Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day Four: Sing, Muse, the woe of outboards

Spent a quiet night at anchor off Old Field Point, near Port Jefferson, shown below:

Awoke with the birdies on Day Four and wanted to take the dinghy, for some reason, and go into Port Jefferson. Needed gas, maybe? Can't recall. So I climbed down into the dinghy and released the ugly improvised lashing on the motor -- I lost a motor off this dinghy once, a story I may tell someday, and don't want to lose another -- and popped it down into the water and squeezed the little bulb on the fuel line and cranked and cranked....

It wouldn't start.

Now this motor and I have a history. It's a little Tohatsu four-stroke four-hp bijou of a thing. I bought it from a guy -- a guy on Long Island, now that I think of it -- after its predecessor was lost, as mentioned above. It was practically brand new: clean, pristine, all that. He had bought it and decided he needed more than four horsepower. It came with a tank and hose.

In retrospect, I think he must have left it standing around for a while -- who knows how long? -- with gas in the motor and tank and hose, and gummed up the works to a fare-thee-well. At any rate, from the day I bought it, it had been nothing but trouble. I had already had it in the shop twice this season to have the carburetor dissected -- an expensive hobby. Now here it was, dead again.

The second time I had in in for surgery, with Maureen the Outboard Queen of City Island, she sold me a new fuel filter and told me to be sure to put it in. Of course I had not done this. So with a sinking feeling that I was closing the proverbial barn door after the proverbial stolen horse, I changed it out on the water of Long Island Sound.

Which took forever. This motor is so intricately and compactly put together, with fiendish origami ingenuity, that it's like eating a lobster to get at any part of it. To reach the fuel filter you have to remove the little integral fuel tank, attached in three places with a highly refined arrangement of spacers, rubber washers (to prevent vibration, I suppose), nuts and bolts and little L-shaped clamps and lockwashers -- twenty or so different parts just to secure this schmoo-shaped little plastic tank.

Needless to say I dropped three or four of these parts in the water. You remove a bolt and don't realize that down where you can't see it, that bolt is holding something else on. It's like the ancient joke about the man with the golden screw head in his navel: when he finally unscrewed it, his ass fell off.

At last I got the filter changed and the motor put back together. It still wouldn't start.

My cruising guide told me that Danford's Marina, in Port Jefferson, did repairs. I called 'em up on the cell phone and they said, sure, bring 'er in. So I motored the Scapegrace, towing the poor dinghy, into Port Jefferson harbor and up to Danford's dock.

To be continued....

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