Busted Boat Bow Eye

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Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby chris oak » January 16th, 2021, 7:54 pm

Say that three times fast... To add to my list of why it's a PITA to own a boat here's a story. Gigas has been sitting idle in the driveway because of all the storms and lack of gamefish, it's about time to do my 100 hr oil/lower unit change but I wanted to make sure the gas wasn't going bad and I also wanted to test the new hot water shower I just installed. Boats get mad when you don't use them often. I had a great day out, solo run because right now covid is really bad in so cal and I just lost two coworkers to it. Easy launch, pretty flat seas and a really cool sunrise. I checked a couple of seabass spots but the vis was terrible and I didn't see/hear anything, not even much bait or calicos even. Hit one of oaks reefs for lobsters and was shocked to see that a lot of my bug holes were filled up with sand from the last storms. I checked for two hours, vis was terrible, surge and waves were big and I only saw a couple of legals and ended up with one nice bug before hitting another reef for a goat for some ceviche.

I had problems in the am because I just installed a new winch/strap and the new strap clip is bigger than my old one and the safety chain hook barely fit. I didn't have any problems in the afternoon fitting that safety chain in because as I was winching the boat the last few inches onto the trailer I heard a pop. "Huh that's odd". I didn't think of anything until I put the safety chain and saw one side of the bow eye had broken off. You know what that means? It means if you were running rollers instead of bunks or going up steep inclines with a wet trailer there could be a chance your boat could end up on the road if you didn't have other safety ties on it.

I still had the rear ties holding the back on, and figured the 2000 or so lbs would keep the boat on the carpeted bunks but to be on the safe side I drove in the slow lane and avoided the bridges where the incline is steep. In fact I avoided ALL the areas that have any incline on the way home and man was I paranoid, I watched that boat every few seconds. I made it home no problem and the boat didn't move an inch thank goodness although the bow eye seemed to bend a bit more.

I removed the two bolts holding it in (one was broken of course) and removed the eye and carefully measured everything with my calipers. It took me a while to find the exact size I needed, you need to know the gap between the bolts, the thread size, and diameter of the bolts. Amazon should be delivering the new one shortly.

I researched a bit on installing it, if the area where yours breaks off is rotten, you need to file out all the crap in there while inspecting it to make sure any water did not damage that area. If the wood/foam/glass is bad it's best to remove it, then cut out an area and install a piece of metal plate into the area, reglass it and then redrill the spot for your new bow eye. In my case the area was fairly clean, I'm drying it out (the santa ana winds in my area is helping) and I am going to remove any dirt etc and seal the inside with some west systems resin just in case. When I install the new bow eye I will also use 5200 to seal the washer plates and bolts to keep a water tight connection and clean up the excess with acetone. I did that when I installed the extra boat cleats on the boat.

I'm attaching pix of the broken bow eye, the new one cost a whopping 12$. Easy fix, I'll sleep better before my next trip.
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby NaClAddict » January 16th, 2021, 8:51 pm

Looks like it’s rusted. Hairline crack? My cleats are so corroded. I don’t replace them because I’m worried I’ll do more damage than repair.
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby chris oak » January 17th, 2021, 9:09 am

Yah its located in my anchor locker (luckily Davis/Radon built a giant anchor locker) and my guess is the rope dripped water all over it over the years. At some point in time there must have been a tiny crack that developed from the rust. I'll def use a lot of 5200 both on the bolt and on the washer plates to try to keep the water out of it. The new eye I ordered also is adjustable in length so I'll be able to make more room for both the chain and winch strap clip.

As long as there isn't water leaking into your cleat holes you should be good. I was just adding a couple for my anchor ball system and wanted to make sure it was water tight.
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby Bill McIntyre » January 17th, 2021, 10:33 am

That’s scary. I’ve had a succession of boats since 1968 and never broken a bow eye. One of them was a 23 footer on a tilt bed trailer with 48 floppy rollers and I just barely put the rear trailer wheels in the water and pulled it in with an electric winch so it was under a lot of strain. (This was because ramps in NC were do shitty that you might back off the edge if you put the trailer in the water.) I can’t even recall how the inside looked on all the boats but on my present boat it’s definitely inside the anchor locker with water dripping on it for 17 years. Now you have me worried.

