Avenall Bharath on boat before engine fails on journey from Trinidad to Tobago. Photo by Candida Khan.
Avenall Bharath on boat before engine fails on journey from Trinidad to Tobago.

Boat engine failure on waters to Tobago

By Candida Khan. Three friends decided to take their boat to Tobago on Easter Sunday. They tested the boat one week before to make sure the recently installed port engine and starboard engine were functioning to standard. Then, they took the boat for a test run around Gasparee Island.

Port engine trouble

An alarm came on for the port engine indicating a malfunction. They called the mechanic who fixed the engines on the boat and revved the port engine to a maximum of 2000 rpm. Around the first Bocas, the port engine completely shut down and refused to start.

Being a pleasure boat owner with no experience about engines they called the mechanic for advice. He assured them that the other engine that was working fine would be able to carry the boat across to Tobago without a doubt.

Journey to Tobago

They started on their journey early in the morning around 7.00 a.m. in hopes of reaching Tobago by midday. They made their way up the rough waters of the North Coast of Trinidad. At Matelot, they decided to take on the challenge of the open waters between the Islands and headed to Tobago despite engine issues.

Starboard engine trouble

As they came closer to the centre of the islands the starboard engine that was working fine shut off due to lack of fuel. They made their way to the bow of the boat to get a siphon hose to transfer spare fuel they had bought, but it was mistakenly forgotten home.

Pouring fuel without a siphon hose

They poured cups of fuel into the built-in fuel tank trying not to spill any on the boat, but with the waves banging them from left to right, fuel fell everywhere. After getting only half of the fuel they had into the tank, they continued their journey to Tobago.

Coast Guard assistance

At 4.00 p.m. and no land in sight they realised they were against time in hopes of reaching Tobago before night. Hearts in hand they made up their minds to continue on the journey as dangerous as it was.

At the mark of 5.30 p.m. they decided to call the Coast Guard in Tobago for assistance. They sent their GPS position and within one hour they noticed a speed boat coming towards them. The Coast Guard came to their rescue.

With new ropes, they tied the bow of the boat to the stern of the Coast Guard and was towed back to the port of Scarborough which took them till 11.00 p.m.

Safety tips when sailing via private boat

  • Ensure you have phone contact.
  • Pack lots of fresh water, food and snacks.
  • Pack extra clothing, sunscreen and towels.
  • Ensure the engines are working properly before you leave.
  • Contact the Coast Guard immediately when issues arrive if no friend or other surrounding boats can help.
  • Make a check list of all you need with the persons you are going with and plan the route.
  • Give loved ones updates on location.
  • Carry a tool kit, first aid kit, torch light, whistle, and extra fuel for emergencies.
  • Talk out situations with each other to get ideas on what can be done in emergencies.

October 2017   www.sweettntmagazine.com

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