First is in the “It’s a small world” category: On Tuesday evening I discovered that I had let the holding tank (where the toilet water goes) fill to the tippy top. So just as it is getting to sunset I rustle up Karen and we head over to the pump out station. Nothing exciting, its pretty routine. As we pull up to the pump-out dock two women are standing there to help catch our lines. As we tie the boat up and pull in the lines, one of the women looks at me and says, “Bill?” Turns out it is Anne, a former sailing student of mine who, after sailing around the world, lives on a boat here in the marina.
On the way back to our space we had a less pleasant surprise… I back the boat in toward the spot, and Karen uses the boathook to grab our bow line from the mooring ball. This is way harder than it looks, and she can’t quite get the line picked up. I pull part way out, and this time I try, but with longer arms and a longer reach, I have no better success. Now we are getting a bit crooked in the wind, so I pull all the way out into the fairway to set up for a second pass. The sun has set now, and it is getting quite dark.
As I slowly idle down the fairway getting the boat lined up for another try, the engine stops. It doesn’t falter, or sputter. It goes from smooth running idle to absolutely nothing instantly. Hmmm… we now have what we might call a “situation”. We are pointed away from our slip, coasting toward a deadend on the dock, with a cross wind, with boats to the left and to the right. Karen gets on the phone and gets in contact with our neighbor to let him know we have a problem and to get his help from the dock. I am looking for an empty slip I might be able to coast into, but not finding anything. I am trying to figure if I can sail myself out of this problem, but it is such a tight space I am not at all sure I have the turning radius to make it happen.
One thing about diesel engines. There is almost nothing that causes them to stop that allows them to restart. Almost always the cause is a problem in fuel delivery. Almost always. Until you fix the problem, there is no point is trying to start them again.
Running out of options, I figure, what the heck… I turn the key and the engine fires right up. OK, now I am confused, but I’ll take what I can get. I start to back up toward our slip keeping everything slow. I put the boat in forward to slow our backward progress, and the engine stops again. It starts right back up. Back close to the dock, I realize that I have reverse gear, but no forward. To make the boat go forward, I roll out a sail, just long enough to get us moving in the right direction.
Now we are moving toward our slip slowly, downwind. We have one chance to pick up the line from the mooring ball, which Karen gets on the first try. Our neighbor catches our bow lines, and we are home. A few deep breathing exercises and a glass of wine, and I am almost relaxed again. We didn’t touch anything we weren’t supposed to touch, and we even looked pretty good in responding to out “situation”.
What happened? I am not 100% sure yet, but my working hypothesis is we wrapped a line around the propeller. Anne, (from the first story above) works here at the marina doing underwater maintenance for the boats. When she gets a chance she’ll be by and have a look… Hopefully a few seconds with a knife and all will be good.
Sending the waterproof camera over the side of the boat on a pole, shows the problem: That’s the propeller in the lower right of the picture. And, no, it is NOT supposed to have that big wad of stuff wrapped around it…
Or possibly, the gear selector became engaged with the “stop pull” Push into gear it pulls the stop engine dies. Go to neutral eases the stop; engine starts, reverse is great, Forward again, stops again (sic)
Then again; a line in the prop sounds good (sic) too.