"Let's buy a boat" she said, "it'll be fun" she said...
In all honesty, she can't be blamed for that one. It was my idea to buy a sailboat. I'm sure I'm completely alone in that regard.
We wanted to upgrade from our Paceship PY23, and BOY, did we! We were looking at a Columbia
26, had almost fallen in love it. In fact, we were less than 12 hours from doing the final survey
on it when, from across the bed
I heard "ooooooooo". Uh oh. This is trouble. In my house, all those o's in a row means something's about to change. It's just as likely to be good as it is bad, but it ALWAYS means trouble.
"Look! A 35 foot Morgan
, and they only want (insert ridiculously low sum that can only mean scow here)!"
Ok, back up for a sec. I love to read. Love. I dream about stories in books
the way some people do TV, or movies, or grandma's home cooked meals
. It's just a medium I identify with. And one of my favorite authors is Nelson Demille. My first exposure to Demille was through the novel 'Nightfall', about a brilliant but abrasive (much like me) NYPD homicide detective who is unwittingly (it's never wittingly, is it), swept up into.... Sorry, I digress...
Ok look, one of Mr. Demille's most beloved characters owns a Morgan
. So when my wife said she found one, I was on the hook. Understand however, I already had visions of me at the helm
(a real helm
has a tiller) of the Columbia
, running the trades down to Tonga
, battling pirates and flying fish
, looking forward to a pacific paradise and drinks with umbrellas. This Morgan was an unwanted interruption in my plans. I turned to her and said what any self-respecting, pissed-off sailor who just had his dreams dashed on the rocks of matrimony would say...."Really?!"
"Lemme see". I craned over the cat to see the Morgan. She was beautiful. Graceful lines, tall mast
, a very solid and comfortable looking yacht.
"And it has a wheel!!!"
Wince. My wife prefers a wheel
. I have failed.
"Ok, it has a wheel
. But it's a 35 foot boat. When things go wrong on a boat that big, the go wrong in a big way". They do indeed.
"Honey, I want to see this boat!"
And with that simple statement, Tonga
(and my tiller) slipped away.
The seller met us at the dock
the following morning. He was there with his girlfriend and a friend of theirs from Washington
. Three of the nicest people I've ever met, and I've met a lot of nice people sing taking up sailing. They were moving back to Washington
to get married, and this boat was the last loose end to tie up before they left. I could have sworn I saw Marisa Tomei stomping her foot on the other side of the dock
. Anyway. We sat down with them over a beer
at the marina restaurant and bought their boat. Quick, simple, no fan-fare. They left to go home with the arrangement that we would follow to sign the bill of sale
after a while. We went back on board our new boat and had a moment. A long, sobering moment. This was ours.
We pulled up to the sellers house an hour later, relieved to see they were still there an hadn't thrown a change of underwear in a bag and gotten out of Dodge. Two stacks of paper changed hands, we were given a stove, two sea anchors that I wouldn't trust to slow a surf board, and a heavy stainless steel
swivel to something or other. I've got plenty of time to figure out where that goes.
Our "survey" revealed that the inboard didn't run, the mast
step looked like a loaf of carrot cake, and we were going to have to call Erin Brokovich for the mold
remediation problem we had. But we loved her!
Actually, the sails
were in good shape, the decks were solid, and the standing rigging
was ok. If we could paddle her out of the slip, I was confident we could sail her home. What we needed was an outboard
bracket. Hello Craigslist.
You would think that there would be an organized repository of information on types and uses of outboard
brackets. Descriptions of what you need and why. I'll tell you now, none exists. There is tons of information online about outboard motors. No one seems to understand much about how to mount them to a sailboat. Oh I know people do it, but look up something like sail trim. There are line drawings, and graphs that explain forces on a sail and how that is transferred to the hull
, and the opposite reaction of the keel
, and even what color your Sperry's should be to get the weather
helm just so. But nothing on mounting an outboard. And yes, I posted here about it. Nada.
No bother, I can figure this out. First issue, my (borrowed) outboard is a two stoke 8 hp Tohatsu. Short shaft from a flat bottom John boat. I need to get it low enough in the water
to push the boat while still being able to pick it up out of the water
to sail. I found a small number of very high dollar mounts that had gobs of vertical travel, but let's face it, I'm a cheapskate. I'm not spending as much on a motor
mount as I did for the whole boat. Time to improvise.
The first idea was to build a system of step down brackets out of plywood
and carriage bolts. Maybe not. How about a track it can slide on down the transom? Ok, I was getting desperate, and my wife was getting fed up. We were on our way to see a bracket she found on Craigslist, and only have a few days off from our jobs to devote to this. Time was wasting. I was stressed. I dropped my phone
in the truck, and it landed upside down by my foot. Upside down. Hmmm.
When we saw the bracket, one of those swing up types, I immediately flipped it upside down and pictured it hanging from the transom. Bingo. We payed the man, rushed home, and got to work. I fashioned a backing plate out of some scrap wood, found some 3/8" lag bolts in a jar, and flipped the plate the motor
screws down on upside down, using two longer lag bolts with stacked nuts and washers to correct for the angles being different on the transom. Whew! Done. Fred Sanford would be proud.
The next morning we stopped at Lowes for a tube of 5200 and headed to the boat. We had to mount the bracket and replace the main halyard
with a suspiciously small looking 3/8" rope
purchased at no small expense from West Marine
. I think a promissory note for our first born was issued.
Mounting a bracket seems a simple thing to do, but with a drill in my hand about to put a hole in my boat, I suddenly started asking myself some tough questions. Was I sure I measured correctly? Did I really need an outboard? You can paddle a boat, right? Just get it over with already!
I was surprised to find, pleasantly at first, that the hull
thickness was quite a bit thicker than I thought it would be, and I have always understood Morgan's to be solidly built boats. You go, Charlie! It wasn't until I put the first bolt through that my little world came crashing down around me. There was no way the bolts would fit through the hull and the backing plate.
I just put holes in my boat! What was I thinking! Calm down, surely this wasn't as bad as it seemed. What would Joshua Slocum do? Well, I would have to press on without the backing plate. When I got the boat back home, I could work out a more permanent solution. Geez, already I have all the thrust from the engine
coming from exactly the opposite direction that the engineers of the mount intended, now I have no backing plate. Well, if you're going to go to hell, you might as well be upside down and on fire, that's what I say.
I applied just the perfect amount of 5200 to neatly get a good seal (half a tube), got the bolts hand tight and reached for the socket wrench. I added a little more 5200 in some places for good measure. I started tightening, alternating bolts to spread the load evenly. Maybe just a little more 5200, you can never be too careful. I was starting feeling good about this, it was going to work after all. Then the bolt started spinning. What? How is this happening. Then I realized the bolts were not threaded all the way down. I started checking each bolt and sure enough, I had run out of thread. Ugh.
I had another surprise when I went to remove the nuts, I had cross threaded them. All of them. The Columbia had an outboard well. Grrrrr...
Lots of swearing later, I had the bolts removed and was standing in the hardware
section of the local marine
supply store, covered in 5200 and an the look of defeat. I rummaged through bolts, washers, and nuts to find what I thought I needed. Six bolts and fourteen dollars later, I found myself back in the lazarette, sticking to everything I came in contact with from the coating of 5200 I had given myself. It was everywhere. But the bracket was mounted, backing plate and all.
The next day was her shakedown cruise