Marine Mafia


Sally and I got out the old 1975 Mercury Thunderbolt yesterday.  It’s my ‘back-up’ outboard motor.  I bought it second (or more) hand a few years ago ‘just in case’.  Time to make sure it can still ‘back me up’ should the need arise. 

Am I really this well-prepared as a rule?  No.  Of course not.  But I am pretty sure I am gonna need it.  A guy just knows these things.

I now have a reputedly well-functioning Honda 50 coming back from the repair shop – a place I try to avoid like the plague.  I like the products they represent but I just hate the marine dealers and their so-called service centres.  Service just doesn’t really say it, ya know?

‘Course, I hate thinking about the words ‘Health Care’ or the ‘Justice System’ or the ‘Educational System’ for the same reasons: The labels lie and I am expected to believe otherwise.  I prefer my hypocrisy delivered more subtly, ya know?

The way I see it: I have a duty to mitigate my damages when something negative happens. ‘Just don’t make matters worse, Dave’.  So I can only do so much.  I am limited by my ignorance.  But going to a marine dealer is like taking a problem to the mafia.  You just know that things will somehow get worse rather than better.  And it is gonna cost a lot.

I may be biased about marine dealers.  In fact, I am.  But at least – this time – the motor is fixed.  They say.  I hope.  Maybe.  Hard to know.  The word ‘marine’ has some kind of dark magic attached to it.  It’s a curse.

You can buy a length of hose at Home Depot for ten bucks.  But, if the very same thing has the word ‘marine’ written on it, it is in the store down the street and they double the price.  And the likelihood of it working is less than for a usual product.  It’s a crap-shoot.  It’s the marine way of things.

The sponsored, ‘authorized marine dealers’ who can sell new machines and parts?  They are the worst.  These guys are ‘made-men’ in the marine world.  They have made their bones.  The Corleones.  The Sopranos.

And it wasn’t going to be any different this time:

“Oh yeah, Mr. Cox.  Guido pulled the hood off and had a look ($100) and then pulled the (three) plugs.  They were fine but a bit old so he ‘put them to sleep’ and had to put in new plugs ($100).  Then he visually inspected the carbs ($100) but needed ‘Big Al’ and ‘the Rat’ to lend a little influence, ya know? 

” After they had lunch down at the Bada Bing, he looked at them again and decided to ‘pull ém’.  Big Tony OK’d it.  That’s a BIG job ($100) and he then left them overnight in the ‘cleaning solution’ ($100).  Hahaha.  NO one wants to be left in the cleaning solution, yaknowaddiamsayin’ here? 

” Next morning, he blew them dry and replaced them using new gaskets (No, we had them in stock.  What a surprise, eh?  Usually takes three weeks to get that stuff in!  We’re all still shaking our heads over that!  Must be the new kid.).  And that seemed to do it! ($100).  So, all fixed!  With taxes, that’ll be $700″.

And, with the submission of the bill, the clerk’s face turned hard and he put his hand inside his jacket like he was packin’ heat.  I responded by emptying my wallet and all my pockets. 

“So, is there an extra charge for putting the outboard in the back of the truck?  Is there an automatic gratuity charged or should I just add a tip? Are yours or Guido’s kids pursuing another degree after the one I just paid for?  Or are they practising law or medicine already? 

“And, by the way, do you have a good local source of caviar?  We just can’t seem to find any of the good stuff?”

“Huh?  Unh…….I don’t think Guido eats caviar, Mr. Cox.  You want I should ask him?”

A new Yamaha 70 will set you back (with taxes and crap) about $10,000!  You can buy a new, dinko KIA sedan for that!  The Kia has seats, a roof, a radio and everything – including a bigger motor, more complicated transmission and brakes!  You won’t find any of that ‘extra stuff’ on an outboard.  The Syndicate controls the drug trade, murder-for-hire, gambling, extortion and outboard motors.

Back to the crime scene they call a shop:  Guido could have been working hard watching the cleaning solution or analyzing complicated data from his diagnostic machines.  Maybe he, Big Al and the Rat were deep in discussions over my Honda challenge.  I dunno.  That’s where they have you at the disadvantage.  Ya jus’ don’t know.

Maybe he just put the hood back on and ‘called it a day’.  That happens, too.  So there is a real possibility of getting the 200+ pound unit back home, putting it on the boat and ten minutes later, it does the same thing as it did before.  Doesn’t run right.  Trust me – that has happened before!

“Geez, Mr. Cox, sorry about that.  Just bring her back in.  No trouble.  We’ll have another look.  Guess it was more than just the carbs, eh?”

“Oh, OK.  I know where you live cause I was just there  Do you know where I live?  Perhaps Guido would like to come pick it up?  No, on second thought – forget I said that.  Jus’ kiddin’, eh?  OK?  I’ll bring it in.  What was I thinking?  When’s convenient for you?”

“Oh, anytime is OK, Mr. Cox.  We always enjoy our little get-togethers.  But Guido is just swamped, ya know?   And we’ll just have to run the diagnostics again.  No idea how long this will all take.  Hahahaha.  Don’t forget: bring money!”

So, I am slowly getting my head around outboard mechanics.  Have to.  It is simply the way of the remote world.   I need my backups.  Independence in all things.   Kinda.

Anyway, a guy should be able to fix his outboard.  Women, too.  Not many folks out here can do that but we all believe we should be able to.  It is one of the darker secrets in remote communities – we depend on outboard motors and most people have no idea how to fix one when it goes wonky.  And every outboard goes wonky.  Fact of life.

So, to that end, we added a section in the wood-working shop for outboard and small engine repairs.  The ‘Mechanical section’.  MECSEC in ‘merican military parlance. ‘Course, we will also need a MecSecCom (mechanic) but that can wait.

And I am not telling Guido.  I mean………like……who needs a turf war, eh?

I hope we get independent on this.  Marine dealers, eh?…………….can’t live with ’em, trying like hell to live without ’em.

2 thoughts on “Marine Mafia

  1. I keep telling ya, ya need to have a sailboat, JD.
    One of these days the money is going to be no good, and there will be little incentive to getting good ol petrol out to the distributors. Guido and his minions will be out of business. Doing the outboards your self is a good start, but ultimately it’ll be oars and wind……(I’ll be on a bicycle, too, and THAT won’t be pretty…)


  2. I agree. It is a matter of expedience and priority. Right now I have tasks that need power. But the intention is to find a long rowing boat. I found a 22′ beauty but snoozed. And lost. But that is on the list. Tip: buy inner tubes in bulk for that bicycle.


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