Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This past year was not a good one for boats. Having one's engine stolen is a part of life here. Generally, there are several things everyone experiences on the island: you hit a reef, your engine drops off the back of the boat or the engine and/or gas tank is stolen. When you are really lucky maybe only have one of these things happen to you! We have done it all; been stranded on a reef not once but twice, lost the engine off the back of the boat, got one boat and motor stolen and found the boat minus the battery, gas tank and engine later the next day and the other boat and engine was stolen and hauled off to Roatan by thieves where we discovered it 9 months later!

Recently, friends who own one of the Cays had to overhaul completely their boat motor. They felt this was far more economical than buy a new engine and brought all their parts down to Guanaja. Several people got their small motors stolen and our worker has been having trouble with his 5 HP. Also, this past month our friend, Bill, went out early one morning and discovered his cabin cruiser was missing! During the night thieves had cut the lines, taken the boat around the corner and stolen his 200 HP engine. Normally the engines of choice are 25 HP as they are lighter and easier to steal. The larger the engine, the more time it takes and the weight of the engine is a big factor in getting away. Next, George, another friend of ours, was on his way home with dive equipment (he has a resort), and various other supplies when his boat suddenly started leaking. Not a little dribble, oh no! A major gusher. Luckily he made it home to find that the boat he had built in Savannah Bight several years ago had received only a thin coating of fiberglass and where the seams met in the bottom and the sides, the material had worn away and was now splitting. Among other things, George had just completed painting the bottom of his boat! It took him 3 weeks to re-fiberglass the outside of the boat and last we saw of him he was tackling the inside of the boat.

Many people have more than one boat, and we are no exception. We have two boats; a 17" skiff which is a great "truck" for hauling but very uncomfortable in rough seas with its flat bottom and a 21' V-haul which we had made on the island about 12 years ago. The skiff has a 40 HP Mercury engine and the V-Haul has a 90 HP Yamaha. The Mercury was a "used" engine when we acquired it in about 2006 and has served us well. The Yamaha we purchased new in 2001.

It figures, when something goes out on the island it seems to happen in pairs. We happened to be leaving a marina about 6 months ago near dark. The marina was very shallow and in need of dredging and, because of low light, we could not see the really shallow spots well and the engine got mired in sand. Sand was sucked into the intake and as a result the water which normally comes in and runs around the engine to keep it cool was blocked. My husband tried inserting a wire up the "pee" hole where the water exits after cooling the engine. Unfortunately, the sand was still blocking the intake some and as a result enough water did not circulate to cool the engine. We made it home (all the while I was telling him to turn around or stop as the engine would overheat - but then, I'm a woman and what does my opinion in mechanical things amount to?). As we pulled up to the dock the engine quit and smoke was billowing from under the cover. Long and short, the engine was super heated causing it to cease. Which simply means - it wasn't going anywhere anytime soon!

We ordered parts the next week on-line and brought the engine to our local mechanic who has a shop at the airport. Well, 5 months later we are still waiting for the engine to be put back together. I'll admit that most of the time was spent in getting parts here. Then, after the parts were here the mechanic discovered one of the cylinders needed work which entailed a trip to the mainland. Finally, last week, just when we thought all was about to climax with a repaired engine, lo and behold the mechanic said one of the cables was froze up. My husband advised him to use the cable from the old Mercury we once had on the skiff and had brought to the airport shop to use for "extra parts". He asked the mechanic to check the cable and call him back with the result. My husband seems to forget that no one in Honduras calls back or returns calls (at least businesses) and at the end of the day he finally called the guy who said you can come on down now and we'll put the engine on the boat. Well, it was 4:00 p.m. and Mike said no, we'll do it tomorrow. Nope! The mechanic, who has just returned from a weekend on Roatan, was leaving the next day for the Mainland and would not be back until late Thursday. So, we are trying for Friday.

During all of this going on we started having problems with the 90 HP. The tilt engine had been acting up and one day it quit all together. We generally put the engine up when we come home to keep it free of barnacles and lock the boat to the dock with a stainless steel cable and lock. Now, however, it was too heavy for the two of us to raise so we were having to park it at the end of our dock with the engine down. We were also experiencing problems with the fuel pump. Since things were going out slowly on this engine, we decided to bite the bullet.

So, not only did we have to put money out for parts for the skiff motor, now we had to buy a new motor for the V-hull. Once we get the new motor, we will take the boat up to the airport and have someone there make major cosmetic repairs to the V-hull before putting on the new engine. A new fiberglass coating, new wood strips on the outside bumpers, a new console and re-paint the entire boat. This step has been long overdue so it did not come as a surprise.

So, you ask what we are getting for Christmas? Now you know!

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