Nov 4, 2009

Angel Earl - Part 1

After we left the marina a few weeks ago as we headed to our favorite cove to spend the weekend, we got an urgent phone call from one of our dock friends.  He wanted to let us know we had discharged some diesel fuel into the water when we pulled out. And when I say "some" what I mean is "quite a bit".  As in, a lot of diesel fuel. As in, so much diesel fuel that some people had to leave the dock because they couldn't stand the fumes.

This was bad news on a number of levels: not only do we have an instinctive aversion to throwing away diesel fuel at $5 gallon, but it is generally considered bad form to asphyxiate your dock neighbors or to leave a layer of pink petroleum on top of the water. Clearly something really bad had happened with our engines which meant something really bad was getting ready to happen to our checkbook.

To make matters worse, one of our dock neighbors decided to make a stink ("a stink", heh) over our unintentional fuel discharge. He just happens to be in law enforcement and thus just happens to know that discharging fuel into the water can get you slapped with a fine of up to $10,000. And over the course of the weekend while we were away he (allegedly) repeated this several times to other neighbors and (allegedly) vowed to personally insure we received the maximum fine. And he (allegedly) complained so much that everyone on our dock was (allegedly) ready to cut his lines while he was asleep so he would drift off to some other dock where unneighborly types might be better received.

Anyway, when we were ready to come home at the end of the weekend a friend made the 45 minute trip to meet us at our cove so he could follow us home to make sure we made it okay. Our engines started just fine and there was no more fuel discharge, and as for the mood back at the dock, we returned to find our neighbors had sorted themselves into two camps: (1) the one guy who thought we deserved a $10,000 fine and (2) all our other neighbors who thought the guy in category #1 was a jackass.

So, on to the point of this story. Engine trouble. We immediately got our friend and mechanic Steve on the scene, and over the next week he replaced all our fuel lines--all 100 feet of them.

In addition, I posted a cry for advice on an internet forum for people who own boats like ours. I got several immediate responses, almost all suggesting we needed the tender loving care of a guy called Earl International. Earl is a mechanic who specializes in our specific brand of diesel engine and travels all over the country working on them. In the world of diesel mechanics, Earl is a rock star with a large number of very devoted groupies.

Lo and behold, a day or two later Earl himself contacted me.  He said he'd be in Atlanta in early November and would be happy to figure out what the problem was, and of course we immediately said yes for the same reason you'd say yes if Chet Atkins offered to tune the guitar you bought at a yard sale for $5.

Last Wednesday Earl International showed up right on schedule and immediately started digging around in the BUB examining the engines and the hoses and other important looking pieces-parts that I have no idea what they do or what they are for.

He had the calm self-confidence of a surgeon and I had the sensation of being the distraught, worried family member watching a loved one being biopsied right before my eyes.

To be honest, watching Earl root around in the bowels of the BUB gave me the exact same feeling I had during Morley's rectal tumor scare a couple of years ago. Now that I think about it, the process was very much the same except the BUB didn't make those funny faces when Earl stuck his hands up its sensitive bits (if you know what I mean) and there was a lot less limping afterwards.

Anyway, the patient is now resting comfortably and next time I'll give you the report from Earl.

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