The seawall at the Tiki Thomcat's new home is ready and waiting so I came back to Hilton Head to prep the boat for the journey. The plan was to prep the boat, leave by mid November and meet Tiki Thom in Melbourne, FL where he would fly in to and make the rest of the trip down the ICW and across Okeechobee to Ft. Myers. Then I could take a train back home in time for Thanksgiving.
Well, that WAS the plan.
I spent a week or so, unloading and loading the boat with critical and non-critical supplies and generic junk. The motor fired right upon my return from Florida and we were pretty much on schedule. Thom booked a one-way flight, another friend looked into joining me on the first leg of the trip but due to a scheduling conflict had to back out. A couple of my Buddies, Beau and Steve went with me one afternoon when we took the boat out to an area that exposes a sandbar as the tide goes out and let the boat beach itself so we could get out and clean the bottom. At this point the motor was starting and running rough. I figured it was because it hadn't run in a long time and with the right conditioners in the fuel tank it would work itself out when I get underway which it has done before. One of the problems with outboard engines is that if you ever use gas from a gas station rather than a marina you sometimes have problems with ethenal. I hadn't used any ethenal gas but wondered if this may be the problem that could be worked out with additives.
With this in mind early Monday morning 11/14/2011 I loaded up the boat with a bunch of supplies, stocked the galley and the coolers. I had a friend help me toss off the lines and motored over to the fuel dock to top off the tanks and be on my way. As I neared the fuel dock at the marina my engine sputtered and stalled so I coasted into the attentive hands of the marina employees. I fueled up and went to start the engine and NOTHING! I pulled the boat ahead by hand and went to work diagnosing the problem and finally got the motor running by 2pm. It eventually stalled but I was confident that it would run fine at a higher throttle the next day when I got underway. So, I was all packed and ready. I went up to Captain Woody's for some chow and football before making it an early night and went down to the boat to get some sleep. I awoke at 6am, and not wanting to run the engine for too long and loud at the dock, went up to the Sunrise Cafe for a big cup of coffee to warm me up and wake me up. I got back to the boat and it would not start! At this point I determined the jets in the carb were fouled up so I put the dinghy in the water and set about removing the carburetor and completely rebuilding it and replacing it... NO LUCK! By now I am baffled and walk up to the boatyard to talk to a mechannic since my local guy could not get here to fix it. Nnow the parts waiting game begins. We check every wire and he determines a new power-pack is needed (CDI unit). We get it ordered for overnight delivery but it is too late to get it by Weds morning so it is scheduled to arrive on Thurs. UPS arrives and I put the part on and reconnect everything. The motor kind of starts but it still isn't right so I get Charlie the mechanic back down to the boat only to determine that now we need a new coil. Once again we go up to the office and order the part for overnight deliver for Friday. Friday comes and the part doesn't show, we find out later in the day that it didn't ship from Atlanta and should be here on Monday. The coil arrives on Monday and I put it on and assemble everything... once again, it still isn't working right. blah, blah, blah, mechanic, test, need another part and the Yamaha warehouses don't have it. It seems though that we were able to test if this is the right solution by pull starting the engine and waiting for the part in question to heat up and fail (which it does) so at least I feel we are on the right track. Thom works his magic on eBay and the part should be here Weds... we will see. I would really like to get this trip started.
...to be continued.