Friday, 12/21 – Another day with poor weather forecast. Gale warnings with winds predicted to be 25-30 with gusts to 35. The problem is, the anchorage i have is not very well protected and my anchor seems to be dragging.
After a good breakfast, I decide to start the engine and re-position the anchor. My plan had been to spend today sitting at anchor while waiting for the storm to pass. Well, I no sooner get the anchor up and the engine dies again. WTF! I quickly drop the anchor again to see what is going on. This time, when I pull the primary filter, it does not look dirty at all and really shouldn’t be as it only has 6-7 hour on it.
So next I check the secondary filter and water cup and I really couldn’t see much there but started draining the cup. Then the dirt from the filter started flowing down and it was obvious what the problem was. I ended up changing out the filter and the fuel in it was filthy!!! Hopefully this is the last of the bad junk from the tanks. I replaced the filter, got the engine started and decided what the hell, now that I got the problem figured out, I am good to go with a little wind.
Well, I got wind alright. The first hour was ok but then it built and was steadily blowing at least 15 all day with many periods at 20-25 and gusty. Of course, I could have handled that but once again, after a couple hours, the engine quit again. I am getting good at droppig the anchor, I leave it ready to deploy now and drop it as soon as the engine dies. This happened another 4-5 times during the day and I could not figure it out. The filters were not dirty. I tried switching tanks and no change to the problem.
My first thought is that somehow the chemicals that had been added to the tanks when they were cleaned were causing the problem. I noticed that the rpms would slowly start to drop and then finally, the engine would die. As I thought about it more while I am begging all the gods not to let it quit again at a bad place, I started thinking that perhaps it was an air leak into the system. Each time when I went down, there was quite a bit of air in the system so all it took to restart was to bleed out the air.
With this in mind, whenever the engine would start to hesitate or drop rpms, even the slightest amount, I would rev the throttle and this would pull the air out or force enough fuel through to keep the engine going. With this new technique, I managed to keep the engine from dying again for the rest of the day, but there were many close calls and scary places that I am so glad it kept going.
When I finally got to Hobe Sound around 3pm, my intended anchorage for the night, just as I am nosing in to check depth, the engine starts to falter and I am not paying attention so.. it dies, I anchor there. After taking a look at the various gaskets and seals for the filters I had replaced, I finally got to the secondary filter that I had replaced first thing this morning and realized that I had unscrewed the pump cap slightly to help fill the filter and I forgot to tighten it again. It was just enough to screw up my whole day. I got the motor started again to test it out and I am pretty sure that is what the issue was and tomorrow should be smooth running.
Overall, I have made it through a lot more than I thought I would have to face in my first couple days. I feel good that the boat is in one piece even if I am limping a bit. I did not have to get towed nor did I need rescue, although there were a couple times that I thought that might be my next step. I have learned a few things:
1) Bring up and put on life vest before you need it. Especially when single handing, it is harder to get down below if weather comes up.
2) Slow down and be more deliberate and careful in emergencies. My injuries were a result of going to fast and not thinking through my actions.
3) Write down more anchoring and marina options along the intended route in case progress is not made as planned. There were a few places that might have made good anchorages today but as I hadn’t scouted them on the charts, I wasn’t confident to pull in.
4) Put list of waypoints, anchorages, marinas, etc in plastic bag so it is weatherproof and can be kept on self.
5) Always secure boat for heavy weather each day so that if things take a turn, you are prepared.