Once upon a time, blending cornbased ethanol into gasoline seemed like such a good idea. It would get rid of the dangerous additive, MTBE, it would help clear the air we breathe, it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it would help the corn farmers of the heartland, and it would keep American dollars at home. That turned out to be far from true. Around the middle of this decade, reports started coming in from boat owners, first in the Northeast, then from elsewhere around the country, of devastating damage to gasoline engines, inboards and outboards alike, caused by a mysterious black goo that jammed valves and pushrods. The problem didn't occur in automobiles, and not even in all boats. Oddly, it seemed the most frequent victims were owners of older gasoline-powered yachts, built prior to 1991, from first-quality builders such as Hatteras and Bertram, though there were others as well.