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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/30 The case of the stolen outboard.

When we returned to home after our day of diving we wanted to take advantage of having all our dive gear out and set up in order for Bill to do a little underwater maintenance on our home. We were tired and cold and I know for a fact Bill would have loved to skip the whole thing. As we were getting everything ready for him to slip into the water he looked up at the piece of hardboard we have mounted on our rail and calmly asked "where is our outboard?"

The last time we looked there was a 8 horse Yamaha 2stroke engine attached. Right there on the rail with a custom swing arm attached to our lovely arch by pulleys so we could lower and raise it on and off our dingy. The board was empty. I mutely peered into the depth with the last of my hope. Nope the dingy engine was gone!

We always keep it on our starboard aft rail because we always tie up on our port side. Keeps it away from busy fingers. We also always keep it locked in place but barely 48 hours ago we cut the lock off with our bolt cutters because the lock was hopelessly ruined from the salt spray on our passage down. Now the motor was gone and we were sick. This was going to cost a bundle because we really cant go on to Mexico without an engine for the dink.

So, we finished the dive work and called the Harbor Patrol. There was little chance we would ever see it again since we we scheduled to leave in little over 24 hours. Plus this was going to mess with our time we had to spend with my mom who was flying in the next morning. Damn! If you have ever been robbed you will know the feelings: anger, resentment, regrets. Could have should have would have!

The next morning I happened to stop to talk with a neighbor, Gary on Sugar who as I told the story of our stolen engine went on to say that he had watched as a fellow with an outboard cart wearing a work uniform came to our boat and loaded up our engine. He even gave it some thought when he realized that it wasn't Bill but assumed we were having engine problems and where sending it out for service. I returned to our boat and gave Bill the new information but again figured that someone had picked us out for a target and had come well prepared.

A short time later Bill walked the rented dive gear back and while he was gone my mom called having arrived from the airport. As i walked up to let her in the gate I met Bill returning from the dive shop. He explained to me he had noticed an outboard lying on the deck of the boat next to us and had a hunch. He stopped in at the office and asked them to call the owner of the boat next door and ask if he had scheduled any maintenance on his outboard.

When he got back to the boat both mom and Dianna where here and we were all busy talking and visiting. Bill kept looking at the boat next door he kept thinking and looking and thinking some more. There was no motor there now. Was there really ever one laying there? Still waiting to hear back from the Harbor office some people came up to the boat next door so Bill went to talk to them. No, they didn't have a motor on deck and didn't have any work scheduled. There was really only one guy around that did that kind of work and gave us his name and his number. They also added that there was really only one guy around dumb enough to make that kind of mistake and this guy was it.

So we had calls out to the boat next door hoping to hear back and we had the harbor office working on it and we now left a message for the shop guy in question. We took off to do some grocery shopping and get some lunch. While eating lunch we got a call back. Yes he had picked up an outboard. Was it hanging on the starboard rail? Was it a two stroke 8 horse Yamaha? Did it need work. What slip was it? Well I fixed your carburetor so who is going to pay for it?

Turns out he was supposed to pick up another engine from another sailboat. Not the power boat Bill had originally gotten the hunch from. If we had left this morning like we had originally planned we would have sailed away from our engine. Newly tuned up and at some point it would have been returned to an empty slip. Or perhaps another boat would have been here by then. It may not have been discovered until the owner with the other motor tried to figure out how come his engine wasn't working. And the dumb and dumber guy would have insisted that he had done the work! Who knows how long it would have taken to figure the whole thing out. In the end the guy even called me on the phone, still confused, starting the conversation with "there has been a horrible mistake and wanting to know when we needed our engine back. Thinking I was the other guys who where likely going to be mad because there was no way the guy could pick up their engine and return it fixed by this evening.

I have no idea how this would have worked itself out. And we are still a bit stunned by the whole thing and the specter of having to replace it filled in by the immense emotion of being robbed followed by the paths our mind took trying to figure out how someone could possibly take the wrong engine form the wrong boat then fix it and ask to be paid. Oh well, in the end the guys shop was in Goleta where our son Josh lives so he picked it up and is delivering it, newly tuned up, for free. We are all going out for Mexican food to celebrate our windfall, Bills hunch and our amazing good luck. Kat

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