Working aboard & mechanical incidents

One of the reasons that I opted for a boat like the Oceanis 350 was the habitability she offers. She’s like a second home but on the water; albeit just with less room than my land home. She has a full kitchen, bathroom with shower, two cabins, dining area with sea bunks and a chart double which can double as an office.

It was Mid-June and I needed to have get quotes for some repairs I needed done on the boat. Some locals indicated that a company at Punto Lagoa in the Ría de Vigo work well so I called them up and organized to leave them the boat on a weekend. I left home on a Thursday night after work, picked up my friend visiting from Australia, Ricardo from his place in León and we drove to the boat.

After a few beers and a meal, we went to sleep aboard Pandora. Friday I woke up early to work while my mate Ricardo slept in. The Wi-Fi at ports is generally bad so you need to use your mobile for data. It’s good enough for mail and skype but chews up your data plan in a few days. Ricardo worked on his business plan for his establishment in Sydney.

That afternoon after work, I learnt a lot about Pandora as we decided to set sail. Check the oil, started the engine, disconnected shore power, release the moorings and push off. As the breeze started pushing us across, I applied engine power/throttle and she didn’t respond. The dock was too far away to reach as we were being pushed by the current and wind towards another boat. A neighbor saw our struggle and rapidly ran to the end of the finger and grabbed onto Pandora.

We made it back to our mooring after recovering our breath and thanking José Lorenzo for intervening and saving us from an embarrassing incident with other vessels in the port. It was time to investigate what happened.

Not being familiar with the engine back then, I started looking for reasons the throttle wouldn’t respond and concluded that the throttle or throttle cable mas have an issue. I pulled apart lots of bits but at the end found that the cable was disconnected from the engine because of a screw which must have fallen off with the vibrations. I was only able to confirm this because I found a spring on the floor in front of the engine but not the screw. Using a screw in the box of “spares” on board, I could “patch” it up and make it work again.

Fingers crossed, we set sail for the 30 minute passage to Punta Lagoa to meet up with the guys at Yate Sport. We let them see the boat, discussed what was needed and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon out fishing. This time, with a bigger fright.

After testing the throttle while still tied to the dock, we decided she was working properly and decided to cast off. We cast off the stern lines, the forward sprint and with the bow line only still on, I started to reverse the engine to compensate the current and wind as we had rocks on the other side this time. She must have come loose again and we were swinging around with the wind and current but at least this time still connected to the mooring.  Knowing where the issue was, Ricardo and I solved it reasonably quickly and we enjoyed the afternoon on the water (without and fishing catches).

The rest of the weekend evolved without further incidents but with a list of repairs which seemed to grow and grow.

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