Monday, 18 June 2012

Chasca's teething troubles.

Breakwater and fishing boat near the harbour o...
Breakwater and fishing boat near the harbour of Boscastle, Cornwall, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sorry for the delay in updating the post but not only have I had troubles with Chasca, I also have had troubles with the internet line, so after the BT man left today I took Chasca to sea again to see if her troubles were coming to an end.

First of all I had better tell you about the near disaster we had the last trip I went on.
As you know I have been having trouble with the main engine, the carburetor has been the latest cause of the engine cutting out and spluttering its way through the day but it always managed to get me back to the harbour, and each time I returned I learned something else about the troublesome engine and attempted to fix the latest problem.
I never thought I was in any danger as I had a backup engine, a three HP Johnston which is big enough to get me home should the big engine fail......................well, you know what thought did, as the saying goes.
"Planted a feather and thought it would grow a chicken."

It was a lovely sunny day with a slight swell on the sea so I left the harbour and headed south to Turnberry lighthouse, around the area where some mackerel had been caught the week before, but on the way down the engine jumped out of gear. This was a new problem, but not giving much heed to it I slowed the engine down and engaged forward gear again and soon I was speeding south, back on track.
It happened again, so this time when I engaged the gear I held the lever in to prevent it jumping out for a third time.
Ten minuets later I was on the ground where I hoped to catch my supper but as soon as I threw the engine out of gear the engine started spluttering and coughing again.
Determined to catch some fish before I returned to the harbour I dropped my line over the side, where at this point I would stop the engine, but before I could do so it stopped all on its own.
NOT AGAIN, I thought, but held the rod expecting my supper to come along at any time.
Nothing doing, so I started up the engine again "no problem" and steamed off a bit to try my luck there.
The gear jumped out again, and the engine spluttered annoyingly, so to be on the safe side I held the gear lever in forward and limped closer to the harbour, in case it packed in completely.
Lucky for me that I did, because as I approached the place just off the Maidens where I intended to fish, when I went to throw her out of gear the cable had jammed solid and although I was still going ahead the only way I could stop was by stopping the engine, not very handy when you are approaching the berth to moor up.

I was the only boat at sea in the area at the time but I knew some others were due out, so I stopped the big engine and lifted it clear of the water, the went to start the small engine.
I opened the vent on the tank, pulled the choke out and pulled the cord. Nothing, I kept trying, nothing.
This I could not understand as I had run the engine before I left the harbour to check it was OK and it was then, so why the problem now?
Was someone telling me to give up, that I had, had enough of the sea when I was working?

As I looked over the side of the boat I could see I was drifting towards the rocks, then with one last pull the engine spluttered into life.
I headed off a piece to get me a safer distance from the shore and as I tried to give the engine more revs it conked out!
I tried and tried to get it started, but to no avail, so I prepared the anchor and phoned Robbie to tell him my tale of woe.
Lucky for me he contacted another friend "Gordon" who kept his boat in Maidens and  luckier still he was just on his way out.
I was so close to the rocks on the outer harbour wall that I saw the mast of Gordons boat leaving port.
One more attempt at my engine and it sparked into life but as I tried to give her revs it stalled again, so on the restart I just left it ticking over and very very slowly headed off and up nearer the harbour mouth.
I was making slow progress when Gordon reached me, but I told him I would make for port under my own steam if he stood by astern.
It took around twenty minutes to do a journey that, under normal circumstances would take under five minutes, but eventually my mooring was in sight.
It is very awkward steering the boat with the tiller on the small engine while positioned on the starboard quarter and trying to see over the cuddy " forward compartment" but I managed to steer her close to the mooring rope just as the small engine stopped.
With no control whatsoever I grabbed the boat hook and managed to snare a post on the marina and pulled the boat alongside which allowed me to complete the mooring up without anymore incidents.
This was a maneuver that would not have been possible on the fishing boats I was used to but with these small boats I was learning something new every day.
Lessons I would rather have learned without having to put most of them into practice in so short a space of time. 
It just goes to prove that no matter how experienced you are, or how careful you are, things can always go wrong.
I do have a ship to shore radio on board but fortunately I did not have to bother the rescue services which would have been a last resort, but it shows how we at sea are there to help each other.
Many times I came to the rescue of fellow seamen when they were on peril on the sea when I was a commercial fisherman, now I know how they felt when I came into sight in their time of need.
A more comforting sight you will never see.

The small engine was taken home and I altered the mixture which had been the problem, and the gear cable, after some hard work between Robbie and me is now free and in great working order, as for the big engine it is still playing up slightly, but got me out and back safely today.
The only big problem today was, NO FISH, but at least we survived to try again another day.

How was that for a story?  Here was me thinking there would be no real adventures to write about on a small boat.
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