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Old 19 November 2012, 14:24   #1
Country: UK - England
Length: no boat
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 519
Feeling like a bit of a plonker!

So wondering what others would have done in the following circumstances.

To set the scene, I took the opportunity yesterday to take the RIB out onto Southampton Water. Launched at Warsash as normal and intended to be out no more than an hour, primarily to check that the longer pitch prop I'd fitted would correct the issue of the engine hitting the rev limiter well before WOT was reached. It did, sitting around 5900rpm at WOT and registering 35mph on the GPS as I headed up Southampton Water.

Happy with that, I turned and started back. Without any warning, and whilst at WOT, I lost all power. And I don't mean a reduction, I mean complete loss, engine stopped, as if the killcord had been removed - but it hadn't. Control panel showed no ignition. Battery isolation switch was on. Checked whether any power to engine mounted trim switch, but nothing.

I was mid channel, directly between the Fawley Refinery jetties and Hamble point. Just prior to this sudden stop I'd passed the inbound Red Funnel ferry, but as I assessed my situation an outbound RedJet was approaching at full chat on a course that took it not too far wide of me as I drifted.

The next few considerations were...

a) Is there another boat within hailing distance that I could call to assist? Nothing.

b) Do I drop an anchor while I try to identify the problem? I decided anchoring in the main channel wasn't an option on either safety or practical grounds (the latter due to depth of water and rate of tidal flow at the time).

c) Can I safely try to trace the problem whilst drifting? Being alone on the boat I would not have been able to keep lookout whilst doing so, and drifting in the main channel was no safer than being anchored?

After removing and replacing the killcord, isolator key and ignition again, with no change in the result, I called a Pan-Pan.

The rest happened very quickly, with Solent Coastguard responding and dispatching Hamble Lifeboat. Another RIB, 'Pride of Dartmouth', also heard my call and responded as she was nearer, albeit en route to Yarmouth, and towed me clear of the main channel (massive thank you if the skipper is reading this). Hamble Lifeboat then arrived to take over the tow back to Warsash slip, and saw me safely onto the jetty.

Whilst we awaited the HMCG officers to arrive from Lee, I manged to lift the console far enough to remove the top of the battery box, and to see that the negative terminal clamp had come off. Though I'd not have been able to secure it without spending several minutes releasing the console properly (it in fact took me 15 minutes when I'd got the boat home), it was none-the-less embarrassing to think that I'd called a Pan-Pan for something relatively minor.

Suffice to say, with only 3.9 hours on the clock since the engine was installed, I'm not too thrilled with the installer, but I have now taken steps to make the battery housing and terminals more easily accessible should the need arise again in the future.

Should I have done anything different, or was Pan-Pan the right call?

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Old 19 November 2012, 14:31   #2
mick's Avatar
Country: UK - England
Town: Wakefield
Boat name: Bouncer
Make: Redbay Stormforce
Length: 6m +
Engine: 2x Honda 90Hp
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,022
Until we are put in that kind of situation it's hard to say
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:36   #3
Country: UK - Scotland
Town: Argyll
Boat name: Helena
Make: Birchwood
Length: 5m +
Engine: Inboard Diesel 250hp
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 116
No not at all. You did exactly what you should have done given the circumstances. Possibly got away with it if nowhere near shipping channels but you did the right thing 100%. Best to get right out of anywhere there is any potential to be any problem. You did check the obvious things and as you said you couldn't have secured it anyway. I'd say we'll done. Hope that helps. Peter
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:39   #4
Country: UK - Wales
Town: West Wales
Make: Vipermax 5.8, SR4.7
Length: 5m +
Engine: 150 Opti, F50EFi
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,298
Sounds like you did the right thing.

An 'alternative means of propulsion' is handy. May seem unnecessary on a brand new boat, but new stuff does fail.

As an aside, what speed did you achieve at full pelt?
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:40   #5
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Country: UK - N Ireland
Town: Rostrevor
Boat name: Ricochet
Make: Redbay
Length: 7m +
Engine: Twin F115 Yams
MMSI: 235083269
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I certainly wouldn't be feeling a "plonker" - I think you were on top of the situation - you were rational, calm, aware of possible dangers and you made the correct call.

Well done
Maximum Preparation - Maximum Fun
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:42   #6
Country: UK - England
Town: Dorset & Hants
Boat name: Streaker/Orange
Make: Avon/Ribcraft
Length: 4m +
Engine: 50Yam/25 Mariner
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 5,551
Bang on choice of actions. Can't be sorted in 30 secs..not about to sink or die..but in a very iffy spot of water to drift about in.

Pan on....for all you knew the engine could have eaten itself....

Result and a problem that could have been really really bad avoided.

I checked all the bolts and nuts on the boat when it was new..found one or two loose...still check them after every few outings or a very rough one.
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:43   #7
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Country: UK - England
Town: Ashton-under-Lyne Lancs
Boat name: IMOGEN
Make: Air-Craft 5.4
Length: 5m +
Engine: Suzuki df70a
MMSI: 235087492
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 7,078
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What the others have said I've always been out with company but even then I have had to be towed twice but if I do go out on my own I will take my auxillary engine.
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:51   #8
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Country: UK - Scotland
Town: Aberdeenshire
Boat name: Sula
Make: Ribcraft 4.8m
Length: 4m +
Engine: Tohatsu 60hp + aux
MMSI: 235087213
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Posts: 3,689
Easy in retrospect to do things differently. But you checked the obvious things first, primarily the kill cord. Plus the urgency was that you were in a busy shipping lane... and you don't want a thousand tons of Red Funnel ferry bearing down on you while you're at anchor, with no navigation lights in fading light on your own.

The right call in my opinion.
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Old 19 November 2012, 14:56   #9
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Country: UK - England
Town: Crowthorne
Boat name: Black Adder+BabyBlue
Make: Shearwater + Avon
Length: 8m +
Engine: TDi Diesel + Merc 60
MMSI: 235026679
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 908
Yup - I'd have done the same.

After I got stuck in almost the same position a few months ago (due to my fuel /water separator bulb working a little loose and letting air get into the carbs so the engine wouldn't run) I realised that a white flare (anti-collision flare) would have been handy. Even a red-jet bearing down on you should be able to see it and it means even if all the electrics have failed (like yours did) you can hopefully make yourself be seen.

They don't come as part of standard in-shore flare packs but most chandleries stock them at about £12 each.

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Old 19 November 2012, 14:57   #10
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Country: UK - England
Town: Dinard, Brittany
Boat name: Into the Red
Make: Osprey Vipermax
Length: 7m +
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MMSI: 235 076 114
Join Date: Apr 2009
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In hindsight - should have got an etec!
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