When I didn’t duck my head low enough this morning, the people-eating mangroves ripped off my hat and some hair, snagged my Jet Ski’s tow line and skidded me into the jail-like root system. Then the engine wouldn’t start. Gah gah gah gah. And I was WAY to far into the twisted passages for my husband to reach me by boat.

Gah gah gah gah. I was to get very familiar with this sound.

We have a maze of mangroves behind our house - a secluded and calm area with thoroughfares to the ocean wide enough for boat traffic, and meandering twisty passages that narrow to a few feet before opening invitingly into large hidden areas filled with jumping fish and mangrove-perching blue herons.

Yours truly after a successful mangrove zipping. Embodying my personal motto of "Don't tell me what I can't do."

“Bag fishing,” I thought, “I’m gonna poke around where those bad boys can’t reach.”

With wide eyes peering carefully for submerged obstructions, I found passages I’d never seen before. I scraped the bottom a few times, and wore long scratches down my arms from ducking under mangrove branches.

Since my Really Old Jet Ski has no reverse and it idles too fast for the twisty passages, I got used to killing the motor and floating, sometimes pushing off mangrove roots as I craned my neck to see around the next corner, hoping for another length of navigable waterway to explore.

“Cool,” I grinned. Like a hidden world only I’d seen. “Tonight I’m gonna make a map of all I can remember, and then head out tomorrow to fill in the gaps.”

So this morning I jumped on the Jet Ski with my cell phone in two Ziploc bags and my pencil and partially-completed map in another.

But the Jet Ski wouldn’t start.

Gah gah gah gah gah. Pull the choke. Gah gah gah gah gah. Push the choke. Gah gah gah gah gah.

Yes, the gas switch is ON. Gah gah gah gah gah.

After filling the tank, I tried the RESERVE gas line instead. Pull the choke. Gah gah gah gah gah.

Grrr.

So here we go again with debugging technology for fun and enjoyment. Grrrr. (And yes, you can ponder this one pretty well without being an engine guru.)

Day 1: The start of myriad, serially presenting and increasingly annoying symptoms

Let’s back up a couple days, because sweetheart, this ain’t been all sunshine and roses. Two days ago, the Jet Ski was completely dead. As a doornail. Like there was no battery even in the circuit. Hit the starter, nada.

  • The Jet Ski had not been used for a month but worked fine for a week ferrying 4 crazed water lovers all over the mangroves and up and down the coast. (What should be an unstated note: Not all at the same time.)
  • The Jet Ski had a nice overhaul 6 months ago.
  • We heard a “rumor” that during the previous week-of-water-frenzy, someone had tried to start the Jet Ski for perhaps too long without putting the gas switch to ON. Starving the system, burning out the starter?
  • We had no multimeter, so no idea the state of the battery.
  • We had no jumper cables.

1) Ohhh, hope there isn’t something draining the battery! Could be Bad. Rats. So off to the store for a battery charger and a set of jumper cables, which we should have had in the car in the first place. But back at the house, the charger said the battery was at 80%.

Huh?

So the battery appears fine. But we go ahead and let it trickle charge all night.

So what else could make a machine act stone dead?

2) Bad connections. Remember that whole salt-water-electronics-bad mystery? Corrosion is a prime suspect in marine-related electrical problems. So, when I was off doing something I can’t recall, my husband was downstairs mucking with the wiring. Turns out the kill switch on the handle was corroded. (The switch your life jacket is connected to with that spirally-red cord so the motor dies after you are flung bodily from the seat.)

After some scraping and a serious shot of WD-40, life was Good Again. (WD-40, as we all know, Rocks.)

Day 2: Off I went! (aka “Field Testing”)

And off I went! Zipping around the mangroves, exploring the nooks and crannies, wondering, “Can I fit in there and actually get back out again in this ancient Jet Ski that idles fast and has no reverse?” Screw it - when the turns get too tight, kill the engine and hand-over-hand using the overhanging branches. Coooool!

(Smack smack mosquitoes.)

Day 3: Mapping the Mangroves!

I was so excited with the map I constructed from memory - it expanded sheet after sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 lined notebook paper to cover the kitchen table. I ended up with 7 sheets filled with sureties and question marks. Hastily scrawled compass headings.

Short word from our sponsor (which still happens to be me). Mangroves are important parts of the ecosystem, providing food for fish and homes for birds throughout the south. Decaying leaves provide food for a variety of creatures, and the protective root systems provide safe nurseries for juvenile fish. They may stain the water a tea-color, but they are filled with life for those curious enough to look down.

