extra fuel caused the engine to run too rich on those cyls. That should be a simple fix which I’ll sort out soon.

After this I decided to give the back up engine a try. I found that in the up position its too high, and in the low – too low. So shall see to that, but it did however allow the boat to be manoeuvred in the event of engine failure and also worked a million times better than the puny 2.3 hp backup I had on the old boat.

So with growing confidence we headed back out to sea. This time we headed for the forts on the Solent. This was the first time I could stretch the engine a little and managed around 35mph but the sea was a little rough to go any more.

Then the helm seat broke!! It had been secured with nasty wood screws and because it sits quite low I had been leaning heavily on it. This I need to raise and secure properly to prevent this happening again. It would also benefit from thicker/stronger foam to help absorb some of the impacts. Something to think about… Nothing else eventful happened today, in fact the rather dull weather forecast and potential for strong winds never amounted to much. Later in the afternoon the sea settled a bit which was when I was able to hit 45.7mph. I’m sure there will be more to come too but in time. Possibly also the engine is over propped a bit, with a max rpm seen of around 4800, but need to test more first.

So enough text, If your reading this thanks

So Key points learned today:

*Off plane very smooth ride, eats waves that my old 165 would end up covering everyone with water.
*Comes on plane at around 14 mph, and will quickly pick up speed to about 20-24. Quite hard to control in this region, but made worse by the engine choking up, and will improve when fixed.
*Backup engine needs raising a few inches. I’ll make a new backing plate to do this on the outboard clamp.
*Top speed 45mph RPM 4800-5000
*Trip distance around 30 miles (forgot to reset gps so only recoded 20)
*Fuel consumption seems better than expected, but really hard to tell for sure just yet. Need to re-fill to be sure.
*Trim tabs could be a benefit?
*Need to fix the seat down!! + raise it.
*and finally I have a boat that works! Now to do some finishing touches when I get time but wow I can’t believe it!!!

Finally Some pics from the day – and video to follow when I get time:

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Simon chilling out whilst we eat lunch

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Sat at anchor eating lunch!

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Been a LONG time since I’ve seen a view like that…

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Girls again. Still got quite cold… Also you can see the carb covers of the engine where I noticed fuel leaking out whilst running at low rpm.

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Proof we made it!

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Under Simons control here, Quite nice to sit down and take in the surroundings as a passenger.

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Engines!! Backup engine at full height (prop still a bit low) but main V6 engine seemingly working quite well so far.

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Back at shore. Rather low tide now. Had no problem getting it out however.

All in all a rather fantastic first trip in the ‘new’ boat!

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Trip statistics

Max speed: 45.4 MPH
Average speed: 9.9 MPH
Distance Covered: 30 Miles
Calculated MPG: 2.7
Total engine run time: 3h06m
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