Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today’s Lessons

We’re learning new things every day.  According to Chapman, the boater’s bible, that will continue even if we live long enough to collect 25 years of experience. Only minutes after we left the dock at Thetis Island this morning as Cathryn was removing covers from the GPS and marine radios, the engine suddenly cut out. We made several  attempts to re-start the engine, then because we were only 20 feet from the breakwater float, Bob tried to snag it with the boat hook so we could return to the dock for trouble-shooting.  That didn’t work either. Another boater spotted us floating aimlessly and asked if we needed help, then jumped in his tender to rescue us. His first question was “It’s not something simple like that red thingy is it?”  Though this question meant nothing to Cathryn, Bob took it to mean he was asking if the dead-man (or interrupter) switch had become disconnected. On checking he found it wasn’t completely disconnected, but apparently Cathryn had knocked it loose with her knee, so firmly re-attaching it allowed us to start the engine right up!  We were pleased our first problem turned out to be one easily solved.

En route from Thetis Island to Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, we heard one end of a lengthy conversation between a distressed boater near Bellingham and the US Coast Guard. The boater had apparently grounded on a rock and was quickly taking on water. We heard only the Coast Guard dispatcher’s voice, and he remained calm, thorough in his questions, and helpful.  He dispatched a rescue boat from Bellingham, called for other vessels in the area to assist, ascertained that the sinking skipper ws wearing a life vest, and suggested that he get off his boat and into his tender. Another boater arrived shortly to assist, and it quickly became apparent that once the skipper transferred to his tender, he no longer had communication capability as his marine radio was installed on the now sinking boat.  Note to self:  bring portable hand-held marine radio as back-up to the permanently installed radio.

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