That other point about going alone due to COVID also has me wondering how my season will go. Apparently we have the new more contagious strain here now and at 82 I really shouldn’t take chances. I really can’t go alone anymore since I need help with getting my booties on and a lot of other things. I hope they hurry up with the vaccine.
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby chris oak » January 17th, 2021, 12:55 pm

Bill McIntyre wrote:That’s scary. I’ve had a succession of boats since 1968 and never broken a bow eye. One of them was a 23 footer on a tilt bed trailer with 48 floppy rollers and I just barely put the rear trailer wheels in the water and pulled it in with an electric winch so it was under a lot of strain. (This was because ramps in NC were do shitty that you might back off the edge if you put the trailer in the water.) I can’t even recall how the inside looked on all the boats but on my present boat it’s definitely inside the anchor locker with water dripping on it for 17 years. Now you have me worried.

That other point about going alone due to COVID also has me wondering how my season will go. Apparently we have the new more contagious strain here now and at 82 I really shouldn’t take chances. I really can’t go alone anymore since I need help with getting my booties on and a lot of other things. I hope they hurry up with the vaccine.


Me too, I hope you get yours soon. California has been lagging on the distribution, I worry about my folks and the older folks in general. I'm pretty much last on the list and it's a bummer to think I might not even get my first dose until summer. I get tested every two weeks just to be safe but with the new strain it's only a matter of time before I think I'll catch it since I'm still at work.

The next time we go out on your boat I'll check your bow eye. On our old parker work boat, the fiberglass was so rotten it was unsafe and we had our fiberglass guy come in. If I remember correctly, he put a stainless plate in with the fiberglass over it and it was rock solid.

You guys will probably never have to do it to this extent, but this is a worst case scenerio repair job I saw online:
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby Bill McIntyre » January 17th, 2021, 5:11 pm

That guy really knew what he was doing, but it drove me nuts that he left that winch cable hooked dangling in front of the job. Obviously it didn't bother him though.
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby gringo sushi » January 18th, 2021, 9:52 am

That's scarry Chris! Glad that you caught it before it turned out bad.

In my early days I dropped a 16' outboard on the ramp at Marina Del Rey when the cable to bow eye hook let loose. I was "that guy" for the day. Fortunately some gracious bystanders helped me and my buddy to slide it down the ramp and back into the water so I could float it back onto the trailer.

When rebuilding the Skipjack I went to remove the bow eye to inspect the wood backing block to make sure it was in good shape (it turned out to be rotten like every other splinter of wood on the boat). With barely any force on the nut the threaded part twisted off. When I inspected the break there was less than 10% of clean metal in the center, the rest was disclored. Being stainless I don't suspect it was corrosion. My guess is that at some point it was overtightened. It's easy to forget how much less torque stainless can take before yielding vs steel.

All is well that ends well. Good move on the saftety straps on the back. I do that too. No sense in leaving ourselves open to a single point failure when it is easy enough to slap a couple of straps on the tail.
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Re: Busted Boat Bow Eye

Postby NaClAddict » January 19th, 2021, 1:05 pm

That crack is right where the cast bulge goes into the plate. Could be a manufacturer defect or old trauma too. Some kind of stress point for sure. Don’t know if a visual would have caught it. Definitely a critical piece of a trailered boat worth checking. Also, that bow eyes is pussy. Put an oversized one in. Test fit to make sure it will still fit your trailer before mounting.

Also, check that your winch hook and safety chain can’t bind up within the eye. Murphy’s law is a boat. YouTube “two wrench lock opening hack” if you don’t understand what I mean.
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