We woke early thanks to the alarm and were thankful for the blue skies and sunshine that greeted us. The fabric shop man arrived promptly at nine swaddled in his duvet jacket with a small bag of fabric samples and a measure. He regarded our Bimini, with horror. It looked decidedly shabby, not helped by our makeshift alterations. We assured him it was not his work and showed him why the fabric shape needed to be changed so we could sail with the Bimini up and still operate the manual winch. We smiled encouragingly. He took out his phone, which was equipped with a voice translator and we had a fun time to and fro with it, checking parameters. He sat on the edge of the stern, gesturing for John to join him. After counting the zips and making a couple of measurements he matched the fabric and calculated a price, which John agreed to. Looking rather solemn our man asked us to be there when he came to make a fitting a week before the job would be complete, on 8th June. We agreed and shook hands on it and paid a deposit in cash. He gave a firm nod, packed his bag and set off back along the pontoon with a firm step. One down, two to go! We sat out in the cockpit at the ready with our books.
Ten minutes or so later a man came up to us on the pontoon, and diffidently said hello. He was from the engine servicers. We stood and asked him to come on board. He shook his head, “I just wanted to let you know I am here. I must wait for the engineer” with that he smiled sadly and wandered back along the pontoon. We sat back down and waited on. At around ten the man returned with said engineer, who was rather more brisk. He shook hands and asked if we had run the engine. No. Five minutes would help warm everything up. John started up the engine. The engineer came onboard and went below. The first chap stayed on the pontoon and smiled apologetically. John then went below and gave his tour of the engine access points, but the engineer seemed more than cognisant about our set up. He spoke English fluently and asked very pertinent questions. John seized the opportunity to query him regarding our recurrent problems with the starter motor catching fire and he was completely unfazed and thought the problem to do with a relay switch, he would check after the engine service. Then the first man began to ferry equipment on board, which we passed in a chain down to the engineer, before the man himself finally came aboard and disappeared below. They removed the companionway stairs and lay paper on the floor prior to embarking on the most thorough engine service we have yet witnessed. It took some time. We read. During the time John received a phone call from the life raft people asking if there would be anyone on hand to help carry the life raft to the van. John said yes, went for a trolley, hoisted the raft onto it in readiness and pushed it onto the main thoroughfare out of our way. We read on, occasionally John was asked to start the engine again. Time passed slowly, with just the murmur of quiet voices from below.
A rather distinguished looking man came along the main pontoon, hands in the pockets of his casual jacket. He had a reticent air, but wandered onto our spur, giving Lyra the once over. After a whispered consultation John offered him our life raft to service. “No, no, I am just looking at the boats – this is a very nice boat.” “Thank you”. We sat back down. When the man for the life raft did arrive he was a very big lad in a grubby grey T-shirt, who looked more than capable of hefting the life raft onto one shoulder and carrying it away. He seemed grateful for the trolley and even more pleased when we told him he could leave it back at the entrance. We could not give him the existing certificate as it was down below behind two men and various bits of engine, but he just shrugged and set off pushing the trolley. I suggested we e-mail a photo of the certificate when we could access it.
Finally the stairs went back in and the non-engineer began carefully carrying tubs of used engine oil and pieces of equipment away. The engineer asked for the engine on again. “Can you hear it?” No, the engine sounded good to us. “It is saying ‘Thank you’, that is the sound of a happy engine!” We smiled and nodded. John asked him about the relay, but we had jumped the gun, the engineer had not finished yet, he needed to check the impeller; we could turn the engine off again. More time passed. Then he looked at the relay. He had John turn the ignition to the first position. He asked if we had a cable tie. Now had he asked for another impeller we could have offered him a choice of about a dozen, having a spare John had bought and inheriting a collection from Alan, but there was not a cable tie to be found on board. Undeterred the engineer said he would call back, when he next came on the pontoon, he showed John the casing of the relay in question. Around it had been wrapped a cable tie, which was loose. If he pressed on the casing so a better connection was made as evidenced by the engine fans coming on. He thought this dodgy connection was the source of our problems and his solution was simply to replace this loose cable tie with a tighter one. After that he shook hands with both of us and left, so his companion could do his bit, which was to take payment. They took cards on a mobile machine. And so by 1.30 we were done with visitors for the day and on the job list there was only the nav. lights to check, which John did later that night, pacing about on deck and calling them out as I switched them on and off from below.