Funny story. Something broke, what else would it be? The gear shifter has failed us. Something snapped, and we can no longer put the boat into forward or reverse. I apologize for I am no mechanic. My way of explaining this with incorrect terminology may make little sense. Lets just say this… after turning on the engine while coming in from a day sail, the shifter fell completely limp. The shifter was freely swinging about it’s 180 degree radius, completely disconnected from the transmission. Snapped cable. No gears. Awesome.
So the shifter breaking is not the funny part of this story. What’s funny is the conversation that was going on prior to the event. My dad, sister and brother-in-law were all in town visiting. We go out for a sail. On our sail my dad, being the man he is, suggests “Let’s pretend the diesel doesn’t work, and you have to sail back to the dock.” This was a smart training idea, no doubt. Katie and I look at each other, declining the challenge and responding “Nahhh, we will deal with a situation like that when it actually happens.” Sailing in a very narrow, and very shallow channel did not sound fun at the moment. Or maybe Katie and I were just scared we couldn’t actually do it and would run aground while having to tack in a tricky channel. So we opted out, “thanks for the suggestion though, dad.” (would have been the perfect moment to practice this situation)
Sure enough… we begin to lower the sails while entering the channel and fired up the diesel. Why of course the shifter breaks, and we can’t figure out how to put it in forward. My dad is just laying in the cockpit, relaxing with his cigarette, chuckling while we try to figure out how we are going to get back to the dock. With the mainsail still up, we turned around and slowly headed for deeper water allowing for more space to maneuver. Katie crawls down by the engine, while my brother-in-law helps diagnose what had snapped. My dad, impatience finally kicking in, told everyone to get out of the way. He hops down for a peek, asks for a screwdriver, and within moments manually put us in forward, using the screwdriver to hold us in gear. DUH. A simple and temporary fix that Katie and I would have never discovered. I have a feeling our solution would have been to drop the anchor, and have a cup of tea while we waited for sea-tow to come save us.
Moral of today’s story: When you have a moment to practice emergency procedures (even if they are little emergencies) take the time to discuss, and practice them. Like docking with no reverse for example. That was my new challenge for the day. Luckily 4 human fenders were there with me to make up for an uncoordinated parking job. Don’t opt out of an opportunity to practice just because you’re feeling lazy. Most importantly, don’t wait till you meet situations first hand, because Daddy isn’t always going to be there to fix your problems.
Fort Myers Beach off in the distance. The Alex’s. Awe. One of them with the flu, and the other one seasick. Only smiling because I forced them too. Good job kids, it looks like you were actually happy.