Saturday, March 22, 2014

Curse or Coincidence?

Laughing gulls crowd the dock

Big mistake yesterday, I left the water to visit a friend, thus unleashing a vehicular hell.

A slightly rough start for the Land Cruiser was followed a half mile later by a sharp backfire when I crossed the state-maintained boundary onto White Farm Road. The muffler exploded, but I did not know that at the time so I continued. Although the Land Cruiser died on me, it restarted easily. Every time it stopped running all the way to Ben's home. However, when I tried to return from Ben's a couple of hours later, it would not start. Not surprising given how many times it had died on the way there.

I borrowed Ben's truck. He is recovering from surgery and did not need to be driving anyway. And I needed to return to the marina to inflate one of Taylor's tires that had gone flat while she was in Greensboro; she had an interview in the afternoon in Bayboro.

When I tried the door locks on Taylor's Subaru, nothing happened, so I tried to start it. Dead. New battery, but not a whisper of effort. I borrowed Butch's jumper cables. Taylor has her own, but they were in Beth's car from when I jumped her car a couple of weeks ago. With the Subaru started and recharging its battery, I plugged the tire pump into the 12V system in the car. No joy. The owner of Penelope, a trimaran, offered his onboard car pump. It did not provide much pressure, but it worked slowly, ever so slowly. We had a nice chat about the two years he and his wife spent cruising and the renting of their house while they were gone, a disappointing experience as the last tenants trashed the house before departing.

I needed to return Ben's truck before evening, and Butch and Ches offered to follow me to troubleshoot the Land Cruiser and give me a ride back if it failed to start again. I climbed into Ben's truck, turned the key in the ignition and....nothing. Silence as empty as deepest darkest space.

"Really?" I exclaimed toward Butch as I motioned for him to turn off his truck. "This makes no sense. The truck started fine when I cranked it up to jump Taylor's car. How could it have no charge?"

"Were the battery connections corroded?" queried Butch. 

Butch and Ches know about cars, having built drag racers and rebuilt their own cars and trucks many times when they lived in Virginia and West Virginia. I worked at a gas station during the 1974 gas shortage. I replaced water pumps and changed oil, batteries and lots of stuff about which I learned almost nothing.

"No, looked about average to me." As if I would know.

Butch, Ches and Prancer the Pomeranian drove me to Village Hardware, their second trip in less than half an hour. Paul directed me to the battery terminals and I purchased two to replace the ones on Ben's truck that had corroded to the point that, when I attached the jumper cables, I unknowingly pinched right through the hot wire.

What are the odds of having three different vehicles fail on you on the same day? Can such a trifecta be coincidence? I think not.

To cap it all, when Butch and Ches looked under the hood of the Land Cruiser, it cranked without hesitation. They praised the smooth purr of the engine, and I drove it back to the marina without incident. Of course, something had exploded the muffler that morning. I know not what. Mechanical things baffle me because too often they behave irrationally.

In any case, I should never leave the water.

Royal tern and friends

Back on the dock, The terns have returned (reterned?). They perch on dock pilings with their orange beaks pointing into the wind under jaunty black crests. They look fast even sitting still. Mornings are raucous with argumentative gulls. They do not care that we plan to sleep past sunrise. With daylight the cacophony begins. Sharp clipped cries of many gulls squawking "mine, mine, mine, five, five, ten, ten, ten, ten" like an auction gone mad with meaningless bids, each gull screeching over the others, louder and louder. If spooked, they rise as one, swoop high above the creek, then dive back to the dock to steal each other's pilings. All the while, the laughing gulls laugh maniacally.



  1. No doubt about it, cars are nuthin but trouble. That said, we're lending ours to Chris and Anne from Mr Mac for the summer so they can do all the Cons. We're finally leaving Marathon this week, heading your way.

  2. We look forward to seeing you two and hearing what it was like to have a warm winter.


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