The Engine is Up — Now What?

June 25, 2011


We had looked in every document and resource we had to figure out how to tilt and lower the engine, and it was driving my crazy — not a long journey to anyone who knows me, by the way.  Finally, I went on the internet and discovered that West Marine actually sells my engine — the Mercury 9.9 hp Bigfoot longshaft outboard.  So, I went to West Marine and asked for help.  The man who helped me who usually doesn’t know anything about sailboats but knows everything about engines, said “You aren’t the first person who asked about this,” and calmly told me that I first had to have it in forward, then lift from the cowl to raise it.  I said “put it in forward?”  And he said “Yes, as strange as it sounds, and they (Mercury) never tell you that you have to do that.”  I finally had the method.  So, I went to the marina, used the method and voila!  It worked — kinda.  The engine only tilted about 15-20 degrees, so the bottom of the prop is out of the water, but it still isn’t totally clear of the water like all the other engines are.  But, it was good enough for me to go out of the town for a visit.


On Saturday, June 25, I went to the marina at about noon after visiting my mother in the nursing home and took Ilya out.  It took quite a few times up and down to get the engine down into the water, and for quite awhile, the engine wouldn’t run properly.  That may have been because of my disconnecting and then reconnecting the fuel.  You see, there is a prohibition against carrying fuel tanks or cans on the docks.  However, the marina doesn’t have a fuel dock.  It just seems foolish to me to sail/ motor my boat across the Patuxent River, perhaps taking almost an hour to a marina in Solomons, fueling up there, then getting out on the water.  So, I’ve been taking the fuel tank and wrapping it in a big tarp then carrying it in one of those wheelbarrow-type things the marina has for slipholder use.  Anyway, there may have been extra air or something in the line that made the engine run rough.  In any case, I got out on the water, raised the sails, tilted the engine and got going.


It wasn’t a really successful time, and I just didn’t seem to have the needed momentum to get change direction, though I did stay patient and got quite a few puffs to ride out.  Eventually, I got tired (and my wife was angry that I hadn’t told her where I was going) so I decided to come in.  I lowered and furled the sails then went to untilt the engine, and it wouldn’t go down.  I don’t know how many times I tried lifting then lowering the engine, but it wouldn’t go.  Finally, I did something (I don’t know what) and it went down.  I lowered the engine vertically, and got going.


Of course, by this time, the wind was up again, though I stayed with my original intent of going in.  I even unfurled the jib and got some extra oomph from the wind on the way it, but finally got back to the fairway, where I backed into the wrong skip temporarily, then quickly got into my own slip with only a little banging of the starboard bow on the piling.  I think I will try to get some kind of pad to permanently install on that to make it easier to dock and avoid boat damage.  Once docked, I went to the car to get my can of McLube spray to lubricate the sail track, and chatted with a man who I knew from our sons’ boy scout troop (actually, my son’s former troop.)


Generally a good day except for issues with the tilting mechanism.


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