Since it’s the first run of the season, I’m frequently checking the engine.
About half an hour out, I make my third check. When I open the engine room door, white smoke billows out at me…definitely gets my attention. But then my brain kicks in with:
Don’t panic, John, you installed new cladding on the exhaust riser last winter, probably just the binding agents gassing off.
I’m about to head back to the cockpit to cut the throttle back to idle, when a piercing two-tone alarm goes off.
I’m frozen in place as my mind races:
Why do we have an alarm when the auto fire extinguisher has not activated?
Wait, maybe it’s the exhaust over-temperature alarm…No, that’s not how it sounds, and anyway the light on that alarm is off.
Could it be one of our two smoke detectors…No, neither has a light on.
Come to think of it, we don’t even have an alarm that sounds like that.
And where the hell is it coming from? I’m wearing ear defenders, why is it so loud? It sounds like it’s coming from inside my head.
At some point in all of this I cut the throttle back and, sure enough, our engine room blowers quickly clear the smoke, so I can see that the source is indeed the new cladding.
But where the hell did that alarm come from?
As I go back on deck to check around, I notice that there’s a text message on the lock screen of my phone that’s sitting on the cockpit chart table.
A closer look reveals that the Nova Scotia Emergency Measures organization chose that exact moment to test their new mobile phone alert system.
And I have just bought and am wearing hearing aids (my first) that automatically link, via Bluetooth, to my phone whenever it’s anywhere near me.
You can’t make this stuff up.