The Tow of Shame

Well, it finally happened. We needed a tow. I guess everyone needs a little help at certain times in their lives.

The day started out so nicely. We motored into Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, FL. A beautiful little key between Key West and Key Largo. I know, there are lots of keys between those two. This one is very popular. The harbor has more than 225 mooring balls and lots of additional space for anchoring.

We were looking for a spot to drop the hook amongst the hundreds of boats when we spotted a space where we thought we could fit. It was so crowded. The neighboring boat owners were so helpful.

“You’ll be fine there. A boat with a 6′ draft was right there for 3 days. They just left.”

“But it’s so close to you.”

“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”

“You don’t think we’re too close?”

“It’s the perfect distance for sharing rum!”

So we dropped the hook, a little too close for our comfort, but no-one seemed to care.

“There’s no wind for the next few day. It’s all good.”

No sooner did we close the anchor locker door than a woman in her dinghy came up to our boat to introduce herself, welcome us to the harbor, and invite us for a drink later. So neighborly. We got great instructions on how to get to the dinghy dock, where the good restaurants are, things to do, lots of great stuff. So off we went. We found the dinghy dock, took care of business, and boarded our dinghy to head back.

Our engine has been very fussy for a while. We have a Tohatsu Everun 25 hp. She came with the boat. Now, I don’t know much about engines, diesel or gasoline. But I do know that you’re supposed to add oil to the fuel when you have a 2-stroke engine. What I did NOT know was that a Tohatsu Everun is such an engine. We found that out AFTER we ran 5 gallons of regular gasoline through it.

Everyone said, “Seriously? And it sill works?” “It hasn’t blown up yet?” “You all are so lucky. But don’t worry, it won’t last much longer.”

I don’t know how she survived to live another few months, but she did. Smoking, belching and bucking all the way. Our good friend, Glen, in the Harborage Marina helped us work on her before we left. As he was working on her, he kept insisting that we buy a new one. Well today, she crapped out on us right after we untied from the dinghy dock. We weren’t sure exactly what happened, but that bang followed by the plume of smoke hovering above her definitely wasn’t a good sign.

We were slowly drifting toward the channel. Nothing dangerous, just not looking forward to a full mile of rowing back to the boat. When low and behold, some good Samaritans offered us a tow. They had just bought a pizza, and their boat was almost a mile the other direction. Yet they insisted on helping, assuring us that they were merely collecting “towing Karma points”.

And so, we arrived at our tow-of-shame moment. Sailors and power boaters alike, smiling and waving as we silently glided by, knowing exactly how we felt. Clearly, the first time is the worst. But I truly don’t want to experience that again. Welcome aboard our new Yamaha F25 4-stroke! Can’t wait to meet you!

January 2021