Tag Archives: Boat

It ran great in the driveway…Part II

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.

9196HoppysDockNorthSide6300 HoppysRamp_Cropped

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.




It ran great in the driveway…Part I

So, it’s time for a boat blog (okay, way past the time). Of course, if you’re connected to me on Facebook, you’ve already gotten the snapshot version of Sunday’s adventure, courtesy of ML Baron.

My Little Water Buggy had a whole set of different issues this year.

Let’s start with last year. I had to get towed (again), because the motor died. After all the speculation about the ethanol gas and every other such thing, it turned out to be a much bigger problem. The stator needed to be replaced. That’s the thing that charges the battery (I think). It’s a conglomeration of magnets and other junkyard stuff, arranged just so, to spin and create a magnetic field or something. My Motor Guy explained it all to me, but that was last year. Anyway, it took weeks for the parts to get here, and then my Motor Guy had to practically assemble the whole thing inside the motor in the driveway anyway.

I watched him do that. I kept thinking, “Part? It looks like pieces.”

Then some other piece of something that cost a fortune had to be replaced, too. The powerpack, maybe? I just paid for it. I’ll be damned if I can remember it. Yeah, it was the powerpack. Would just get fried from all that super-duper power that would now be coming from the stator.

The upshot is: It cost me a fortune to get that 1985 motor working and then it was cold out, so I just wrapped it up for the winter, covered the boat, and dreamed about next year (which is now).

So, I uncovered the thing, rinsed it down and discovered that the patch we’d put in last year was not doing its job. The soft spot had gotten bigger. Turns out my friend used Bondo, which is bad because it has powder in it and absorbs water. Live and learn.

So, I called my carpenter guy (remember the floors?). I told him just to dig out the soft spot and patch it with plywood, then fiberglass it, and I’d paint it.

He started digging, and digging, and made a nice big hole in the deck. (This is the spot where I would normally post a picture, but, it appears that I did not take one….go figure.)

Then he stopped, and went home.

When I got him by phone he said that he reached his hand underneath and it was all wet under there and the whole deck needed to be replaced and that was beyond his ability to do and he sounded absolutely panicked that I would fall in or out or over or under or into a shark or something.

So, I started asking around. All I wanted was a patch, I told people. I just don’t want my foot to go through it. I don’t care what it looks like. This ain’t no billionaire’s yacht.

A couple of neighbors had a guy…or two. Everyone agreed that going pro was stupid. It would cost way more than the boat was worth. No problem, there. I don’t HAVE way more than the boat is worth. Really, at that point I wished I had just thrown tackle box over it and pretended it didn’t exist.

One neighbor did say he had a really good guy for that kind of work. I’d have to pick him up, though, he doesn’t drive (read: Probably lost his license because of DUI). And, don’t offer him a beer or anything alcoholic to drink until the work was done. AND, get a price for the job, not an hourly rate, or he’ll milk it.

But he’s a really good guy for that kind of work.

Welcome to my little island.

My brother had a guy. “He can do anything,” said my brother.

Okay, does he do boats?

“He can do anything.”

Okay, I’ll call him, but first…let me ask around a little more. (Read: I need to ask Hoppy.)

So, I saw Hoppy, explained the situation, and he said emphatically not to replace the whole deck. That’s crazy at this time of year. It’s a big job and expensive.

I just don’t want my foot to go through it, I said.

Y’know what you do, he said. Get an old street sign, a stop sign or something, and just screw it in. Then throw a big carpet over it.

“Ah, shit,” he said. “I’ll do it. Won’t cost ya nothin’.” (Except a 30-pack, or two, of course.)

Now, that’s what I’m talking about.

Of course, it took him awhile to get around to it. Also, my carpenter had removed some supports, so the window and seats and all that got all twisted up. We needed to fix that, too.

Hoppy, God bless him, did it. Before my vacation was completely over, too. I was sooooo excited that I’d be able to use the boat during my two-week publication break.

Of course, he didn’t use a street sign, he used a realtor’s sign (hoping they don’t read the blog).

So, I got in there to goop up around the edges and discovered…wait for it….another soft spot.

Geesh. Hoppy and I had stomped all over that boat and it seemed fine (mostly….that’s another story).

