Had a little scare today.

Heyspike

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#1
So i am going from the marina to the public launch to trailer the Salty Dog so I can take it to Long Island fishing when I get a chance and get it out of the yacht club for the season. My friend helps me pulling out of the slip at the Newburgh Yacht Club by pushing the stern outward, while I grab the boat on the Port side to face the bow out to the river. All good so far. So I'm facing the right direction, move the steering wheel where I want to go and NOTHING! No steering. My friend (Thank God) is still there by the dock, he helps me back into a different slip. So after a few common choice curse words, I have steering back!?! WTH? So I venture out to the river with good steering until I get it on plane, no steering. I limp it to the Boat Ramp and get it on the trailer. Bring her home and take a look at the SeaStar steering system. It looks like I have a leak on the shaft seal. I ordered a replacement kit and will install it next week.
 

Halfhitch

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#2
Several years back, I had a similar experience only I was on a planned trip and it ruined that. I had just always assumed there was fluid in the helm and had not looked at the level for a long, long time. Since my experience and thinking about what could have happened , I now have included in my "get ready" routine, a 10 second look at that level by unscrewing that little plug on the helm and peeking in. I finally learned that that plug doesn't need to be so tight that it is hard to unscrew. That is just a reservoir with no pressure to speak of.
A mechanic at the boat shop where I took the boat for repair started me on that routine. He said he puts that inspection of steering fluid right behind the garboard plug in importance as a safety item. That was a long time ago and I have had to replace seals on a couple of boats since but it has never snuck up on me like that first time.
 
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HMBJack

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#3
Lucky it all ended that way. Good on you to discover quick what went wrong and order the replacement parts.

I agree with what the mechanic advised (above) on periodically checking the steering fluid.

Think about it - we carry spare parts for this and that. Many of us have two engines, two or more batteries, two fuel tanks, two GPS's, and so on. But exactly how many steering systems do we all have?

Since I experienced a similar issue with my own steering, I now carry a oil can with a flexible tip filled with Seastar fluid on board. Makes it super easy to add fluid at any time.
 

Fishtales

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#4
I had one of the black hydraulic lines start to leak. No steering in three minutes. If you have twins you can use the binnacles to steer (what I did), but when you lose hydraulic steering not much you can do. Note: If your boat is 10 years or older, check those black hydraulic cables that go into the steering rams. Mine sprung the leak right were the over molded plastic sleeve ends. Couldn't see it wearing.
 
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Ky Grady

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#5
I had steering failure back in the summer. Blown helm seal, instead of rebuilding a 14 year old helm, I opted for a new helm. I'll keep the original cylinder for now with the F225 as I have to change out the cylinder when I upgrade to the F250.

I had limited steering but still managed to get the day in. 3-4 turns of the wheel before I got a response. At least you were close to the dock and able to get loaded.
 

Legend

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#7
I have a couple of tubes of fluid on board just in case. Lost steering for a few minutes several years ago returning from a fishing trip 25 miles out.
 

Fishtales

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#8
Not sure how long fluid will help for if you can't stop the leak. Id say the best preventative maint is to change any plastic hydraulic lines you have after 10 years. I believe the only place they exist is from the aft of the boat, through the bulk head and to the motors.
 
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Heyspike

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#9
I am a pretty good do it your selfer always up for a little challenge, looking at the seal replacement seems straight forward, the question would be: Is the hose line from bleeder to bleeder under pressure OR can I just zip tie a hose to it?
 

Fishtales

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#10
If you just replace and then get the hydraulic kit for seastar (a tube with a couple of custom ends on it (one threads into the top of the steering, the second onto a quart of fluid_. You can get it on Amazon.
Just slowly work the wheel back and forth between the stops to work the air out. After doing this until no more bubbles, power the engines and repeat. Should come out as good as new.
 

Fishtales

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#11
There are only a few places that sell the lines. Took me a few days to get it. Not going to help you if you don't have them onboard. Prob best to inspect and replace if necessary than wait for a failure.
 

Heyspike

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There are only a few places that sell the lines. Took me a few days to get it. Not going to help you if you don't have them onboard. Prob best to inspect and replace if necessary than wait for a failure.
I'm going to order the lines for an off season replacement. I'm trying to get out and trailer it to the LI Sound via Norwalk for Tautog fishing once or twice, before I winterize it.
 

Fishtales

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#14

Heyspike

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#15
make sure you measure the lines. on my 300, they were 4' and 7'. The ones you can buy online are sold in 2' increments. Yep GW gets a custom 7'er made. Go figure. So I had to get the 4 and 8'ers. a little more to deal with in the bilge area.

This was the site I found the cheapest. Sold in 2' increments. You want the ones with the bulkhead connectors.

https://www.seatechmarineproducts.com/seastar-outboard-standard-bulkhead-hose-kit-2x-6ft-HO8106.html
I didn't see anywhere that the bulk head connections were attached. They go through a chase at the stern then come out under the helm from the chase up to the steering wheel.