Tuesday, June 28, 2011

But It's Not Even Ours!

As I've said in previous posts, probably Don Quixote's biggest breakage/suckage is our dinghy outboard motor. This has only been endurable due to the tremendous generosity of our buddy boat Loose Pointer who loaned us their 15HP Evinrude for the duration. Having that old motor has meant both safety as well as the freedom to zoom around anchorages, dive spots, and Papeete. There is no way I can thank you Loose Pointer sufficiently for letting us use their motor for a few months.

Instead, we'll just throw it overboard.

Okay, not literally. Or maybe literally. Actually, what we literally did was secure it poorly to our dinghy. After a very long trip around the island to the propane station and back, Jaime was making her way from the dinghy dock to our boat, and the damn thing just bounced off the back and into the water. So here's what I have to say about this:

* DrC immediately admitted this was entirely his fault. Jaime is NOT in trouble.

* We're incredibly lucky the damn thing didn't pop off while Jaime and I were in 100 feet out by the airport. Instead, this incident took place quite literally in the middle of the anchored fleet about 50 yards from the dinghy dock in only 40 feet of water. If there is a "good place" to throw your outboard into the ocean, this is probably the best.

* It's a 2-stroke and so recoverable. Once again the cruiser's wisdom of going with 2-stroke models is proven. These things are a lot more forgiving than the 4-stroke varieties.

* It is now working. It worked really well for a day, now we're seeing an electrical glitch so we're going to have to do more work on it. However, I believe ultimately we'll get the whole thing straightened out.

* All that blather in the cruising guides, sailing manuals, forums, etc etc about securing your outboard to your dinghy? Maybe with a lock and a really strong cable? Okay, stop dithering. Just do it. Please. The only thing more horrifying than throwing your dinghy motor overboard is finding out at the cocktail party that evening that a good third of the boats in the anchorage have at one time or another done the same thing. Really people? Are we all that knuckleheaded? Apparently so.

DrC immediately dove on the motor, hooked it with a piece of line, and hauled it back up again. After sluicing it down in fresh water, we straightaway took it to the local outboard mechanic to get cleaned up. If the motor had been ours, I'm not sure we would have taken it to the mechanic. We've dunked our motor in salt water before when we flipped the dinghy in San Sebastian. We know the steps to recover from these types of disasters. On the other hand, it's not even our motor! We wanted to make sure we'd done everything possible to recover it to full operational status. In the process of cleaning and blowing it out, the mechanic replaced the spark plugs which were little rust bunnies. We also believe we might have fixed a long standing idle problem. So on the whole, it's okay. This electrical skipping thing is worrisome, but again, Dan and DrC think they have a handle on it.

But. BUT. It's not even our motor! DrC and I are both a little stuck on that detail. We have parts coming in for our Mercury. If those parts prove to solve the problem, we will propose a swap. We have a 15HP 15 year old Mercury which as far as we know has never been swimming. Loose Pointer has a 15HP 15 year old Evinrude which we took swimming. If restitution requires the swap, Loose Pointer gets the Mercury. Of course, the point is totally moot if the new parts don't solve our own motor problems.

At this juncture, I want to pitch all the dang dinghy motors overboard permanently and replace them with little 2HP putt putts that weigh nothing and never stop. Maybe even electric, solar powered ones. Maybe if I put 7 of of them on the back of the dink it would be like having one big monster that nearly breaks my back every time we put it on or take it off. A smaller outboard, however, probably must wait until we ditch the children. Until we have much smaller dinghy and lower weight requirements, we are essentially stuck with the big guys.

Or we're stuck with one of them, in the fervent hope that we've now found the magician mechanic who can make both these ancient machines run smoothly for one more year.

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