Saturday, May 28, 2011

When It Rains

"God damn thing won't start. I don't know what is wrong with." DrC glares at the outboard, eyes boring a hole through the thing.

I try to say something inconsequential and non-descript. I don't know why it won't start either. We've tried everything. Yesterday, he took apart the carburetor, the fuel pump, the fuel filter. This morning on the recommendation of a fellow cruiser, he spent two hours rewiring some of the electrical to fix the primary and secondary ground. We have both read the manual... several times. We talked it out, used logic, sunshine, method acting, and voodoo. Nothing has worked. We are done. We're heading to the mechanic on shore to see if yet another few hundred dollars of someone else's time can solve this problem.

The wind is picking up and we must now row the heavy dinghy with the even heavier motor ashore to the mechanic. I clamber aboard making those noises that wives make when they know their spouse is about to completely lose it at something mechanical. I pick up an oar and start paddling. DrC grabs his own oar and grimly begins to paddle as well. He is not happy.

DrC is never happy when things break. He is at his least happy when things break for no apparent reason. It is this single fact that renders him completely and utterly incapable of being a computer programmer. DrC is someone who likes things to break for a reason and in a way which allows for identification and remedy of the problem. This is why he is an eye doctor and not a G.P. Our outboard is generally the type of machine he likes best: simple, straightforward, logical, non-talkative, and composed of readily exchangeable parts. Unfortunately, ever since we got back to it in Mexico, the thing has been.... well let's be honest... a complete piece of crap.

The wind is getting stronger, blowing us sharply sideways relative to the shoreline, towards crashing surf and rocks farther up the beach. The doctor's eyes narrow, the wind now an enemy he can see and feel. He digs the paddle into the ocean with fierce, frustrated determination while I wildly flail over on my side in a vain attempt to keep up. Any moment now, the battle will be lost and the boat is going to careen madly around in the direction of my husband's vitriolic energy.

Before this can happen however, fate steps in. Abruptly and unexpectedly, I'm in full control of the dinghy and headed back in the right direction. I hear a growl accompanied by truly creative profanity as out of the corner of my eye a large chunk of grey paddle disappears behind us. Before I can send us overshooting the other way, I lift my oar and look at DrC. "Uh... oh." He is holding the shattered end of the oar, looking at it very much as though he'd like to gnaw off a limb before admitting he broke it. I stare at him for a moment. I'm generally pretty good in a crisis, but I'm a bit stumped. We're halfway between a breaking shore and Don Quixote in a bay known for sharks with no motor, one oar and the wind blowing like stink. Hard to know precisely what comes next.

So of course, the skies open up. I lean over my oar and bounce my head against the tube. I'm not sure if I'm laughing or crying or both. Even if I were crying, there would be no way to know. In moments, we're both drenched to the skin and several inches of water rock back and forth in the bottom of the dinghy to further weight us down. Visibility is down to a few dozen feet and the temperature drops. On the up side, with the arrival of the rain the wind dies back a bit and clocks around. We're now being blown more or less in the direction of the boat ramp. Standing in the bow of the boat, I flap the paddle on alternate sides of the boat and make reasonable headway. My husband sits with his back to me, lodged between the motor and the remnants of our ill-fated oar powering our progress by channeling his ire at our wake. I imagine it propelling us like Acme rocket fuel or seasoned chili farts.

The landing through the swell and surf on the steep slippery boat ramp would normally rate a full blog post of its own for its epic unpleasantness, danger, and skinned knees. Today, it hardly deserves a mention. The fact that we land nearly a half mile from where are supposed to go, the diesel station is closed for the day, and the guy that fills propane tanks is a complete asshat merely ices the poop-cake which is our day. All that really matters is that many thousands of francs to a mechanic later (~$75US) we still don't have a functioning outboard. There is one more remote possibility involving lots of money and parts in Tahiti that might work, but I'm not counting on it. Right now, I believe that both my husband and myself are voting for some enterprising thief in Moorea. They stole 7 dinghies, several motors and a 42' catamaran last week. Hopefully by then, our luck will have changed, and they'll want a Mercury outboard to fill out their inventory.

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1 comment:

Richard said...


Have been following you from Mexico from a few years ago, through to New Zealand, back to Mexico and into the South Pacific islands. Am enjoying the website and all the things all sailors know about or have happened to them when they talk amongst ourselves.

Keep enjoying the sailing and best to you.

We also know Loose Pointer.

Anne and Dick