“I’m gonna need the other half of that sign,” I told him a day or so later. I said I could do it myself now that I saw what he did.

No, he said, you’ve got to use the right screws, and he said he really wanted to look at it himself.




Vacation almost over.

Then he did it. Used a “Slow Children” sign this time. On the bottom, someone wrote: “are easier to catch.”

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Then I gooped up the edges.

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I used that Boat Life Life Caulk. My boat is very familiar with that stuff. I love it. I used a tube and a half on the signs.

Then I needed to wash the boat. But, the remains of last winter’s wood were still piled behind the boat. That took three days to get rid of because it’s been super hot and humid and….great boat weather.

Then I washed the boat. it looked downright respectable.

Then I put that big old tub under the motor to start the engine. It started for about five seconds a couple of times, but just wouldn’t keep going.

7757 LittleWaterBuggy_Smaller

For some odd reason, the shift lever beckoned to me in an odd way. So I grabbed it and pulled, the pushed. I discovered that it wouldn’t move. I thought for sure that it was supposed to move even if the engine wasn’t running. That thing was stuck.

And the engine wouldn’t start.

And, the fuel line leaked.

So, I looked in the shed and discovered a fuel line that was clearly newer. That one leaked, too. When are we going to stop accepting this garbage that only works for two minutes? I would not have a problem with the global economy if we would just hunt around for the best stuff instead of the junkiest stuff.

So, I went and bought another fuel line: $39+ with tax.

Now, bear in mind this is all happening THIS July, last week, in 80-90 degree weather and super-oppressive humidity. So that means I’m working outside for 15 minutes and retreating to the air conditioning for 20.

Spoke to my Motor Guy and told him the story. This was Saturday afternoon. He said he’d swing by on Sunday if I didn’t call him to say I’d gotten it started.

I went back out to the driveway, hooked up the new fuel line, and got the motor started. YIPPEE! Right?

Then, for some odd reason, the shift lever beckoned to me, again.

The motor was running, the shift lever was in the “neutral” position, but it sure looked like the propeller was spinning. I do not remember that much oily water getting splashed all over the driveway…and me.

So, I called my Motor Guy, to fix the shift lever. He said he’d be by Sunday morning.

I went to my mother’s summer place and hung out with the relatives, ate dinner, watched the sun set. When I got home, a car was pulling out of my driveway. COOL! My Motor Guy decided to take a ride and he fixed the shift lever. It was kind of stiff, but that’s okay, it used to move so easily that I popped it in reverse sometimes when I was trying for neutral. (And you remember what it does when I pop it in neutral, right?)

So, now I’m ready to go. The idea of going out for the first time of the season on a Sunday in the middle of July is kind of scary. But I was ramped up and ready to go.

The good thing is, there’ll be lots of people around, right? So, how bad can it be?

Stay tuned for part II.

Visit www.Zorena.com for links to Beth David’s other writings; visit www.NeighbNews.com for this week’s Fairhaven Neighborhood News.

Rocks three, Little Water Buggy 0

“Well, it looks like I won’t be getting out on the boat again this year, unless something unexpected happens (I can hope, right?).

It was a weird year with the boat to say the least (but when do I ever say the least?)

It seems that every time I took it out I had some problem with either the engine, operator stupidity, or just plain yucky luck. Nothing serious, though, and always a learning experience. The engine was just fussy all year.

The first time I went out, I hit a rock, good hit, too. But this year, I was prepared. I had my metal file handy and I was able to file out the little dent. That new prop was so light compared to the old one. I think it’s made of aluminum. More on that later.

The first big adventure this season was, we ran out of gas… I know, I know. It’s easier to do than you think, though. Then, well, wait for it.

The day we ran out of gas, my sister met me at the boat ramp. It was a clear, calm, beautiful day. Warm, but not hot. The exact kind of day for using this Little Water Buggy of mine.

I had been having a little trouble with the engine. It kept needing to be choked. The time before when I took it out, it stalled a couple of times. It was okay if I choked it, though, but that wasn’t right. I never had to keep the choke out before. Anyway, on that occasion, I had also kicked the gas hose loose. I had a heckuva time getting a tight fit on the gas tank side after that. I wasn’t sure if it was the hose connection, or the fitting on the old metal gas tank I have. Lots of people told me to get rid of that old gas tank, but I like it. I like that it has a gauge. I like that it doesn’t have a stupid warning about how it swells without a release valve.

