Thursday, July 02, 2009

First Wrench in the Works Removed with Aplomb

I've been somewhat anxious planning for this trip that we are embarking on early (6:00) tomorrow morning, more so than I ever am leaving the country. We're just going up to the Lopez Island to camp with friends for the long weekend, which we did a couple years ago and which totally rocked. The kicker is that, after three nights with the group of 20 or so (no, that's not what's freaking me out), Ian and I are heading off on our own, in our little ski boat, to tour some of the places I haven't been in, oh, about 17 years.

To tour on our own in our own boat, we must first get it to the San Juans, and we decided to do that by towing it behind the car. We could, of course, motor by sea all the way up those 100 miles, but I really think that would be an awful way to spend a day. Noisy, cold, boring, and expensive. No, when we bought our boat, we bought one that would fit within the 5,000 lb towing capacity of our car.

Lucky for us, Mom and Marsh have a sizeable piece of land, and they've been willing to store our trailer, rent-free, in their satellite garage, since our boat is stored in a dry stack facility seven blocks from our house. Last year when we took delivery of our boat, I towed it at about 25 mph around the lake to the launch ramp where we launched it, then drove the trailer out to Maple Valley. Today I went out to Maple Valley to pick it up.

Marsh and I hooked it up to my car together, slowly, making sure to connect all the various chains and cables, then plugged the cord for the lights into the back of my car. I got in and turned on the engine, and tested the lights. I turned on the left turn signal and Marsh nodded and motioned to the right. I then turned on the right turn signal and he said "Yep! Looks like they work!" And I thought Awesome!. But then I thought . . . hmmm. Wait a minute . . .

"Marsh," I called, "which lights went on when I first signaled? The left ones?"

"No," he said, "the right ones."

"Yeah, okay," I said, "because I think I was trying the left ones. I'm going to try again, and you see if the ones blinking match the car." I turned on the key and tried to indicate left.

"No, Calin, those don't match," said Marsh. "Neither do these other ones."


I got out of the car and we looked at the wires running from the trailer into the plastic doohickey that plugs into the car. There were some white ones and brown ones, and one blue one, and a yellow one, and a green one. I had no idea what any of them meant, and couldn't see how we might do anything about them, even if they were the problem. I called Sea Ray.

"Whoa," said David in Service, unhelpfully. "I guess you'll have to remember to push the turn signal the other way!" He laughed at his own joke. That wouldn't be a problem if I were only signaling one direction, but I would be signaling two no matter what. Not surprisingly, David didn't really have much assistance to offer at 4:47pm on a Wednesday afternoon, 13 hours before we planned to get on the road, although I will be dropping the trailer off there on the 8th when we return to Seattle.

I hung up the phone and Marsh and I put our heads together. Parked parallel to my trailer was Marsh's new trailer, a handy little flat bed with a similar connector to the one my trailer has. We decided that, before doing anything else, we should check to make sure it wasn't actually a problem with my car switching the signals, so I backed over to his trailer. No, not surprisingly, the problem was not with my new Toyota. In looking more closely at Marsh's wires, then, I saw that they were almost the same, and that the yellow and green ones were labeled, very small, "right" and "left". Ah HA! We were on to something!

Marsh decided that the most logical thing to try would be to snip my yellow and green wires, and then splice them back together crosswise, and in five minutes, it was done. AND IT WORKED!

The electrical tape Marsh wrapped around the splices is not watertight, the way the original wires were, and the trailer is, after all, hauling a boat which will need to be backed into the water at some point. There is a chance that the fix will short out before I can get back to Seattle in a week, but I hope if it does, it takes the blinkers out completely.

I am confident that the other parts of our trip—driving the boat north, filling it with gas without running into any canopies over the gas station, putting it back in the water, motoring about with tides and currents and winds, and visiting a whole world I haven't seen since my dad died there when I was 19—will all work out. I'll let you know.

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