Yet Another Dinghy Key Issue
The Dawning of Facebook and Other Recipes

Getting to Vroom

Poor EW. Our dinghy motor caused problems during our Atlantic Circle.

In the Azores:

  • We didn’t need it in Fayal because we had to dock.
  • It died in St. George while we were at anchor, and we rowed for a couple of days until south winds occurred and we had to go onto the dock.
  • Cruisers and the marina manager, Jose (in Portugal, you pronounce the “J”) suggested we have one gentleman repair it when we went to Terceira. So we bypassed Pico for a later visit and sailed to Angra, where we anchored, and rowed to and from the anchorage. The marina managers in Angra also recommended the same gentleman. I’m not using his name because he has an apparently well-deserved excellent reputation. Unfortunately, our visit to Angra coincided with his vacation. The motor was returned, it didn’t work after a few days, until a different person from the same company fixed it. We thought.
  • It died again in Graciosa  and we had to get towed back to the boat in strong winds. This dinghy rows well with one, but not so well with two and a motor.
  • By this time, EW learned how to get it going again, and took tools and cleaned spark plugs on every trip.
  • That worked in Pico, but we didn’t have to go far from anchorage to dock.
  • In San Miguel and Santa Maria we had to tie up at the marinas

In the Canaries (Note, we visited two islands called “Graciosa” on our trip, one in the Azores and one in the Canaries.)

  • EW kept babying it along the first time we anchored in Graciosa.
  • When we went into the dock at Lanzarotte and stayed to get solar panels, he found someone who could repair it.
  • We went back to Graciosa and it worked for a while, until EW took the dinghy all the way to the marina prior to a ferry trip to Lanzarote to pick of a part that had been delivered. Then it wouldn’t start on the dock and he had stopped taking the tools and spare plugs, so he had to row all the way back home. Into the wind and chop. It took 3 hours. If he had been a blond woman, he says boats would have stopped to help, but my grey-haired all-male sweetie had to fend for himself.
  • So he did. He took the motor apart and cleaned the carburetor and found one tiny little hose that everyone else had missed. One tiny little cylinder that was filled with gunk. He de-gunked it. My hero.

Now in the meantime, EW had come up with ways to help the motor work for a bit longer than 20 minutes. And, because he’s sick of dealing with this motor, he has instituted new protocols that we are to uphold forever and ever.

  1. If you are going to leave the dinghy “for a while” always detach the gas hose from the motor. How do you define “for a while”? I was thinking 30 minutes or more and got chastised for leaving the hose plugged in while I spent 10 minutes gathering a few things before going back to shore. Turns out “for a while” is anything over 2 minutes.
  2. Of course, if you pull the hose, you must cover the nozzles with the little cover included with the engine.
  3. In addition, if you are leaving the motor for 2 minutes, tighten the air vent on the gas tank.
  4. Also, if you are not on a dinghy dock, where it is just rude and stupid to do so, raise the motor and tilt it on it’s left side. Only on it’s left side.
  5. Touch your nose and turn around 3 times.

P1010014P1010018OK. That last one isn’t real. But for the impatient person on board who likes to jump and go, this is a bit laborious. Get in the dinghy, put the safety key in, remove the cover to the gas nozzle, install the gas hose, loosen the vent on the tank, start the motor and untie the boat. If you have forgotten to unlock the boat, turn the motor off, remove the safety key, and use the attached padlock key to unlock the boat. Do this within 2 minutes or you’ll have to remove the hose and …. well you know.

So this worked great the first three weeks we were in Guadeloupe. We were recovering, the boat was recovering, and I mostly remembered all the steps. At times I (and once EW) would forget to attach the fuel hose to the motor. We learned just how far we could go on the residual fuel in the motor before pfffft. (This still happens to me – or more appropriately, I still cause this to happen to me.)

P1000975We had moved La Luna to the beautiful Islet du Gosier, where one day the motor stopped pushing the dinghy with any power. Just like that. Fortunately for our marriage, EW was driving the boat at the time. (Big huge sigh of relief.) He (and I) assumed that it was more of the same old same old, but when he mentioned it one night aboard the S/V Triumph Bill suggested that the issue was the propeller.

“But of course!” said EW his best Inspector Clouseau voice. (Living on a French Island brings out the Pink Panther in EW.)

He ordered a new propeller. When it came it, we rowed to the Islet, hauled the dinghy up on the beach, and EW installed the new propeller. Still , we continue with the new protocol when we are leaving the dinghy “for a while”. I’d complain, but she hasn’t stopped working and really, the person who doesn’t fix things doesn’t have a leg to stand on if the dinghy keeps working.

Patience is a virtue.

It’s just not my virtue.


Tourists enjoy the beach.


Cruisers fix things on the beach.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.