Wanted to be in the Bahamas Today but ...
11 March 2014 | Port Canaveral, FL
Sylvia - lovely but changing for a couple of days
We did get back in the water at the beginning on the week as we had hoped. I then was busy running around and getting the provisions to load up the freezer and reefer and Bill was busy making sure all of the systems were going as expected after several weeks on the hard. We had some lovely times with Paul Weigel on Liesel and with Ken and Vicki Page on Painkiller during this time so it wasn't all work. Pain killer was launched the day after we were with plans to head down the ICW. They were leaving just after we did. Poor Paul is still on the hard and diligently working away in the hopes that Elizabeth will come down soon and they will be able to get to the Bahamas this year. It would be wonderful if we could meet up with them there. Although our plans probably won't mesh very well but one never knows.
We got a beautiful weather window of 3 great traveling days and cast off from Tiger Point on Sunday, the 9th, around noon heading down the Florida coast as far as the Lake Worth/Palm Beach area and then heading across the Gulf Stream to West End, Grand Bahama to arrive around noon on Tuesday. At least, that was the plan. Instead we are at Port Canaveral.
We took off from Tiger Point and every thing was fine but after about 9 ½ hours we discovered that our engine has an anomaly. It will run for hours but then it starts to starve and surge and then will eventually die. It died between Jacksonville and St . Augustine (25 miles from JAX and 21 miles from St. Aug) and NO wind and just before sunset. I called TowBoatUS (thank heaven for the SAT phone – we were too far out for cell reception) and talked to Capt. Justin, a great guy. He suggested JAX would be better because of tide, etc. But while we were talking, Bill tried the motor and it started right up and was running with no problem.
Soooooooo, then came decision time. We decided to try to make it on down to Port Canaveral - another 18 hours. Off we went but it died again 4 hours later but luckily a night wind had come up so we put up a reefed main and reefed jib and sailed for several more hours. About 4 AM the wind died, Bill tried the engine, it started and we were off again. In the morning, I called Cape Marina in Port Canaveral where we were a couple of years ago when we got towed in from 5 miles off the channel entrance when our starter motor quit on us. So we knew it was an easy place to get towed into if necessary. They said no problem they had a floating T-head we could have. Then I called Capt Justin back and got the direct number for Capt. Tim in Port Canaveral. (Have to find the booklet that lists the TowBoatUS numbers!!). Capt. Tim and I discussed it and figured out when we were likely to arrive. He also gave me some info on a shorter approach to the channel skirting the Southeast Shoal which cut off an hour of the trip. And so we motored on. Luckily the seas were almost calm so we could make good time.
I called him when we were near to entering the channel and he came out and escorted us in. We were concerned about the engine dying right in the harbor channel. This is were several cruise ships arrive and depart from. Not a place to be dead in the water. Capt. Tim wholeheartedly agreed and thus the escort. We got to Cape Marina just fine. The motor had been running for about 12 hours but there were some small surges the last hour or so.
After docking Bill and Capt. Tim discussed it and both think it sounds like a fuel problem. It may be the fuel pump on the engine. We called the same fellow who changed our starter out 2 years ago. At that time he suggested we not replace it with an expensive Cummins starter but with a perfectly good less expensive after-market part. He is a certified Cummins dealer and mechanic. So we are very comfortable with his work and his honesty. We had hoped to see him some time today but it will be tomorrow. Bill checked the fuel filter on the engine and it is fine as are the two fuel filters between the storage tanks and the day tank so it looks more and more like the fuel pump. All in all, we were never in any danger but it was a very long night. Both of us got about 4 hours of sleep. We were beat when we finally got here.
Of course, we have now lost the great weather window but we may be able to cross over this weekend if predictions hold. We don't need to be in Nassua until April 1st when Ken flies in and if we aren't there Nassau Harbor Club has rooms right there in their marina where he can stay. We don't expect a problem arriving before he does but we didn't plan on this stop either. We only need two 24 hr windows from now until April 1st. Keep your fingers crossed for us and think nice thoughts about the weather gods.