And the starter motor decides it's finally going to give up the ghost.
This starter motor has been problematic for a while, insofar as it wouldn't engage when the engine was hot, unless hit with a sledgehammer kept in the engine room for the purpose.
So, we had been preparing to replace it. We had a spare, which we got completely rebuilt last summer by the nice man in Hednesford, and it was just a matter of getting round to fitting it. However, it appeared that in order to undo one of its bolts, it would be necessary to lift the engine. Thus the job kept getting put off.
This morning however, the old one finally decided to stop turning over with anything like enough power to get the engine running - despite trying it with two newly charged and one brand new battery. Jim is now, as I write (and I have to keep breaking off to fetch him tools) seeing if, by cutting the straps on the electrical conduit, which are fixed under the engine mounting bolts, he can get to the recalcitrant nut without having to undo these.
If this can be done, and if the new starter motor works, we will still hopefully catch up with Plover in time to leave tomorrow morning. If not, then disaster - because I have the bar rota.
You may ask why we don't hand start it. Well, firstly because we haven't put the hand start chain back on since fixing the high pressure fuel pump cam, and secondly, because the reason there wasn't any point in doing that is that only one person has ever succeeded in hand starting it, and we can't take Mike Askin everywhere with us.
The latest cry from the engine room indicates that while the nut has been undone (on the right hand end in the photo) there isn't room for the starter motor to clear its studs because one of the engine mounts (on the left) is in the way. The trouble is, these engine set ups were never designed to be worked on in situ; for any major work they would be lifted out and swapped.
Such are the delights of ancient boat ownership, and the perils of procrastination.