Jan 26

Summertime Flashback: “Jon, you’re scaring the guests”

Tag: boat work,failures,humorousJonathon Haradon @ 2:19 am
“Shut it off!!! Shut it off!!” I screeched, sounding much like an excited 16 year old girl. I was half excited and half  terror-stricken, because something dramatic had just gone wrong with the engine. This was 6 months ago, when I was hellbent on becoming Syzygy’s primo engine mechanic. The engine is a mystery to me.  I love working on it,  learning about it, figuring things out, but in the end, most things that would be good to know about an engine, like how tightly to crank down on a bleed screw, are a mystery to me. We had just changed the fuel filters.  Doing this introduces air into the fuel lines which is bad for the engine.  The next step is to get the air out of the fuel lines; bleeding the fuel lines.  You do this by working a hand pump that is inline.  Then you open up three screws, one at a time, each further along the fuel line and closer to the engine.  Keep moving the pump, and air is supposed to leak out from each screw.  When air stops leaking out, tighten the screw down.  No problem. The next time you turn on the engine, you’re supposed to look at those screws that you loosened to make sure you tightened them down enough and fuel is not leaking out.  ’cause that would be bad. And sure enough, this time, there was fuel leaking out.  Slowly, but there it was.  So I got out the socket wrench and tried to tighten it.  Hmmm,  it’s still dripping.  Tighter… tighter…. oh shit!  my wrist lurched forward and my body with it.  Liquid arcs out of the engine like water coming out of a garden hose.  Except water is innocuous, and to my racing heart, brain, nervous system, lungs, and vocal cords, this liquid represented certain chaos and destruction. “Shut it off!!! Shut it off!!” I screeched.  I wonder what went through Matt’s mind at that moment, hearing the hysteria in my voice, and racing to the shut-off valve.  Might he have been worried about my well-being, thinking, “is he hurt?”  Maybe, “What just happened to the engine?”  My money is on, “What the fuck did he break now?”  The level of my fixer-upper skills having been well-established at this point. As the engine died, and fuel slowly stopped pouring out of the bleed valve I had just broken off, I realized the situation had not quite called for such a sounding from me of imminent danger.  In my terror, I had thought of what I had learned about oil, and if the engine runs without it for even a few moments, very bad things can happen.  Without fuel, however, the engine would have just stopped on it’s own.  I also could have easily stopped the fuel myself, another shut-off valve located in the engine room being easily reachable.  Also, the screw I broke off was on the low-pressure side of the fuel lines, not the high-pressure side.  This is somewhat important, because highly pressured diesel can penetrate your skin and cause bad things to happen.  Like the sun when it penetrates your skin and eventually causes bad things to happen.  Kind of. Sailing was out for the day, as we had no replacements.  So we kicked back with a few beers in the cockpit for a couple of hours with the guests that had come over hoping to sail.  After a couple of beers, they felt safe enough to remark that, umm, my tirade had caused a bit of a scare.  For all they knew, the boat was about to blow up.  We all laughed at my expense, a frequent enough occurrence throughout the summer that I wasn’t too hurt by it, and was able to laugh along as well.  it became the running joke of the night to observe some behavior of mine and then add, “Jon, you’re scaring the guests,”

2 Responses to “Summertime Flashback: “Jon, you’re scaring the guests””

  1. Jon says:

    Hey guys! Just thought I’d check in on your progress from Ethiopia. When is your expected departure? Hope things are going well.

  2. Jonathon Haradon says:

    Losey! We hope to leave early January ’10. Things are going fantastic with the boat. Matt and Jonny are getting a ton of work done even if they aren’t posting about. I just acquired a sewing machine and am planning on sewing us a new sail… that should be interesting!

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