Just when we think we can relax and enjoy ourselves, we discover that gremlins have invaded Toucan. Some of them are benevolent, some are tricky, and others are downright nasty.
The benevolent ones have mysteriously fixed some problems – the oil warning light on the port motor hasn’t worked for at least a year and now it suddenly starts working. More importantly, the starboard gearbox has stopped leaking oil! If you remember, when we did our first ‘sea trial’ we were dismayed to find the oil reservoir was empty again after only 2 hours of motoring. We were mystified where it was going as there was no oil around the gearbox so we assumed it must be the bottom oil seals that were faulty. But since that initial test we’ve topped the oil back up and it’s been perfect despite several hours of motoring. What the..?? Let’s not question it, we’ll just take that one as a gift and count our blessings (for good measure we’ll still replace the bottom seals when we haul out).
When we leave Besir Bay for Penumu we haul the mainsail up and discover the reefing lines on the leech of the sail are twisted around each other. How is this possible? We haven’t touched them since leaving Cairns and they’ve been perfect all the way. Trickster gremlins obviously at work. We sort them out and head off with some wind behind us, hooray! Time to shut the engines down. Our electronic stop buttons have never worked so we use the old-fashioned cable pulls instead. Bruce pulls the cable handle on the starboard motor and it breaks clean off in his hand. OK, the tricky little gremlins are starting to get nasty now. He spends the rest of the trip fixing the problem.
Since leaving Biak, we’ve had some occasional problems getting the port motor to engage in gear, the clutch seems to be slipping. But now it’s getting worse and hey presto, the starboard motor decides to join the fun. So now we have two motors that won’t engage in gear without a lot of coaxing. Not great when you’re trying to manoeuvre in tight spaces. It seems we’re on the ‘one step forward, two steps back’ programme and the gremlins are chuckling maliciously. When we return to Sorong we’ll have to get Rieman to look at both clutch assemblies and hope he can work some magic.
The gremlins are obviously having a lot of fun at our expense, and they haven’t quite finished with us yet. There’s one more doozie on their dance card, it’s called “Di’s Disappearing Act”.
We’ve had beautiful weather at Penumu, but on the day of our departure it’s pouring rain (of course). We wait until it eases but everything, including us, is soaked as we retrieve our lines from the rock walls. We were the last boat in, so we’re the first to leave and as Bruce motors out of the anchorage I decide to be a good first mate and tidy up the lines – there’s 100 metres of bow line lying on the trampoline which I need to retrieve and coil.
I take one step onto the net and in the next instant it gives way and I’m falling through underneath the boat. I grab onto the bridle line as I’m falling but there’s no way I can lever my way back up. SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!!
So now I’m hanging underneath the boat yelling at Bruce to stop, but of course he can’t hear me because of the engine noise (and he probably didn’t see me disappear either).
I’m worried about letting go because the motors are in gear, but there’s nothing else for it – it could be a while before Bruce realises I’m missing. I let go and drop into the water between the hulls, hoping I can catch on to the back transom as it passes, but with the tide flowing against me and the forward momentum of the boat I shoot out the back like a rocket, flailing my arms like a banshee and yelling “STOP!! I’M IN THE WATER”. Apparently all Bruce can hear is my faint voice saying ‘water’ and he looks around mystified until he spots me behind the boat. His first question is ‘What are you doing there?!!”. Yes, well, DARLING, obviously I decided it would be fun to jump in the water fully clothed with my wet weather jacket on!!
He reverses back and I clamber aboard just as Wes and Murray turn up in their dinghy to rescue me. They’re equally mystified about how I ended up in the water until I show them the gaping hole in the trampoline net. I’m lucky I didn’t suffer any injuries except sore shoulders from hanging on, it could have been much worse.
We have to admit this one was entirely our fault – we knew the net was wearing out and we had plans to do it here in Penumu – but we were just having too much fun. It’s a huge and horrible job that we’ve been putting off, but now it’s definitely the first thing on our ‘to-do’ list when we get back to Sorong. Our friends generously offer to help us and we might just take them up on that, in exchange for some beers and dive tank refills. And hopefully the gremlins have had enough fun now and will move on to bother someone else.