Running On Empty – Denarau, Fiji

img_0798A cautionary tale: If you think you’re low on outboard fuel, best to top up the tank before you run it dry!

We’d booked a mooring at Denarau to wait for my sister Maureen’s arrival and get some provisioning and laundry done, but arriving a day earlier than planned we anchored outside the harbour on our first night. As we dinghied in to have sundowners at the Rhum Ba, I heard Bruce muttering “hmm…we’re a bit low on fuel, but we should be OK.” Ha – famous last words. Half way down the channel the outboard spluttered and died. It’s quite a long channel with lots of commercial tourist boats coming and going, so not the best place to be drifting. We were just getting the paddles out when a kindly jet ski operator turned up and offered to tow us in (OK all those nasty things I said about jet skis, I take it back, I don’t hate ALL jet skiers!). It was late in the afternoon but we managed to get the tank filled at the fuel dock just before it closed, and Bruce was able to scrounge a small amount of oil for the 2-stroke mix from some other cruisers on the dock. Feeling relieved, we hopped back in the dinghy to head back out to Toucan. But no amount of pulling would get the engine started – obviously running the tank dry had sucked gunk up into the engine, but without the necessary tools it wasn’t a fix we could do at the dinghy dock. By now it was getting dark and the prospect of trying to paddle back out to the anchorage was not one we relished. Just at that moment who should come sauntering up the dock but Frank and Lisa from “Mango Moon” who’d been our neighbours in Whangarei marina in New Zealand! Frank had no hesitation in jumping into his dinghy to tow us back out to Toucan. What a legend, and another example of the wonderful generosity of the cruising fraternity.

The next morning Bruce got to work on the outboard, stripping it down, cleaning the carbie, replacing the spark plugs, even buying a whole new fuel tank. The day wore on, the sun beat down, the engine refused to start. The air became just a little bit blue (er). Another round of cleaning the carbie and checking the fuel lines. Nada, zip, a big fat nothing. Admitting defeat, we rang the local Yamaha mechanic – he was busy (of course) and wouldn’t be able to come out for 2 or 3 days. OK now we’re getting stressed – my sister arrives tomorrow and we don’t want to spend precious days in the marina trying to get this f#&%! recalcitrant outboard to start. So we went through another round of trouble-shooting, everything is now clean as a whistle so it must be a fuel delivery problem. We’d already bled the fuel line, but we did it one more time and hey presto, she’s alive!! Thank the stars. It only took 8 hours of angst to get up and running again…..lesson well and truly learnt on this one hey Brucie 🙂 ?!

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