About an hour after leaving the charming town of Stonington, Connecticut, I heard my engine shudder and turn off. It wouldn’t turn back on.

Not too bad of a problem – I do have sails – but enough of a dilemma that I decided to turn around and head back into the harbor. I called Boat US, a company like AAA but on the water, and asked them to meet me in the mouth of the harbor. I beat them back, and had to drop the anchor while I waited for the tow boat to take me to the dock.

Ben, a family friend, was waiting for me on the docks to troubleshoot with me. I told him about a tiny piece of tape I remembered being on the end of my dipstick that I use to check my fuel tank, and which was now missing.

Could that tape have fallen off into the fuel tank and caused the engine to die by blocking the flow of fuel? The mechanic, Ben and I all agreed that, yes, it could, if it was in fact in the tank.

To find it the tank needed to be drained of diesel – a tedious task to embark on just on a whim. On top of that, the marina charged $88 per hour and draining the tank would take most of the afternoon. When it became evident that there was no other obvious problem, I decided to follow my hunch and have the mechanic drain the tank.

After filling two five-gallon tanks the young mechanic squeezed into the tiny space next to my fuel tank asked me how sure I was about this tape. Of course I wasn’t very sure, but it was the only idea I had, and seemed worth pursuing. After many hours, Peter the mechanic triumphantly waved not one but two pieces of electrical tape at me and shouted “Do you wanna frame ‘em?”

I did frame them, in a sense. I put the tape in my ships log along with a description of the whole debacle. I’ll be sure to look back at my first log and remember the incident, and be reminded of how important it is to be mindful and to pay attention to detail.

When I finally made my way up to the office to pay, the owner of the marina and the mechanics told me that my money was no good. Four-hundred dollars worth of labor might not be much to some sailors, but to me it’s a hefty sum.

I bought the staff of Dodson’s Marina a party pack of snickers and a thank you card, but I really couldn’t thank them enough. Their kindness, another example of the camaraderie in the boating world left me with a feeling of warmth in my heart as I sailed away from Stonington, for the second time.

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