Monday, December 19, 2011

Lighted dinghies and engine foibles

The first time, a few years back, there were maybe four or five dinghies.  And if I remember correctly, only one was lit up - the rest of us waved flashlights or something.  But that was several years ago, and my memory is not known for its accuracy (maybe we were all balanced on floating logs, paddling along and waving flaming torches).

Rudolph leads the way
But this year, all the dinghies had some kind of lighting, and the lead dinghy even had a sound system (along with Rudolph) so that we didn't have to sing.  Wait!  No singing?  Well, with the dinghies strung out over perhaps a quarter-mile, singing was always a little problematic - getting us all to sing in time with each other, or even the same song, was not easy.  But aside from being practical, the electronic form took some of the folksiness and charm out of it, I think.

Wanting to be full participants, we rigged Eolian's dinghy with the handle from our deck brush as a mast, and strung a string of lites from the stern, over the mast and down to the bow.  These were battery-operated LED lites, and were full-on kitsch because they blinked and changed colors.

Of course, the final bit is that the dinghy outboard, our not-so-trusty 2 HP motor, should run so that we could stay in the conga line.  So yesterday afternoon I put the dinghy down and started the engine, just to make sure.  Well tried to start the engine.  In the end, I had to take the spark plug out and heat it on the stove to burn off the oil and water on it.  And then when the engine did start, it would never get anywhere near full power output - and believe me, when you only have 2 HP, you need all 2 HP.  The smell of the exhaust told me that the gas was old.

So I drove the dinghy up and down the waterway, trying to heat up the motor to dry out any condensation in the ignition system, and trying to burn off the old gas.

I give Brent & Jill the prize
for the most lights
But last nite, at the moment of truth when everyone was leaving to go over to A Dock to form up, it wouldn't start.  And so once again, we were participants, but we were ignominiously towed participants, towed by Brent & Jill, our slip-mates.  But even that turned out great.  As luck would have it, Brent's warming libation unexpectedly ran out just before we got to the F/G Dock waterway, and so we had to stop at our home slip for a refill.  And then we got invited below, and...

The end of G Dock, and Eolian's
interrupted strand of blue lites
Well, we sipped and gabbed while the second half of the parade went on, down below in the warm.  And we later walked down to the yacht club which was the designated endpoint for the parade, where drinks and goodies were to be had.  In fact, we got there on foot just as the water-borne parade contingent arrived.

So maybe having an unreliable engine can be a good thing after all...

Postscript: a new sparkplug cured the engine woes. Well actually two new sparkplugs.  I discovered that sparkplugs do not float.

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