The past week has had me on the boat quite a bit. Three times I have attempted to actually sail, only two of which were successful. Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon and evening on the boat, including a nice long nap to test it out. It is actually more spacious in the bow than I thought, which is good.
Anyway, a little log (with some pictures!) of those three sailing attempts.
The first one represents the first day I put the engine on the boat. This was Sunday, Feb 1st. The weather was nice that day, if you recall and the winds were perfect (15 knots or so). I was concerned about two things primarily regarding the engine: 1) whether it would start from being in storage all winter and 2) whether the gas was any good. I’ll spare you the details of trying to find a new gas tank for the old engine and just say I added fuel to it. Anyway, I put the engine on its mount (crushing my hand in the process, yay) and fired it up. The thing started on the first pull. That never happens for me as outboard engines all hate me. I was quite pleased so I let the thing run while we rigged the boat for sailing.
We got the main sail on and the jib hanked and were ready to roll. After discussing how we were going to pull out I kicked the engine into reverse and we started to pull out of the slip. Now, it is important to understand how this slip is situated. My boat is on the last slip with the shore about 40 feet behind it. About 12 feet in front of the shore is a line that is there to keep you from stranding yourself. That leaves about 28 feet or so to run a 25 foot boat up stream. Normally this isn’t that big of a deal but I had two things working against me. First, the wind was blowing along the broad side of the boat, so as soon as the lines were freed the boat started to slide towards the other boats. And second, the damn engine cut out when we were halfway out of the slip. Damn it.
So while Lisa vainly tried to push us away from the other boats I was getting the engine started again. The thing was pretty hot, hotter than it should have been. Apparently it had overheated. Fantastic. After a lot of manhandling and getting the engine started for brief moments we were able to maneuver the boat into someone else’s slip about four down from my own, downwind of course. The prospect of trying to walk the boat back up the dock in the wind wasn’t very appealing.
I spent the next hour or so dicking around with the engine. Now, as you all know, outboard engines are cooled by sucking in water from the bottom of the engine via a water pump, circulating it through the cylinder head, and then ‘peeing’ it out a little hole. Typically you look to make sure the engine is peeing before you let it run. This is something I always did on my speedboat but managed to not do on this one. Well, it wasn’t peeing, thus something was preventing it from sucking up the water and cooling itself off.
With the cover off of the engine and using it very sparingly after it had cooled off we were able to get the boat back into the correct slip. We raised the sails to check them out since I hadn’t actually looked at them yet, then struck them, bagged them, and cleaned up. Lisa mentioned that we managed to do all the hard parts of sailing (setting and striking sails, leaving and returning to a mooring) but none of the fun stuff (actually sailing).
I took the engine home to fix because I was sure I knew what the problem was. You see, the same thing happened to my big ass 150 hp Merc that put my speedboat out of commission. Namely, I started the thing out-of-the-water like a total moron. The problem with that is in how the water pumps work. They are nothing more than an impeller (a litte propeller enclosed in metal) that spin. They aren’t the most robust pieces of equipment and they intend to shatter into a million little pieces when no water is coming through. So when I started the thing without putting it in the water I blew up the impeller. The engine didn’t get any water ergo it overheated. Luckily, the little 1987 Nissan 8 hp is more like a lawnmower engine than the car engine my 150 was like and instead of totally melting and turning into a gigantic paper weight it just shut off. Nothing melted or fused together.
I brought it home and stuck it on a big piece of cardboard in my living room since I was too sore and tired to take it into the basement. I performed surgery the next day after I found schematics online for the various parts of the engine. The impeller had indeed grenaded so I ordered a new one, put the thing back together, rigged a test harness in the backyard, hooked up a hose and there she peed! Just like a race horse.
I’ll talk about the sailing this past weekend in a later post since this novel has gone on long enough. Suffice to say, the engine worked most of the weekend although it did cut out at a less-than-ideal time on Saturday.
Crappy picture of the engine in pieces:
Crappy picture of the engine with its anti-cat cover on:
Really tiny picture (wtf?) of the engine on its testing harness behind the house hooked up and ready to go:
Engine peeing like a racehorse!
Sailing picture from Saturday: