I got up this morning and prepared to bail out the boat. Funny, it didn't seem to look nearly as bad in the calm lake. Last night the waves were crashing completely over the boat but this morning it was just sitting there, full of water and leaning to one side. It's the side that took the waves and therefore probably has the most sand, silt, and other crap.
I had to get in the boat and stand on the other side to keep it from leaning. This kept the back corner out of the water so it would not fill back up as fast as I bailed it out. There was a lot of water in that boat. Each 5 gallon bucket barely made a dent in the water level. Soon I had an audience. I should have put on my captain's hat my mother gave me before we left. But you just don't always think about what might be funny when dealing with problems.
Mike Schultz, the owner, was on the dock. His pontoon boat was on a lift on the same dock to which my boat was tied. In the storm when my boat came untied, it hit his boat and damaged the fins on his motor. I suspect that when the back rope broke, my boat flipped around as it was still tied in front. Then it sat there and banged against his boat repeatedly until the front rope pulled free. Additionally it also dented on of his pontoons and tore of the sensor for his fish finder. More bad news as I may be responsible for his repairs. Glad I bought insurance when I bought the boat.
Once the boat was able to float a bit, I pushed it over to a vacant lift. Jerry was out there with Mike and they said the owner of the lift was gone but were sure he wouldn't mind if I used it temporarily. Although my boat full of water was too heavy to lift all the way out, it lifted it enough so that the water was pouring out over the back end. This allowed me to finally reach the batteries that were submerged in their compartment. I was able to replace a fuse and get the bilge pump working to remove the rest of the water. I was surprised that the batteries still worked.
After about 45 minutes or so, the bilge pump had removed most of the water. The new carpet is a complete mess. It's full of sand, weeds, silt, and the whole boat stinks like the lake. Hopefully the smell will go away once things are cleaned up and dried out.
Well let's see if this thing starts. I asked Jerry if I should get fresh gas but he said there shouldn't be any water in it because it's sealed in the cans. So I fired up the engine and it started. Both Lynns rode along as I went for a short test ride. Things seemed to be OK although the engine was running a little rough. Probably just some moisture that needs to be dried out. We went back to the docks, tied the boat up (with the bow facing the lake this time), and opened up every compartment and laid out the contents so things could start drying.
After breakfast, I was ready for another test run. Christine and Jack wanted to come along for a tour of the lake. We started out just fine but as we got to the other side of the lake, the engine really started bogging down. Then it quit. I was able to get it started again but anytime I went below full throttle, the engine died. And at full throttle, the RPMs were only about half of normal. Something wasn't right.
Although the shortest path back was right across the lake, I wanted to keep close to the shore in case the engine died completely. During the next 20 minutes, we slowly worked our way back to the docks by following the shoreline. When I moved the throttle to maneuver into the dock, the engine died and would not start. Our momentum and the wind carried us to another dock next to the one to which we intended to tie. Jerry was out there and helped us get in.
And that was it. Keith and I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out why the boat wouldn't start. We checked the fuel filter, checked for spark, scratched our heads, and the tried starting. We did this over and over again. There were several people that stopped by. They'd ask what about this and what about that? We'd covered it all.
Finally Mike came along and he asked us if we'd checked the fuel for water. I repeated what Jerry had said earlier and then asked how to check for water. Mike returned with a large glass jar. He took one of the gas cans, shook it, and then poured a good amount into the jar. After letting it set a bit, water collected at the bottom of the jar as it's heavier than gasoline. So that was the problem. There was water in the gas.
Take the engine apart again and flush all the fuel lines, filter, etc. I took out 3 of the 4 spark plugs (thanks Mercury for your stupid design that makes it about impossible to remove the bottom plug) and left the cylinders open so they would be good and dry. Then after dumping the gas and letting the cans dry for a bit, Keith and I went to Ray's Oil Company in Dalton to get fresh fuel.
We also stopped at the grocery/hardware store for drinking water and ice. News around here travels fast as the lady behind the counter already knew that I was the guy from California that sunk his boat.
And they knew about it at the gas station too. I bought gas, oil, and isopropyl alcohol for the gas cans. The alcohol is supposed to help dry things out. With fresh fuel, Keith and I headed back.
I anxiously reinstalled the spark plugs and hooked up the fuel lines. Finally I attached the gas can and Keith turned the key. It didn't start.
We mucked around a while and finally a bit of life. The engine started in full throttle. Keith was doing the starting as I was standing in the lake at the back of the boat to work on the engine. He was unfamiliar with the throttle control and backed it off all the way to idle. The engine died.
But after a few more turns of the key, it started again. This time we let it run for a bit and get warm. However again, after backing off the throttle, the engine died.
And we couldn't get it started again. Check for fuel. Check for flooding. Check for spark. I don't know. Nobody else has any ideas. Fuck it! I give up. Either it will start in the morning or Lynn W. will tow me over to the public dock and I'll load it up and take it back to the boys at Dalton Sports. Besides, it was after 6:30 pm and we'd been at this since noon.
We spent the evening around the campfire. Lynn W. grilled burgers while others contributed various salads and sides. It was a nice evening.
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