By John Urban
As a general rule, boating and golf do not mix. This is not a absolute and I have known a few brave souls who participate in both activities. There are, however, several factors that work against taking-up both pastimes, namely: limited available leisure time, financial restrictions, and a desire for retaining one’s sanity.
Golf’s test of sanity is well known as most everyone has taken to swinging a golf club at one time or another, even if it was at a putt-putt course on a childhood summer vacation. And most of us have seen a snippet of an elite professional golfer stepping up to the tee only to shank one into the woods.
Only the strongest of souls would be able to tolerate the mental abuse inflicted by golf and the stressors of boating.
Stressors of boating, you may ask? No, I am not talking the challenges of docking against a cross current at a well populated outdoor restaurant, or the trials of remembering “the rabbit goes around the tree and through the hole” mnemonic when tying a bowline. No, I am keying-in on a much more sinister boating stressor – keeping the engine running.
Somehow, Detroit has figured out how to improve our automobiles so that they start and run properly for well over a hundred thousand miles, and airline mechanics have developed maintenance schedules that keep aircraft aloft with the highest levels of reliability. Boat engines? Not so much. Is this a failure of engineering or the dereliction of marine mechanics? No, it is not. The culprit lies in….Washington, DC. That’s right, the transgressor is none other than Congress.
In 2005, Congress saw the opportunity to blend a mix of 10 to 15 percent ethanol into gasoline as a way to reduce our dependence of foreign oil. Corn farmers and others who produce ethanol liked the outcome. At the time, I did, too. However, boat owners soon learned that ethanol is nothing but trouble in a marine environment. Engines that were designed to run on straight petroleum run poorly and fiberglass tanks can be degraded when encountering the ethanol mix.
So imagine my glee when I pulled our little Boston Whaler up to the gas dock and found that ethanol-free fuel was available. Oh, the chance to rid myself of that unwelcome additive, the opportunity to return our 75 HP Yamaha to the fuel it was designed to consume. It was a glorious moment. Yet, it was only a moment. I was recently told one more factoid about ethanol – you shouldn’t mix non-ethanol with ethanol fuel. Important news. Too bad it was received after the fact.
If you are a boater, you know the conundrum – regardless of whether or not this fuel mixture is a significant problem, you will spend every moment at the wheel anticipating an engine failure. And the reason you anticipate this outcome is the knowledge that it will occur.
So there I go back to the mechanic. And as I drive by a golf course I think of those who are capable of chasing that ball down the fairway and those select few who do that and boat. Damn fools, I say. The whole lot of us. Damn fools.Share on Facebook