Directionally Challenged

BONEHEAD BLUNDER: Filling the boat instead of emptying it

THE BONEHEAD: A favorite customer, handed down by his dad

BONEHEAD RATING: I have a broad shoulder; I’ll split a 10

WHAT HAPPENED: Year before last Tom called to say his washdown pump wasn’t working. It’s a pretty good trek up to his summer home, so after church we drove there to assess the situation. Come to discover he’d never used it in 10 years. It worked fi ne. All he had to do was use the correct switch. We had a good laugh about growing old and wondered whether one senior center could handle us both. It was a good visit, no charge.

Last year Tom emailed me a smartphone photo showing water pouring into his bilge from a rotten hose. Apparently he’d discovered this as he and his grandson were going out for the last day of striper season and the boat wouldn’t plane. And his bilge pump wouldn’t work. A week later I was ready to winterize his boat. I drove up there, took the tarp off the boat, winterized the engine and removed the aft hatch cover — and realized why boat builders and techs are always at loggerheads. The hull, a deep-V, gave no access to the area of concern unless the engine was removed, and even then only an adolescent could get at it to correct the problem, if he was swung by gallows by his feet. I finished the winterization and went home to cogitate.

A month later I swapped some labor for labor and took a young waterman up there, and, believe it or not, he was able to replace the rotten hose and an in-line filter without having to remove the engine. Yay, team! I zipped everything back together, put the tarp back on the boat, took the kid home, wrote up the bill and mailed it. Quick pay, but with a note: “Why doesn’t the bilge pump work?” Damn. I was so tickled to see what we didn’t have to do that I’d forgotten what we had to do.

Of course I couldn’t find my new “apprentice,” but I finally found a willing subject. Up to the boat we went. Tarp off, hatch off, battery on. I flipped the switch and the pump worked, manual and automatic — no hesitation. Since the kid was up in the boat, I asked him to read the labeling of the switches: Horn, Lights, Washdown/Livewell, Bilge Pump, ACC, ACC. Hmmm… You don’t suppose he was filling the boat rather than emptying it, do you?

LESSON LEARNED: It’s only a guess, mind you, but I’m starting to think Tom needs to change his glasses prescription, or put the Washdown switch wayyyy down where one of the ACC switches is. And my half of the lesson learned? Start writing stuff down. The memory ain’t what it usta be!

Bonehead Blunders

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