We awoke early to leave Lymington, taking a flask of green tea and some marmite rolls up to the flybridge to eat en passage. Casting off our lines, we ventured out, cruising up the channel at a steady six knots – no troubles there. The four other boats we were cruising with soon left us behind, cruising faster than our usual sixteen knots. Opening the throttles, Patience sped off, the bow rising and the wind buffeting us up top. The port engine behaved perfectly, coming up to 2,200 revs with ease, while the starboard engine remained at 1,200 revs, refusing to come up further and giving us no drive at all. Coming speedily off the throttles, it seemed we’d lost the starboard engine. Bobbing around just outside the entrance to Lymington harbour, my dad did all the preliminary engine checks, and none of them solving the problem, we turned around and limped back into Lymington marina.
Presuming there to be a rope caught around the starboard propeller, my dad dived under the stern of the boat, snorkel in tow, to no avail. SeaStart were called and were magical, going through every minor job and check the chap could think of. It seemed a small valve had been left open during the last engine service, which was allowing air into the engine. This air was causing diesel starvation, thus not allowing the engine to perform properly – it worked fine in tick over, but not under load. On leaving Lymington marina a mere few hours later, we held our breath and crossed our fingers as the throttles were opened. Miraculously, the closing of the tiny valve seemed to have worked, as we were soon cruising through the water at seventeen knots, the tide with us, and the four o’ clock sun in our faces.
When we finally arrived at Weymouth, to cheers from the other boats of our party, the relief was amazing. After speedy showers, we left to have a relaxing dinner in a nearby restaurant. Oh how naïve we were.
On arriving at the restaurant, said establishment said they couldn’t fit us three on the table with the rest of our party. So the table of nine waved at us on our table of three, a mere two foot away. Why we weren’t allowed to move the table across, none could fathom. After a very slow start, we finally received our drinks and ordered food. Over an hour later, there was still no sign of so much as a crust! Having worked in kitchens for a while, I was watching the chef at the pass of the open kitchen and became increasingly alarmed as tickets dwindled and no food for us appeared. Eventually the chef had one ticket left, which didn’t seem to be ours, at which point we called over the waitress. We explained that we’d been waiting an hour, our friends had finished, and we’d prefer to scrap the starters and just have the mains. The waitress’ face fell. ‘You..you’ve ordered..? Oh my God, I’m so sorry…Let me just talk to my manager…I’m so sorry.’ Came the garbled sentence. Terror set in amongst the waitresses as it became clear the manager had taken our order, lost the ticket and then signed off and gone home at the end of her shift. The poor waitresses flapped, apologised, and were generally mortified, so we drank the dregs of our (free) beers (check out mine – a delicious local pale ale), and walked to the local chippie and got fish and chips at half nine.
A disaster meal, rescued by delicious fish and chips and plenty of wine back on the boat. Amusingly, we were rafted alongside two other boats on the harbour wall, and the inner boat then said they didn’t want all our friends climbing over, so no, could we not invite them over for a drink, thank you very much. Luckily, we all managed to climb over to one of the other’s boats who weren’t rafted, and the evening was saved. All in all, a truly terrible day saved only by the presence of wine and deep-fried food. Here we go, famous last words: it can only get better than this. Surely?