Curveballs, that is! (Somehow I hear Foghorn Leghorn's voice saying that...)
Tuesday. Noon. A hour or so later than I had planned on, but still happy to be at the lake, launching the boat for the first time in 10 or 11 years. Temp is in the mid 60's, the sun is in and out, the wind is light and south. It's an hour into the peak "fishing time" for the month (luck in picking a day off, not planned)!
When I had "her" running in the driveway the 1982 Mercury 50 horse had started easily enough after her long layoff. The rubber in the 25 year old fuel line was very dried out though, cracked and weeping from the fittings at both ends. While I was shopping in one of the big outdoors stores, I picked up a replacement with the ends already on so I didn't have to worry about leaks. I cut the ends off the original in case I needed them, routed the new line, and thought well done.
Back to the story. Hook up the new fuel line; vent the 6 gallon can. Unhitch the tie downs on the boat; loosen the winch a turn. Back her down the ramp; climb in. Tilt the motor down into the water; squeeze the primer bulb in the new gas line. It only squeezes once and stays collapsed..."hmmmm...that's odd, the old one didn't work that way..."
Hit the key, the motor starts. The boat has been on the trailer for so long she's "stuck" to the bunks and doesn't want to back off. Have Dottie back the trailer in further...the truck tires are to the water edge and the trailer is submerged, and she floats off and backs away! Hurray!
About 30 feet from the ramp, as Dottie pulls the truck and trailer up to the parking lot, the motor sputters and dies. Not unusual when they're cold and "on the choke"...squeeze the primer bulb again and she lights right off. Idle to the dock to pick Dottie up, back away, get another 20 feet or so...sputter and die.
Squeeze the bulb again, lights right off, makes another 30 feet.
Switch gas cans, open the vent on the 2nd can, squeeze the bulb one time and it stays collapsed like it did on the other can...30 feet and die. She's sucking the fuel line dry and running out of gas...
I really want to fish...I think about just pulling out of the boathouse cove on the electric trolling motor, but that's a ways and if the wind comes up that could make it really hard to get back, so I do the right thing...I go back to the dock on the trolling motor.
Get the truck and trailer, back them down the ramp. Squeeze the bulb, light the Mercury (the trolling motor is on the front so you aren't going to trailer it with that one down). Get almost to the trailer and it dies...while I pump the primer bulb to relight it the wind takes me past the trailer. Light it and make a circle and get it halfway on the trailer and we're out of gas again. Step over the bow and hook up the winch strap and winch it up...usually she goes all the way up on the outboard...a lot of weight to be cranking up by hand!
Pull her up in the parking lot, fasten all the tie downs and let the drain plugs out. Take a few pictures while I decide whether to drive straight to the retailer I bought the line from (10 minutes away) and have a fit (though I don't have my receipt with me or the packaging) or go home and find a Mercury dealer...
I opt for home. 20 minutes later I'm on the phone with a Mercury dealer, "yes he has a line that works for those years, if I have my original ends to thread onto it." 20 minutes there, while I'm putting my ends on on his counter he tells me how to check the water pump I haven't changed (they are rubber bladed and it's 25 years old as well) without tearing the motor down, and that he will sell me the pump for $26 if I need it (half the online price I found) or change it for $200 parts and labor.
By now it's almost 3, home is between the dealer and the lake, so back by the house one more time to grab sandwiches and throw the other line in the garage...
Finally! 2nd launch as "All Things Considered" is coming on the radio...4PM...
Vent the can, squeeze the primer bulb and it comes right back up, squeeze it twice more (just like the original) and there is a drip from the carbueretors! Hurray!
Launch, pick up Dottie, idle out of the boathouse cove, and run down the main lake a bit, then turn and go back towards the dam to warm the engine like the dealer told me to, then idle her down and see if the stream from the water pump stays steady and it does! Thank you Mr. Dealer! One less thing to worry about for a while!!!
The old lake has changed some since I fished it last, moss growing places it didn't used to, etc.. Tie something on for Dottie, tie something on for me...work our way across the face of the dam with the geese who are nesting on it yelling at us the whole time (they didn't used to live there, either). I get a bite, and since I'm playing with one of those new "super" no stretch lines, I rip it right out of the fish's mouth. Two casts later same thing...
By this time there are already lots of bank fisherman scattered around the edges of the lake, and as people get off work there are lots of boats starting to show up as well. The kind ones swing in behind you to fish where you've already been; the others cut you off in the direction you were headed. That's why we were supposed to be here at noon.
Still, we hang out 'til around 7 and then figuring that by the time we get back to the ramp and get the boat on the trailer it will be almost dark, we head back.
As we run down the lake trying not to "wake" anyone who is fishing, my cell phone rings...never ever thought I'd have a telephone in a boat the last time I was fishing! Life is amazing sometimes!
Still, though it didn't go as planned, it felt pretty damn good!
The family party for both my sons birthdays (John's 28th was April 16, Bill's 29th is April 30, so we always split the difference on Dottie's off weekend) is this weekend. Some of you might remember photos from last year. Anyway, I'm not going to be around much until Monday. May the Friday be wonderful and the weekend kind to all of you!