“This motor has never given us any problem,” said the overconfident captain of our ship. The next day, I stood in waist-deep water, dinghy full of children, and tried to call him because the darn thing wouldn’t start. The irony, of course, is that he had fiddled with something that morning, but had given her a good test run to make sure everything was fine before the kids and I made our trek to the beach.
About halfway up Sister’s Creek, I sensed the motor wasn’t getting the fuel it needed. My response was to speed up a bit so we didn’t get stranded in the mangroves. If we could get to the beach, it would be something, because on a holiday weekend, there would be someone there who could lend a hand if it came to that. Well, we made it, the engine dying as I brought the boat into the beach. Jay didn’t answer his cell phone, and I knew the VHF was switched off, so we decided to stay and enjoy the water and sand and sun while we had a few hours, then figure out how to get home. Surely, by then, Jay would get the message I had left and would know what we should do.
This time, when I parked the dinghy, I made sure she wasn’t going to get stuck on the beach. We checked her every half hour and let out a little slack in the rope keeping her comfortably afloat, but secured to the beach. When it was time to go, everyone was loaded in, lifejackets on, hats on, arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, push the start button and…nothing. I am not the problem-solver of this family. I am the problem-discoverer (and, occasionally, the problem-causer), but that skill is not very helpful when someone doesn’t hear the cell-phone ringing. I tried to trouble-shoot, but I’m not mechanically inclined, so that made things difficult. I tried asking nicely, but the motor doesn’t speak my language. Finally, I decided we could just manually pump fuel into the darn thing. It started. It ran—hallelujah! We drove home as quickly as was advisable.
If Jay had answered my frantic calls, I would not have had the glorious honor of saying that I had figured it out on my own and gotten us home. Of course, if he had answered my calls, he would have said, “try tightening the hose clamp” and I would have had to admit that I left my multi-tool at home. Guess what’s going straight into the dinghy emergency bag! But, of course, the same mishap won’t happen next time. It will be something else. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to write a parody called “50 Ways to Strand Your Dinghy.”