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
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.