Having had a great day of sailing in the fog then sunshine (Pics to follow), we sailed back up Chichester Harbour to Emsworth. In an effort to wait for the tide to come in further I dropped the main early and left out half the genoa to cut speed. We were on a beam reach going with the tide so going slowly was not easy! Since it was such a nice sunny quiet day I left it until nearly the town quay to start the engine which usually starts second pull. It didn't start and we were getting closer and closer to the town quay so I gybed around and sailed back towards the waiting pontoon since I didn't fancy trying for town quay in an easterly with only 0.9m water and no engine.
This was my first attempt at sailing up to a pontoon so I'm sure you can understand how I felt. There was luckily space on the end of the leeward side of the pontoon so we got fenders and ropes ready in advance as we headed toward the pontoon. While we were still a way off, another boat pulled in to our planned spot. I was gutted but fair enough, they had just as much right to be there as we did and worst case there were plenty of mooring buoys about that I could sail up to. As it turned out there was a space just my size on the windward side of the pontoon so I took the opportunity and went for it. We swapped the ropes to the starboard side of the boat and made what can only be described as a textbook aproach; even if I say it myself we were more graceful than the other boat had been under engine (no offence if you're the boat!!). The genoa was furled quickly and we tied up ready to look at the engine.
Problem 2 is that this was also my first engine problem afloat so I checked the fuel, checked the spark plug then felt a bit stumped. Thanks to many "wasted" hours reading forums and magazines I then thought "carb rings a bell, might be that". I've never taken the carb off before let alone taken it apart but I wanted to get home so strip it I did. There's more fuel in this than I expected so I'm glad I had a newspaper on board. I stripped the carb and cleaned then refitted everything. As luck would have it the engine started immediately and we were on our way and tied up with the BBQ lit in the marina shortly after.
I was lucky that the weather was so good on this day so this being my first time wasn't overly traumatic but the moral of the story is, don't leave it until you have to to take things apart and practice maneuvers. Although I had sailed up to buoys on numerous occasions I had never before tried a pontoon. I had changed the spark plug and impeller on the outboard before but always though I would get to the carb another day, I guess I was right.