So I made a few adjustments and decided to try it out again. We had almost a full tank of gas and I kept checking it…at first. [sigh]

We buzzed around Bella Vista Island and headed east. It was so calm and there weren’t a lot of big boats out there making our lives miserable with wakes. We hit a few, but not bad. One of the reasons I hate going out on Sundays is that I end up running into a-holes who think it’s funny to try to swamp me. One of these days I’ll get a name and look ’em up and expose ’em. Meanwhile, I just try to avoid them.

Anyway, on this day, we were halfway to Falmouth when my sister said she wanted to go back and check out a spot near the Seaview boat ramp that a friend of hers kayaks to all the time. I had never been there in the boat, so I was happy to go exploring. He said it was a little island with a nice sandy beach. So we headed back. That was good, or we would’ve run out of gas while we were pretty far out. I guess I just stopped checking the gas because we were so close to shore. Then the thing just sputtered a bit and… poof! That was it, all gone.

We did find her friend’s little island, though. I thought for sure that I took a picture of it so one of my readers could tell me what it’s called. They all have names, right? Every rock (except the ones I hit) have names around here, so a sandy island should. Unfortunately, as I look at the pictures on my cellphone, it appears I did not.

I did, however, take a picture of this rock that we were very close to when we anchored. Does it have a name? It’s not far from the Seaview boat ramp.


I guess we used up more gas than we normally would have because I had to keep it choked. Makes sense to me.

Fortunately, one of the first things I bought when I got the boat in the water last year was an unlimited membership in TowBoatU.S. So I made a call on my cellphone (I know, I know, I need a real radio….maybe next year), and Capt. Mike and his son Shane came to our rescue.


It was, though, I have to admit, the most fun I’d had on the boat. Sounds weird, but, it was a calm, beautiful day. Look at that sky in the picture! It was warm, but not too hot. The water was flat calm, and we were very close to shore. If we needed to, we truly could’ve walked to shore and just pulled the boat along to the Seaview boat ramp. So there was no stress, no real danger worry. We saw some kayakers (see below), watched the birds, the boats and the tide. If we had fishing poles with us it would’ve looked like we were there on purpose, except we were so close to shore. Maybe we could’ve been quahogging.


So, Captain Mike and Shane dropped off five gallons of gas and some oil and we were on our way. We got chugging along really well, the wind was picking up a bit, but it was still pretty calm, and it was still lots of fun. We were gone a lot longer than I had planned, but, other than that, it was okay.

As soon as I got moving along away from the shore heading back to Hoppy’s, I let the engine out a bit. The guys always say it’s good to blow it out, but I’m a bit of a chicken. Anyway, I cranked it up and got moving, probably about as fast as that old 25 horsepower motor can push that boat, when…BAM! Hit a rock….but just kept going.

I have to admit I was really shocked because we seemed so far from shore. But, the boat kept going, it didn’t make much difference in how it was moving, so I figured it was a little bump. No worries. When I got back I just filed down the prop a bit.

The next big adventure included my neighbor and local celebrity M.L. Baron, the weather spotter. ML is usually awake before the crack of dawn, so I sent a quick email one day and asked him if he wanted to join me for a spin around the coves. He jumped at the chance.

We buzzed all around, just kind of puttering and exploring things. We buzzed around the mooring field at Earl’s looking at all the boats, and ML took some great pictures. Then we went into Jack’s Cove. I’ve been all over Jack’s in the kayak, but never in the boat because the water is so low and there are so many rocks. So, we took our time and went really slow. We buzzed around the boats in the little private marina, and then we pulled into the part behind the big marsh. At some point, though, I decided we couldn’t see the rocks well enough, so we puttered out. Now, I’m talking SLOW, people, really slow. I knew there were rocks so I was being careful.

As we were puttering, ML was telling me a story about someone who had learned to kayak and flipped over and got stuck on an “underwater obstruction.” I swear, no lie…the second he said “underwater obstruction,” we hit a rock. It was a double whammy as I recall.

