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Old 19 November 2012, 15:24   #1
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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, 15:31   #2
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Until we are put in that kind of situation it's hard to say
Hind site is a good thing
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Old 19 November 2012, 15:36   #3
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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, 15:39   #4
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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, 15:40   #5
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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
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Old 19 November 2012, 15:42   #6
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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 pan..spot 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, 15:43   #7
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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, 15:51   #8
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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, 15:56   #9
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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.

Trev
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Old 19 November 2012, 15:57   #10
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In hindsight - should have got an etec!
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Old 19 November 2012, 15:58   #11
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What others have said right call. Heard your pan but was in Ventnor. Thought the lady on the Solent VHF was very on top of it and reassuring. Mtwgb
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Old 19 November 2012, 16:08   #12
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In hindsight - should have got an etec!
Somebody cuff that boys lug
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Old 19 November 2012, 16:08   #13
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In hindsight - should have got an etec!
I wire fell off..not the engine fell off...haha...

A friend had a flat battery on his etec on sun. I chirp up..just pull start it.....of course if he could have trimmed it down it would have helped...
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Old 19 November 2012, 16:10   #14
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In hindsight - should have got an etec!
Refer to post 7 in this thread.
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Old 19 November 2012, 16:23   #15
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Quote:
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In hindsight - should have got an etec!
Yep and end up with a sore saddle like me
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Old 19 November 2012, 16:32   #16
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see that the negative terminal clamp had come off.
What kind of fixings are on the battery clamps, wing nuts?
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Old 19 November 2012, 17:19   #17
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Thanks all. Made me feel a lot better about it. To answer a few points, full chat I was registering 35.2 on the GPS. As mentioned, it wasn't an engine failure but electrical power loss. Battery terminals are the square headed bolt and hex nut type. Yes, the lady at Solent CG was indeed very reassuring in her communication.

Impressed that my Pan Pan was picked up in Ventnor, considering I was using a Cobra handheld and sending only on low power (decided it was unnecessary to switch to high given my position).

And just to repeat, huge thanks to all those who participated in the response.
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Old 19 November 2012, 17:21   #18
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Oh, and ref an auxilliary engine, the design of the Generation 430 makes installation of an aux practically impossible. I had paddles, but the tide was in full flow and being alone I figured they'd have been as much help as a chocolate teapot.
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Old 19 November 2012, 17:27   #19
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Quote:
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Oh, and ref an auxilliary engine, the design of the Generation 430 makes installation of an aux practically impossible. I had paddles, but the tide was in full flow and being alone I figured they'd have been as much help as a chocolate teapot.
Yep paddles are hard work, I had to use them as well on my china boat bloody hard work and that was with two of us paddling

Could you not fit an axillary bracket or is there not enough room for that either ?
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Old 19 November 2012, 17:31   #20
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Thanks all. Made me feel a lot better about it. To answer a few points, full chat I was registering 35.2 on the GPS. As mentioned, it wasn't an engine failure but electrical power loss. Battery terminals are the square headed bolt and hex nut type. Yes, the lady at Solent CG was indeed very reassuring in her communication.

Impressed that my Pan Pan was picked up in Ventnor, considering I was using a Cobra handheld and sending only on low power (decided it was unnecessary to switch to high given my position).

And just to repeat, huge thanks to all those who participated in the response.
Get yourself some nyloc nuts, best 20p you'll spend
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