This morning, I awoke excited to finish my coffee and take off for a full official (to me anyway) mapping!

So map and pencil in hand (eh, Ziploc), phone and scuba booties in case I had to pull a dead Jet Ski through sand bars in the mangroves. Or over dangerously sharp and shallow oyster beds. Last year, after sliding off the boat’s bow to take pictures in the mangroves, I found out the hard way that oyster shells are VERY SHARP.

I got “handicapped parking at work for 2 days” after that idiocy.

Below is the shot I got while chopping up my feet. A cute little baby mangrove! A soon-to-be fishie nursery! So was it worth it? <laughing> It sure completes the story, doesn’t it?

Little junior mangrove perched happily amid piles of sharp oysters beds. Said oyster shells found by yours truly the hard (barefooted) way.

So Girl Scout prepared, I’m OFF!

Hah. Never made it off the dock.

Gah gah gah gah gah. Fck.

Yet another stack of annoying symptoms

  • Jet Ski worked yesterday. I meandered around in tiny passages killing and restarting the engine without a care.
  • This morning it won’t start. Just gah gah gah gah. Didn’t even come CLOSE to turning over.
  • The starter itself is working. (You know, because we hear that gah gah gah gah thing.)
  • Every time I tried to turn over the engine, it sounded exactly the same. No difference in sound during each attempt, or between each attempt over time.

Hypotheses Numbers 1 through 14: aka, check for User Stupidity

Sigh. Okay. Regroup and think about the obvious.

1) Is there gas in the TANK?

Yes, I have gas. (Well, you know, in the Jet Ski.)

But to our (aka “the typical idiots’”) defense, there is no visible gas gauge anywhere useful. To see the gas levels, you have to 1) remove the seat, 2) fck around with this nearly IMPOSSIBLE latch to get into the engine compartment, and then 3) lift the entire lid (handles and all) to check the hand-drawn lines on the gas tank indicating FULL, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4. (Another excellent uses of black Sharpies. Clearly an after market addition.)

Rocking the back and forth to see the level of the sloshing liquid, I see I have about 1/2 a tank.

2) Did you miss a step in the “Start The Jet Ski” cycle?

I know. Idiots are able to start Jet Skis. Especially (it seems) drunken ones. ** rolls eyes** But ya gotta ask the question because we all are, at one time or another, idiots.

Admit it.

Anyway, I look around for any other user-serviceable or those-who-are-not-completely-clueless-serviceable buttons or switches. None. But I look twice, as my husband loves to mock and sweetly ridicule me for my occasional idiocy.

Nope. I am self-decidedly Not Clueless.

3) Didja flood the engine?

Definite possibility. So how do you un-flood a 2-cycle Jet Ski? I wonder, is there a way like we used to do with carburetor cars in the Olden Days - flooring it and trying to start the engine? Well, there’s a choke but I tried it in, midway, and out. Several times.

Gah gah gah gah.

But the other way to un-flood is to Go Away and Eat Breakfast. Or clean the litterbox. Which I did, choosing the breakfast option as more appealing than the Poopateria in my current state of intense annoyment.

Walk away and think about it

Over a bowl of cereal, I thought about what I’d tried. The starter was good. My husband had scraped corrosion off the kill switch yesterday and checked all the other electrical connections. Besides, I thought, this really seems more fuel related than electrical related.

Fuel. The starter worked fine but it acted like no gas was making it to the engine. Why? Because it never even tried to catch. Just a dry coughing gah gah gah gah gah.

I’m really thinking fuel but have no idea of too much or too little.

While I pondered (somewhat pissed I will admit) my husband returned from the gym and stated, “If I go down there and it starts right up, I will beat you.” Of course, said with love. Oh please (rolls eyes).

If that thing frigging starts right up I will kill myself. (”Yeah lady, I’m SURE you hear that noise all the time.”)

So my husband has a go at it.

Gah gah gah gah gah.

Gah gah gah gah gah.

Gah gah gah gah gah.

(Insert mixed relief but overall annoyance here.)

Debugging Tip #45: Swallow your pride and find a guru

My husband knows engines and electro-mechanical systems inside and out. For every clue I have, he has 37. I decide, I’m not burning out this engine because I now tread into guru-land-of-which-I-am-not.

He proposes a vapor lock - the way the Jet Ski sits tied to the dock, fuel can flow backwards into the tank. So let’s prime the engine - put a little gas right into the carburetor via the air filter. By sucking fuel out of the tank with a 3 foot clear hose.

