Incident and lessons learnt
I had an unusual incident on Tuesday, some potential lessons to learn.
I was out on Tuesday, just passed chain ferry leaving Poole Harbour entrance, hit a small wave as water conditions were slightly rough, nothing extreme, proceeding about 20 knots between the swash channel and the training bank just outside poole harbour heading west, engine started to lose power and stopped.
I tried restart, turned over but would not start, opened the rear seat upper to gain access to primer bulb with intention to pump it up incase fuel system issue and spotted the issue immediately. The fuel/water separator filter had fallen off its housing, basically it had broken off. !
Being in not a great position drifting toward rocky training bank I dropped anchor in about 7m of water and called solent coastguard to get them informed of my situation while I considered what to do next. I did not feel comfortable at all as the rib by then had turned sideways to waves and the wave height was picking up making it uncomfortable.
Withing about 10 minutes a large fishing boat the 'John Edward' heading back to Poole stopped to offer assistance, they passed a towing line across, I deflated the bow part of the tube so as not to put too much pressure on tube from towing line going across and they towed me back to poole harbour and got me tied up alongside poole quay. Cobbs Quay marina then came out and towed me back to marina.
On inspection of the fuel/water filter housing I could see where the plastic bit that connects onto the threaded piece which goes into the filter had broken, looked like a bit was missing and another part was also cracked.
I think over the years and various hard knocks the housing had been damaged and was on the way to failure, having just had a service and a new filter fitted I think it just gave up and the first knock was enouth to make it fail.
One thing to point out is before I left the marina that day I did notice that when I tried to prime the fuel line using the bulb it was far more difficult then usuall to get fule pressure, I did have a nagging feeling something wasnt quite right but kind of dismissed it as engine did fire up and I was able to proceed initailly through the harbour.
Some lessons to learn;
1. If you have a nagging feeling about something not feeling right then dont dismiss it, you know your boat and how things feel and its quirks etc, so stop and think more carefully before proceeding.
2. An Anchor is not just for putting down in nice bays, it is also an essential safety device so make sure you have a decent setup of chain and rope and suitable length as you may need to anchor in deeper water to stop you drifting into even more danger if you have a failure. (I have 10 metres of chain and 30 metres of rope)
3. Always test your VHF communications, dont skimp on the setup, you never know when you may need them to work.
4. Perhaps a visual inspection of fuel/water seperator housings etc may be called for from time to time if you have hit the rough stuff hard, Ribs generally take more pounding than most other boats due to the fact we are often in worse weather than other boats maybe because we think they are indestructable or maybe were over confident ? I will be checking mine from time to time,(the plastic housing has been upgraded to a cast aluminium one and I'm making a quick fuel/water seperator bypass setup with a bit of fuel hose, a primer bulb and a couple of connectors just in case)
5. Always go to sea with good karma, help others where you can and when you need help you will probably get it in return.
And finally a huge thanks to the crew of the John Edward who didint hessitate to offer assistance. I located them two days later to say thanks and give them some beer/fuel money, I tried giving them £100 and they refused and only accepted £40. I know many of us moan about fishing pots from time to time (I do) but when you have a personal experience of commercial fishing men helping you your attitude changes considerably.