One of the Profs at the local college bought an old fish boat and it "needed" TLC. He called me and another poet/carpenter. We took our tools and crossed the "Pond" to West Vancouver.
M.V. "Wren" sat in the yard of another poet/prof on a trailer. Not the prettiest vessel. The crew got busy with antifouling paint and I messed around with the propulsion system. The engine was a 7/14 Easthope: one lung and magneto ignition. There was a small cup to pour gas into the single cylinder and a short bar to throw the flywheel to start the characteristic "Pop pause Pop" of the Easthope. Once I had checked this engine out I figured our best bet was the 9.9 Mercury outboard so I spent most of the couple of days there building an outboard motor mount off the canoe stern of the vessel.
At some point I was welding something on the rudder and noticed the smell of burning hair. Once I got out of the big clunky welding mask I found that my shoulder length hair was aflame.
Mike and I went back home to the Island and the Wren was launched and checked out. We got a call to come back to bring the boat over to the Island - 35 kilometers, I think, over the Salish Sea (called Strait of Georgia back then).
We bundled aboard with the essential supply: Big spray can of ether (Starter Fluid) and about a dozen beer each for the crew.
We left Horseshoe Bay with flying colours - the old Easthope flumping away while the Merc hummed. Pretty soon the Easthope coughed out so I went forward to give it some ether and gasoline and throw the flywheel and we picked up some speed again. This became the pattern of the voyage: Three guys sipping beer in the stern well and one guy at the helm till the Easthope coughs then I go back in and snort some ether with the old engine and it would, most often, make the friendly gesture of firing for a while.
We were approaching our harbour destination when the wind started to pick up and the waves followed. The Easthope still needed regular shots of ether but it became clear that my weight moved forward lifted the little Merc's prop out of the water and we were in danger of loosing both motors. I gave up the intimacy with the old engine and went back to being ballast. Wren made it to the Fisherman's Wharf and the good news was there was a Pub close so we could call for a ride and top up the fluid levels.
I noticed the smell of ether but guessed it was because I had been sharing my stash with the Easthope. Finally one of the crew looked down and my day pack he had been resting his foot on was noticeably wet with starter fluid.