They began ‘testing the water’ under engine power alone, but even that was fraught with difficulty when, on their first outing, the engine died. “It’s not as dramatic as is sounds,” says Andy. “We were still close enough to the pontoon for me to step ashore and get someone to help us.”
The problem wasn’t with the engine, but with Andy’s inexperience. “I hadn’t put the choke back in. Who knew about chokes? I didn’t,” he said. “Anyway, leaving it out had flooded the engine, and once I’d pushed it in I pulled the ripcord again to start it up. And I pulled it again, and again, and again for about ten minutes. It wouldn’t start, so I fetched help, and he pulled the cord once and the engine sprang into life. If I’d tried just once more…”
Inexperience with the engine caused more problems when it sputtered and died after Andy had unknowingly adjusted the controls so there wasn’t enough fuel. He sorted that one out for himself, having moored the boat on a dredger they were drifting past, and turning to the Honda’s handbook for guidance.
Other problems have been caused by more inexperience – this time with the boat’s swing keel. This is part of the boat that hangs down into the water to help keep the boat on the right course, and to prevent it from tipping over when the wind hits the sails. Cranking it up and down is done by hand, and forgetting where it is, and where it ought to be, brings its own consequences. Is that another sandbank? Oops.
And then there’s the throttle, which sticks a bit, as Kerry found out when she wanted full power in reverse when the boat was already running flat out forwards, still in the Haven. Having left the fenders out prevented major damage when they hit the pontoon.
And fitting a radio – a vital piece of safety gear – shouldn’t involve smoke coming out of the back of the set… Thankfully marine equipment is robustly built, and Andy, who once changed a fuse, now knows the correct way to wire a radio.
The couple’s next outing will involve hoisting the sails, and relying the wind for the first time. So, once all the restrictions are lifted, and you fancy a tour of the Humber’s sandbanks…
But seriously, Andy and Kerry are determined to be masters of their craft, and already have plans to lift her from the water for a new paint job and a new name: Black Lady Thorn, after their late dog.