Alexi and Bob Sail Away

10 April 2022
24 February 2022
12 January 2022
20 October 2021 | Moving South
23 September 2021
02 August 2021
02 June 2021
08 April 2021
08 April 2021
15 February 2021
19 January 2021 | Marathon
02 January 2021
19 November 2020
17 November 2020
31 August 2020 | Deltaville
13 July 2020
20 June 2020 | Portsmouth, VA

My First Time Being Towed

19 May 2021
Robert Malkin
We had been cruising our new to us Silverton 372, LAMANTIN, for less than a week. We had a first day with a hired captain to show us the ropes (except there aren’t any on a motor yacht). And, we ran aground. The somewhat embarrassed, hired captain -- since he had advised the course that led through the shoal -- told me later that he had never run aground during a training day. It is nice to be the first at something. We also took the boat out to refill the gas tanks. We ran aground again. Now, we were on the third day of actual cruising to make miles and we needed a tow!

On the first day of cruising, we had had a great day crossing Tampa Bay. The boat was new to us so we cruised at different speeds to get a feel for the boat in maneuvering, displacement and planning modes. At the end of that first day, we felt pretty good about the boat. The second cruising day had us nicely tucked into a spot in the heart of Sarasota, where we found a great Asian fusion restaurant. Feeling pretty good, we headed into day three with an expectation to make it to Savannah, GA in about a week.

After an uneventful few hours crossing near Port Charlotte and passing Captiva and Sanibel, we headed up the Caloosahatchee river towards Fort Myers, where we intended to spend the night. Just as we passed through a narrow, crowded area with shallows on both sides (isn’t it always like that), the helm appeared to go hard over and we were heading towards another boat and another grounding. Fortunately, I was able to reduce the throttle and gain control quickly, avoiding a certain disaster.

Alexi took over so that I could try to figure out what was going on. Limping along on one engine, using a combination of throttle and helm, Alexi guided us towards deeper water where we dropped the anchor.

Many attempts to start the engine led to good cranking but not firing. I changed fuel filters and verified what I could but was not able to quickly diagnose the problem. We could have sat at anchor comfortably for a while but I couldn’t fix the problem and Fort Myers has lots of good mechanics. So, we decided to get towed.

Fortunately, we have TowBoatUS insurance that offers free towing within 50 miles of shore. After answering a few questions on an app - which forwarded to phone number where I had to answer the same questions with a human – a tow boat was dispatched. In a small RIB with 300 HP of outboard power, Billy and his young son deftly maneuvered us into a slip at the nearest marina.

Then, I spent more than one hour calling over 20 mechanics in the Fort Myers area. Some were booked 2-4 weeks out! Some no longer worked on inboard gasoline engines. Most never responded to my messages. It seemed like I was going to be the mechanic-du-jour.

After some desperate posts on the Silverton forums, I was able to obtain the manuals that I needed to start diagnosing the problem. I spent most of that day and all the next morning tracking down the problem. The engine was cranking but no fuel was reaching the throttle body. The fuel pump worked but was not getting a signal. Even when I overrode the control on the fuel pump, the fuel injectors were not squirting fuel onto the butterfly valves (this engine is a hybrid of electronic fuel injection and carburation). After deducing that the problem as an electrical problem, I suspected a blown relay. It took me 30 minutes just to find the relay, buried in a housing that I thought only contained fuses. But a quick test confirmed my suspicion. The ignition relay was blown.

A great advantage of having car engines in your boat is that some parts are cheap and easy to obtain. AutoZone had three of these in stock at $8 each. A quick Uber and a quick job of replacing the part and the engines ran perfectly again.

All in all, we got very lucky. Without the manuals and some experience working on car engines, I probably could not have fixed the problem. And if I didn’t fix the problem, we could have been stuck in Fort Myers for weeks or even months waiting for a mechanic.
It turns out that the easiest part of the entire experience was the part I feared the most; the tow. The tow boat arrived on time and was super professional and skilled. And, with our insurance it was free. I don’t think I want to do that again. But, it is nice knowing that I can, without worries.
Vessel Name: Lamantin
Vessel Make/Model: Silverton 372
Hailing Port: Wilmington, NC
Crew: Alexi and Bob
About: We are taking a few years to live aboard our boat and visit some amazing places.
Extra: Let us know if you want to come visit!
Lamantin's Photos - Main
Our time in Florida in the winter of 2021-22
13 Photos
Created 12 January 2022
Sights of us moving from the upper Chesapeake to FL in the fall of 2021
4 Photos
Created 20 October 2021
Summer 2021 spent in the Chesapeake
8 Photos
Created 23 September 2021
It is a huge job to replace the fuel tanks on a boat. Fortunately, they last about 20-25 years. So, we are not likely to ever do this again.
6 Photos
Created 2 August 2021
Photos from our trip from Florida to Rhode Island in the spring of 2021
2 Photos
Created 19 May 2021
We spent Dec/Jan 20/21 in the Florida Keys
23 Photos
Created 21 December 2020
Sights of the east coast of the US in the fall of 2020
4 Photos
Created 19 November 2020
Photos from our week in Utah
5 Photos
Created 16 October 2020
We spent a few summer months sailing around the southern Chesapeake
12 Photos
Created 20 June 2020
We sailed from West Palm Beach to Portsmouth VA in early 2020
20 Photos
Created 6 June 2020
We had two great weeks of friends and family visiting us on the boat on Great Exuma Island
18 Photos
Created 8 March 2020
The Exumas is a long chain of islands with many remote and beautiful spots to drop an anchor
39 Photos
Created 19 January 2020
We had a great New Year's vacation with our children and friends in the Bahamas
27 Photos
Created 10 January 2020
Photos of the trip from Georgia to The Bahamas
13 Photos
Created 15 December 2019
It was a lot of work and a lot of good byes ...
6 Photos
Created 6 December 2019
Trip down the ICW from Georgetown, SC to Brunswick, GA
10 Photos
Created 19 June 2019
Photos to get you oriented to the boat
11 Photos
Created 10 June 2019