Off to a shaky start
04 June 2013 | Gulf of Mexico
We left the St. Pete Yacht Club around 9AM after loading our final fresh provisions the night before and a delightful dinner at the club. We had some mixed emotions leaving the house on Saturday. We both have lived there longer than anywhere else and put so much of ourselves into that place. Mol had tears in her eyes as we left, which gave me an unsettled feeling, but I know we will be happier once we are back into the cruising lifestyle. When we were out before we became intoxicated with the sense of freedom that develops living on a boat and have dreamed of adding to those experiences.
The weather gave us a short window to get to the Keys and make our left turn into the Gulf Stream and head north. On Monday night or Tuesday the predictions are for strong winds out of the south and right in our face. The plan was to get to Long Key and pass through the Channel five bridge and if things were as predicted head north with those southerlies pushing us. We left the yacht club with that in mind.
We motorsailed out the of bay under clear skies and into the Gulf. We had a close hauled sail with the seabreeze that built up to 18-20 knots apparent as we motor sailed to make good time. In the afternoon we began to have problems with air getting into the fuel system and I bled the lines several times and finally changed the filters. Those of you who are boaters with diesel engines know that they are simple and efficient but must have clean air, oil, and fuel. We had dirty filters and an air leak in the fuel system somewhere. We must have stirred up quite a soup of disgusting stuff in our fuel tanks with all the bouncing around. I also switched to the starboard fuel tank from the port one we had been using and the motor immediately shut down again. Investigation revealed a plugged fuel line and I removed the feed tube from the starboard tank to find it filled with crud. After cleaning it, and with difficulty reinstalling it, it promptly plugged up again. I blew the lines out with the dinghy pump to clear them which again was a temporary fix.
So it was about 11 PM and we were off Boca Grande Pass and after bleeding the lines five times and clearing the fuel lines and realizing we didn’t have our starboard fuel tank, we began to take stock and discuss our options. We could carry on and hope for the best, pull in at Boca Grande or Fort Myers and try to get help to sort it out, or go back to St. Pete and tie up at our free dock and fix it myself, Guess which we picked.
So now it’s around 3:30 AM as I’m writing this and we are off Sarasota and heading back to St. Pete. I’m still bleeding the lines every couple of hours and we’ll limp in and try to sort this out and start again when we can. Another good thing, or complication depending on how you look at it, is that Lisa called tonight to say she made it back to New York in good shape, but we gave her our car so I guess we’ll have to rent one for a couple of days to facilitate all this sorting out. The other issue is that we’ll be back at the house with all those emotions all over again.
Hopefully we’ll be back underway soon and even if we have to make short jumps to deal with the weather it will be fun. You know what they say “ the party starts on a motor boat when you arrive at your destination, but the party starts on a sailboat when you get on the boat”.