Sunday, June 22, 2008

Well alright

Andy, our ferryman, holding two lobster

Still no luck on the diesel, still hard at work. We began attempting to remove the starter, which I’m convinced is the problem. Dad disagrees, and continues to focus on his manual crank idea, even though my close exegetical reading of the service manual indicates it should be the starter. We’ve agreed to disagree, however, and I’ve been focusing on the electrical elements of the engine--wiring, connections, fuses--while he works on his crank.

I was pleased to discover that I could easily undo the nuts holding the electrical connections together. I’m sure many readers already know the distinct pleasure of finding the correct wrench for a bolt and then feeling it break free, but it’s a relatively new experience for me, and I love it.

Dad and Mom are trying to convince me to pursue as a career as a diesel mechanic (I can hear it in their voices--anything but freelance writer!), but I think a female diesel mechanic would have as many obstacles in her path as a female single-handed sailor (not to mention my lack of aptitude for either). If there’s anything I’ve learned from these six months of agony and one week of work is that barriers against women breaking free of their stereotypical roles are still firmly in place. I make this comment, dear male readers, not as whining, but as a simple statement of fact. I dare not mention the case of a recent female presidential candidate, although I can risk saying that I am firmly in the center of her thirty-something female demographic who has experienced discrimination in the work force.

More to the point. Perhaps the greatest obstacle facing women is fear. I’m afraid of staying here alone, afraid of mockery for picking up the wrong wrench or touching the wrong wire or undoing the wrong bolt. What I’m learning, though, is that with the right resources--the right books, the right tools, the right vocabulary--I know almost as much as my dad does, and he’s been working on engines since he was a kid? How many women ever learn that about themselves?

Andy stopped by again this morning with much longed-for-ice and an offer: a tow all the way to Clarencetown, Long Island, 40 nautical miles away. It’s a possible way out of my dilemma. Clarencetown, potentially, has a diesel mechanic and a rigger. There’s a marina in town. It’s a safe, enclosed harbor with the town built on the water, and I could have rowing access to communication capabilities. It’s a big offer, and a big decision.

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