Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bringing Back the Outboard

There is a common expression in Yorkshire, land of my birth, that if you have nothing to say – its best to say nothing. Now this blog is about renovating a boat – nothing else. And I for one, get seriously miffed with other bloggers who digress. Sometimes you get the impression that they feel that any words, however pointless, are better than none. Well, I don’t share that view. If I’ve nothing to say, then I won’t say anything.

So, for a week or so I have been silent mainly because of the atrocious unseasonable weather we’ve encountered here. Blizzards force you to remain indoors by the wood-burner. Sitting there with a mug of warming coffee, the bad weather encourages you to think and make plans but it doesn’t enable you to report progress on the boat renovation project.

There was one benefit however. I received several emails and comments from ‘regular readers’ asking if I was OK and mildly complaining about my lack of postings – quite flattering really.

Now I never used to subscribe to conspiracy theories. In my previous life I was a senior member of a large Government organisation and I was constantly accused of being a member of a team which had a hidden agenda. The accusations at times were quite flattering, in that most were based on the premise that we had sufficient time, energy and intelligence to move in strange and Machiavellian ways to achieve our goals. Often when there was an unintended outcome one or two junior colleagues or members of the public would confide that they had known all along that we had been fixing things to work out that way.

Since entering this new and strange world of bohemian living on a shoestring however, my perception of the world is changing. I expected to be ‘poor’ financially and ‘rich’ in terms of time. My plan was to exchange one for another and somehow come out better off. Well to some extent the project has worked. I’m certainly poorer than I was – but remarkably less poor than expected. I hadn’t ever considered how much money I wasted when I was in work – suits, shirts, ties, shoes, petrol for two cars, , drinks with colleagues after work, lots of ready-meal dinners– simply because I didn’t have time or energy to shop frugally – or maintain a potager. Fuel for the stove would be delivered and paid for– these days I chop it and haul it myself.

But, there is a downside, I thought I had plenty of time – but I don’t! I’m older and slower than the professionals whose services I used to buy and I lack their skill and experience – so everything takes just that little bit longer, including this house–renovation, and time waits for no man – time is conspiring against me.

Already it is mid March and my original plan had been to launch a new looking magnificently appointed and commissioned vessel by May. At my current rate of progress this simply isn’t going to happen and I am going to have to determine                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         priorities and accept some compromises.

First priority, I guess is to make the vessel seaworthy and get her launched in early summer. I can worry about aesthetics and comfort later. So, what to do about the Outboard, a 4-stroke 6 hp Mariner? The previous owner told me she was reliable and provided plenty of power but I haven’t run her yet. This estuary can have some strong currents especially on a falling spring tide so an engine is a pretty important back-up even though I hope to use it only rarely.

I’ve managed to read a few books about maintenance Cheap Outboards: The Beginner's Guide to Making an Old Motor Run Forever but I suspect she’ll need a real overhaul rather than a simple annual look-at and I estimate that an experienced mechanic could do a better job than me in one third of the time. Quite frankly, I’d rather pay money for this and put to sea with some confidence in the engine, than rely on my-handiwork to see us through. Next year, when I know the engine is reasonably reliable I might turn my hand to undertaking the smaller less sophisticated routine maintenance jobs – but for this year, I’m going to call in the services of our local marine mechanical and electrical engineer and get a major overhaul – He’s called Joel by the way, and he has an outstanding reputation.