A perfect Spring day, the sun held the promise of warmer days ahead, the breeze was out of the south which suggests that last week’s freezing nights are shortly to be history, and it was payday yesterday so I can afford to buy a few boat things.  As I arrived at the dock the parking lot seemed quite a bit fuller than I’ve been accustom to.  I’m guessing, but it could be the weather and nice weather always brings out the boat people.  I greeted Kittiwake with a, “Hey baby, gla...d to see you’re still afloat” and climbed aboard.  I removed the lazaret and engine keys from beneath the binocular box where I had placed four cup hooks just for that purpose.  We had the same set up for keys when we lived aboard Nightrainbow, our Oday 40, in California, so it made sense to me to do it again on Kittiwake.  Unlocking the lazaret I set the lock and key out of the way and inserted the other key into the starter switch.  Checking that the transmission was in neutral and the throttle was pushed all the way forward I gave the key a twist.  No joy after a few tries so I quickly hooked up the hairdryer again and after a few minutes heating the air intake the beast started right up.  I love it when a plan comes together.  After letting the engine idle awhile I shut it off and rigged up the Greybeard pump with the new hose I’d bought after last week’s fiasco and turned it on.  The old black oil began to flow into the milk jug right away and I was all smiles as I sat in the narrow passageway next to the engine room watching the jug slowly fill up close to the top.  I pulled the discharge hose out and it was bubbling air so I figured that I gotten all the dead dinosaur juice I was going to get so I switched off the pump wiping the oil off the hoses with a rag and only getting a little bit on me and the battery case top.  I put the pump in the sink to wash it up latter and went topside to open the lazaret and began the task of removing most of the odds and ends I store there so as to make space for me to climb down into it.  You see, the engine room is not a space where I can just walk into it like the name suggests.  It is a space just a tad bigger than the engine with a couple of feet clearance above and about a foot or so on each side which are filled with batteries and other odds and ends of a mechanical nature.  The engine room can be accessed from the starboard side (right side as you face the bow) by removing a couple of sliding doors in the passageway that connects the aft cabin with the solon and galley.  To get to the port side of the engine I have to lower myself down into the lazaret which is under the portside seat in the cockpit.  Now in the lazaret space I have three propane bottles in a special fiberglass box which vents overboard.  This box sits on top of the water heater that is situated in the forward part of the lazaret.  In the bottom of the space, near the port side of the engine sit the four “house” batteries in their box.  In the remaining space I store my wetsuit, diving gear, oars for the dingy, spare mooring lines, portable generator, buckets of spare anchor line and a small anchor.  In as much as the oil filter for the engine is on its port side, all that junk had to come out before I could get in to access the oil filter.  I got busy remove stuff and setting it in the cockpit until I had space to lower myself down.  Standing on the battery boxes with just my head and the tops of my shoulders sticking out I collected up the new filter and a filter wrench that came with the boat.  The filter wrench has a rubber strap that feeds back through the handle and looked to be adequate to do the job.  Squatting down I twisted a bit to kneel to reach the filter.  I now know how a baby feels just before birth; squeezed tight and no way to turn.  I slipped the rubber loop around the old filter and with a bit of effort and a few salty nautical phases to help the process along I got the wrench and me into position.  With a grunt I proceeded to apply what I thought was adequate pressure to loosen the filter.  I was wrong.  I tried again and was wrong again.  By now my long hair had come loose and was in my face so my vision was also impaired along with my patience.  Twisting a bit more and reaching back to move a boat hook that my foot had become entangle with I lay down on the battery boxes with my head resting on the engine and my legs drawn up into a fetal position and gave the wrench another pull.  Well, that did it; no the filter did not come loose but I did manage to dent the darn thing along one side.  Extracting myself from the lazaret required a liberal use of biker language lubricant and I went back below to dig out another oil filter wrench that I thought I had stashed in one of my tool boxes.  Sure enough I had one in the bottom of the large box that was at the bottom of all the other boxes and tool bags I keep in the workshop area.  Back down into the lazaret I go, wiggled into my favorite fetal position and removing the old wrench I fit the new wrench in place.  This one is made of metal and with long grunt I get the filter turning.  Removing the filter I placed it into a plastic grocery bag and put that into a second one just to be sure.  Taking up the new filter I got a drop of oil and rubbed it around the gasket and skewed it into place.  Kneeling down I used both hands to tighten it as best I could, trusting that hand tight was good enough.  Back out of the womb of doom I went back below to pour four quarts of heavy duty 1040 into the crankcase.  Went back up topside and turned on the engine for a minute, then shut it down.  Check the oil level with the dip stick and added another quart.  Sealed everything up on the engine, replaced the doors, put the stuff back in the lazaret, ran warm soapy water through the Graybeard pump to clean it out, wiped up the spilled oil drops, bagged up the empty oil bottles, put the milk jugs filled with oil into a bucket, stowed the keys in their place, did a quick check of the boat, shut off the electrical panel, locked the boat and off loaded everything to the dock beside the boat.  Then I remembered that I’d forgotten to shut the raw cooling water intake through hull valve so back aboard I went to fix that.  Holes in the bottom of boats are always a problem, even those that are supposed to be there, so the prudent sailor shuts all the valves before leaving his boat.  I was so excited with the success of the engine oil escapade that I forgot one of the basics for a moment.  Driving home I celebrated with a chocolate shake from Mickey D’s.

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