When we abandoned our last hard dinghy and bought an inflatable, we didn’t fully understand that we were committing to an outboard motor. Or, more accurately, a goddamn outboard.
The latest version:
I bought a Force 5 in Michigan, to take south. When we put it on our dinghy in Indiantown, it wouldn’t start. I yanked and yanked on the starting cord until I had raw blisters on my right hand.
So I took it to the local outboard expert. $70 later, he said that he’d fixed it and run it (in a barrel of water) for 30 minutes. It was ready for our winter cruise.
So we put it on the dinghy and tried to start it. No go. More blisters.
Back to the expert. He opined that maybe another $150 would really fix it.
Another cruiser in Indiantown had a working Mercury 2.5 horsepower motor that he parted with for $250. It ran like a top all last winter during our cruise in Florida.
Come this year, we put the Mercury on the dinghy before we left Indiantown, and of course it wouldn’t start. Back to the local expert who really worked it over–$170. Unfortunately, we left before trying it. When we got to Stuart, it wouldn’t start, so we had to row in from our mooring to the dinghy dock.
Virgil, the local outboard expert in Stuart, came down, took the motor back to his shop, and fixed it–$90.
It ran like a top for three weeks. But a weekend of rain in Marathon, and it wouldn’t start, and this with guests Ann and Jorma on board. So Jorma and I rowed in, with a little tow, to the Boot Key dinghy dock.
Upon recommendation, I called Eric at Dockside. He came down, tried to start it, and declared that it was dirty gas and a dirty carburetor (same diagnosis as at Indiantown and at Stuart). Took it to his shop and returned it several hours later, working. $95. He also slapped my hand and said, never never put in gas with ethanol in it. So we dumped the remaining gas and went a mile south to Budines which sold gas not polluted with ethanol. He also said I wasn’t running the engine hard enough.
So far, so good. It’s been starting and running (pretty hard) for 10 days.
Next year, we may bring down our perfect little 2.5 horsepower Suziki from the Great Lakes. In 4 years on fresh water, it has never even coughed.
Or. We may copy our neighbor here in Boot Key Harbor. They are from Michigan, too, and bought a “homemade” outboard in Kalamazoo. It has a brand new Tecumseh lawn-mower motor, mounted on top of an old Eska lower unit. Air-cooled and a bit noisy, but it always starts and runs. A five-year warranty on the motor.