Hudson Bay Expedition – Outboard Resurrection

Outboard Resurrection

It’s funny how much satisfaction you can get from a day fixing problems that never should have occurred in the first place. Nearly as funny as how little time I spend thinking about photography these days, but that’s another matter.

Owning a boat is an all-consuming prospect. It means either spending a lot of time and money paying someone to fix everything that goes wrong when you put highly-engineered metal and sensitive electronics in the one place they do not belong; the ocean. Generally, boat mechanics charge twice as much as promised to fix half the problems, all while creating several undisclosed new ones. It’s that or figure it out yourself.

With my dwindling economic prospects, I opt for the latter. My father would have made short work of it, finishing up my list before lunchtime and going for a satisfyingly grueling bike ride. The apple fell some distance from that particular tree, and he’s sadly gone to that big velodrome in the sky. So I set to work.

The particulars are skull-crushingly dull; a new transducer bracket to replace the one broken by local urchins climbing onto the boat this spring. Wiring a backup fish finder (useful for pesky uncharted reefs or if I run out of food) and replacing a fuel consumption rate sensor (handy for figuring out whether I will be motoring into the next village, or paddling).

But my proudest accomplishment, for the second year in a row, was resurrecting my dinghy’s small outboard from a long winter’s wrong-side up storage. It seems pedantic, but boat motors like to sleep on one side only. Put them on the other side and they turn incontinent and worse. Some helpful soul shoved mine under an ATV, tango-union, and for the second year in a row drained all the oil into the carburetor and onto my friends’ garage floor. It’s a mess for all parties concerned.

With only fleeting memories of high school shop class, I unbolt parts, clean up the nasty bits in a mixing bowl of gasoline, and put it all back together. It’s not exactly rocket science. Four bolts, six screws, a couple linkages that I try like hell not to drop or lose. Slosh in highly flammable, carcinogenic brew. Reverse steps. Offer silent prayer.

I give her a couple pulls. The skies part and the angels sing as she starts right up. There’s a toxic plume of smoke from the burning oil, but the engine runs strong. After a while, I even remember to replace all that missing oil. Apparently my time in shop class wasn’t a total waste after all.



One Response to “Hudson Bay Expedition – Outboard Resurrection”

  1. Jann Glisson says:

    Nicely done, Paul.

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