’Get it to the nearest authorized service center immediately!‘ Thatâ€™s what the Mercury manual says you should do if your outboard motor gets totally submerged.
Flash back to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart. We arrive in the rain to find the deflated dinghy prone on the dock. The outboard lies on its side by the dinghy. It appears that both dinghy and motor spent some time underwater before some kind soul pulled them out.
(The prevailing theory here is that I kicked the air plug loose in my haste as we left the day before. Personally, I think there were supernatural forces at work.)
Gayle and Julia of Esprit appear before we have much time to bemoan our fate. They gave us some dinghy assistance the day before. Gayle immediately gets out her magic toolkit as Julia tips up a cart to make an outboard workstation. We are in good hands.
Gayle is an expert on the Mercury and Taihatsu motors. She drained the fuel line, separating the gas from the water. She changed the oil. The motor started, but shut off quickly. We extracted more water and changed more oil. Same result. We did it again. Then she also pulled and cleaned the carburetor. Finally, after four hours, the motor cranked and ran better than it did before. And I had learned much more than the ownerâ€™s manual told me about the engine.
Where do people this helpful come from? Well Gayle and Julia are down from Boston, headed for the Bahamas. They know what they are doing and have helped lots of folks in the area. For us they turned a disaster into an enjoyable learning experience. They wouldnâ€™t take money, but we all went out to a New England style seafood restaurant and celebrated engines that work.
Itâ€™s hot in Florida. Hot as Hades. But this is not the only warmth we experience. When we have problems other cruisers offer assistance. Iâ€™m not sure how many tows we have gotten from other boaters when our dinghy engine has conked out. One cute young couple, Dave and Janee from Wind Dancer, even loaned us their dinghy when they were out of town for a few days.
In Indiantown we meet several more cruising couples. Conversation is easy. We talk about crossings, anchorages, and boat problems. One person claims she has more in common with casual cruising acquaintances than she does with her family members, saying â€œWeâ€™ve been through the same things togetherâ€.
We understand this sentiment. But we do look forward to a day when we meet folks who are willing to lay aside the cruising talk and have some good throw down arguments about the important stuff like music and art.
Meanwhile, I need something to do. Duwan already has some work lined up. Anyone need some house-sitting done, a room painted, a dog walked?