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knob

It is probably the crankcase drain knob. If the engine gets swamped, you pull this knob and crank the engine to get the water out of the lower end of the engine. there are more steps to take as well before you are done recovering from a submerged engine.
some people claim this drain valve can leak and run your engine too lean (trouble!), but others say they rarely fail. They sell block-off plates for those that worry about leaking air into the case. I left mine functioning, but pulled the handle off the top of the knob, so I would have to grab the shaft very tightly by hand, or use a pliers, to activate the drain. This prevents me, or anybody else from "playing" with the valve unnecessarily. I thought it would be less likely to leak if nobody ever messed with it.
 
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