Let me share that moment of joy traduced by calamity.
I bought my Martzcraft 35 ketch
about 3 years ago. The motor
was stuffed (a technical term known to many) and the hull
had suffered many years of neglect. I replaced the motor
and had the hull taken back to gelcoat
and I thought all was well in paradise. Though the sails were technically described as ‘tired’ in the surveyor’s report they could function.
After many weeks waiting in anticipation I was finally given the all clear to take her out on Pittwater. Now Pittwater is not my normal playground although I had sailed there from Sydney
many times. I picked the boat up not far from the Newport
(a fantastic place for anyone arriving in Pittwater) and used the new motor to motor out towards Scotland
Island. With a mate at the helm
I raised the sails and we motor sailed for a bit to get a feel of the boat. Fantastic….
And then… the motor stopped. I tried to start it several times but to no avail. I went below and with my limited knowledge of the motor managed to bleed the fuel
lines and get it going again….. for about a minute. Tried a second time…. About a minute… and so it continued.
There were several races going on in Pittwater that lovely fine day and we managed to navigate through the competitive ones rather successfully considering this was the first time we had sailed the boat. So I thought… as one does … we will sail her back to the mooring
in that narrow channel leading to the Newport
. We tacked a few times and felt quite confident about being able to get to the mooring
, particularly when we were on the last port tack that would take us to within a few metres of the mooring so that we could turn into the wind
and pick it up. Brilliant… well it was until we heard a rather stern voice yell ‘Starboard!!!!!’ We could not see a boat! ‘Starboard!!!!!!’ the voice screamed. I leaned over the starboard side to see a small sailing boat, one of those sailed by, and in this instance, raced by sailors with disabilities, being very ably sailed and demanding his right of passage
. We let go the sails and veered away to port losing that moment of possibility but letting the bloke have his right of way.
We tried again, moving back out into more open waters to tack our way back only to have almost exactly the same thing happen again at the same point. I tried the motor again, bleeding the fuel
lines but no real success. Again we got to within about 50 metres to have our path obstructed by another boat on starboard tack only this time we pleaded with a passing run-about whose skipper
mercifully towed us the last fifty metres to the mooring.
The new motor functioned well but the $3 clamp on the fuel line had not been tightened enough and it was sucking air but that was almost impossible to diagnose in a state of panic. I did make a call to the bloke who installed the engine the next morning (all this took place on a Sunday) and let him know of my concerns and since that time the motor has not missed a beat.