Thanks to our sailing Dad, Captain Dave, checking our oil before heading out on a hefty motor sail is a routine practice that we have chosen to make a healthy habit. But sometimes oil gets on paws and causes some trouble on board a sailboat. Here’s what happened:
Engines need oil
Oil is a MUST with an engine. When an engine is running, many metal parts are rubbing against each other, which causes friction. Friction generates heat. So what can reduce this heat-inducing friction? Oil, of course! Oil is a lubricant and makes the metal parts of an engine slippery, so that there is less rubbing and thus less heat. To avoid the potential hazards of an over-heated engine, which would lead to an engine that stops working and will probably need to be replaced: we’ve been checking the oil levels regularly on Gem&I per our sailing Dad’s instructions.
Checking the oil level on a sailboat engine is similar to checking the oil in a car. Verifying whether the dip stick is coated in oil up to its measure line is a simple but necessary chore. This is a job that I have been orienting myself to so that I can make it second nature and slowly become more proficient with our engine and its needs.
Quarts of oil leak in the sun’s heat
Surprise! We keep three extra quarts of oil in our stern locker to fill our engine when the levels are low. But here’s the thing: when it’s hot, the plastic quarts leak oil. The heat of the sun causes a type of osmosis through the plastic quarts, and yeah, it’s a mess. That means our stern locker has oil puddles in the bottom of it. Perhaps we should keep these leaking oil quarts in a bucket to maintain the oil mess?
Curious cat in the stern locker
Our stern locker also houses our CNG tank of natural gas that we use to heat the stove and oven on board in the galley. Whenever we want to turn it on or off, we have to open the stern locker. And guess what’s down there? Oil.
We happen to have this curious little feline friend on board named Booh-bah. He likes to investigate any open drawer, cabin, locker, etc. So today when I went to turn our CNG tank off, guess what? He jumped inside to sniff around. What do you think his paws were soaked in once he jumped in the locker? That’s right: oil. Before I could grab him, oily paws went traipsing all over the cockpit and the deck leaving behind the black paw prints, proof of his oil romping! We have yet to rid the cockpit of the evidence.