Vroom! Vroom! Starts up and then dies. Repeat. Repeat. It finally warms up to a rough idle and he mucks with both the idle speed and the mixture to stabilize the idle. To keep it running, he increased the idle speed and made the mix a little richer - we definitely needed more fuel. After that - looks like the World is Saved! Sure, I’ll burn through gas faster, but WTF.

Priming the engine works - so it WAS a fuel-starved problem.

(Over the course of this mystery, I got really good at this Priming The Engine By Sucking Gas Out Of The Tank method. I just want a little credit for that.)

Lesson to Remember - I had a clue based on my knowledge and experience (with a temperamental Plymouth Horizon carburetor-from-hell in college …) Don’t be embarrassed. Share your info with the guru and let him/her build on it. Even if your conclusions are wrong, you are providing concrete symptoms and ideas to spark their own debugging engines.

And of course, you MAY be mocked for providing what may end up to be irrelevant information. But my skin has been thickened by the surety that all my suggestions (completely useless or otherwise) are LOGICAL.

Rejoining The Story In Progress - Mapping the Mangroves!

Ok, the engineer in me decided yes, I’mgoing to do my own private little nature survey and map the meandering waterways armed with (soon-to-be) wet paper, pencil gripped in teeth while screaming through the waterways, and a tiny compass mounted on my required whistle (You can have a cell phone, a flare and an air horn. But without that little plastic whistle attached to your life vest, you risk a $75 fine).

(Several times, I floated engine off and drifting in circles as I took compass readings, pencil gripped in my teeth with a bright red cast on my right hand. My husband and I laughed that the couple boats who paused to check me out probably thought I was some oceanic tree-hugging researcher checking the waterways for some Important Survey. Nope (laughing), just a nutty engineer bent on figuring out the mangroves while her husband just kept telling her, JUST LOOK IT UP ON GOOGLE EARTH!)

Heron searching for food in the mangroves

So I’m in that twisty passage that started this story, and I turn off the Jet Ski to retrieve my hat and tow line, and evaluate if the tiny waterway is too shallow to navigate. It takes me a bit to gather my lost items and restart the motor.

Gah gah gah gah.

Shit!

But oh yeah, on my way out the door, my husband told me he accidentally left the gas switch on RESERVE. So (chuckle) I just found out how long “reserve” means. I switch to ON and the engine restarts. I wander around, cautious of my gas levels. Not wanting to balance on one foot for the “seat off-engine cover off while rocking” ritual. After a while of fun, I return to the dock without issue.

(Is his idiocy in forgetting to switch the tank from RESERVE greater than my idiocy of forgetting he told me that until I ran out of gas? Wizards ponder.)

The Often Overlooked Step: Evaluating the Solution

I’ve written on this before - you propose a fix, test it, and walk away without evaluating the results of your test. I am pleased to say that THIS TIME I remembered to do this, and it turned out to be vital.

Now out in the wild, I’d “fixed” my Won’t Restart problem by switching the gas from RESERVE (oops) to ON.

On the side of the seat there is a gas switch: ON, OFF, and RESERVE. Gas makes it to the engine when the switch is set to ON or RESERVE. Perhaps self-explanatorily, OFF is well, OFF. (This COULD cause the gah gah gah gah, but we checked that first being that we are Smarter Than The Average Bear.)

And the RESERVE switch being a very smart feature that saves about 1 gallon of gas to get you home after you stupidly run the thing screaming (both you and the engine itself) through the mangroves and the ocean, while completely forgetting to monitor your fuel levels (via that convenient stop-remove seat-raise engine cover-check sharpie markings method).

Now, my husband said there was only one gas tank, but if I’d run out of gas on RESERVE and the engine only restarted on ON, it seems there are really two tanks, or two compartments in the same tank. I am confused, and on my return Must Resolve Issue.

Soaring Heron

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, I pondered the ON and RESERVE settings on the gas tank. I’d left it on RESERVE and ran out of gas after about 15 minutes.

Proposed Test: If it DIDN’T start on the RESERVE setting and DID start on the ON setting, I would have reproduced the problem I found in the wild. Two tanks, as I suspected.

  • So I restarted the engine on RESERVE and it STARTED RIGHT UP! WTF?
  • Tried again on RESERVE. Starts right up!
  • Then I switched it to ON - gah gah gah gah.
  • Switch back to RESERVE - gah gah gah gah.
  • Now ANY setting gah gah gah gah gah.

