Recovering Ragbagger


I’m afraid, it happened again.  One minute, putt, putt, putt.  The next…

It’s something every “recovering ragbagger” frets about.  When-the-motor-quits.  Sort of like, when mom says, “…beeeee carefulllll…”  And, you aren’t.  Early sidewheelers still carried masts and sails.  Granted, they remained furled most of the time.  Just up there, getting all sooty.  Nobody really trusted Mr. Fulton’s monstrosity.  This striving for convenience, and comfort has always had its downside.  I should say, “down-slide.”

For the first year, I carried an extra motor on Miss Kathleen.  Sometimes both a gas outboard and an electric.  That stuff not only takes up a lot of space, it adds a lot of weight.  And, the way I have franken-engineered this whole thing; it takes getting back on the trailer to really effect a swap.  That, and a lifting crane.  And, a passle of tools.

I think the crux of the matter is pretty simple.  The notion of “adventuring,” assumes a high degree of self-sufficiency.  For a couple of reasons.  One of ‘em is that help is likely not going to be available, even if other boats and people are close at hand.  Yesterday was a case in point.  That little voice told me to head upwind.  Not, downhill to my initially-contemplated destination.  So, about 5 miles out, when my purportedly reliable 15 hp, 4-stroke Yamaha suddenly quit, and steadfastly refused any of my ministrations, entreaties, and blasphemy; I at least had a Plan-B.

Other boats passed within heaving line range, as Miss K wallowed in a moderate seaway.  Nobody slowed.  Nobody even looked my direction.  In fact, I assumed that even if I flagged somebody down; they wouldn’t likely know how to perform a tow in those conditions.  Granted, some of us know that a boat rolling beam-on, with the engine hatch up, should be a sign of something untoward.  Some of us do.  Apparently, most of us, don’t.  So, I concluded that we would self-rescue.

The hatch provided what turned out to be a sort of a squig’ger mizzen.  We could gybe through about 90 degrees. If we paid close attention to leeway.  Here, we had returned to the lee.  Landfall was still almost-to-windward, and around a set of obstacles.  It became a bit of a game.  The object being to land as perfectly as possible back at the dock of origin.  Unaided.

The fact is, that we did ‘er.

Achieving the target, deadstick the last 200 yards, wasn’t a real big discovery.  Afterall.  Miss K was born a sailboat.  And, a pretty good one, in fact.  Her rudder and keel are truncated to 30% of the original spans.  And, that tophamper is not much of a lifting surface.  Basically, it was a simple matter of running off in the puffs.  Sharpening up in the lulls.  And, keeping a very light hand on the wheel.  Until, we landed at the launching ramp dock.  Against the fender.  Shipshape and Bristol fashion.

Obviously, I need to figure out what ails Mr. Yammy.  He’s already absorbed an expensive replacement OEM carburetor.  A fuel-water separator.  New hoses.  Secondary in-line filter.  New fuel tank.  Ethanol-free gas.  Fuel stabilizer. And, all the verbal encouragement one motor could hope for.  As a pensioner of modest means, a brand new motor is pretty far beyond the pale.  That, and any hope of a continued “cruising schedule” this summer.  We are already one-third of the way through July.  The countdown to Labor Day is thundering across the calendar.

I’m thinking that recidivism is no crime.  We recovering ragbaggers need to stick together.  Afterall, we can quit whenever we really want to.  Right?


    • Yup. Maybe, even a motorsailer run to Magnolia Beach in the offing. Maybe. Some kind of a fold-down cat ketch. Our design staff has been pondering that one for a couple months, now.

  1. I’ve performed this type of wholesale modification previously and heat and fumes, are the usual culprits to a stopped engine. The air/fuel ratio can be easily dramatically changed unless you can pull in fresh ambient air from outside the box. This also usually helps tend to the overheating concerns. My usual route is to place the box in negative pressure, with two inline blowers. Both draw air in through deck or side deck mounted clam shells, a hose carries the air; one to the mouth of the carb(s) and the other to the very bottom of the engine box space. Next, the 2 blowers are fitted, again under deck mounted clam shells, blowing out, so the air is drawn into the space, across the intake (carb) and out of the box. The low mounted hose will draw off the heat, the high mounted hose will supply cool are to the space and intake. FWIW . . .

  2. Hi PAR.

    When I had a 2-stoke in that well, I ran an exhaust blower, and it worked pretty well. This particular bit of trouble stemmed from a way simpler error on my part. When I bolted in the new carb, with a rather long set of bolts that run through a couple gaskets, a spacer or two and the carb body; one of the gaskets got missed on one side. The whole thing is sort of out of sight and awkward to reach, so I didn’t notice. It worked fine for the first several hours. Then, we got balky. And, then completely shut down. I had introduced a very effective block to the intake manifold, with a gasket sliding progressively across Mr. Yammy’s windpipe.

    I haven’t figured out how to make the charging loop work (no installed electric starter) and don’t have the ability to support a continuous fan at the moment. If I had that, then I could probably close the box up for sound attenuation. I did add a strap-on plenum (made out of a well-caulked electrical j-box as it turns out) to the secondary exhaust and it runs through a tube out the transom above the water line. Before that, he tended to suffocate in his own exhaust. The bottom is closed up tight against the lower unit, to keep the “washing machine” oscillation from slurshing back and forth when underway. So, you’re right. That is a pretty closed up place for a motor to have to perform in. I did add several layers of paint-on engine room sound dampening goo to the cowling.

    For those of us who can’t leave well enough alone, I’ll no doubt find a way to fit another blower. and put a sound deadening door across the now-open front.



  3. Dan, give “Lizard Skin” a try if you haven’t already. They have two products, both water borne, one for sound, the other for heat. If you use both, you get the best of both, as they’re designed to be used in conjunction. On low power applications, where you can’t afford the amps of a continuous blower, consider dragging a clam shell vent just below the LWL, facing aft. It’ll create a very low, but noticeable negative pressure inside the engine space, which can draw in fresh, cool air from a top of box mounted clamshell. It’s also suck off some heat too. It’s not nearly as good as a blower, but is better than nothing by afair amount.

  4. A small mizzen would be a good idea and so wouldn’t a sculling oar.. l like a sculling oar with a diving fin attached to a modified oar..

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