RI to FL - Day 38(Final Day)
Cape Coral, FL to Punta Gorda
We departed from Rum Runners in Cape Coral, FL this morning at 0730 and headed back out to the ICW. This would be the final leg of our trip back to Florida from Rhode Island.
It was a beautiful bright sunny day... perfect for our last day of cruising and it's Thanksgiving Day. Although, it was very windy 15-20 knots with gusts over 25 knots. Even as windy as it was the waves were minimal... 2-3 foot at most.
It was a little shallow leaving the dock as expected and we stirred up a little mud getting away and out of the canal but once you hit the main canal it gets deeper. Well... deeper is 7-8 feet.
For Thanksgiving Day there were not a lot of boats out and moving... we thought we would of seen many more boats than we did... there were a lot of boats anchored in the anchorages we passed as we cruised up Pine Island Sound. The Useppa Island anchorage by Cabbage Key was packed... had 12 boats anchored.... our favorite anchorage Pelican Bay must of had 50-75 boats anchored in it... but no time to anchor today we had to keep heading north to get back in time for a Thanksgiving Dinner with family in Punta Gorda.
About 1400 we turned to starboard slowly leaving Charlotte Harbor and heading up the Peace River and could see our final destination in the distance only a few miles away... ETA was 1430... Susan had just gotten off the phone with her sister Lisa letting her know we would be docked in Fishermen's Village and would be to her house for dinner around 1600. At 1415 the starboard engine suddenly drops in RPM... Susan manned the helm and I was off to the engine room to check things... I was expecting to see the vacuum gauge on the Racor filter elevated but it was fine... I checked the sight tubes for fuel level and it was fine.... but the starboard engine was sputtering as if it was running out of fuel... I checked fuel valves to be sure I had not hit any during one of my routine engine room checks... which I have done before... everything looked fine... I returned to the pilothouse and tried to increase the RPM on the starboard engine... it came back to speed but only for a minute or two... then the port engine loss RPM... what was wrong... it had to be a fuel issue... I returned to the engine room to double check everything again.... Racor vacuum at zero... Racor filters looked clean... fuel valves open... fuel sight tube showing 200 gallons in each tank... WAIT... there should not of been 400 gallons of fuel left... we normally use about 800 gallons of fuel on our trip from RI to FL... I had put in a 1000 gallons before leaving RI... I should of been showing about 100 gallons in each tank... I went back to fuel tanks and found the issue... last time I had checked fuel level I had shut the valve to sight tubes off... when traveling I normally leave them open but I shut them off when we stop for any extended period... I opened the valves and the fuel in the sight tubes dropped to out of sight... no fuel was visible in the tubes on either tank... OH OH! I was out of fuel.
I returned tot he pilothouse and let Susan know the problem and we needed to anchor and quickly before we lost all power... if we lost power we would not be able to anchor as our windlass is hydraulic and the hydraulic pump operates off the starboard engine. I went to the foredeck and prepared to lower the anchor... the wind was still blowing steady 20 knots and gusting to 25 knots and it was blowing us toward shallow water... we were currently in 8.5 feet but less than 4 feet was not far from us... I activated the hydraulic pump and removed the anchor lock and started lowering the anchor... 10 feet, 20 feet 30 feet.... the windlass stopped... I could hear the alarm buzzer going off from the engine instrument panel in the pilothouse... the engine had died. We had about 30 feet of chain out... we were still dragging sideways in the wind... the anchor had not set yet and we were heading toward the shoal... then with a THUD the anchor caught and we spun around bow into the wind.... WHEW!
I returned to the pilothouse and called TowBoatUS on my cell... let them know where we were and that I had loss all power and needed a tow into Fishermen's Village. We were just 1.8 miles from our slip in Fishermen's Village and had run out of fuel... SUCKS!
Within 30 minutes TowBoatUS arrived and I asked for diesel fuel as I wanted to see if this would work before being towed. Captain Jack passed me two 5 gallon containers of diesel fuel... which I poured 5 gallons into the starboard tank, 4 gallons into the port tank and 1 gallon into a smaller gallon jug... I needed this to fill the Racor filters up and allow me to pump fuel and bleed the engines with the integrated hand fuel pump on the secondary fuel filter.
