Thinking back, the starboard engine sounded a little different, not smooth as it usually does. But, off we went to the gas dock, the least pleasant part of any trip on our boat.
$629 later, we got ready to leave, but now, the starboard engine refused to start. Starting our engines has never been a problem but this time that one engine would only occasionally fart. We checked all the usual things and we did note that the engine was flooded. A dock mate came along and offered assistance. We checked ignition and everything seemed to be working accept that strong smell of gas. Eventually, we ran the boat on just the port engine back to our slip. Luckily, our dock mate Mike came along and with his help and with a lot of fending off and tossing lines, we got the boat back into the slip.
Scratch Block Island for today.
As we began double checking everything, others on our dock gathered around to offer help and advice. Nothing draws a crowd like an open engine hatch. Actually, we appreciate the extra help.
Another dock mate, John, who is an accomplished mechanic, got interested in our problem. Working together, we systematically began swapping ignition parts between the two engines. That included the cap, rotor, ballast resistor and finally, even the ignition modules inside the Mallory YLM distributors.
We couldn't have swapped the ignition modules at all except for the fact that our pal John produced two beautiful sets of connectors to replace the original Mallory connectors that we had to cut off.
Did we mention that it was hot and humid?
However, each time we swapped a part, we'd try to start the port engine and each time, it started perfectly.
It seems that our problem wasn't ignition related at all. Was this a fuel problem? Hard to believe on a four year old carb but with Ethanol, who knows?
The consensus opinion was that we should should try one more time to start the starboard engine. We held the choke open, advanced the throttle all the way and after some cranking, the engine fired and ran, but very poorly. We quickly accumulated quite a gas slick on the water. Stuck float? No amount of tapping seemed to have helped. Eventually, we shut the engine down. In five or so minutes of sputtering, the carb has accumulated about 3/4" of gas in the base. Time to have the carb rebuilt.
We got some references to local re-builders but it soon became apparent that none of them moved quickly or were even available when we called, or in one case, actually visited his shop.
With our summer quickly passing, we decided on Friday morning to see if we could buy a new Mallory 1409 carb. This is a popular 600 cfm marine carb and in an Internet search, we found that they were readily available. We zeroed in on Advance Auto Parts, whose site seemed to say that a new carb could be delivered the next day to one of their stores near us. Even better, if we purchased it through their web site, they would offer us a 15% discount.
At this point, Frances, the Master Shopper, took over. Forget the Internet. Frances got on the phone and drilled some poor soul at Advance Auto Parts on every aspect of the transaction. Amazing to watch that woman work. Once she hung up, the carb transaction was going to be quite different from what was described on the Advance Auto Parts website.
Advance Auto Parts would move a 1409 carb from wherever they keep them to their store in Colchester, Conn., that night without us ever really ordering it. The next morning, we were to go on line and place the order, specifying their Colchester store as the pickup point. Once we placed that order, we could go to Colchester and pick up the new carb. That exactly what we did and it was there waiting for us. Frances crowning touch was to obtain a 20% discount rather than the 15% shown on their website.
Saturday afternoon, we installed the new carb and the engine started instantly and ran perfectly. We'll have the old carb rebuilt and keep it as a space but with our luck, will probably never need it.
This engine problem stole three days from our Block Island visit so we decided to try again in a week or two when we again can get away from work obligations.
On Friday, while waiting for our Edelbrock carb to arrive, we felt the need for a good off-boat lunch. We don't eat out often when we're on the boat but today looked like a good time to take a drive and take a break from the boat. But where?
Our dock has a special resource in that area: our friends Sue and Ron. They love boats and road trips and know their way around New England. They also know good food and where to find it (and cook it) so we asked Sue what she'd recommend.
It took Sue about five seconds to recommend the Riverview Inn in Moosup, Conn. She described their last meal there and could probably recite much of the menu. She also gave us directions that would put Google Maps to shame.
Off we went to Moosup and although we would never have noticed it otherwise, there was Riverview exactly where we were told it would be. Understand that this isn't fancy or expensive. It's really an old strip shopping center that Riverview's owners have combined the four storefronts into one restaurant. Inside, it's a little dark but immaculately clean. The menu was vast but we knew what to order and it was easily as good as Sue had described.
Later that afternoon, Ron stopped by to see if we had enjoyed Riverview. We told him that we had and he went on to tell us about other places that he and Sue enjoy.
Sometimes having fun on your boat is more than cruising away for someplace else. Sometimes, the best times are right on your dock.