The prop seemed to be really banged up, too, because the water was roiling all around, but the motor was working great, so I just kept going. We started heading back towards the Seaview Boat Ramp area again. I picked up some speed as we pulled away from Jack’s and suddenly the engine started revving like crazy, but the boat wasn’t moving. ML immediately knew what happened.

“You lost your prop,” he said, but he didn’t mean LOST.

Sure enough, I turned off the engine and pulled it up and the prop was gone. Gone, for real. Not the pin lost and the prop spinning. The prop was not there at all.

ML had his handheld radio and got to use it. If you know ML, you know he got a kick out of using all his sea-talk know-how. AND he got to chide me for not having a radio onboard. He called TowBoat and this time Capt. Brian came to the rescue.

ML Baron waiting for TowBoat US to rescue us after our prop got lost.

Capt. Brian asked, well, suggested really, that we get towed to the Seaview boat ramp. That seemed like a dumb thing to do since my car was at Hoppy’s. I really had to go to the bathroom, though, and there was nowhere to go…no head on the Towboat boat? YIKES!

Anyway, he said it was getting a bit choppy around West Island and he was too big to go under the causeway so we’d have to go around. The idea of going to Seaview, though, and then getting a ride back to my car to get back to the ramp just seemed too cumbersome.

Live and learn.

So, we headed for Hoppy’s. At first we were really moving along. The motor was banging against the transom and I was starting to get nervous. But Capt. Brian called back to see how we were doing and ML told him that he was okay, but the Captain (that would be me), wanted him to ease off a bit. So, we slowed down, but we were still moving faster than my Little Water Buggy ever went with me in it.

So, picture it. My poor Little Water Buggy getting hauled along ignominiously amid increasing waves plus the wake of the boat towing us, water spraying all around, we’re getting soaked, the little boat getting “tossed” about and ML trying to keep his camera dry. Remember those rocks I mentioned at the tip of West Island? Well, we had to go around them, making the trip longer, and wetter, and…oh my bouncing bladder. I was really worried the boat was going to fall apart, or start leaking. I was more worried my bladder would start leaking.

But we got through it. We even got a couple of pictures as we got towed, but only before it got rough. Okay, rough is a relative term, yes? I’m sure the TowBoat guys have seen a lot worse. I can say, though, that I was delighted when we rounded that corner and the wind backed off a bit.


Capt. Brian of TowBoat US New Bedford towing the Little Water Buggy.
Capt. Brian of TowBoat US New Bedford towing the Little Water Buggy.

I learned it takes quite a bit to flip that little boat of mine. We had waves and wakes and wind and water coming from all directions, broadsiding us, and we just jumped right over them. I was really glad I had installed those seats. We would’ve been tossed all around the deck without ’em. We were able to sit and hang onto the windshield as we got tossed around.

I have to say, ML was a cool cucumber through it all, too. I think we both had a great time.

Capt. Brian let me crawl through his boat as soon as we got to the ramp so I could use the portable toilet there. I can say unequivocally that using that bathroom at Hoppy’s Landing was THE worst part of the trip. Ugh….the service that provides that thing should be fired. It’s like they went out back and found one that they were getting rid of because it’s so yucky and decided it would be good enough for Hoppy’s Landing. Disgusting.

Capt. Brian lashed my Little Water Buggy alongside his boat and rode it right up the trailer. He did a better job than I do!

The Little Water Buggy with no prop.
The Little Water Buggy with no prop.

ML has written a bit about his adventure and posted some pictures on his Facebook page.

The prop was gone. I asked my neighbor (you remember Frank, right?) to take a look at the old one for me. He told me not to put it back on. That thing was a mess! I took it to Doug’s Props in Fairhaven and he rebuilt it for me.  Even he was surprised that the new one had broken off. The hub just cracked in half and it was gone. The pin and nut were still there. He said they make crap now. As if we don’t know that. Just keep making things thinner and lighter. I noticed right away how much heavier the old one was when I pulled it off a shelf in the shed.

So, I have a new-old prop, and Doug is looking for another used one that’ll fit on my motor.

I suppose this should be the place where I complain about the lousy workmanship of just about anything we buy today. I’d venture to guess that there was a time when getting a new prop was better than rebuilding an old one, but that’s a rant for another time.

Until next time, then..