Noooooooo! Why is NOTHING reproducible except eventual decay into terminal gah gah gah gah gah -land????

<my head hurts>

So, how many tanks???? We looked at the tank and it has two feeds sticking straight down in the one tank - the RESERVE feed line is about 1 inch longer than the ON feed line. So, when the engine dies on ON, switching to RESERVE gets you another gallon-ish of gas.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE RESERVE TANK WAS COINCIDENCE!

(See why you need to validate stuff?)

Alternate conclusion - something is still wrong with the Jet Ski. Rats. RATS.

Back to the Hypothesis Drawing Board

You don’t have to be a mechanic to keep thinking about this one. Think engine. What has to be there?

1) Fuel: Gas -> carburetor -> engine -> gas + air = kaboom and thrust out the exhaust

2) Electrical: Starter switch (ignition) -> starter motor (the gah gah gah gah thingie) -> spark plugs -> kaboom

3) Cooling: Water intake from outside -> water flow through engine cools engine -> water out exhaust

Think think think. Not enough fuel is a known problem. What else?

Electrical: The starter is good, but what about the spark plugs? We need to turn GAS into KABOOM. If we get no spark, engine fails REGARDLESS of how much gas is present. And in the course of repeatedly priming the engine, my husband suspected we flooded it. The easiest way to check for flooding is to look at the spark plugs.

  • The spark plugs are wear items and were NOT replaced during the last overhaul.
  • The spark plugs are saturated in gas.

Engine is flooded. Plugs need to be replaced but don’t look horrible. Wait a while for gas to evaporate. (Or do that “press the starter a second-at-a-time to vaporize the gas out the cylinders, while hoping for no explosion with the engine compartment open.” He did it, not me. No way Jose.)

Cooling: Engine won’t start. Engine not hot. Doesn’t seem related.

That’s basically it. So we think the problem is in the fuel area - fuel not getting to the carburetor/engine.

Hypothesis: Gas not getting to the engine - blockage?

Is gas getting OUT of the tank and TO anywhere useful (like, the engine)? Could it be blocked fuel lines?

  • We remembered that the problem occurs when starting the engine, and when allowing it to idle. Once the engine is warmed up and I am zipping around, everything seems fine.

You can disconnect all the fuel lines and blow them out either with your mouth (yes, and have a beer close by to erase the taste of gas) or with a bicycle pump or something. We proposed that the problem was downstream from the RESERVE and ON lines because the engine fails on either line.

So my husband suspected the fuel filter, the next item in the short road to the engine. He disconnected the incoming line from the gas tank and tried to start the motor - and as we hoped, gas spurted out the line. No block before the filter.

He reconnected the line to the filter and disconnected the other side where it goes to the carburetor and tried to start the engine. At first, no gas. Hmmm…was the fuel filter clogged? Could be!

To check if the clog is in the filter, we bypassed the filter and connected the gas tank directly to the carburetor and tried to start the engine. Gah gah gah gah. Nothing. But the line out of the fuel filter seemed clogged, so he checked it again.

He blew harder. And suddenly a fountain of gas spewed in my face and down my swimsuit. Gak.

So it’s NOT the fuel filter.

Pass the beer, please.

ANYWAY, we narrowed the problem to the carburetor itself. It was the only thing not rebuilt 6 months ago and it has wear items, So attention then turned to the carburetor itself. It might not be getting enough gas, or may be getting too much air.

My husband suggested taking the carburetor apart. But (sigh) it was getting dark. Time to think about this idea before doing it.

Taking the plunge on less “quickie” solutions

The next morning, my husband took the carburetor apart. This was one of those “let the guru do his thing” situations. I watched and learned, and he showed me the fuel flow diaphragm. Below is one similar to ours. One edge was very rough and probably leaking at low speeds (low fuel flows). We had problems starting the engine, but when it was warmed up and buzzing, it ran fine. Made sense.

Two-cycle carburetor flow diaphragm

So, he cleaned it all out and put it back together with the rough edge on the smoothest edge of the fitting. I stood on the dock with fingers crossed, a silent prayer to the Great Jet Ski Gods.

We primed the engine (getting good at this) - it worked and caught! A couple times in a row! Yeah! Grab phone and map!

But he cautioned me - treating the damaged flow diaphragm with kid gloves is a short-term fix. The carburetor needs to be rebuilt. I know, I told him. Just let it last a few more days (fingers crossed)!

So off I went! Mapping like mad! Wet paper plastered to the handles of the Jet Ski, I zipped around hidden areas guaranteed to confuse the hell of the casual explorer!

