At Least the Dinghy’s Back Where it Belongs

It’s been several months now since we took the dinghy off the boat and brought it home for a little TLC.

The previous owners apparently didn’t use it too much, judging from the number of mud-dauber nests we found when we peeled back the cover that was over it.

The little 30 horse Suzuki outboard was in bad need of a paint job, and who knew when it had been started last.

I sandblasted the lower end of the motor to get all the corrosion off, and then gave it several coats of zinc chromate primer and a few top coats of gray paint to try to match the rest of the original paint job. I’d used zinc chromate a lot when I was in the Air Force, when we would sandblast and then repaint the aluminum bomb transport trailers we used. Never thought much about it, but after painting the motor with the primer, I read an article somewhere that said zinc chromate had been linked to increased cancer risks. Great.

There isn’t much of an electrical system on the dinghy, but what there was, looked like it had been assembled by a blind electrician. Nasty old lumps of electrical tape and corroded connectors were all tangled up in a wad of wiring that just drove me nuts to look at. So, out came the wire cutters and out went most of the old wiring. New wiring and proper heat-shrink connectors were installed, and the new wires were neatly tucked away as best they could be, and the electrical system was good to go.

I got the motor to start after some gentle persuasion, and it seemed to run surprisingly well considering it may have been several years since it had last seen action.

Thought we were ready to take it back to the marina and put it away, but I decided to start it one more time here at home just to make sure. It started up OK, but then started to run rough and died. Several more tries and a generous application of verbal invectives failed to result in a properly running engine.

I decided pretty quick that I needed a mechanic to take a close look, so I hauled it to work with me and dropped it off at a nearby marine mechanic. A few days and several hundred dollars later, I got it back with three rebuilt carburetors and a new water pump impeller.

We took it to a lake near our home to try it out and spent an hour or so zooming around having a blast. That little 11 foot boat does a pretty good job of pinning your ears back in the wind when you unwind all 30 of those horses. As far as I can tell from the literature I’ve found, the boat only weighs about 250 pounds, and the motor adds another 125 or so, making the whole package less than 400 pounds. Add in a couple featherweights like my wife and I, (hey, it’s my blog…I’ll call ’em like I wanna see ’em) and we’re up to somewhere south of 600 pounds. The boat rides high when it’s on plane, and with the 30 horse motor cranked up, it gets just a little squirrelly, but still seems fairly manageable. We did several laps around the lake without incident and put it back on the trailer, satisfied that it would start and run when we wanted it to.

So, it was time to take it back to the marina and hoist it back onto the mother ship.

Easter Sunday, we drove to the marina with our little dinghy behind us. Looked a little weird, because we had borrowed the trailer from a friend, and the trailer, sized for his 20 foot boat, was at least twice the size we needed. Anyone watching us go down the road probably thought we were shooting a scene for “Honey, I Shrunk the Boat”.

Once we arrived at the marina, we had to spend a few minutes reassembling the davit on top the mothership so we could hoist the dinghy. I had taken it apart to fashion a couple new bearings so it would rotate easier, and I’m proud to say, the new bearings work. It rotates easier.

Next, we pulled the trailer over to the boat ramp that is about 100 yards from where Magic Carpet sits. Keep this distance in mind…100 yards…the significance will soon become apparent.

I backed the truck and trailer down the ramp and Janet guided the dinghy off the trailer and tied it to the dock. I parked the truck and came back to make sure it started OK and didn’t die. It fired right up and idled great, so we were good to go. I told her I’d take the truck back around to our regular parking lot and then walk down to Magic Carpet and meet her. She said she’d do a little sightseeing on her way to the boat…keep in mind, we’re only 100 yards from where we need her to end up. I suggested that maybe she shouldn’t do too much sightseeing, as we didn’t know how much gas was left in the tank after our lake excursion. We planned to fill the tank at the marina, so that I wouldn’t risk the dreaded phase separation from the ethanol blended gas at a gas station.

So, off I go in the truck and looking in the rear-view, I see her putting away from the boat ramp toward Magic Carpet. What could go wrong, right?

Well….I parked the truck and walked down the length of the dock to where Magic Carpet sits, expecting to see Janet and the dinghy waiting patiently at the stern.

No Janet.

No dinghy.

I’m looking around, and peeking around the stern of the boat one full slip behind us, who do I see? Yep.

So I call out to her in my best nonchalant, I-know-there’s-a-reason-you’re-there-and-not-here voice, and said “Why are you there and not here?”

The reply, which can best be described as a combination of sarcasm and sarcasm, was “I’m out of gas”.

100 yards…we had to go 100 yards, and couldn’t make it without running out of gas. She made it TO the boat behind us, and the motor quit. Wind blew her back to the end of that dock, and she was able to reach out and grab hold of a cleat and tie off.

Could she have paddled it forward the remaining 20 yard to Magic Carpet? Probably. If we had paddles. Now, I do have paddles, but at that precise moment, they were snugly stowed in a hatch in the Pathfinder in our back yard, about 60 some odd miles away. About as useless as mammary glands on a boar hog.

So I got the gas can, drove to the marina office, filled the can, drove back to the dock, walked down the “wrong” dock to where she sat, filled the dinghy tank, got it started, walked back up the wrong dock and then down our dock, and there she was. Finally.

We spent the next hour or so fiddling with the hoist system trying to get everything up on top, stowed and tied down without me going over the side.

We got it all tied down, got the cover on it, and sat back to look at our handiwork. I was already running possible changes to the hoist cable arrangement through my head trying to figure a way to make it go easier next time, but we both decided that what we needed most at that moment was a cold beer. Sat on the back deck, brewskies in hand, and watched the other boats coming in an going out. Life is good.


About TwoCaptains

The TwoCaptains are Jim and Janet, both US Coast Guard licensed boat captains home-ported in Daytona Beach. We recently sold our 1990 Ocean Yachts 56' CPMY "Magic Carpet", and now we're in the hunt for a replacement.
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