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I'm writing a novel and got some help with tornado (inland lake) issues on another thread from several forum members. Caveat: I am not a sailor (or boater of any type), so if any of this seems ridiculously obvious, apologies.

My characters have survived a tornado, but the storm caused the anchor to drag and now their boat (Grampian 26 helpfully suggested by another member) is dangerously close to a dam spillway zone.

The hero is attempting to start the outboard motor. (I got all of this via online sites -- so it may not be realistic for all I know).

The sequence of what he's done so far is: Hero gives pull cord several hard tugs; Heroine adds her weight to the mix and pulls with him; Hero checks fuel line; Hero pulls out the choke a bit; Hero tries pull cord again; Hero adjusts choke. At this point, I'd like to stretchhhhh out the tension just a bit longer. Any suggestions for other things that could be tried or things that could go wrong before the engine starts up at the last possible moment, narrowly averting their boat getting swept into the dam? Also, at what point would the Hero think it was safest to abandon the boat and try to swim to shore (or WOULD he ever think that)?

Many thanks for any help and suggestions!
Well, if you want some time-consuming tension, you could have his fuel line break, and he has to use duct tape to make a fix as he's approaching the dam:




I wasn't approaching a dam when this happened, but tidal currents were washing me onto mud flats where I was about to run aground.
 
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What are some reasons why the fuel line might break?
In my case, the breakage of the fuel line was caused by age and UV exposure, combined with the tight confines that caused a sharp bend in the line every time I turned the outboard. It finally just gave way. FWIW, I replaced it with a line that had reinforcing fibers inside.

Hydrolock and other issues like that are very technical things that might be difficult to explain to an average reader. But I think most people can relate to a torn rubber fuel line, and to using duct tape to repair it.
 
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