Engines and Mechanics

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At a recent dock party, I overheard one captain lament, "Every time I turn on the hot water, the boat turns right!" His problem seemed simple enough—an unshielded wire from the hot-water pressure pump must run too close to the autopilot fluxgate compass—but the implications were anything but. I thought, "If this happens to him every time, I can deduce that the vessel is always on autopilot, there are no manual water pumps, and no one on board suffers a cold shower. More important, the complexity of the boat systems is clearly beyond his grasp." Wh...

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Arcturus, my 35-foot yawl, wasn't two days out of Ft. Lauderdale when smoke poured out of the companionway accompanied by the awful smell of an electrical meltdown. The instrument panel was dead and gone, but the engine churned long enough to make the fuel dock at Titusville Marina, near Cape Canaveral.With the engine shut down, my dad, Dennis, dove headfirst into the now emptied cockpit locker. The engine's wiring harness was completely fried, to the point that the wires were incoherently melted together into a rainbow of colors. How the thing didn't ca...

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