It’s moving into late fall here in Huntsville and we’re still landbound. We had to let one of the trainers at our gym go and finding a qualified replacement in a small town like Scottsboro is difficult to say the least. Cindy is an ACE-certified trainer (among many other things) so she has been filling in while looking for a replacement, but obviously this requires us to stay in the area.  Still, I’ve made a couple of quick trips down to the boat to look in on it and take care of a few critical tasks so that the boat will be ready to go when we’re ready.

As I mentioned in our last post, the throttle plate on our dinghy outboard motor was seized up due to salt water corrosion; the cowling gasket had separated at the back side of the engine, allowing salt water thrown up by the rooster tail to get inside. What was worse, when I went to remove the motor from the dinghy, I found that the two bolts that hold the motor onto the transom were likewise seized, and no amount of force could make them budge. I tried WD-40, PB Blaster and graphite lubricant, nothing helped.

Jekyll Island sunset

Well, I did a bit of research on the internet and found that this was a fairly common problem. Ideas for solutions varied (liquid penetrants, impact wrenches, blow torches) but I came across an interesting video that suggested using a 50/50 mixture of acetone and automatic transmission fluid as a penetrant. Upon further investigation, I found that there was a pretty intense debate about whether this concoction works or not; many folks swore by it based on experience but there was little science to back it up (particularly when you consider that ATF and acetone don’t mix).

Still I figured it was worth a shot, so I mixed some together in a bulb syringe, shook it up well and quickly squirted it on the offending bolts. I then let it sit overnight to allow it time to penetrate. The next morning, I went back up to the boat barn armed with the 12-inch crescent wrench that I’d dug out of the bottom of my tool locker and gave the first bolt a turn; it came loose after only a moments’ hesitation. Same with the second bolt. I still can’t explain the science behind it, but the ATF/acetone combination worked for me!

After that, I replaced the carburetor, changed the lower-case gear oil and then removed the outboard from our old dinghy and mounted it on our new one. Chris, one of the marina workers, used the forklift to move the new dinghy outside the boat barn and hooked up a hose to the outboard cooling water intakes. I squeezed the priming bulb a few times and gave the starter lanyard a pull; on the fourth try it roared to life.

Firing up the repaired outboard outside the marina boat barn

We put the dinghy in the water in the water and I motored back over to Just One Dance to try out the new motor hoist that I had put together for lifting the engine off the dinghy and up onto the rail mounting plate. Done by hand, this maneuver runs a high risk of damaging the boat (due to banging sharp metal edges into side of the boat), injuring the one performing it and the motor falling into the water. As a result, we usually leave the motor on the dinghy when we raise it onto the davits. However, with the new bigger dinghy this won’t work so we needed a better solution.

Therefore, I rigged up two double Harken pulleys using 5/16” line and attached stainless steel carabiners to the ends of the line; the top carabiner attached to bowline that I tied to our solar panel arch and the bottom one attached to the carrying strap we have on our outboard. This hoist gives me a straight path for moving the outboard from the dinghy up to the rail mount and also gives me a 5:1 mechanical advantage, reducing the effort needed to raise our 65-pound motor to just 13 pounds. We plan to eventually replace our 9.8 hp Tohatsu with a 15 hp Yamaha, which will be even heavier so this hoist will be a great addition to our boat.

The new dinghy and the outboard back on board

After getting the new dinghy and our outboard onto the boat, I cleaned up the old dinghy and got it ready to list for sale. Tiny Dancer has been a good “car” for us, ferrying us from anchor to shore throughout the Exumas. However, we wanted a bigger dinghy, one with more room and a flat bottom, especially for going outside the protected waters of the harbor in search of conch, lobster and fish.

Tiny Dancer ready for sale

Back at the house, we’ve been taking advantage of our time at home to take care of a few bigger items that have been sitting on the back burner for a long time; especially our back yard. It’s always had a drainage issue, one that has gotten worse over time. We’ve also had trouble getting grass to grow back there due to the number of trees and the resulting shade. Now we’ve undertaken a major renovation to the yard, one that will make it a much nicer space to be in.

But, that’s another topic for another blog post. Stay tuned…