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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Boat in Motion

With one voyage under our belt, and a hobbled engine, we spent the next couple weeks getting the boat repaired, and geared up for the Victoria Day long weekend.

First the engine issue. The marina mechanic poked around the boat, and floated a number of possibilities of why the engine was stalling. None of them pointed to the costly fuel pump replacement, so we were happy to accept a less costly solution.

Having spent one weekend on the boat with the dogs, our experience was highlighted by the fact one dog, Auka, wouldn't even attempt the cabin steps. His only option was to sleep in the open cockpit. A less than ideal situation, demanding a speedy canvas enclosure. As we searched for a more 'economical canvas guy' we came to realise how small supply of a labour pool we had, at a very busy time of year. In fact, the consensus was there was 3 good canvas guys in the entire Midland Penetang area. Each was quoting in excess of $2500, and wouldn't start the work for at least 8 weeks. With a 'homeless' dog, having to bunk in the open cockpit, we needed better. After begging one guy for a quicker turn around, he put me onto Rick Kowalsky, who recently left him, to start his own company. Rick was looking for new clients, and could start right away. His pricing was good as well! One off the list.

Heading into the long weekend, I invited my parents to go out with us, in order to benefit from the years of boating experience my dad brought. We sailed out to Lost Bay, on Beausoleil Island, and turned into a crowded channel. As we motored in, we met our first boating friend, Cam. He was puttering around the bay in his dinghy, and offered to help us find an anchor spot. As I manoeuvred the boat... stall. After a restart, manoeuvre, stall. I asked my dad to take the helm, as I ran below to prime the fuel line, and Leanne screamed. Cam surely had thoughts of pulling anchor, and escaping the madness. But he stayed, to help us negotiate our first anchoring. We spent only one night there,  but officially got our first overnight on the Tranquilo. Perhaps more exciting was the fact both dogs learnt to navigate the cabin steps, and getting in and out of the dinghy. They quickly came to love going for boat rides, and runs on shore. Things were starting to come together!

Monday came, and it was time to head in. The engine started without hassle, and we had a light wind, so we motored back toward Penetang. As we got into the middle of the channel, the wind picked up a little, so we decided to put up the sails. Head sail went up without event, but as we hoisted the main, a person tailing the main halyard failed to keep it tight. Suddenly the main halyard was fouled in the winch, as the wind was pushing us toward shore. After wrestling to loosen the line, the decision was made to slice. The main halyard was already designated for replacement, so the decision seemed rational. Little did we know the resulting hassle that would ensue... but that's for another chapter. We lowered the main sheet, tacked and headed in.

As we approached the marina we tested the engine with some low RPM's to see what we could expect coming in. 1000 RPM, stall. I started the process of priming the fuel line again, and it seemed we were safe to proceed. We sailed through the web of docks, making the turn into slip 220. I kept the RMP's a little hire than usual, not wanting to push my luck, so we came into the slip a little quick. As the boat lined up with it's opening, I slid the engine into neutral, then reverse... stall. Tried to restart, and it was dead!! Knowing we were about to slam the dock, I did what any unseasoned boater would do, PANICKED! I tried to grab the dock, and still have the slivers to show for it! All the while my father stood ever fearless on the bow, with pole hook in hand. As the dock approached rapidly, he rose the pole, like a whaler prepping for the kill. He jabbed at the dock, and managed to still the boat with only a dented life rail, and broken dock board. We spent a combined split second trying to understand what just happened, before we all started laughing. Apparently it's true... better to laugh than cry! We cracked open cool frothy beers, and toasted to a weekend of no loss of life nor limb!

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