It was the spring of 1970. We were only young with 2 small children
but had bought a 42ft Motorsailer
After a year there we set off for our first real cruise
We spent the night moored to the quay in Porto Azurro on the east coast
of Elba. We had been having a little trouble with dirty fuel
, but had managed by draining the bottom of the tank and emptying the glass filter before the fuel pump
As it was a beautiful calm morning we decided to motor
round to Porto Ferraio to take on a full tank of fuel
. The barometer did seem to have dropped but nothing had changed otherwise.
Elba has a very prominent headland in the extreme north east of the island and after rounding that we needed to change course by nearly 180░ for Porto Ferraio.
We rounded too close in of course and as we were off the headland the wind
came. Force 7 directly onshore.
A steep chop came so quickly and must have churned up the sediment in the fuel tank
, so the engine
stopped and refused to restart in spite of draining the filter.
In a complete panic I raised the sails
but we were then on a losing tack and getting ever closer to the steep cliffs of the headland.
Being an old motorsailer
, the only way to get on the other tack would have been to turn downwind and gybe, but by then there was not enough room before disaster.
In desperation I dropped the CQR
followed by all 60 fathoms of chain and still it didn't find the bottom.
Amazingly the drag of the anchor
and chain pulled the bow through the wind
and we were able to slowly, so slowly, claw
our way away from the headland.
We finally sailed into Portoferraio exhausted but so so relieved.
I know well what we did wrong, but the surprise came later, when I discovered that the fuel drain cock was connected to a tube 2 ins above the bottom of the tank. Of course the fuel supply to the engine
came from the very bottom.