Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Sunday, June 4, 2017

when fifty was too much

 I think it was the summer of 1968 or maybe '69. I was " working " at Olympic Heights service station pumping gas. I was making a few dollars here and there with other odd jobs as well and had amassed a lot of money. I had fifty dollars just burning a hole in my pocket. About this time there was a  man that had a fifty horsepower  Evinrude outboard motor he wanted to sell. Sure it was an older model, I think it was a 1959. It was in the test tank at the back of the shop and was running great. That motor was huge. A v four that weighed a couple hundred pounds , more than likely. I didn't have a boat but that motor was a bargain. I just had to have it. Uncle George, as I called him, said I could store that motor there as long as I needed to. All I needed was a boat !
 I had some feelers out for a sixteen foot skiff that I thought would be just about right for that beast. I could see myself just flying across the bay. Of course I didn't have any money left, I spent that buying the motor. Well as it happens I was working at the garage when this guy comes in looking for a used outboard. He is telling George that he has this older skiff down to the harbor and wants to buy a motor suitable for it. Now I had that motor in the back and no boat but saw a chance to make a few dollars. Hey, I worked here and people brought motors in all the time I could get another easy enough. George tells the guy he doesn't have anything at the moment but he could ask me. I tell him about that fifty and what a great motor that is. To make a long story short he agrees to pay seventy five dollars for it if I can get it on his boat. You see he says he doesn't have a trailer and no way to get the boat to the shop. After a brief consultation with Uncle George he agrees to help me put that motor on. So, the deal is made.
 On the back of the pick up truck there is a boom and boat winch used to raise and lower outboard motors, among other things. Uncle George loads that motor into the truck and away we go to the harbor. The man is told to bring his boat up alongside the dock. We can park the truck alongside that and just lower the motor into the boat. It's a fine plan and one we know will work, having done it just a few times over the years. Well this guy brings this boat alongside and he was right, it is older ! It is an old lap strake boat older than that motor. It doesn't look all that great. I jumped down into that boat and had a good look at the transom. I wasn't impressed. I expressed some doubt about the ability of that transom to hold that big fifty. But, I was just a kid and what did I know ? The owner of the boat told me in no uncertain terms that transom was as solid as a rock. Uncle George just looked at me and winked with that grin he sometimes flashed. If you knew him you knew what that meant. Not a man prone to arguing he simply stated his opinion. He says, I don't know about that Bub but she looks a little spongy to me. Again the owner assures us it'll be fine.
 I remember Uncle George lowering that motor down and me guiding it onto the stern. As I said that motor had to be a couple hundred pounds at least. As I sat her down the bow rose up some, that was expected, but the stern just seemed to groan. I swear I heard it complain about that load. I tighten down the clamps and fastened the safety chain to a ring in the boat. The gas can was lowered down, the first tank was free, courtesy of Uncle George. Now all this was a long time ago and some of the details I just don't remember. I guess he already had controls in the boat because I remember him starting that motor up and turning the wheel. That motor was just purring like a kitten, a 200 pound kitten that is.  Next thing I remember is him throwing that motor into reverse and hitting the throttle. That motor just starting backing up and it took the stern with it ! Problem was the stern was no longer attached to the hull. Yup, it ripped the transom right out of that hulk. Went down pretty quick as I recall, right there at the dock.
 That guy sure was upset. There it was his " new " motor lying on the bottom still attached to a part of his boat. First he tried blaming me. Uncle George stood up for me and said in his rather quiet gentle voice, the boy tried to tell you. Well that didn't make the guy feel any better about anything. By that time a few other folks had gathered around, as folks will, and were gawking at this spectacle. There was laughter and wisecracks which wasn't helping that guys' mood one bit. I don't remember much of what happened after that. I do know that someone dove down and attached the cable to the motor and it was raised out of the water. That motor came back to the shop but the guy didn't want to pay to have it " dried " out. I'm certain it could have been saved but I don't believe it was. What happened to the boat I couldn't say, guess it got hauled out. All in all I got a kick out of it. I made 25 dollars on the deal. Well when you're dealing with them city folks you just never know. I did get a boat later on and bought a motor for it. I bought a twenty five horsepower model off of a family friend, Dave Jacobs. I think it was a Johnson. That motor had a habit of snapping drive shafts, replaced it twice, but it sure did run good. I wonder what ever happened to that motor ? You see by then I had learned that sometimes a fifty is just too much.