How many sailors does it take to change a light bulb? Two.
One to unscrew the bulb and replace it with a new one, and another to hoist the first sailor up the mast.
Its maintenance day about Daphne and there are a few important projects to do before I get underway again. I tied a bowline on the halyard, connected it to the boatswain’s chair and climbed in. Benji came over to help me by hoisting me to the top of the mast. Daphne is in very good shape, but there were upgrades and additions I made before voyaging, and of course there is a lot of maintenance along the way. Everywhere I go, people assume that Benji does most of the work on Daphne.
“So, Benji helps you with your boat,” they ask?
“We help each other,” I reply.
And we do, as much as possible. But at the very least, for every project aboard Daphne, I need to be the primary technician. Of course I ask for help, of course I look online or in books. Who doesn’t? I have two choices: either learn to care for Daphne myself, or hire someone.
My engine has been giving me trouble recently and with Calder’s “Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual” by my side, I dove in with a wrench in one hand and a screwdriver in the other. After tinkering for over a month I decided it was time to call the mechanic.
Benji rowed his dinghy ashore and met Jay the mechanic in the morning. He happily climbed into the small rowboat and chatted away during the long row back to the boats. When they arrive, I tied the dinghy to Daphne’s stern cleat and welcomed them aboard. Jay climbed in and started the engine. After a few moments of sputtering and knocking, she began purring like Dory on a hot sunny day. “See,” he said, “She knew I was coming and it scared her straight again.”
“But….” I started.
“There isn’t anything wrong with your engine,” he said. I tried to explain the symptoms over the last month; the white smoke, knocking sound, fuel in the water, low RPMs. I explained what I knew about the injectors, the compression, etc. But he insisted that there was no problem at all. It wasn’t long before I realized it never mattered what I was saying. He always turned to Ben. He explained to Ben how the injectors worked, what the sounds were, and how to adjust the RPMs. And when I called him the next day because the engine wouldn’t start, he said, “Is Ben there? I can talk him through something to test.”
“No, Ben isn’t here, but I’m sure you can talk me through it.”
“Call Ben over and when he is there, then call me back.”
I certainly can’t deny that Ben is much more confident with tools than I am. But I still didn’t call that mechanic back. I called a different mechanic instead. This mechanic was happy to listen to me explain the symptoms and the tests that I had already done. This mechanic hasn’t yet met Ben.