Yesterday evening I arrived at the delivery boat , carried out all the usual checks, safety equipment vessel, compitence etc, although a couple of points were border line( old flares but just in date) . I agreed to take her through the lock and on to the fuel pontoon, having her ready, fuelled, for the off by 06.00 today.
Today I duly arrived on time and started up the vessel, the owners PA was still asleep (can you believe) cast her off ( the vessel not the PA you understand) duly spun her around and took her out through the lock into the main Marina area and on to the fuel pontoon. The fog horn was wailing and the sea was like glass, Ideal sea state for this sort of vessel (60 foot plus Hatteras. with about 1000 metres of bimini and side walling two stories up) which I expected to "sail" like a sideboard. This is the second time that I have tried to deliver her having encountered some failing or other in the past.
At the pump I found that the port filler would not recieve fuel and appeared to be full (I knew it wasnt the case) and so I fuelled the starboard tank with about £400.00 of fuel giving the vessel a decided lean to starboard, confirming that the port tank was pretty much empty. The Balance pipe was located and opened and the vessel levelled herself as the fuel transferred itself across. I again filled the starboard tank also with another £400.00 plus until the port was also full. By now the owner (but not his PA) was fully awake and up and about, the fog horn had silenced, although a bit of mist was evident (we have great Radar if needed) so off we went. all seemed OK and I ran a few checks once again, only to find that the nav lights tripped out and wouldn`t stay on (dead short) not too much of a problem as I anticipated an overnight in Ramsgate and so no night passage, having an ETA there at 05.30. I contacted an engineer who works out of Dover to have the problem sorted , so that was OK. everything else was going OK the owner went below to check out the engines, Humungous great MTU circa 60s diesels newly serviced etc, only to have him return wight faced to tell me in a high pitched babble that I had to switch off the starboad engine as we were sinking and that there was water everywhere in the engine compartment, I shut down the engine and asked the mate ( who was by now settled, dozing in a steamer chair on the rear deck) to investigated, He returned to say that I had shut down the wrong engine (good job it wasnt a 747, it has happened). The owner having negotiated a rather splendid spiral staircase, and now disorientated, before stating which engine it was,had told me the wrong one, I started up the stopped engine and closed down the offending one, but not before the mate had opened the engineroom door and got a full soaking with sea water from the source, he is a grumpy old sod anyway! :o)). The problem seemed to be that the water pump airbleed elbow/ had broken off.
I spun the boat around to make for out home port and, leaving the owner at the wheel, and instructions to follow the plotted course on the plotter, I briefly went below to check to see if a temp repair could be effected. No sooner had I left the port engine room to report back to the owner that we were going to have to continue to make our way back, than I bumped into him on the stairs, "Whos at the wheel" I asked, "Oh! Pheobe" he replied! I got back to the wheel to find this diminuative lady PA happily sitting in the "Big chair" singing away at the top of her voice, but now heading for France. "How am I doing" she said! "what course are you on" I asked "Oh! the one that Sydney gave me when he asked me to take over" she replied. I "took control"and we turned to the correct course and approached Brighton once again. They as ever were very accomodating and duly took our lines as I brought her into her temporary berth, astearn, with a large vessel to our bow. I have to say the "landing" was as perfect as it could be ( one engine remember, even if I do say so myself particularily as it is a strange, to me, vessel) I tried to switch the running engine off but to no avail, so I had to return once again,to the engine room to locate the solenoid and manually activate the stop on the diesel pump (I wonder if the captain of the QE2 has this sort of problem?) given the amount of hot pipes and my short sleeves I nearly burned myself a couple of times. Ahhhhh poor soul! do I hear you say?
The various works ( by now quite a list) were duly agreed upon and who would sort them out before a further attempt at her delivery be made, the Mate is seeing to that. I duly removed all my gear off the boat, navigation computer charts wet weather gear etc etc and went off with the owner and the mate for breakfast. it was a short trip and an early one. St Katherins have been notified of the delay in arrival as have Ramsgate. I bet when the boat is ready, the sea state won`t be! Oh well thats life at sea. Oh I forget to mention that my back decided to trip out just before all this took place too! sooooo "on the whole" I dont think that I did too badly for a, all be it, temporarily relative cripple :o)) Tee he!!!!!. at least my back will be comfortable by the time the next attempt is made.