An Old Acquaintance

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 24 May 2015 02:58

Alongside Rushbrook Public Floats, Prince Rupert
Weather: overcast, cool

Two days ago I was walking along the dock on my way back from town when I came across three fellows congregated around an inflatable dinghy. Two elderly gentlemen, one of whom was Leo, stood on the wharf while a younger man sat in the dinghy poking around with the dinghy's outboard. Clearly there was a problem with the outboard and just as clearly it behoved me to join the two elderly chaps on the dock to provide whatever additional advice I might have to the young bloke sitting in the dinghy. I soon worked out that the dinghy and outboard in fact belonged to the second gentleman on the dock and not the young man in the dinghy. The younger fellow was merely a mechanic (though no mere mechanic) who was passing by and had got roped into lending a hand.

While the young man continued to poke around with the outboard the second gentleman, short, white haired and white bearded, speaking with a deep gruff voice, asked me whether I had been in Borneo recently as he thought he had seen my boat there. Obviously I had not but he was adamant that he had seen Sylph somewhere, or at least a boat very much like her. After a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing I found out that he was also Australian, though originally Norwegian, and that his boat was anchored on the other side of the harbour. He had ended up over there as when he came into the marina he found it was full. Consequently he had come ashore in his dinghy, but the engine had died half way across the channel and he had to paddle the remaining distance. A little further discussion and we worked out that we had both crossed the Indian Ocean in 2002. At this point the penny dropped and I realised we had met in Mauritius all those years ago. I even remembered his boat's name, Fram, though not that of the man, which I had to be reminded of, Harald. It seemed we had some catching up to do.

Somehow, a little while later, I found myself sitting in the dinghy looking at Harald's outboard with the more qualified younger fellow disappearing ashore to attend to more important matters, namely his home and family. After some more prodding and poking, and fruitless tugging of the start chord, I came to the conclusion that the problem was most likely a gummed up carburettor which needed soaking in some solvent overnight. Regardless of the root cause of the problem, it was obvious that we were not going to get the outboard going that night and the more immediate problem became what to do about Harald before the sun set and it got cold and dark. Leo offered to take him back out to Fram using his houseboat, which I thought was a generous offer and a sensible idea, but then realised it would actually be a lot easier for me to take Harald back to Fram in Sylph. So I offered Sylph's services and suggested that once back on board Fram that Harald should weigh anchor and come alongside the marina, explaining that he could double up outboard another vessel as was common practice in the crowded marinas. This was soon accomplished and I am pleased to say that since then we have also gotten his outboard running again, and caught up on a lot of what we have been up to in the last thirteen years.

All is well.





and the Fram (named after Roald Amundsen’s famous boat):