Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Went along to pull some ropes and!

got lumbered with a skippering job. Not so bad really but a bit unexpected. The owner of this lovely steel dutch built motoryacht had just managed to get it to the external survey part of somebody purchasing it and needed to get the boat out of one port dock where she had wintered to the dock where it was to be taken out and surveyed. So I went along initially for the ride and to pull ropes. On arrival it became apparent that the present owner wasnt too happy with his own compitence and had tied her up with about thirty shorelines with at least twenty half hitches securing them in place so two hours later we had her untied and were ready for sea!

The owner had found out that I was compitent and asked me if I would take her away from the pier, as he didn`t "feel too confident", and so I agreed. having done my own brief but fairly through check of her condition and compitence, I accepted that she would make the journey in safety and brought her off the pier, turning her on her engines to point down the fairway towards the exit lock a mile away. I grasped the wheel ( topsides) and spun it to check that it was operating OK to find that it wasn`t ! I pointed this out to the owner who ran around switching on and off the auto pilot asking if it made any difference!!!!! finally I told him that he should top up the upper wheel hydraulic system (which he agreed he would do) So now steering from the lower wheel position the owner proceeded down the fairway to the 15-00 "lock out". the time that we got to a thousand yards from the lock was 15-00, a yacht was waiting in the lock and worried about her draft as she was "loosing water" finally at about a hundred yards off the lock and at about eight knots, the owner suddenly decided that he didnt feel confident about fitting the vessel into the lock which was about three feet wider than her and handed the wheel over to me saying Oh S8it! you take it into the lock please. So slowly astern we went and we steered quietly into the the lock tying up on the outgoing side. the yacht expressed his concern about his draft and I agreed to let him go out first when the gate opened. the lock duly emptied and the gate opened and the yacht left.

I thought the owner would be happy to take the boat out but no he wanted me to do it so I obliged. we cleared the cill by about two feet and headed into deeper water turning for our destination port. after about twenty minutes the starboard engine over heated and was closed down to allow it to cool (not stopped but left on tick over so cooling water circulated but all torque was reduced) we progressed towards out destination port in a sort of "tacking" motion, to such an extent that my collegue was joking with me about
" where are we going now? Jersey, no London. no Calais, no worthing", the owner couldn`t steer for tofee but was having a great time trying. I would think that we covered at least double the mileage needed. The starboard engine cooled down and we used it to enter the destination port lock, with the owner steering and me by his side working the throttles. ( it was the only way I was going to get him to retain controll into the lock) . We/I, berthed her up aginst the crane dock and we were invited to a drink on the owners new boat, which I declined.

I have to say I have heard of skippers suddenly being given control when an owner hasn`t deemed himself confident ( usually in bad weather) but never before has it happened to me or at 8 knots heading for a lock in an unfarmiliar boat,( when originally only there to "pull ropes").

Bless him he was a great chap and really knew his limitations. Probably a lot more so than I can truthfully say for myself :o))

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