Tuesday, August 7, 2012

reluctant outboard, too much is not enough

I almost did not go sailing on Sunday.  I drove to the ramp, rigged and launched Spartina and motored over to what passes for the dock near the ramp.  I tied up, parked the jeep, then returned to the boat only to find that the outboard, which had started easily minutes before, would not start.

I noticed the kill switch lanyard had become tangled and the yoke under the switch, the one you would pull out to "kill" the engine, was pulled slightly out of position.  I put the yoke back in position.  The engine would still not start.  I checked the fuel, pulled off the cowling and checked all the connections, replaced the spark plug.  Still no luck.  Maybe I had flooded the carburetor, so I waited a while.  I heard a voice saying "Everything ok here" and looked up to see two of Norfolk's finest looking down from the dock.  "Just having a little problem with the outboard" I explained.  They stood their long enough that I stopped fiddling with the outboard and asked them if there was a problem.  "No",  I was told, "we just don't see sailboats down here very much."  I thanked them for their concern and they left.

The wind was too good to pass up, blowing about 13 mph out of the SW - a perfect summer day.  No outboard, but hey, it's a sailboat.  I raised mizzen and jib, pushed off from the docks.  A tack or two to reach the eastern branch of the river where I raised the main.  Sailed to the bridge, used the paddled to get through the dead air beneath the bridge and went sailing.  It was perfect.

After a couple of hours I sailed over to Freemason Harbor to pick up my daughter for her last sail before heading off to school.  Most kids would jump or scream or do something when the boat heels and water sprays up their back.  But if they had sailed the boat since since their middle school years, if they had mixed pots of epoxy to lay up the eight wooden strakes that make up the main mast, if they had helped bend a thin wooden batten to the curve of a line of nails in a sheet of plywood to draw the shape of the bow stem - the first piece of wood cut to build the boat - then they don't scream or yell or jump.  They just enjoy it.

I dropped off the daughter and headed back to the ramp.  The wind was still out of the SW, just a little stronger.  I sailed back under the bridge and up the eastern branch of the river, dropped the main and sailed up to the dock under mizzen and jib.  Backed the trailer down, pushed the boat off from the dock and under mizzen and jib sailed out towards the river, came about and sailed up onto the trailer, dropping the jib at the last second.  Somebody watching from a distance might have thought I knew what I was doing.  If they had been up closer they would have seen the anxiety on my face.

While taking down the masts in the parking lot the two officers returned.  "Ever get the outboard working?" they asked.  I told them no, but it was too nice a day to pass up on sailing.  It is, after all, a sailboat.  And I thanked them again for checking on me.

Back home in the garage I checked over the outboard.  I removed the yoke from the kill switch and replaced it, still it would not start.  I remove the yoke again, gently pull the kill switch away from the engine about a quarter of an inch, reset the yoke.  The outboard started on the next pull.  Lesson learned, but I'm kind of glad I sailed that day with no engine.


Did I buy too much??

I came home the other evening to find a box with a dozen 5 oz. bottles of Cajun Sunshine on the porch.  This has been our family's hot sauce of choice for as long as I can remember.  A simple mix of red peppers, vinegar, salt, water and gum (though I am not sure what "gum" is).  It disappeared from our grocers shelves about a year ago and this has been a problem.  We use it a lot.  

We tried the other stuff and it was just ok, not great.  Tabasco has the name recognition, but I find it a little too thin and harsh tasting. With Cholula hot sauce I always get the feeling I'm paying more for the wooden bottle cap than the sauce.  Texas Pete?  That's more vinegar sauce than hot sauce.  None of them had the subtle heat and the thick consistency with chunks of red pepper that we found in Cajun Sunshine.

Steaks, seafood, eggs, roasted vegetables, sauces and, yes, salads - particularly with blue cheese - are all better with a little Cajun Sunshine.  It's a favorite for the cook kit on the boat - grilled fish, potatoes and onions would not be the same without it.

So I went online and found it at the The Cajun Grocer.   Priced at $2.50 a bottle, it was even cheaper if bought by the dozen.  Ordering a dozen and with shipping added in, it was still under $3 a bottle - cheaper than at the store.  We are set for a while.  I've already used it on steaks and the other night with crawfish etouffee.  A bottle will go off to college with the youngest daughter who was talking about mac and cheese with Cajun Sunshine.  And a bottle of course will be in the cook kit on Spartina.

Too much, I think I will find, is not enough.



JimB said...

Wonder if Webb will pipe up about having a motor aboard?

Papoose is still being pushed by Papoosh. No new motor aboard yet.

Canoe Sailor said...

Good Hot sauce makes great gifts too. You'll be ordering more in no time!

EyeInHand said...

That's the thing I like most about my motor. I never have to fix it because it never breaks. No maintenance, no hassle, no noise, no fumes. Perfect.

Oh right, I don't have one.

I'll tell Amanda to look for Grace back at school.

Steve said...


I will remember your outboard the next time I'm in the middle of the channel and the wind dies and here comes a panamax container ship up river and a tug pushing three barges of gravel downriver and the Navy guy with the M-16 at the end of the nearby pier is eyeing me because I'm sitting not too far from the warship he is guarding. And I will hug my outboard.


EyeInHand said...

Or when you're in the middle of Delaware Bay, in the middle of the shipping channel, at night, and there's a stampede of freighters barreling down on you?

Um, yeah, that too. Yup, yup, a working motor would sort of come in handy at times just like that, too. ; )

EyeInHand said...

Actually, to be perfectly honest, I do have a motor. It's a powerful electric trolling motor that runs off two deep cycle marine batteries. Pushes the boats at 4 knots all day. Flip a switch and it runs. My kind of motor.

Only problem is you can't just fill er up in a couple of minutes at a marina. Takes hours to recharge.

doryman said...

I had a very similar experience this summer. "it's a sailboat and I'm a sailor" was my reaction too. But I was a long way from home, and there is a reason I carry that darn motor!

Those pesky kill switches are a design failure. Hopefully someone will figure that out soon. Where's the redundancy we expect in marine applications? I feel foolish every time I pull the "emergency" lanyard just to stop the motor.

Steve said...


I agree. I'm happy with my outboard and 99.9% of the time it works great. but every now and then.....