ONE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES I MADE in preparing for this trip was neglecting to ask my outboard motor dealer if I would be able to get service on my way north for the new Tohatsu 50s I was considering buying.
Outboards require service every 100 hours, and I figured the trip would put at least 300 hours on the engines. I foolishly assumed that, because I had told the dealer I was buying the motors for a trip to Alaska, I would be able to get them serviced along the way.
Oops. It wasn’t until after I’d purchase the Tohatsus that I started trying to line up service appointments for the trip. I learned there are no Tohatsu dealers north of Nanaimo, on lower Vancouver Island.
Fortunately I was able to talk Ken Perry, owner of Timber & Marine Supply, into servicing the engines when I arrived in Ketchikan. But he gave me unceasing (but good-natured) grief about it every time I saw him. Ken asked for my dealer’s email address—for the purpose, I thought, of inquiring about Tohatsu parts.
Not exactly. Here’s what Ken wrote to my dealer:
“FYI for your future customers, why did you sell your customer (Andy Ryan) a pair of Tohatsu motors for his C Dory, knowing that he was going to travel through the inside passage of Alaska? There isn’t a single Tohatsu service center or dealer in any of Southeast Alaska. I also understand that you are a Honda Marine Dealer.
“There are multiple Honda Marine dealers in Canada and multiple Honda Marine dealers in S E Alaska. You can get a Honda outboard serviced in almost any town and no one will touch a Tohatsu Outboard. I’m just trying to save your future customers from heart ache and disapointment.
“Thank You Ken”
Ken’s shop did great work on my engines on my way north, and I stopped at his shop again on my way back south. After subjecting me to some mild ridicule, he serviced the engines—and said the Tohatsus and I would be welcomed back if I ever venture north again.
But Ken’s larger point is well taken: if the Tohatsus break down between here and Nanaimo, I may need a long, long tow home.