Monday, October 21, 2013

Learning things

Living on a sailboat is a thing. Traveling on a sailboat is a whole other thing. Adding the two things together makes for a third thing about as different from the one left in St. Louis as can be imagined. Like the case when we first started staying on Nomad; every noise makes its way into conscious thought, “What was that? (This is particularly true in the darkest parts of the night.) The answer is almost always trivial, a neighbor boat or passing power boat, the bridle hook grinding on the anchor chain, or flags slapping against the new stays. (Which, for reasons not understood, make a completely different noise than when the flags slapped against the old stays.) Kintala has always been a creaky boat, but she seems noisier then before; perhaps still fitting into her rigging and recovering from months on the hard. Even as I type, the wind is picking up and the noises tickle my thoughts.


In fifty miles of sailing we have managed about 10 miles of southing. Winds out of the South keep the ever encroaching cold at bay, but they either pin us down (today) or make for days like the first; 30 miles sailed to gain barely 3. We need west, even better northwest, winds to make some distance, but those will also put a chill in our bones and make the v-berth that much harder to abandon in the morning. The claim for tomorrow morning is that the winds will be from the west. We hope to make an early start (chill not withstanding) and make Solomons Island by tomorrow afternoon. Such conflict over the wind direction was never an issue living in the Central West End.

Once at Solomons Island we will likely be pinned again; partly by weather and partly by a reluctant outboard engine. “Reluctant”, as in “doesn’t work”. (I fear the dinghy and Kintala have been talking; and I’m thinking of naming the dinghy “Little Witch”.) About all I know of outboard engines is that everyone seems to hate theirs with varying degrees of passion. Still, a motor is a motor. The spark plug had a trace of oil on it when removed from the head, but spark it did when cleaned and checked. A full load of fresh gas made no difference. Jumping the “kill” switch didn’t bring life to the little motor, but blowing though the tiny air intake did; resulting in the engine firing up and running hard for about 5 seconds when I pulled the start string and then clearly running out of gas. That happened several times so our nearly new motor with an ever newer carburetor obviously has a carburetor problem. (Carburetors have always been a source of problems, which is why real motors are now fuel injected.) It will have to wait as weather windows take precedence over sick carburetors.)



Right up until I couldn’t get the engine to run it had been kind of a fun day. Stirring the whisker pole, halyards, some guy lines, harness, and Nomad’s old preventer together cooked up a boom-crane-like apparatus that plucks the dinghy off the foredeck and plops it in the water with little fuss. Lifting our tiny engine down and mounting it on the stern is not much of an issue and, after abandoning any hope that the thing might actually run today, lifting it back up to stow was much easier than imagined.

Our friends from zachaboard.com

After paddling over to meet an internet friend (who, it turns out, lives at a dock less than 100 yards from where we are anchored) we headed back to try our hand at picking the dinghy out of the water in the freshening breeze. (Another issue never encountered in the Central West End.) Our maiden dinghy lift went surprising well. We need a little practice yet, but the dinghy learning curve is now mostly behind us …

… including learning that dinghy motors are a royal pain kind of thing.

4 comments:

Matt said...

As a fellow hater of small gas engines, I must say I've had good luck with Sea Foam

s/vMowzer said...

The last couple of times we had engine problems with our outboard it turned out to be fuel line problems and not the actual engine. Last time it really sounded different since air was getting sucked in and very little gas. Just sayin'...

TJ said...

Good point. We'll do a check. Thanks for the input!

TJ said...

@Matt - we have some on board so we may try it. Thanks for the idea.