Up against a faster enemy ship? Try slowing it down by sub-targeting
[G key] its propulsion bay. Once it is disabled, you can then concentrate
your fire against its remaining systems.
Unable to activate a Vortex Gate? Pull up alongside the Gate then wait
for another ship to enter or exit the Gate. Once the Gate is activated,
you can then make the jump into hyperspace.
Up a "space creek" without a paddle? You can repair your engines or
divert energy to the thrusters with the auxiliary power supply, which
is located in the Engineering screen. If that doesn't work, you can
always call for assistance by pressing [Ctrl-H] and waiting for the
tug to arrive.