Friday, January 17, 2014

"Your Wish is Granted": The Wizard of the Bahamas

Written with Pope Barrow, Guest Blogger

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," boomed the ethereal voice in the movie. But we did.
Last week, our beloved antique boat engine was expropriated by the Bahamas equivalent of the Wizard of Oz--Albert Cartwright, master mechanic.
We are now "landlocked" in Nassau Harbor, at a gas station (see previous blog post) where fishermen bring in their catch.

We have been inducted into an elite cadre of cruisers known as the Broken-Down Boat Club. Membership in this elite yachting organization requires that your boat be immobilized, defunct, as a mode of transportation. Your engine or other parts must be totally or partially destroyed, and—just as important—you must have surrendered your entire life savings to the powerful and all-knowing Diesel Wizard of Oz (or equivalent in the metal-working or sail-making businesses; they all have children headed for college, you know!). Once you have satisfied these requirements, you are in the club and can start drinking rum at noon.

After Albert removed the engine and discovered a junkyard of broken parts inside, including this abraded crankshaft, we began a worldwide search for the rare pieces needed for restoration.
This involved sending smoke signals (no cell phone service here on the dock) to friends, acquaintances, and businesses in Colorado, California, Maryland, Wisconsin, Florida, and England. (Oh wait, maybe that smoke was from Pope burning Amber's copper-bottom pan, trying to make stove-top bread.)
Between all our contacts and the secret contacts of the Wizard of Oz, our wish was granted: we discovered that two M20 Universal crankshafts remained on the planet. (A special thanks to Mike Tabor, Homer Lang, Henry Barrow, Mark Anstey, and Dave Gershwin, who helped scour the planet, i.e., their sources in the diesel engine world). Some had additional helpful suggestions, such as sinking the boat and collecting insurance, or duct-taping an outboard engine to the stern.

After days of searching in vain, it was, in the end, Oz who tracked down the elusive crankshaft, in the back room of a New England Kubota  tractor dealer. Oz is not the most famous mechanic in the Bahamas for nothing. He has his mojo going.

The parts were shipped overnight express (further slimming our wallet) to Florida. If Customs decides to cooperate, the parts could soon be on their way to Nassau. Then we stuff the old ticker back into the heart of our boat, click our heels together, and Echo II will be on the move again! We live in hope. (At least Pope does. Amber has resigned herself to finally getting a relaxing vacation and is over on Paradise Island, practicing yoga.)

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