A friend of mine recently told me that these days it was important to think outside of the box and that I should give it a try. On reflection, I realized this didn’t make a lot of sense and that what he must’ve meant to say was to think outside on a box. I confess that while I still don’t see where the underlying value of sitting on a box comes in, I felt it was at least worth a try. After finding a suitable box, I dragged it outside and found that if you remember to bring a cushion and a beer it does make a perfectly good place to think about things.
Today I was thinking about boat engines which is something that anyone who lives on the islands will eventually end up doing at some point. Due to certain acts of rebellion on its part I have not always had good things to say about my boat engine although, after a vigorous application of wrenches, in recent weeks we have become the best of friends. I speak to it with a degree of civility unknown in former times and it replies in a throaty rumble which warms my heart to hear. These days it will start up almost on command even though it refuses to so until I supply it with a little ether just for encouragement’s sake. Although this technique is supposed to be confined to “starting on cold weather days” as it says on the can, if the engine wants to pretend it’s a bit chilly out then so can I. After all, without a doubt it has been feeling unloved for a considerable period of time, and now that it appears to be cooperating as well as one might hope for, it seems cruel to deprive it of something which seems to make it happy. Of course, one of these days I’ll have to try adjusting the timing to see if we can’t get it to outgrow this little habit, but for the time being I’m content to let it slumber in its little cave and rest up until the time comes for it to spring into action.
By all rights one should expect this to be the end of a long and tedious saga but alas it would appear to continue on. Once I got everything all bolted together and tried putting the boat in gear, everything worked just the way it was supposed to, but it was accompanied by the most obnoxious rattling sound I’ve ever heard without having to pay for it. Had I been fortunate enough to have been born deaf there would have been no problem but sadly that was not the case. Even turning the radio up as loud as it would go did not manage to make it go away entirely. On further investigation, I discovered that the cutlass bearing -which is a bearing shaped nothing at all like a cutlass, hence the name- appeared to be sort of sloppily holding on to the prop shaft in a way that a good cutlass bearing is not supposed to do. At least not in public. So here we are again. And while I do have a new cutlass bearing that I can put on which will almost certainly get rid of the problem, it turns out that cutlass bearings are pretty well all designed to be changed by young people in the peak of physical condition who are standing on dry ground contemplating the problem in a boatyard. Since we have none of these things at our disposal I have a feeling that things will take a little longer.
I am reminded at this point about the farmer from Yorkshire who when asked about farming said “There’s nowt to it just as long as you get on with it” but even with this sensible advice to propel me forward I find myself hesitating. Maybe for now I will just give it a bit more time while I think about it out on the box.