With my updated map, I was able to add many compass headings, adjust shorelines, and add some shallow areas to avoid at low tide. And a few to avoid at HIGH tide!

And the next morning, (and everybody just sing along with me now …)

Gah gah gah gah.

Auauaugh! Oh please, just shoot me now!

Take 37. What now?!?

Magical Substance

It truly seems like a Real Live Virus is crawling though the system, one step ahead of us. Sure, it’s a fuel thing. But why can’t it just ADMIT that it’ll have to yield eventually and that I WILL get out on the water, and that it should just give up its temperamental behavior?

But noooooo. Each morning I am hindered or thwarted. We prime the carburetor and it works sometimes, but Oh So Quickly Floods.

So my husband goes to the store for a totally magical substance called “Engine Starting Fluid.”

3 second spray - sucker started right up!

Ohhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhh.

Let us pause in honor of the Chemical Gods who created this truly awesome substance. (Ok, it’s basically just ether with some engine lubricant, but let’s not cheapen the moment.)

“Oh please please please can I zip around the mangroves if I take the gas priming hose and the Magic Engine Starting Fluid????”

At this point, we concluded that there was a blockage somewhere (fuel or air) and that a carburetor rebuild was in order, but that I was free to blast around provided that I 1) take the hose to suck fuel out of the tank to prime the carburetor if needed, and 2) take the Magical Engine Starting Fluid too.

So, (TAKE 13) OFF I GO!!!!!

Field Testing Take 13

Oh I love field testing this particular bug! (You know what’s coming, right? And this time it DOESN’T involve Gah gah gah gah.)

But let’s not spoil my joy in mapping the entire mangrove area below, with sandbars, BEFORE checking my work on Google Maps!

Arial view of mangroves by our house. I've mapped these mangroves and know them completely. It's amazing fun to blast around areas that used to leave my head spinning!

On this final day, I head out at near dead low tide. Hoping to get compass readings on a few particularly troublesome areas that have my brain (and my map) rotated almost 90 degrees.

And to record the low tide sand bars, which show up in this arial view as tan slicks.

I wander a bit and get stuck unexpectedly on an oyster shoal. A biiiig one. Cut the engine, CAREFULLY get off jet Ski (sharp sharp sharp) and tread carefully about 5 feet off the uneven and crumbing razer sharp shoal and haul the Jet Ski away from it. And then restart the engine (no problems here) after marking BIG SHALLOW OYSTER AREA on my map.

Then I head up to an unexplored (to me) area and hit an unexpected sand bar. Again, I reflexively cut the engine. But momentum floats me off the sand bar and I don’t have to desembarque. I restart the engine (no problems again) and head back through a No Wake zone, which happens to be above the houses on the lower right in the map above.

But (cue scary music here), when I reach the end of the No Wake zone and try to gun the engine, I get Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing.

Huh?????

YET AGAIN, brandy-new symptoms thwart all attempts to find-fix-test this(ese) bug(s) and Move Along!

  • Now my smooth idle has decomposed into a horribly rough gargle. Hitting the throttle rewards me with a loud and scary noise with NO increase in speed. Not REMOTELY getting on plane.

Now I am worried. If the engine stalls, will it restart? Can I limp it home?

This is a Whole New Symptom

Since I’m not too far, I chugga-grinda-cough-cough back to the dock, trying to determine if the exhaust smells different (burning) while calling my husband to meet me on the dock to hear the disastrous sounds now being emitted by the Very Industrious Gremlin in this machine.

He hears it, I gun it, it goes nowhere, and I cut the engine.

And then DAMMIT! I try restarting it and it fires up and RUNS FINE!

SHOOT ME NOW!!!!

(My saving grace was that he heard it fail Big Time before it Magically Started Working Again In Front Of The Predictably Skeptical Mechanic.)

  • Open the engine compartment. THIS time, the engine is too hot. Really Really Hot.

Clearly this frustrating multi-day scenario follows the symptom-hypothesis-test-field test cycle. Ad infinitum. So, field testing this latest “fix” ends with the most catastrophic outcome so far.

New Hypothesis with New Symptoms - Open your mind to previous mistakes

Summary to date: Everything we’ve done so far has been LOGICAL! (But I’m still cooling my heels on the dock.)

Lack of fuel is confirmed by a zillion engine primings that work. Using the Engine Starting Fluid shows us that fluid flow is a problem. The carburetor is an obvious culprit and will be rebuilt - the flow diaphragm explains most of the problems.

