A story of a raw water pump


So we up-n-decided to pull up anchor and head-on in to Dena’s Marina as soon as we both got off work!

(which is working out famously, BTW)

We rowed out and as soon as we got aboard Dena went forward to ready the anchor bridle while I started the engine, turned on the electronics and readied the dock lines. After getting the motor running Dena came back to the cockpit and very hurriedly asked if I could hear water coming out of the exhaust. I stuck my head over the side as Dena went aft to answer that all important question for herself… Nope, no cooling water exiting the transom! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Before shutting her down I went down below, opened up the view hatch in the engine box and very quickly saw, what I thought was, the problem.

The belt wasn’t turning the raw water pump and the pulley was screaming like two metal birds fucking…

…”Okay, let’s shut her down!”

I pulled apart the engine box, got out the big screwdriver and the 12mm socket and went to work tightening the belt. After I got it all secured Dena started her up and I watched as that little raw water pump quite literally destroyed itself! The pulley just tore the internal bearings to dust in seconds after the engine started running again.

Dena shut her down again and went to work trying to find that god damn engine part.


We’re in the “sailing capital of the world” (woo-hoo) so it didn’t take her very long to find the damn thing. Of course we were going to have to kidnap and sell one of her brother’s children, or one of my brother’s children, or one of my sister’s children’s children to pay for the new pump.

We made a fancy plan on how we would get up extra early (we’ve been getting up at 5am) so we could work out and shower and still get to the marina (across Back Creek, which means the easiest and fastest trip would be by dinghy) by 8am and get me (Dena) to my short-timer job by 8:30. I had just finished up on the rowing machine when James popped up with a bright idea.

Why not use our new connections to try and get a better deal? I was all over that.

When it comes down to it, though, Yanmar deals are not to be had on the fly. Those parts are imported, distributed, and priced-up in a way that makes their profit margin feel like a hot shave with a straight razor…almost too close for comfort.

So our boat continued to sit at anchor without an engine – an uncomfortable situation, especially once the harbormaster boat paid us a visit. As nice as the young man was, we’re more-than-once-bitten by the authorities and I couldn’t help but run the hauling anchor under sail possibilities through my mind.

The next day, James and I went to the gym in the rain. When we got out, it was pouring so heavily that we gave it 5 minutes to slack off…which it didn’t. I shrugged and rode to work. James shrugged and rode back to the dinghy.

Once in Tinker, the row from the dinghy wall at the end of 6th Street, past our boat, and across to the Bert Jabin Boatyard is about a quarter of a mile. Compared to some of our epic rowing adventures of the last year, it really didn’t seem like that big of a deal. But as I (James) started rowing, it seemed like with each stroke of the oars, the rain got even harder. By the time I got mid-channel, visibility was less than a quarter of a mile. I couldn’t see the boat or the marina and Tinker was filling up quick. I had to stop in the middle of the channel to bail because it felt like she was going to sink any second.

When the dinghy gets heavy with water, stroking with the oars makes the water surge with a slow roll. The water’s inertia can shift enough weight to flip a small boat.

So I bailed and bailed but as I did it seemed as though I couldn’t bail fast enough to keep up with the rain so I decided to continue my row until I got to the Bert Jabin docks. By the time I got to the docks the little boat was so full that I had to bail again just to get out of the boat and not sink her.

I waded my way through that immense marina complex and finally found the parts building but by the time I got there I was soaked through-and-through. My shoes squeaked and squished across their perfectly polished floor and I was shivering visibly by the time the parts guy took my order for the new pump… I paid and left.

The rain didn’t let up the whole time I was sloshing my way through the marina yard so the little boat was almost sunk by the time I got back. I had to lay on the dock and bail for about ten minutes before I could get Tinker dry enough just to get in.

I rowed back to the big boat stopping twice to bail and by this time I felt as though this story was getting a kind of Mel Brooks comedic edge to it. The rain got harder!

It wouldn’t hurt to mention that it’s been raining for three weeks now so everything’s already soaked and this just seemed kind of vengeful.

Ultimately I got back to the boat, jumped aboard, and about five minutes later had the new pump installed and the engine was running perfectly, pumping water like nothing was ever wrong.


(Lower left)

I ran her for about an hour, cranked up the heater, dried off the best I could and passed out cold on the main-cabin settee. About a half hour later we ran out of propane for the heater!

Fuck you Mel Brooks!

I had plenty of dry Smartwool so I piled on the layers, opened up my Kindle and read my way through some Azimov until Dena called me to come pick her up at the public landing. Believe it or not the rain slowed to a trickle by the time we got back to the boat so we moved to Dena’s Marina.


…And then the sun came out!



  1. This madcap misadventure brought to us by the Captains of Expertude. This annoying little malfunction illuminates some wizard-level sailor shit, y’all.
    Look at the whole situation piece by piece. You could tell something was wrong by sound alone. You know where the engine compartment is, of course, but also how the optimal, suboptimal, and critical malfunction operation of every bit of the mechanism will look. You had a reasonable idea to remedy the issue. When that failed, you knew where to get the part and how much it ought to cost. You know the likely monetary value of your nieces and nephews. You know how to instill trust in the Harbormaster enough to talk your way out of having to move, but you also know to calculate the conditions required to let you move if you gotta go. You have the eye to gauge how much water the dingy can take and physical fortitude to bail (plus a bucket or something wise you-of-the-past placed as safety equipment). You can estimate visibility and navigate the weather-related implications to take the safest of risks. You can spelunk your way around a sprawling marina, do the arduous work it takes to return to your homeboat, easily and quickly perform a mechanical surgery to right the motor, work the propane heater and not blow yourself up when it runs out of fuel, then fashion specialzed materials you already have on hand into an alternative way to get warm.
    This is a teeny slice of y’alls adventure, it’s a blip, after you dry out and pay the bill it’s forgettable. Still, an apt periscope into how educated, equipped, experienced, and extraordinary you are. To you, it’s just, like, Wednesday.

  2. I like Kate’s way of telling the story. Almost sounds like science fiction, or fantasy, “The Wizards of Sailing”. ‘The story of two Wizards and their magical dwelling that can travel where ever they want’.

  3. Well said Kate. Well done James. I prefer to think of James as a Guru , not really wizard (thats kinda creepy) Aloha

  4. Yeah, you have to live to have a story and you have to write to tell one… We have some good lives in this group!
    I do have to abmit, I lied about knowing the monitary value of my family’s offspring…
    I don’t really think they’re worth anything!

  5. Tom, I wouldn’t be too sure James isn’t a wizard—but don’t worry, I don’t think he would put a spell on you, that would be creepy.

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