Some days everything just goes wrong, as Jonty Pearce experienced

While Good Friday was a day stolen from the Angels, Easter Saturday and Sunday belonged to Lucifer. Friday saw the yachting community at Neyland Marina enjoying the bright warm sunny day, bustling about busily bending on sails, blowing up dinghies, airing bedding and generally tackling all the winter jobs that needed a dry day. The anticipation of a new warm sailing season tangibly pervaded the pontoons, and smiling chatty faces were myriad.


Carol and I used the dry windless day to bend on Aurial’s sails and replace the canvas work. The danbuoy, horseshoe ring and liferaft were retrieved from their storage and proudly hung off the pushpit. The outboard, newly serviced, once again resumed its rightful home by the stern ladder, and all the rigging was checked. When we had finished, she looked like a proper boat ready to tackle anything. And just as well – overnight the ‘Easter Hurricane’ came in and rain lashed the decks as boaters sheltered below intent now on the indoor jobs that still remained. The most sensible owners went home, but those of us whose timetables are ruled by employment rather than weather used the days as best we could.


There are some days where everything you touch goes wrong or fails. Saturday was one of them. On this rain-lashed ice cold morning the first failure aboard Aurial was, of course, the Eberspacher heater. Again. This time the fault codes pointed to a terminal ECU failure, so after many merry hours of diagnostic procedures I enjoyed a spell in the rain relaxing in the confines of the lazarette before emerging with the offending object. Ebay has provided a replacement while the old unit is checked to ascertain whether it is economically repairable – the £250 price of a new ECU is slightly off-putting. The next problem was the discovery of leaking deck fittings leaving a puddle on a shelf. But which fittings? The moulded head lining fitted to Aurial means that leaks can become apparent far from their source. This is a job for a fine day and lots of diagnostic unbolting and sealant replacement. Once we have resealed all the deck fitting we will, of course, find that leaking windows are the cause so the whole game will start again.


Finally, the deflated dinghy that had spent its winter in the fore peak decided that although it had fitted through the door on the way in, there was no way the aperture was wide enough when it came to extraction. With Carol pushing and me pulling, success was finally ours though at the cost of knocking off one of the saloon table fiddles – some wood glue will accompany my next visit. Needless to say, the dinghy will be stored elsewhere next year. Oh, and a postscript to a disastrous day – Carol forgot that she had installed Puffball the Boat Cat’s litter tray in the heads and stepped down without looking. The resulting litter catapult not only covered the slats on the floor but also, with pinpoint accuracy, shot through the oval opening below the toilet where the bilges lie.


Having finally warmed up with the electric fan heater while recovering from the day’s exertions the only sensible recourse was to enjoy drinks and supper with Norry and Hutch – a delightful evening that totally negated the frustrations of the day. When Sunday dawned damp and blowy I was again relieved that I had spent Friday refitting the sails, and gladly my run of failures had finished so I was able to leave Aurial clean and tidy, even to the extent of vacuuming the littered bilge.


Our next visit will be the season’s inaugural sail which will truly reveal Puffball’s nautical adaptability. We pray for fine weather and calm sea, and that she will cease to mimic Houdini whenever her Cat Floatation Device is worn. Watch this space…



Jonty Pearce