A Flying Boat With No Engine

Preparations Video
June 8, 2018

In my understanding, boats are supposed move through water.  Canoes have paddles to propel them, powerboats have engines, sailboats have sails… but they also *should* have engines.  Ours did not.

When we bought the boat we had an engine, an engine that the owner believed “worked” but we had no records on how well it worked.  Since we were going to travel great distances with this boat, and a thirteen and a half ton boat really requires a decent engine for all the times we can’t use our wind-power, we had two feasible options: buy a new engine, or rebuild the one we had.

Since we were on a budget we figured that re-building was the best choice.  We were newbies.  We didn’t know how wrong we could be.

We received a referral list of engine mechanics from another boat owner at the marina.  The top two companies on the list were already swamped with work and couldn’t take the engine. The third guy, James, (his name may or may not have been changed to protect the guilty) seemed like a great guy, took our engine just days before New Years with the promise that we would have it back well before April.

Famous last words.

In the meantime, John set out to work on the boat; he pretty much gutted it.  The wiring was a disaster, the plumbing, head, water tanks and holding tanks all came out, the fuel tank disconnected and drained, an old TV and VCR from the 80’s was dumped, the instruments and batteries all needed to be replaced, and basically everything that wasn’t the actual hull of the boat needed to be ditched, demolished, or dismantled… well actually, the hull too.  It needed a full scraping and repainting.

I’ll just say that this is the only video we have of John working on the boat.  He had good intentions of documenting the whole process but good intentions go together with kittens solving the climate crisis.  It’s just not realistic.

In February, after John had gotten a bit of the runaround from our friendly engine guy on getting a more detailed quote and moving forward with the engine rebuild, we sent James a polite note:

Just a gentle reminder that the boat gets splashed the last week of April and we’ll need the engine back in the boat by the first week of April.  We cannot underscore how important this is.  Only you know how long it takes to get parts in and do the work and though we trust your skill set, I’m sure you can understand our nervousness with such a key component of the boat and such a fixed deadline.  I apologize in advance that we’re going to be a pain in your ass, but if you could get us that condition and pricing list as early next week as possible, I can get you the money and we can order those parts.

When I studied writing in university, this is where my prof would send me back a note saying “great foreshadowing”.

Hindsight is indeed 20/20.

We got the list, money was spent, parts were ordered, work was apparently done, more money was spent, more parts were ordered.  John kept working on the boat. April 1st came and went, April 20th came and went, and then on April 23rd 2016, one day before my 44th birthday, it was our official Splash Day.  The boat had to go in the water.  And we didn’t have an engine.

The amazing people at Mimico Yacht Club told us not to worry.  They could launch us and tow us to a slip.  And the towing guys were wearing cowboy hard hats.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Boats are supposed to move through water.  They are not supposed to fly.  At least, I didn’t think they were supposed to fly.  I had no idea that this was even an option for boats.

I can’t quite explain how it feels when your newly purchased, thirteen and a half ton boat is quite literally flying through the air.  It’s a mix of wonder with insane heart palpitations.  At least it didn’t have the weight of the engine in it as well.  (note: sarcasm)

Our first splash day went by without boat incident or owner heart attack.  Now we just had to get the masts stepped and track down our engine…

(to be continued…)



Michelle Kauntz
Wild Blue Yonder

Seems you've found us. I'm one half of the charming and somewhat frustrating duo that is John & Michelle. (I'm Michelle) We once had this one-day idea that we wanted to sail around the world. We made a five year plan. After ten years of talking and two years of prepping and postponing, we are finally underway. Feel free to follow us and live vicariously though our pratfalls and adventures as we take our almost-as-old-as-John Bayfield 40 Cutter Ketch out of the safety of Lake Ontario and out into the world. On a shoestring budget. With two fiercely independent people. In basically 300-ish square feet of living space and with not a heck of a lot of sailing experience (yet) ...This is going to be fun...

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