Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Month: April 2010

Size Does Matter!

When I had all those engine problems, I talked with Doug, the marina owner, about what size outboard to get to push me around.  He suggested a 15 HP. Well, Steve N. had the outboard I’d sold him when I bought the boat and wasn’t using it, so he offered to let me use it until he was able to sell it, or until I got the inboard fixed, whichever came first. The outboard was a 9.9 HP Mercury Big Foot, a 4-stroke engine.  It was what came off the boat, so of course it should be able to push it through the water.

And it did. When it was running. 🙁

Problem is, Steve hadn’t done anything with it since he bought it from me a couple years ago.  Mind you, we did start it, with little trouble, in his back yard.  Wanted to do that before hauling it all the way out and finding it didn’t work.  Problem is, it wouldn’t stay running. And each time you tried, it would be harder to start.

So I changed out the spark plugs and the fuel filter.  And, because the fuel line was falling apart as I tried to remove it from the filter, I replaced that, too. It still had problems.  Which meant, I know, and had confirmed by others with much more wisdom than I, that the carburetor was going to need cleaning yet.

Ever see a diagram of a carburetor? It’s pretty scary! All those parts! I was paranoid that I’d get it apart and have a pieces left over when I tried putting it back together.  So that I am leaving to Brent, the mechanic at the marina.

But I digress….

The engine would at least start. So I emailed the crew and told them we’d be participating in tonight’s race. As usual, I checked the weather and tides before heading out.  The tides would be coming in, with high tide about the time we finished up.  There was a small craft advisory, and the winds at the nearby buoys were showing winds in excess of 20 MPH. But hey, I’ve braved a gale. This would be something I could handle.


If I could only get the boat out of the marina and into the river!

I had some newbies on the boat tonight: one gal whose first time on a sailboat was the previous week when we just puttered around, since there was no wind and I didn’t want to come in after dark with a newbie, and two gals who this week was their first time on a sailboat.

Well, we had the usual problems getting the engine starting, but it would at least run.  Problem is, that poor little thing couldn’t push the boat out of the marina. We steered one way; it moved the way the wind was blowing.  We’d make a little progress, but not enough to even make it to the channel.  We spent about 15 minutes trying to maneuver her out of the marina area and just couldn’t do it.  And those poor newbies were helping us not hit the docks too hard, or hit the other boats parked at the end of the docks!

At that point, I decided we’d skip the race and just try to get back to the slip. No go. We couldn’t get that far: 200 yards maybe?


We finally pulled over at the end of the pier and tied up. I went to Doug’s house, since I didn’t remember his cell number, and let him know where we were.  I wanted to make sure that no one else was going to be expecting to tie up there. And tomorrow morning I’ll try again to start the engine so I can get moved back into my slip. Then Brent can get it fixed, which will at least let us get the thing started, if not moved out to the river, until the inboard is repaired.