So, next day, Sunday, I woke up bright and early, checked ML’s Southpoint weather gadget for the wind speed (before actually getting OUT of bed…no need to ruin a chance at turning over and going back to sleep). Saw that the wind was nice and low, got up and dressed to head out, and saw that it was super foggy. Heavy sigh.
So, I took a ride to Hoppy’s Landing and confirmed that it was pea-soup thick. Talked with Captain Sakwa for a bit, then headed to Mackatan General Store for a coffee (and a donut…I have the willpower of an ant). Saw a neighbor, talked some politics, and we went our separate ways.
And, lo and behold! By the time I finished my impromptu visiting, the fog had lifted and the wind was still low.
So, I decided to head out on the water.
I grabbed the plastic tub that has all my emergency gear in it, the crate with the life jackets, dropped it all into the boat. Then I threw a black door mat and a black indoor-outdoor carpet over all those signs and goop. My little boat looked like luxury, almost.
I checked that shift lever, too. It was still stiff, but moving. It was late by the time I got out, just a few minutes before 11 a.m., usually the time I’m coming back. But, all I needed to do today was get the thing in the water and make sure everything was working okay.
I launched….no drama. Phew. Even got some help from Todd the Harbormaster deputy.
I pulled out. Had a little trouble with the lever, but not much. I figured it was just something I needed to get used to.
Slowly me and my Little Water Buggy jugged out heading south past Hoppy’s Landing. The wind and surf were picking up a bit, but not much. I really just wanted to give the motor a little workout. But, oh, it was glorious. My little motor chugged along, pushing that old patched-up boat just as if we both knew what we were doing.
“Thank you, Jimmy,” I thought, remembering my old friend who gave me the motor.
I only went south for about 5 or 6 minutes, then headed back. I just wanted to be able to crank the engine for a bit, make sure it had some power. Put it through its paces, so to speak.
But it’s the other direction I like puttering around in best, especially with mom. She likes buzzing around the mooring field and Bella Vista Island. So, I turned around and headed to the other side of the causeway. Because mom really wants to go.
I got through the causeway and noted that I didn’t get that shaky feeling at all this time around. Although I was nervous, it was the good kind of nervous, the kind that makes you pay attention better, not the kind that makes you mess up (I hope).
I buzzed around the mooring field, at no-wake speed. Got to the near side (south) of Bella Vista and felt the engine do a kooky little jump. A first I thought I’d hit a rock, but I was in the middle of the mooring field. No rocks there.
Then it happened again. Then it started spitting and coughing and pushing me forward and then almost dying out; the way an adolescent might try to dump you off the boat (or Hoppy).
I made a B-line for the causeway. By the time I got there, I thought it would stall for sure.
I got through, now with a very worried look on my face, waved to the same guy fishing.
The dock was full. Boats all around and one launching. I saw a small spot on the dock and decided to try for it. I figured when I got close enough, I’d just tell them I was having trouble and they’d help me. Then I reached back to put the motor in neutral and couldn’t move the lever. Shit.
Pulled back around and figured I could just shut if off if I had to. But then I was able to get it in neutral, but I kept cutting out too soon (oh, the incompetence!). Next thing I knew, the dock was full again. Then the motor conked out, for good this time.
I was near the rocks and close to the dock, so I was bummed, but not really stressed about it. The wind was still very light and the current was gentle, too, so I just kind of floated towards the rocks on the causeway. I used my pole to keep from hitting them. No damage to me, no damage to the boat, no damage to the rocks.
I knew that I was in a spot where I could just jump out and walk it to the shore or dock if I had to, so I was okay. No need to call my pals at TowBoatUs New Bedford (this time).
A couple walking on the causeway stopped and gave me some ideas on starting the motor, but it just wouldn’t take. He did notice, though, that the prop was not moving when I thought I had it in gear.
Then Todd showed up, with Tim the Harbormaster. Todd climbed down the rocks and into the boat. He managed to get the motor running, but it wouldn’t behave well enough to motor it onto the trailer. Tim stopped people from launching and cleared a spot on the dock for us, and we got close enough to tie up.
Then the two of them used the lines to pull it along the dock. Now, that’s a bit more complicated than it may sound. Hoppy’s Landing is a commercial dock, so you can’t just walk along with the line. There are two huge poles in the way, holding up the winch that pulls up the gangway, so, it’s a little tricky. But, I got the impression that these guys have done that before.
We got the boat on the trailer, I got home, rinsed it off, took a shower, and decided it was still a really good day on the water.
Honest, I’m not just saying that. I was a bit surprised myself. Looked in the mirror and thought, “Gee why was that so satisfying? That was still fun.”
I guess the twenty minutes of a working motor beat out the rest of it.
It reminded me of that bumper sticker that says something like a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.
Then, my old pal ML Baron posted it all on Facebook, saying, I “ran up against the rocks,” causing all kinds of visuals that made it much more dramatic than it was.
My sibs and mom thought I had motored head on into the rocks. Geesh.
No damage to me, do damage to the boat, no damage to the rocks. It was the gentlest of landings, truly.
We’ll get it fixed and I’ll get out there again, eventually. The question is: Will anyone go with me? I used to go alone because I liked to, now, I suspect I’ll be going alone because no one’s crazy enough to go with me: Except ML, of course.
Motor Guy has been working on, figured out which parts need replacing, and he’ll get it up and running in no time. And, at least i know the damned thing always runs great in the driveway.