Sometimes things just don’t go as right as they could and sometimes when that happens particular people are always present. You feel that perhaps, just perhaps they have a little bit influence, it could be some sort of bad air or perhaps it’s a form of karma attached to your relationship with that person. Just maybe, a bit anyway, or is it because they are around you get nervous about what might happen. When you’re in this state of mind, things happened, anyway. Don’t know, but this is definitely the case in recent times when my friend Gazza is around, especially when friend Gazza and I are in the throes of fishing.
In a recent visit, we decided to motor in my little tin boat across a narrow channel to a beach on an island. The day was magnificent, the island less than three hundred meters away from the mainland, a little further by boat as there are some sand bars to avoid. To the north of us is the Coast Guard a volunteer organisation who patrol the waters of the passage and the stretch of sea off the bar. Across the bar is certainly not a place you want to be in a little tin boat. I noted as we slipped the boat from the trailer that these fine gentlemen were getting ready to push-off in their bright yellow “Noosa Cat” for a spell of patrol work.
Our course to the island would take us north passed where they were making preparation, close to apartments with backyard wharves which line the channel and then east past a green mark through the deepest part of the channel to a bright white sandy beach where we intended to meet the rest of our crew and fish.
I started the little 15 HP Mercury on my boat, all four of us took up position and I headed north as planned. Just as the motor sang that beautiful song it has when working at optimum performance it sputtered and stopped completely. There we were, not more than fifty yards from the apartment wharves and right under the eye of the Coast Guard, stopped. Well, not quite stopped, as the tide was having some influence and gently taking us in the direction it was going, which was out over the bar. Remember, “across the bar is certainly not a place you want to be in a little tin boat.” Not to worry yet as that is nearly a kilometre away from here.
I concentrated on trying to find the cause of this sudden stop, usually, this is something like forgetting to open the breather in the top of the petrol tank, or failing to push the fuel line home on the red plastic fuel tank. Neither of these seems the issue, In the meantime, our drift had taken us past an angler with his lines out from a jetty, tangling my over vocal crew and passengers. Gaza is shouting instructions of the bleeding obvious to me while waving a paddle around and trying to clear the fishing line, and the ladies are just enjoying the moment cracking jokes at my expense and pushing the knife in deeply into their men’s pride.
I wasn’t in a panic yet we were drifting with the tide towards the entrance but we had a long way to go and only a few strokes of the paddle would see us at the shore. I was certain that we could get the motor running again, although it occurred to me I might flood it which would take time to clear.
Thirty meters to the South of us was the Coast Guard who we’d passed, were also drifting while they pottered about doing whatever Coast Guard do on their boat before heading out to patrol. To the west, about twenty yards away were the jetties of the high-rise apartments that lined this part of the passage. People were swimming and fishing and watching this group of older people in a tin boat who appear in some kind of trouble. To the east, about three hundred meters away is the beach we are going to with the rest of our party looking curiously on at the proceedings. To the north is the boiling Pumicestone passage bar, beyond which is the big wide ocean we certainly don’t want to cross that.
Do you need a hand” Voice from the Coast Guard
The voice in my head was screaming, “No thanks under control mate”
However, a trio of voices that weren’t mine replied “Yes”
“Where were you going” Voice from Coast Guard
“None of your business,” the voice in my head expressed
“Over there.” the vocal trio replied, pointing at the two figures on the beach on the other side of the passage.
“We’ll tow you there. If you don’t get it going when it’s time to come home, give us a hoy”
“Thanks” trio again.
Tied on, we headed at a sensible speed towards our companions on the beach under the tow of the Coast Guard. My mutinous crew partook in much laughter and chortling, with Gazza, the mate, being heard to ask.
“I suppose it would be inappropriate to open a beer right now?”
I just scowled
“I thought so.” he had answered his own question.
We arrived on the beach incident-free and after filling out some paperwork with the Coast Guard where they extracted the details, of me, my family and my financial health. No doubt put me in a register of brave rescues they had affected, a smile and a wave and the Coast Guard left.
We set up camp on the beach under a clear blue sky; the sun beating down creating enormous amounts of thirst which we had to slake with a cold beer. As the fishing continued and the afternoon wore on, we realised the Coast Guard was not manning their station twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. They are packing up and leaving, that big yellow boat taken from the water on a very large trailer and the boys are all going home or the pub or whatever they did on a Saturday afternoon.
That brought us back to thinking about our wee boat and its somewhat dysfunctional motor, and without the boys, in the big yellow boat, we might be stuck.
I climbed in the boat, checked all the vitals, and pulled the starter cord. Nothing, I repeated this action many times attempting to pump petrol through with the little bulb-like hand pump thing on the fuel lead. Nothing!
Curious, Gazza came to help, reminding me he used to be an engineer some forty years ago. He instantly declared it didn’t look like the pump thingy wasn’t pumping petrol. In the absence of another theory, I decided we would follow-up that lead. Next problem was there are little or no tools in my tin boat, a big spanner was about all we had to work with.
No problem to Gazza, in a pouch on his hip he carried his magic all-purpose Leatherman like a tool. We required a cross head screwdriver, and he had just the one about three layers into the multi-tool. Before I knew it, he was removing the only thing that had screws on it, which was the fuel gauge and hose connection.
Removing the petrol gauge revealed there was no hose on the outlet to the petrol, it was completely missing. The gauge has a little hole to suck petrol up, but it had no connection to the petrol halfway down the tank, to connect the two required some sort of hose.
Ah, we had an answer instantly, back on went the gauge and we tipped the fuel tank up so the petrol was over the hole, pumped the balloon thingy and pulled the starter. The Mercury roared into life and we all did a happy dance.
Much later, in my garage at home, I found the hose in the bottom of the fuel tank; it is exactly the right size to go to the bottom of the tank with no room for it to fall off. How it fell off is still a complete mystery I can only put this incident down to the “Gazza curse”.