Re: I love to learn the hard way!!!
Lesson #1 — Start the outboard on the dinghy before you untie the line.
The wind started to carry me out of the bay while I was fiddling with the choke and fuel cap and the transmission. By the time I gave up on the motor and looked at my surroundings I had drifted quite a ways out and was nearly into the chop.
Lesson #2 — Inspect backup systems before the primary system fails, even on a dinghy.
Having given up on the outboard I decided to row in to shore, only to find that one of the oarlocks was broken.
I ended up doing sort of a crab-walk row back to shore, against the wind. One good stroke from the oar with the lock, then two or three half-assed strokes from the oar without a lock.
Apparently the whole bay was quite amused by my progress, or lack thereof. My wife got on the radio and asked for assistance and was met with replies like "Does he have bribe liquor on him?" and "Don't rescue him too fast, we have money on this."
Of course the problem was that the outboard was flooded, so by the time I was done struggling back to shore it was fine. A friend waded out to meet me, hopped in, and started it with one pull. He gave me a look like "So what's the deal?"