Don has been keeping a mistress. Over the past
few years, this is how I’ve come to refer to the engine. In an effort to get him more enamored with
providing her perpetual upkeep, I have given him my full consent to spend whatever amount of time and money she demands to
keep her content. Considering how easy it is to make double entendre comments during any engine related
discussions (lube jobs, shaft packings, ball cocks, etc.) I think it’s an appropriate metaphor.
It seems there is
always something that needs taken care of with the mistress before we head off for an extended sail. It
was no different when wanderlust recently took hold of the crew of Re Metau. Although we’d been happy
and formed many close friendships with our dock mates over the last many months, we were feeling the urge to move. We
started the painful task of saying our goodbyes to all the wonderful people we’d befriended, and counted the days to
the one we’d declared would be our date of departure.
Giving the mistress an oil change had been on Don’s
mind for several weeks, and the mechanical motivation storm for that job finally struck the weekend before our sail south. Don proceeded to open up the engine compartment so I stayed
topside to chase down the endless film of teak dust that had accumulated from the deck restoration project. There is no room
for the wife below decks when the mistress get’s undressed. Shortly after preparing her for new lubrication, Don was
confronted with yet another one of her demands. She needed a new pair of shoes!
While retrieving an errant screw, Don had discovered shredded engine mounts. Our previous sailing adventure presented us
with some blustery wind, rolling seas, a newly located sandbar, all tied up with a jib sheet wrapped around the prop. It
was not pretty, but we survived the experience and heck – it was an excuse to replace the worn lines. We did notice
some unusual vibrations coming from below while returning to port that day, but we chose to concentrate more on threading
our wide beam between two slightly wider pilings. Then of course there are the mandatory post-docking drinks that follow
a day of sailing, and our memory of the entire episode was thus erased. This adventure was, however, most likely the cause
of Don’s now barefooted mistress. Heck – we were well past due for new engine mounts anyway.
It was more
embarrassing recalling this cause of our footloose four-stroke to our dock mates, than it was withdrawing our goodbyes. But
once we did, a Comealong with a 1 x 3 aluminum brace tube to lift the engine was graciously offered. Don ordered the new
mounts – then returned them with a picture of the right ones and ordered them again. Naturally a woman can’t
be expected to be satisfied with the first pair of shoes presented to her. Several must be tried on before a decision and
selection can be made. Honestly, Don was lucky it only took two tries to find the ones that made his mistress happy.
When the correct parts arrived, Don felt ready to plunge right into the task of bedding down the Yanmar. A big difference
between men and women became apparent to me over the course of this latest post-departure project. Women, when faced with
an unfamiliar task, will deliberate, plan and prepare before taking any action. Men, on the other hand, seem to prefer to
leap directly into the unknown, and react to each circumstance presented. I believe there are pros and cons to each method.
A woman may expend vast amounts of unnecessary energy on preparation for situations that may never occur, but the stress
is diffused once set to the task. Men, however, let all that energy build until it explodes in a flurry of frantic activity,
usually accompanied with a lot of stress-filled pounding, cursing and searching for miracle solutions.
My female ways
led me to calculate the brace tube’s suitability for supporting our 600 lb. engine. Don’s method was to crank
away on the Comealong to see if it would hold. The curve in the tube as the engine lifted confirmed the legitimacy of my
apprehension, but Don was more distressed by the curve of the engine’s path as it swung out into the cabin. Having
600 pounds of bulk swerving around in a confined space and trying to figure out how to get it back where it belongs was just
cause for a bit of anxiety. At this point, some disquieting discourse took place between us regarding planning and preparation
verses doing and hasty reaction.
With visions of the brace breaking, dropping the engine onto Don or plunging through
the hull, I began pleading with Don to step back, make a plan, request some muscle support from a few of his friends. Don
however, was busy looking for a bigger hammer and setting his resolve to do the job unassisted. As a compromise, he replaced
the tube with a solid 4x4, and I stayed out of the rest of the affair.
Miraculously, Don single-handedly had his mistress mounted in new shoes within the day. Granted his ‘Just Do It’
method worked, but my plan may have made it less painful. He proudly exhibited the many bruises that decorated most every
inch of his body, regarding each as a medal of honor for his latest conquest. I thought he looked like he’d been in
a car wreck.
The day of our departure arrived and the mistress danced happily in her new, thick rubber soled stilettos.
I hope this expensive footwear will satisfy her appetite for a bit, and that she will not make any more demands on my husband’s
time for awhile. But the truth is I can’t rouse a bit of jealousy towards her. She’s a middle-aged, ¼
ton hunk of fuel burning fury, and Don comes away battered from each encounter with her. I am grateful that she is easily
aroused when he pushes her button and I truly hope she will be with us for a long while. Heck - a new mistress would cost
a fortune anyway!