The ‘E’ in ‘WOBBLE
By Kat Law – Deckhand
After a busy couple of days in Cardiff, the eXXpedition crew and I were getting ready to set sail again. Skipper Diane assigned me the task of ‘wobbling’ the engine. To the uninitiated this is an acronym in order to remember the points of checking the engine: ‘w’ for water, ‘o’ for oil, ‘b’ for bilges, another ‘b’ for belts, ‘l’ for leaks and finally ‘e’ for electrics – or so I have been led to believe, but we will come back to that later…
Eager to get underway we made our way back through the loch with many members of the crew feeling more confident with the fenders and lines. Once we were free of the loch we were able to eventually do some science, an exciting prospect as the weather had prevented us from doing any on the run up to Cardiff. However, there was a call from below and First Mate Holly informed us that the engine temperature was rising. My mind was cast back to my ‘wobbling’ earlier – did I forget something? We decided to drop anchor and stop the engine.
We were stopped for several hours whilst Holly and Diane checked out the issue. The crew busied themselves by taking some water samples using a pump to siphon samples into a sterile jar. I observed whilst checking transits on land using a compass in order to ensure that our anchor was sufficiently holding. We then heard a call that the offender causing our engine woes had been caught: It was a piece of plastic caught in the raw water filter and we felt this was fitting given our crusade to investigate plastics in our oceans. Alas, there was still an issue. Diane decided to investigate further and having sawn the water intake pipe in half she discovered the blockage. Unsure of the substance the pipe was upended, and out it slid. Sadly it was not an inanimate substance, but a, now, decapitated eel. So should the ‘e’ in ‘WOBBLE’ now stand for eel? Would Derick (yes, we named him) the eel still be with us if this was the case? Unlikely, but now whenever I ‘wobble’ I will think of Derick.
With eel-gate now resolved we could eventually get cracking albeit a bit behind schedule. The crew were eager and far more energetic with their seasickness behind them and we hoisted the sails despite facing big waves and getting soaked at the mast. We had a brilliant down wind ‘sleigh ride’ and despite the tricky point of sail and wind conditions, the crew got to grips with some challenging helming. We were fortunate enough that the wind died off for nearly a whole day allowing us to enjoy spotting numerous dolphins, seals, gannets and a sun fish. We also managed to use the manta trawl which was an entirely new experience for me. The wind picked up again and we whizzed into Belfast knowing that we had not only got in some great sailing, but science, animal spotting and even witnessed a fair amount of shooting stars. For me, it was a brilliant, rewarding trip that again demonstrated to me that life at sea is never quiet and there is always something unexpected around the corner!