February 17, 2011

OW’s engine plan

OOL WOTSINAME IS THINKING of selling his boat. He thinks that same thought every year round about this time, when the marina announces its annual rate increase.

“But this year I have a 10-point plan,” he told me.

“You mean about the engine?” I asked.

OW’s old diesel engine is always breaking down, and because it was born about the same year as him, he’s the only one who knows how to keep it going. So if he’s ever going to sell the boat, he’s going to have to persuade a prospective buyer that there’s nothing wrong with the engine, especially on the sea trials.

Here is his plan of action:

1. Stick starter motor wire firmly on its little peg so it doesn’t come off any more.

2. Wipe diesel mustache off transom around exhaust pipe.

3. Remove Vise-Grips from throttle and replace with some kind of handle from consignment store.

4. Put some strong penetrating oil down gear-lever cable to stop it sticking.

5. Get engine-hour meter hooked up again, if can remember how after 10 years.

6. Put another half-pint sawdust in reduction gearbox to quieten noise.

7. Buy official looking notebook and invent some engine maintenance notes for past few years. Zinc replacements, oil changes, filters, etc. Make look convincing.

8. Get to boat early day of survey. Polish gear lever knob. Pray to Thor and Hephaistos that engine will start. (Not religious gods, just mechanical gods. Wouldn’t be right to ask religious gods to start engine. Too busy with holy wars, intifadas, and inquisitions.) Warm up engine.

9. On sea trials, be careful set throttle just below spot where black smoke belches out exhaust. Fasten down cockpit grating and hatches so don’t rattle when engine revs above 1,000 rpm.

10. Remove white fur from around seawater cooling pump and place where engine sacrificial zinc used to be.

I can only say good luck, OW. The world is full of suckers. You might just hook one who doesn’t read this column.

Today’s Thought
There are times when God honoreth the season for untruth.
— Æschylus, Fragments

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #161
When you’re on a collision course with another vessel, and want to be noticed on that vessel’s radar screen, you must charge course by at least 60 degrees. Small changes of course are almost unnoticeable on a radar screen, even by experienced operators. So make a change of course of between 60 and 90 degrees as soon as possible.

“But it’s my first date. What should I do if he tries to kiss me?”
“I guess you could always whisper for help.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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