The Boy & The Funnel


42.35.416N 009.53.760W

1720 hrs 13 June 2012

I am sitting in the cockpit, Jaz just served up a very spicy biriyani, Santana is playing, the sea is blue; the Spanish sun is beating down – we are 50 nm from Baiona. Life doesn’t get better than this.

Poor old Nick, the Rally Portugal organiser, he has promised to take our lines when we arrive…that will be 3am at this rate!….sorry Nick 🙂

For the past 24 hours we have faced the dreaded Cape Finisterre…But this time it was like a lake. I wont scoff…I am doing this again on the return trip in July!

Over the past 24hrs there was no wind, well perhaps 1kt. We had to use the iron sail – very unsatisfactory and annoying.

I estimate we have 20 hrs worth of fuel left and over 150 miles to go. I was so eager to leave for the start line that I didn’t top up when we left Falmouth and I reckon I am about 100l of fuel down on a full tank. I needed some wind. I decided that since the sea was so calm, now would be a good time to pour the spare fuel cans into the main fuel tank. I gingerly made my way to the aft locker clipped on as per the book. The instructors at Hamble School of Yachting would smile; chew their cigars and harrumph "That’s my boy".

I have two spare cans of diesel. One 20 litre can and one 5 litre can. At the normal consumption rate of 5l/hr this gives an extra 5 hrs motor sailing. The 20 litre can is made of MOD quality tough plastic, cost a fortune and was acquired in a chandlery. The other can was bought for a song in Halfords.

The trouble is I don’t have a funnel. I get a length of PVC tubing from my workshop (oh yes, I have a man shed on the boat…) and decide I can syphon the diesel from the large 20l can which is almost too heavy to lift on a swaying boat and pour accurately anyway. The fuel cap for the main tank is in the cockpit and just under the wheel. Great!….now how do I get the can; the pipe; the syphon; my body… in position?!

No1 deckhand and general factotum holds the pipe and the can steady, and I just “put my lips together” and suck…fuel comes up and goes back down….I give a larger suck…and oh yes..you knew didn’t you…I get a mouthful of duty free red stuff. This is no time to wimp out. General factotum looks at me and informs me she has a funnel in the galley. Ok, get the funnel. Its a smallish kitchen type one but it fits the PVC tube perfectly.

We assemble the tube and the funnel. I hold the 20l can up – Jaz holds the funnel/tube contraption. Glug – diesel pours all over general factotum; all over the cockpit floor; over my legs; her legs; everywhere…some even went in the fuel tank.

We persevere – after all we are sailors!… eventually some fuel actually got in the tank – we estimate a couple of litres went elsewhere. I then take my cheap Halfords can; attach the spout and easily pour the 5 litres into the tank – no fuss. I resist thinking about people who design stuff for boats…the heat emanating from my head may ignite the fumes that now surround us and every thing we touch gets covered in diesel. We put the cans in black bin liners and chuck them in the locker, relieved we got some fuel out of this "slick operation".

Next is the clean up.

If the Spanish Coast Guard had turned up at that moment they would have seen two bedraggled people undressing in the cockpit and stuffing their diesel sodden clothes into bin liners. I don’t know if there is an EU law against this sort of thing – probably is.

After we are re-clothed, we then use our special chandlery supplied "bucket on a rope" to pull seawater from the sea (obviously) and douse the whole cockpit. Jaz is now in her element. It’s as if I gave her a present from Armani. Out comes wet wipes; disinfectant wipes; washing liquid even the aft deck wash comes in handy.

I sit by the rails – trying to get the bucket to sink into the sea instead of gaily skipping along by the side of the boat whistling to itself. When it does fill I get a tug that nearly pulls my arm out and me off the boat. Yes, yes I had put my lifejacket and harness back – on no need to chew your cigar and tut.

We spend the next hour drifting along at about 2kts …washing down.

Eventually, we are back in business.

More calculations and I see we have a maximum of 20 hrs fuel left and 150nm to go..

Better sail then !

SAM_0320 SAM_0321
Diesel, diesel .. everywhere..
SAM_0453 SAM_0259
Jaz gasps for breath after being doused in diesel.. sailing on…
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