Thursday, 12/20: Listening to the weather reports, the day did not sound very good for traveling. 20-25 mph winds from the South (which I am ok with) and chance of water spouts or tornados to the south, strong thunderstorms with lightening and hail also possible. Now we are talking! I made a call the marina in Melbourne as I was heading south and they were full up so it was either keep going or go back where I was and hunker down. I kept going.
The first half of the day was not bad and actually pleasant at times but after noon, the wind started picking up in earnest. And then I had my first major scare of the trip. Blasting along through 25knot winds along the Indian River, my engine died. Similar to the way it had previously when fuel filter was clogged. One quick try to restart and then I jumped up on the foredeck to drop the anchor. The Indian River basin where this happened was actually a few miles across, but most of the water shoaled pretty rapidly once you left the 70 foot wide channel. Needless to say, I scrambled to get the anchor down and boat stopped. First attempt and it was obvious that I did not have enough rode out. I jumped up and tried to get the snubber off so I could let more chain out but the tension was quite high. I got my finger caught in between the windlass and chain at one point and was sure I was going to lose the finger. I managed to get it out less just a little skin off the knuckle. whew. I also was struggling with the windlass motor as it kept trippng the breaker when it got overloaded so I was jumping between the helm, the breaker in the saloon and the foredeck. Then on a trip up to adjust the snubber, I rolled my ankle on the foredeck. OUCH! So now I am finally anchored in about 7 feet of water, 2 foot wind waves and 25 knot winds. I am bleeding, limping and a bit frustrated since I just spent 700 to have both fuel tanks polished to correct the dirty fuel problem.
To the engine room I went. I am getting to be quite good at changing the fuel filter and bleeding the fuel system now but when I took the fuel filter out, it did not look that dirty but it seems to do the trick. and headed back on my way into the teeth of the storm. The winds finally started dying down in the late afternoon, but then the skies opened up and dropped massive amounts of rain on me.
I am behind in my schedule again today because of the delay with the filter and the fact that I am only making 3-4 knots against the weather and had planned 5. It starts getting dark but I need to keep going to get to someplace I can anchor. Just as soon as it starts getting dark, the chartplotter starts shutting down every five minutes. I think it is the connector and keep messing with that but finally figure out that the power supply to the unit is not getting enough juice. Everytime it drops below a set level, it shuts down. All I have to do is hit the power button, but I am trying to navigate in the dark with not the best navigation marks for night. I finally make it to the Fort Pierce bascule bridge and am able to go pretty much right through and to my elation, there are a handful of sailboats anchored just to the right, past the bridge and the chart shows there is enough water for me to sneak in too.
I anchor and have a well deserved drink while I amaze at my fortune to make it through the trails today. Once again, I get up a number of times during the night to check the anchor but wake at 6 feeling refreshed and ready for another day!