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Improvising with underwear

Man with spanner As a sailing instructor, when you ask your clients wife for her bra and knickers you know it’s a strange day. By Simon Jinks, Yachtmaster Examiner and Journalist

It was during an own boat tuition session on a forty foot Beneteau that this peculiar event occurred. We were motoring down river towards the marina when the revs dropped.

Tick-over only

The gearshift still operated allowing forward and reverse gears, but only at tick-over. With a full ebb tide beneath the keel and a rising wind, it was be doubtful whether we’d have enough power to turn into wind and tide and to moor alongside.

Instead we opted to go out into clear water, drop the hook and see what had gone wrong. Once safely anchored, the engine was inspected and the fault was found to be a broken throttle cable.

We decided to rig a temporary fix to get the boat back into the river and safely alongside.  To create a new throttle cable we connected a piece of string from the throttle lever on the engine, ran it back into the aft cabin, out of the window leading into the cockpit and up towards the wheel.

Then max revs

Contented it would work; we fired up the engine and pulled the new throttle string. It worked, but too well, as the engine went to max revs and ran at full power even when the string was released. We couldn’t ease the revs back down.

We needed a spring to pull against the throttle string to make the throttle lever spring back, so when the string was released the revs would drop. Spare springs were in short supply but elastic or bungy would fit the bill.

Commando only!

A search found the new boat devoid of such luxuries, and we soon concluded that underwear was the only thing on board which had these ‘springy’ properties.

The owner, red faced, owned up that he actually ‘goes commando’, so our eyes slowly turned to his wife. With eyebrows raised we were coyly presented with a small bundle of underwear.

So with one end of a bra connected to the engine throttle lever and the other extended by string and attached to the table leg in the saloon we tried again.

Now it worked perfectly.  To use the engine we engaged gear using the throttle lever, then pulled the throttle string to increase the revs and when power was reduced, the bra took up the slack and slowed us down.

Ever since then, when I check out a boat’s spares with its owner it is always with a wry smile! 

What to include in your spares kit

To avoid having to deploy either your underwear or anyone else’s you may want to consider including bungy cord in your spares kit.

Other good spares that you’ll always want to carry are; gaffer/self amalgamating/insulation tape, bulldog clips, a few metres of light line, seizing wire, some self tappers and nuts and bolts with penny washers, lubricating oil, Vaseline, electrical wire and connectors.

This is as well as the normal engine filters and service kits and for the engine, loo and winches.

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