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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Light winds and a minor mishap of sorts...

I've hoisted my sails and reach my first way point in due order. (FW0087) I've averaged some four knots at best and continue sailing on to my second way point, FW0086, N25' 41.3000 W081' 38.770 another eleven or so miles further south.

The sun is brutally hot and it is all that I can do to stay hydrated. I'm wearing a white long-sleeve shirt and a broad rim safari hat for some protection from the sun. I finally relent and go down below and retrieve my golf umbrella. What the heck... I'm in the middle of nowhere. Who's gonna see me? It occurs to me that I must look like Mary Poppins holding up that umbrella.

The seas are completely calm, a far cry from what was going on just yesterday. What little wind that I had has died down to but a whisper. Winds are light and variable... it's a challenge to keep the sails full. By two in the afternoon, I'm just bobbing like a cork in water. Who am I kidding? This ain't sailing. I pull the sails down and attempt to start my Nissan 9.8 HP outboard engine.

I haven't wanted to run it whatsoever unless negotiating narrow channels and such. Fuel is limited and it's a long haul to Marathon... some ninety miles or so.

I find myself yanking time and time again, (pun indeed intended), on the starter cord. That treacherous outboard just won't start when a slight mishap occurs.

The outboard starter cord has been yanked one time too many and has snapped in half. It's no time to panic and I can only think about the words of advise from my fellow barfly just a couple of evenings ago advising me, "You need to embrace this".

My problem is that I simply don't care about motors and have never taken the time to understand them. Somehow the item on my "to do" list about going online and down loading the operator's manual for the Nissan outboard simply never got done.

My GPS tells me that I am but five miles from my second way point and since it's still early in the afternoon without the slightest hint of a breeze and with the seas as calm as glass, I get to work to attempt to replace the starter cord with some line that I have on board.

I suppose that subconsciously I have not embraced the outboard as an integral part of the boat. What the hell, I use to sail all the time aboard my AMF 21 sailboat in Puerto Rico without a motor. I'd sail in and out of the slip under sail all the time. No motor... no problem was my motto.

I get to work and find myself seated on the swim ladder off of the transom. I remove the cover of the outboard and proceed to carefully disassemble the flywheel. How hard can it be to replace a lousy cord? I seem to remember the cord on my lawnmower breaking on more than just one occasion and me somehow managing to fix it. All flywheels are more or less the same... right?

I replace the broken cord with line but now couldn't either remember or figure out how to reassemble the damned thing. I'm hot, I'm tired, and a bit out of focus. I feel a trickle of sweat dripping off my nose when suddenly one of the three bolts used to fasten the flywheel securely slips out of my hand.

Another mishap... I've inadvertently dropped a bolt into the drink... the thing didn't even bother to make a plopping sound as it sliced through the water and made a straight line to the bottom.

That was enough screw-ups for one day. I collect all the remaining parts and store them in a container. I replace the cover on the outboard and go down below out of the brutal heat. I am both mentally and physically exhausted. The sun had taken a toll on me and it's way past time to shut everything down, clean up, and finally eat something.

Not that anyone cares about threaded bolts and such, but dinner that evening was a small tin of some off-brand salmon. I opened the tin, plopped the salmon into a stainless steel mixing bowl, flaked the salmon with a plastic disposable fork and chowed down. I then slurped the salmon juice the same way a Chinese person might slurp down a bowl of Wonton soup.

My sponge bath followed by some dry clothing did indeed put me in a better frame of mind later that evening as my boat continued to bob about for the rest of the night.

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