A fractured davit causes problems for Jonty Pearce as he prepares Aurial for cruising

Last Friday was the 13th. I usually don’t pay much attention to its supposed reputation for bad luck, and in fact I had not even clocked the date.

However, it did turn out to be an unfortunate day for me, though the Ugly part in my title comes a little later.

I attended Aurial, my Southerly 105, on Thursday afternoon to complete a series of pre-cruise jobs.

Some should be easy, but one I expected to be unpleasant.

And so it proved to be, and this is the Bad part.

Southerlys have a 1 ton lifting keel hauled up by a hydraulic ram which links a solid sub-floor anchorage bracket to a pair of Kevlar pennants attached to the keel head through a pulley system.

I recently strengthened a bent axle through one of the pulleys; on initial testing I had been disconcerted to hear the hissing sound of a spray of hydraulic oil from a corroded ram connecting pipe under the floor.

The ram would have to be removed for repair. Initial dismantling went ok, but when I tried to knock out the bottom bracket’s stainless steel locating pin to lift out the ram the problems started.

After much wielding of a 4lb lump hammer in a restricted space I managed to get the pin to move but could not drive it through.

A couple of hours passed during which I happily entertained myself with said ‘Birmingham screwdriver’, but it was not until I cut the end of the pin off with an angle grinder and hit it out the other way that I finally, sweatily, claimed success.

During this process hydraulic fluid was liberally distributed and I spent a cheery half hour mopping it up with ‘giant bog roll’ before making myself part human with a hot shower and lashings of soap.

Continues below…

Friday started off rather better, and I steadily worked through my list of jobs before being picked up by Hutch and Norry for the evening’s entertainment.

The Ugly bit came at 4pm when I noticed that one of Aurial’s cast aluminium davits did not look quite as it should. Rather than being nicely aligned fore and aft, the starboard davit was bent 45 to port and the base had been fractured; it had been the subject of a significant impact.

The height of the davit meant that either a passing motor boat or a yacht’s shroud had to be the culprit – I looked round the boats in my vicinity, but could see no evidence of damage.

Next port of call was the Marina Reception – had anyone reported or seen an incident?

The answer was no, and the CCTV covered the view of the walkways better than the stern of my boat.

Enquiries are proceeding, but I contacted Haven Knox Johnson’s claims line in any case.

Fortunately, they cover damage sustained in the marina with no loss of No Claims Discount or excess payment; many other companies exclude this.

Having photographed the damage, I got Hutch, conveniently a marine engineer, to assess what repairs were needed. It saddens me that there is a fellow yachtsman out there who is not a man of honour. I could say more….

I’m never one to finish on a miserable note, so I’m glad to report the Good bit.

Every year, the Mayor of Haverfordwest in his role as Admiral of its Port “Beats the Bounds” by travelling in a water-borne procession to the White Stone at the town’s riverside boundary to exercise the rights of fishery.

A convoy of motor boats (a low bridge excludes masted yachts) left Neyland Yacht Haven on an upriver trip to Haverfordwest’s ‘The Bristol Trader’ quayside pub in to mingle with other floating revellers.

I joined Hutch and Norry in their rib, although we hitched up to Sledge’s boat Cracker for most of the journey, and I must say a cracking time was had by all. Haverfordwest was a mad free-for-all of organised marine chaos, and The Bristol Trader’s bar was 5 deep.

Our night was capped off by a series of ‘Dark and Stormies’ at Neyland Yacht Club, though my memory is a little blurred after our session there.

The spectre of my dishonest davit bender dissipated during the evening, though I am still left with the prospect of an expensive repair job. I thank my stars for good insurers, and curse the unprincipled perpetrator of my misfortune.