Yuloh gonna love this. Or, how I’m handling my first engine repair.

My first repair! It’s exciting, want to know why? Because she’s a wee little boat and this is not a big deal! This weekend I had my first cancelled outing. We went down to Elska, Greg and Jason and Miles and I, and we weren’t able to leave because the outboard wouldn’t start. From my outboard class, I knew that the bulb to prime the engine should be firm after you squeeze it a few times. But the bulb wouldn’t firm up, and it felt like no gas was flowing, despite our full tank.

We finally opened up the lazarette and looked inside, and discovered that – and here my complete lack of part-naming knowledge kicks into effect and you get to see my excellent mechanical vocabulary…..


The plate thingie where the transmission and throttle cables attached, had a smaller plate thingie that broke. This meant that the engine wasn’t truly in neutral when we were trying to turn it over, thus it wouldn’t start. How did this plate break? We’ve no idea. But now I get to say that I have a screw loose without irony.

Here’s a better photo of it:


I had brought my GoPro to film our great day on the water, but got this instead:

So what’s the good news? Well, it’s not good news really, but I have to say it was pretty great to have this happen and to not feel overwhelmed by it. I really am made for smaller boats. I cringe, I wince, I shudder at the thought of having to do repairs on diesels, AC units, refrigeration, and dozens of other systems that cruisers deal with all the time. It was awesome to go to Fisheries and spend a few bucks on a replacement plate. That’s it. That’s all I had to do. Well, and now I have to go install it, and that could be….challenging. We’ll see.

But the best part was when my hubby Greg heard me talking about how this was no big deal, I’d just fix it somehow, and he came over to me and said, “I love you! I love how you aren’t upset by this at all. Because this is exactly the kind of thing that would stress me out. I love how it’s your boat, and you don’t mind taking care of this stuff, and I can just sail with you.” Awww!

Yuloh gonna love what happened next…..

Hahaha! Ha! Heh. <cough>

I complain how Jason never laughs at my jokes. The other day, after I made a lame joke and he failed to laugh, he turned to our friend Clare (who laughed, I might add!) and said in his defense, “Well her jokes are usually just these weak puns, and I don’t find them that funny.” ANYWAY.

Having a boat without a working engine was a fat drag on Sunday afternoon, because it meant I couldn’t take the boys out for a sail. Miles was coming as a Mother’s Day present to me. He doesn’t like sailing, because it doesn’t involve screens or video games (maybe I should get a fancy radar system just so he has something to stare at that glows with little moving objects), and I was really looking forward to showing him how Elska moved so differently than the last boat.

But what really frustrated me was that, she’s so small, there’s no way we should ever be stuck at a dock in good weather. If I had oars, I could row her out! Or, make Miles row us out! (Put down that video game, son, and give me some hard labor – let me tell YOU about HARD LABOR, why I was in labor with you for 22 hours….).


Clearly what we need is a YULOH! What’s a yuloh? Here I go again with the technical jargon: it’s an oar with a bend in it. It goes at the stern end (the rear!) of your boat, and you stand in your cockpit and you wiggle that sucker through the water in a way that, through magic physics, you are propelled along at what I’m seeing reported is a good 1-2 knots upon flat water.

Like this guy! In a boat easily ten feet longer than mine…

Or one of my sailing heroes, Carol Hasse:

Or this guy in his little weekender:

This guy is using his yuloh on his canoe-multihull. The oar seems to be doubling as a rudder and tiller:

It was originally developed by the Chinese, the technology is centuries old. People write about seeing old women in China propelling these big boats along the water in their harbors, standing at the back using their yulohs. Now I see a lot of talk about using them as a way to propel small cruising boats without help from an engine. I’ve seen them in discussions of engine-less sailing, but also in conversations with people who would just like to use their engine less, or learn a way to propel their boat that can get them to or away from the dock in case of engine failure. They look very efficient!

I came home and was so exhausted from the trip to Fisheries (fibromyalgia + hating driving) that I spent most of the evening reading about yulohs. This morning I was trying to convince C. that she needed one for Bearish, and she said she ought to read up on them, so I offered to make a list of what I’ve found useful so far:

That’s enough for now. I’m still collecting resources. I want to get some plans together, and see if I can convince my woodworking and sailor friend Dave to help me build one. Elska has oarlocks, but why use oars when I could use a more efficient and more fun yuloh? PROJECT!


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