BONEHEAD BLUNDER: Not adding any engine oil
THE BONEHEAD: A new boat owner
BONEHEAD RATING: The full five (multiplied by 10)
WHAT HAPPENED: A month or so ago I found myself with a boat broker, a seller too old to boat in a gorgeous cuddy powered by an Evinrude Ficht, and a buyer who had his mind set on calling out sick for two months so he could fish the entire striped-bass season. All I had to do was pass judgment on the Ficht and the little Yamaha 8 hp four-stroke kicker. Checking over the kicker gave me time to think about what to do about the Ficht. The kicker was perfect, cutting my “waffle time” by two-thirds.
As I was hooking up my laptop to the Ficht, I started by telling him the history of carburetion, fuel induction systems and finally, because there was no way around it, I explained that because kibitzers are the way they are, he was going to get plenty of negative comments about his engine purchase. I felt like Daniel in the lions’ den for a few minutes. Then I explained that when Bombardier bought OMC, it had set about honorably standing behind the engine and making changes that corrected the problems of the past. (Weren’t aware Daniel had a silver tongue, were you?) Besides, the computer download showed a 12-year-old engine with 47 hours and no faults. The deal was consummated and life went on.
The Call came a week ago, after a month of ownership: “Grid! The CK ENG light is on! What do I do?”
“Where are you?”
“Just coming into the bay from the ocean.” “Chop your throttle, make sure the engine’s pumping water and has oil. Come on in at an idle.”
Yesterday I made the two-hour trip to Hampton to extricate his boat from dry storage and check the systems. I turned the battery switch to BOTH. I turned the ignition key to ON. The LOW OIL light came on. Key off, LOW OIL off. Key on, LOW OIL on. CK ENG came on only as a System Check item.
I called him. “Have you added oil since you bought the boat?”
“The CK ENG light isn’t lighted; it’s the LOW OIL light that’s lighted, and it’s definitely correct.”
“You didn’t tell me to add oil when I bought it!”
“All I was asked to do was evaluate the engine’s condition, not teach a flippin’ class! The broker and seller gave no indication that you were anything but experienced, yet here you are acting like it’s your first boat!
He left work and bought some OMC synthetic oil. I filled the reservoir, and ya know what? The light went out. Imagine that.
LESSON LEARNED: All reciprocating engines require oil in some sort of delivery fashion in order to run. He will use this one tenet through striper season, then come to my home where I will ply him with coffee and The Nurse’s homemade scones and teach him how to take care of his outboards. Yes, there will be a test. Then we’ll see if a lesson has been learned.