“I couldn’t get the engine back together. I suggest you get a new one.” Those weren’t quite the words mechanic used when he and his colleague showed up early the next morning. No, he danced around the issue. Sure, he told us he could try to work on it more, but couldn’t even think about getting to it before the middle of next week, but he did not sound hopeful.
I was floored. There hadn’t been a huge problem with it and now the mechanics were recommending Nemo get a whole new engine because they broke it? Apparently this type of engine wasn’t meant to be taken apart from what I could understand. They had talked to some colleagues who had had similar problems with reassembly. All they could do was shrug their shoulders. They might be able to get it back together given enough time but they definitely couldn’t get it done before the weekend.
What were we going to do now? We could hardly hope to catch our weather window engine-less. We couldn’t wait in Cairns to repair the engine indefinitely either. Hurricane season was right around the corner.
Half an hour of internet research later Nemo had made his decision. He would suck it up, take their advice and get a new engine. New engines weren’t as expensive as he had feared and the mechanics were right… reassembly was just a problem for this engine.
This would mean he’d have to put Mareva on the hard: take her out of the water to order the new engine, put it in, and get some other work done on her in the meantime. The work would take months. The sailing season was gone. Papua New Guinea was out of the question.
I felt like I had been slapped. I had had my heart set on exploring deserted islands, rubbing elbows with cannibals, and swimming in crystal-clear waters. What now? I stepped off of the boat in a daze.
I walked past the empty slip next to us, and was passing the first when a cheerful voice called out, “How are you today?” Eyes sparkling, the wiry man called to me from the deck of his yacht.
It was Willi, the Swiss skipper who had come in a few days ago with the World ARC, a huge flotilla, 20+ boats sailing around the world together. Nemo had been ranting about flotillas and how much he loathed them ever since he had heard they were coming. In his opinion the point of sailing was exploring uncharted areas that one couldn’t see. Flotillas generally stuck to the “milk run,” well-charted anchorages. The problem was that they would take over the marinas or anchorages not leaving room for other boats.
Even worse, when flotillas did visit small islands, they ruined them for other yachties. Not only did the many boats take all the little villages supplies – eggs, meat, and what have you. Worse than that they showered them with presents and money which ruined the economy – they started seeing yachts as something to profit from rather than welcome guests, were never satisfied with what they had once thought was a good and fair price again, or even charging for anchorages. This had gotten so bad in some places that other boats would start avoiding the island. Nemo didn’t want anything to do with people like that.
Though I adore adventure and visiting uncharted territory, I didn’t have Nemo’s prejudices. Besides, Willi had always seemed nice.
“I’m not doing that well today. I’m not going to Papua New Guinea anymore.” I told him the whole story.
“Do you want to come around with us? I have space on Mr. Blues… we’re going a little fast, but you’re welcome to come. We’re leaving tomorrow though.”
As it happened Willi had been planning to leave early that morning but had had a late night drinking the day before and decided to stay another day. I could hardly believe my luck. I was trading in sailing in Papua New Guinea with a single-hander for sailing around the world! Better yet, Mr. Blues was a 45 foot Beneteu, a gorgeous sparkling new boat.
I could hardly begin to thank him. So what if Nemo hated flotillas, I couldn’t write something off until I tried it, could I? As soon as I had packed moved my things from Mareva to my new home on Mr. Blues.
The interior was even nicer than the outside. Clean, but warm and welcoming, with two enormous refrigerators and a huge kitchen. With light wood paneling the saloon seemed light and welcoming compared to the gloom of Mareva’s belly. The crowning touch was that, I got my own berth with a door that closed, closet space, my own show with hot water, and a queen-sized bed rather than the cramped little twin I had on Mareva. Life was good.
Still, I did have to get in touch with my new couchsurfer friend Dave and tell him the news! We had been planning to meet up at 5.