10 December 2010
After a quiet night in Lake Worth north, we awake to heavy rain. It was our plan today to leave at 7:00 am and go on the outside to Fort Lauderdale but the visibility is not so great and the piloting out of Lake Worth is tricky. So we decide to wait a while and finally leave around 8:30. It's a longish run today of some 55 miles but rain notwithstanding the conditions are quite benign with winds of 10 to 15 knots from the north west. Winds coming off the land means that as we skirt along the shore, we won't have much seas.
Its an interesting run today and we put out our jib and gain some real good speed. It gets a bit lumpy as we approach Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades late in the afternoon which is exacerbated by the many vessels going in and out and around the entrance to the port. Roger and Jacquie are ahead of us on Audacious and as we work our way into the harbour.
But first, a bit of a primer from the Port Everglades web site, "Located In the heart of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the City of Hollywood, FL, Port Everglades is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. It is a leading container port in Florida and among the most active cargo ports in the United States. And, Port Everglades is South Florida's main seaport for receiving petroleum products including, gasoline and jet fuel." It's a very very busy port with not only many cruise ships but cargo ships of all kinds and loads of pleasure vessels; many large, high powered sport fishers and motor launches.
Now, we turn into the channel after a long but pleasant day and mid channel, the engine suddenly conks out. This can be calamitous with the extent of the traffic and the congested narrow channel. But, fortunately I had prepared for this eventuality by having installed before we left for our cruise two years ago two primary filters in parallel. Actually, I have to credit my great friend and mentor Norman Raine for having suggested this improvement. The notion is that if you have a suddenly clogged fuel filter, you can simply twitch to another and hopefully restart the engine. Well, within thirty seconds, I flew down the companionway, moved the mattress from our aft cabin, removed a small access hatch and turned on our fresh filter. Turned the key and the engine immediately fired up and away we went - disaster averted.
We make one more opening bridge then proceed to this small "lake" called Lake Sylvia. It's actually more like a pond in a bunch of rich peoples' front yards. There are probably ten boats anchored in this pleasant place and we join this fleet of mostly Canadian cruising sailboats.
Now the fun begins! We have to figure out why the filter got clogged in the first place. So, I dig down into my spares bin and find a new filter, remove the old and with much spilling of diesel, change the filter. The offending filter is clogged with algae which grows in diesel, despite me being very careful about using biocide and trying to keep clean fuel. It must have got dislodged when we took the wake from a large cruiser on the way in. Anyway Bob and I spend a couple of hours and use many rolls of paper towels draining the crud from the two filters. The engine starts fine and things look better. However, I'm still concerned about whether there's more stuff in the tank and certainly don't want the engine to stop at the time when you least expect it, particularly in transiting to the Bahamas. I will try to obtain the services of a "fuel polisher", a guy with an apparatus which essentially sucks the fuel out of the tank, filters it and recirculates it back in.
Just another adventure but thanks to Norman's foresight we were able to continue with only the most minor inconvenience