Well, yesterday was certainly eventful. We started the day early from Camaret to go up the River Aulne to Chateaulin via a lock that we needed to reach around high water (1600 local time). We had clear blue skies and sunshine with very little wind so perfect for chugging up the river. All was going well until we slowed down to go under the Pont de Tevenez (a very beautiful suspension bridge) when the engine died around 1300 hours.
We dropped anchor and set about finding the fault. The engine was being cooled, we had oil and we even checked whether we had caught anything around the propeller – nothing. Liz was very gallant going over the side to check the prop as the water isn’t that warm here yet! Still nothing so concluded that it was a fuel problem. We changed the filters, bled the engine and tried restarting it. It turned over but wouldn’t catch. After 3 hours of trying to fix it, we decided that we needed some help but no one could come out until Friday as Thursday was a public holiday in France. There was still no wind and a strong tide so we couldn’t make our own way back to Brest so eventually, we called the coastguard who sent the sapeurs pompiers (diving firemen) initially followed by the Douane (Customs). In France they send whoever is available rather than the RNLI in the UK but they also charge. So, first of all, the divers arrived and checked there was nothing around the prop then the customs guys arrived. By this time we had 9 men around the boat so I suspect it had been a quiet day for them!
Formalities duly completed (after all they were Customs) and then an engineer looked at the engine. On the plus side, we hadn’t missed anything obvious but on the minus side, he couldn’t fix it. So, after 30 minutes they decided we would be towed back to Brest. The whole time, they were all delightful and couldn’t have been nicer. They even helped us to pull up the anchor as we couldn’t use the electric windlass as we had no engine. It took about 2 hours to get us back and safely moored up in the marina but then we needed to go with them back to their mother ship to complete the paperwork. How the French love their paperwork! On the way round a dolphin came to play in their bow waves. Once again, paperwork was completed, money duly paid and they brought us back round to Nimrod. After 15 hours we were in fact two hours from our start point for the day! But, we are safe and so is Nimrod – which is all that matters.
So, now we need to fix the problem and have a friend with us today to help. Otherwise it will be an engineer next week if it proves more complex than just a fuel problem.