Testing has proved our logic was initially correct, but things keep going wrong. And now, an overheating engine adds a new wrinkle that doesn’t fall into place with our previous assumption.

So how do we deal with this new symptom?

Here’s the crux -

Are these all sequential new problems, or just increasing visibility to original problem?

Despite the hot engine, my husband retries our previous methods to establish if the gah gah gah occurs until we prime the engine. Yup. Then the engine starts and remains running with the throttle well above idle - and idle is not the smooth happy rumble was had before.

So, the three plus two new symptoms seem unrelated:

  • Engine very hot
  • Idle very rough
  • Throttle revs engine but produces no increase in speed
  • *I* think the exhaust smells a little funny coming in
  • My husband thinks there is too much blue smoke (a fair amount is normal)

Ok, NEW HYPOTHESIS NEEDED! (Along with the garden hose to cool off the engine.)

Since the new symptoms seem very unrelated to the previous progression of symptoms, we decide that we have a new, possibly unrelated, problem. We need to look for new issues.

1) What causes a hot engine? Remember back to the three systems in the Jet Ski - fuel, electrical, cooling. This is clearly a cooling issue.

You don’t need to be an expert - look inside and trace the hoses that carry water. Start with where the water comes IN, flows through the engine, and then back out again. If water is not flowing through the engine block, it WILL get hot.

2) Therefore, we propose that the water flow is blocked. Could be intake clog, clog into engine, out take clog. My husband gives me the Evil Eye - I’ve run over sand bars and oyster shoals - clearly scenarios to suck up Deadly Clog Inducing Substances Destined to Clog Engines.

Inwardly, I cringe.

If I have caused this by mapping in shallow areas, I will be held to ridicule and disdain for seasons to come.

I pray to the Jet Ski Gods.

Regardless, the Jet Ski has to come out of the water so we can check the waterworks (or in this case, the NOT water works). RATS!!!

(I know, this is getting old. And frustrating. Think about what WE are going through - I am desperate to zip around on my conquest and my husband is desperate to get this damn thing fixed so he can enjoy a beer on the lanai!)

Current State of the State and Unsatisfying Conclusions

With the Jet Ski out of the water, my husband and I flush all the lines. After some adjustments in the garden hose water pressure, we find that water flows through everywhere. So either the clog was little or the problem is something else.

(Whew - if the little dogging down I did in the oyster shoals and the sand was enough to clog this thing up, I’ve gotta be majorly careful! I’m very glad this is NOT the case.)

At this point, my husband proposes that the water pump may be bad. Makes sense to me. We’ve flushed the system twice for a total combined time of nearly 18 hours. (Approximately 9 of which were unintended. Somewhat perhaps a result of the “need beer to flush taste of gas from mouth” thingie.)

We see flow through all the lines from start to finish using a garden hose. When the JET SKI has to move the water itself, the problem returns.

Summary and Next Steps

This mystery is not solved. But it appears to have two causes and a new concern:

  • Inappropriate fuel flow
  • Reduced cooling water flow through the engine
  • The cooling issue appeared to start well after the fuel issue - related?

We propose that the next step be to rebuild the carburetor (to fix the fuel flow problem) and to check the water pump (to address the engine overheating problem). And then TRY AGAIN.

Takeaways

Sometimes we can’t solve problems conclusively. But what we CAN do is document the hell out of them - symptoms, hypotheses, sequence of events, and proposed next steps. I have several notebook pages following our trials and tribulations. Also including other hypotheses we checked along the way.

Documenting, thinking, testing, and recording the results gives the next team a MUCH better chance of finding and fixing the problem(s).

I may not be part of the next team, but I strongly hope for their success so I can get back to mapping the rest of my mangroves as soon as possible!!!

≈ ♦ ≈

See the comprehensive list of All the “Let’s Debug It” Mysteries

Let’s Debug It: A Rabid War between Technology and Nature (Jet Skis vs Mangroves)

Let’s Debug It: My Internet Security Software HATES me, TOLERATES me, REVILES me. Evil BitDefender

Let’s Debug It: Alaskan Scuba Stuff and iPods Don’t Exercise

Let’s Debug It: A Cat’s Plea to Microsoft - “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Let’s Debug It: “No Ma’am (Idiot), You’re Calling from Line 2″

Let’s Debug It: Keyboards and Endothermic Mammals

Let’s Debug It: Hacksaws are Your Friend

Let’s Debug It: My Computer Plays “I’m Ignoring You Now”