Phone a friend.

What happened next…….after the engine wouldn’t start, i couldn’t budge the anchor and couldn’t sail out of the place where i was stuck either.

The first thing i did is exactly what all right-thinking boaters would do and that is of course to put the kettle on and have a re-think about the situation.  I wasn’t in any danger and wasn’t going to be in any danger although things looked like being a bit uncomfortable for a while in the increasing wind against strong tidal flow.  I simply couldn’t go anywhere, was well pinned to the bottom but really needed to be somewhere else.

My conclusion was that i really needed to get the engine started as a priority.  With the anchor and anchoring position checked i had another look at the engine and went over all the connections again but with the same result : a click from the solenoid and then nothing else.   The next thing i checked was that i could turn the engine over by hand and that felt ok too.  I then had the idea of hand-cranking the engine but to my best knowledge there isn’t a manual starting handle on the boat.  I don’t know if that size of 2 cylinder Volvo Penta can be hand-cranked although i did regularly have to hand start the workboat at Dickies  which was a bigger engine….although it did have a valve lifter to de-compress one cylinder.  You might laugh but i tried to make a starting handle out of my Stanley Brace and a small block of wood but all i succeeded in doing was trashing the chuck jaws.

So i “phoned a friend”.  It was still very early so i took all the marina and boatyard phone numbers from the charts and started phoning around to see if i could arrange a tow.  The Chichester harbour authority never did answer their phone but Emsworth yacht harbour, where i was headed, answered straight away, but couldn’t come out that far in their workboat.  The helpful lady in the office then nipped outside to see if boatbuilder Nick Gates could come out but he has a full workload on and equally couldn’t come that far far down the harbour….i guess they were also thinking that it might take a bit more ‘grunt’ and a bigger boat to help me out.  Emsworth however phoned me back a few minutes later and gave me a contact number for the amazing Frank…never heard of him but Frank is some sort of local legend with a big powerful RIB and all the kit who will and can come out and rescue people.  I spoke to him almost straight away, explained the problem and where i was and he came out within half an hour.

His boat i would guess is something like a 17 foot RIB with an open stern and a very big engine box…no idea what he’s got in there as it’s not loud although there is a turbo whistle and it goes ‘whoosh’ when he guns it forward…bucket and jet i guess.  Anyway, along comes Frank, has a chat and transfers his starter pack aboard……still nothing so we try direct jumpers off his boat….still nothing.   Frank then basically takes over and tells me the best thing is just to get me out of there so he ties alongside and starts pushing me forward against the flow to help me break the anchor out.  It took about 15 minutes of hard surges forward and me occasionally getting a couple of links in to get the anchor to rotate and lift….that’s the hardest set i have ever experienced with an anchor and that was ‘only’ my little 7kg Manson…..but Marilyn was in deep and hard and not going anywhere.  During the subsequent tow Frank told me that what can happen in that bay is that tidal flow across the sand and shingle will bury an anchor especially when it’s pulling hard and it was possibly several feet under sand and shingle….crikey !

The outcome was that the amazing Frank towed me all the way up to Emsworth and put me alongside the visitors berth and then had to disappear on another job immediately.  I didn’t get any chance to settle what i thought would be a hefty bill and Frank never did get back to the marina so i phoned him the next day and asked him how to pay him for the assist and tow.  Now the extraordinary thing is that Frank said “no charge….put it down as an essential assist” but when pushed a bit suggested that i might like to make a donation to the sailing club.  As it happens i did a search when i got home and found a friends and supporters website and made a donation through that.

Here is a link.

The amazing Frank….a truly competent seaman, boat handler and all-round good guy.





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