My buddy Stretch left on Tuesday, February 5th after a fun day of softball, beer drinking, and hanging out. Sabrina would be flying back in on Friday February 8th. Accompanying her on her trip back would be her brother, Chris, and sister-in-law, Kathy, to visit us until February 17th. That gave me a few days to get the boat cleaned and ready for new guests.
So… I set to doing exactly what you imagine me doing. I cleaned during the day and went to various jam sessions and bonfires at night with the new folks I’d met playing softball. The weather was calm, so I was flying around in the dinghy at high speeds, jumping across Elizabeth Harbour to wherever the get-together would be.
One night when crossing from Stocking Island back to Kidd’s Cove (where JV was anchored) I came upon a hard Walker Bay dinghy afloat in the middle of the harbor. It was a dark night and I was upon the dink instantly and unexpectedly. Worried, I immediately checked to see if someone had fallen overboard while rowing home. Upon further inspection, I noticed the oars were stowed so I figured it had just come adrift. I had a handheld VHF, so I put out a call on 68 and got limited response. Finally a friend’s brother said he thought he knew who it belonged to. He met me in the harbor and towed the dinghy back to it’s owner. The owner had been at the same party as me and apparently hadn’t secured the dinghy well upon his return.
Friday morning I was putting the finishing touches on getting things ready for Sabrina, Chris and Kathy. I made a few jerry jug runs for water early, got the dirty laundry gathered,
and then blew off doing the laundry to go spearfishing with my friends and then dutifully headed in to do the laundry. On my way to go spearfishing do laundry I was flying along in the dinghy going very fast in calm water when I “spun” the prop. The resulting instantaneous deceleration of the dinghy was really painful as my shins crashed into the seat that I was standing behind.
(For those unfamiliar with outboard propellers, they have a rubber circular bushing between the shaft and the prop that is a fail safe to keep the outboard shaft from shearing if you hit something. If you run aground, the bushing shears, hopefully keeping the motor and shaft intact. But this can also happen at almost any time based on wear and tear. Since most of my experience is with inboard engines, all of this was explained to me by my buddy Jeremy who just had this happen to him too.)
I was a little confused at what happened, but I continued on to my friends’ boat since it was a lot closer to their boat than back to JV. The dinghy was limping along slowly, but I made it across the harbor. Jeremy explained what happened, and then provided me with a smaller prop to limp back to JV. Knowing that Sabrina was flying back in from the States in a few hours was frustrating, if the prop had “spun” 24 hours earlier she could have brought me a new one back with her. I headed into town with the broken propeller in hand and didn’t have any luck locating one in town. But as I stepped onto the dinghy dock a guy from the softball team saw the prop in my hand and suggested I call a boat that might have one that would work.
Returning to JV, I placed the call on the VHF to the boat in question who had lent the prop to another boat to test it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach the other boat on the VHF. In the meantime I “repaired” the broken propeller with a few large bolts and swapped it out so I could limp along at a faster rate. I returned the borrowed prop to Jeremy and researched alternatives to get a new prop in from the States. It would be a special order, but I could probably have it in time that our friends Sean and Shannon could bring it down when they fly in on February 21st.
During all this I was keeping Sabrina informed of everything via email. She was able to check her email during her layovers and she thought she might be able to get a prop during her two-hour stop in Miami. She called the local prop shop… but they didn’t have one in stock. Bummer.
The flight was arriving at 4:45 and I only had a dinghy running at about 75% of optimum. At 3:30 I made one last call on the VHF… and got an answer! I hurried over and met a nice Georgetown snowbird in Stocking Island Hole #2. Miraculously, the propeller was the exact one I needed! (It’s for a 9.8hp 2-Stroke Tohatsu, so that was surprising.) We headed to the beach and had it installed in 3 minutes. From there I headed to the propeller owner’s boat, where he said he’d bought the prop at a yard sale, and only charged me half of what it would be new!
So, relying on dumb luck, a couple of friends, and an impulse purchase at a yard sale, I now had a great new propeller! I went from limping along for 2 weeks waiting on a special order from the States, to being fixed and fully operational in 5 hours – at half the cost, apparently the good karma of helping others paid off!
When Sabrina arrived I gave her the good news and she was amazed. She wasn’t even upset that I didn’t have time to get to the laundry that morning since I was dealing with fixing the propeller all day.
(We’ll just keep the fact that I was going spearfishing to ourselves.)