I went to the engine room with my gallon of diesel and filled both Racor filters and bleed both engines... fingers crossed I returned to the pilothouse and tried to start the engines... they both started and after a little sputtering they were both running smoothly... off to the foredeck to raise the anchor... in this wind raising the anchor is always fun but we managed to get it up and we were soon back underway heading toward Fishermen's Village.
I informed Captain jack on the towboat of our intentions and asked to keep close incase we lost power and would need his assistance. As we entered the channel for Fishermen's Village I hailed the marina to be sure their fuel dock was open as I wanted to get some fuel before docking in our slip. They acknowledged they were still open and would be waiting for us at the fuel dock.
We were soon at the fuel dock and adding diesel.... $4.41 a gallon... OUCH! I opted to added a few hundred gallons and wait for better prices in the future. Maybe?
After fueling we headed to our slip just 150 feet north of the fuel dock and were securely docked in slip B-13 at 1545. Hook up the power and prep the boat to leave her for a few hours and we were off to Susan's sisters house for Thanksgiving Dinner.
We traveled today for 8 hours and 15 minutes covering 44.32 nautical miles averaging 5.37 knots.
Posted at 10:22 AM
RI to FL - Day 37
Moore Haven, FL to Cape Coral, FL
We departed from the Moore Haven at about 0800 and headed west on the Okeechobee Waterway… destination for the night to be Fort Myers – Cape Coral area.
We had a few bridges and two locks to deal with today… first to come up was the the Ortona Lock. We arrived at 0945 and waited only a couple of minutes before we got a green light to enter the lock. We were about 8 feet and departed at 1005. This lock does no have very good help… in fact they do not help you at all… the lines are left hanging and are wet and slimy from being in the water all the time… the lines are nasty.
Next we came to the Labelle Bridge and we requested an opening and did not even have to slow down… bridge tender was on his game.
Then we came to the Fort Denaud Swing Bridge… normally, this is the nicest older woman that comes out to open the bridge… they have to walk out from shore to the center of the swing to operate it… today it was an older gentlemen and he was in no hurry to walk out to the center of the span… in fact while watching him I was worried he might not make it all the way. He did make it and was very firm with us on the VHF to not to proceed through the bridge until he gave us the “ok” on the VHF to proceed. The bridge swings away from you so you can easily enter long before it is full open but today we had to wait till it was fully open and he gave us the “ok”… so we did wait a 10 – 15 minutes at this bridge.
Next up the Alva Bridge and we again requested an opening… no wait whatsoever… again the bridge tender had the bridge open and ready for us well before needed.
Final lock was next… Franklin Lock and when we arrived at 1334 the gates had just opened and an east bound sailboat was exitng the lock… we got the green light to enter and were in the lock… lowered 3 feet and back underway at 1347…. Very nice!
Then we came to the last bridge for the day… Wilson Pigott Bridge which we requested an opening and this bridge tender was also on the ball… did not have to slow our speed for the opening at all… Cool!
That was it for bridges that would need to be opened for us… there was one RR bridge… the Beautiful Island RR Bridge but it is almost always open and it was today as we passed through… Fort Myers has several high rise bridges but no bridges or locks this trip… one more day of travel and we will be back to Punta Gorda, FL our final destination for the trip.
We did make a stop in Fort Myers to allow Susan to run to the grocery store for some items we needed… dog food… Beecha had run out of dog food this morning… so we pulled into some abandoned docks that used to be for a place called Shooters… it was a waterfront bar and grill a few years back and had closed… all that remains now are the docks and they are a less than a block from Publix… 30 minutes and we were back underway.
We decided at this point to proceed on to Cape Coral and a restaurant dock that we have stayed many times… Rum Runners at Cape Harbor… it is very shallow approaching and alongside these docks and we need to arrive at mid tide or higher and also leave at the same tide level… I had checked and we would be fine today for arriving and departing. We discovered this a few years ago when we woke in the morning to be listing about 10 degrees… the port side of the boat next to the dock was sitting on the bottom had to wait for more water to leave. We also discovered that if we dock closer to the restaurant the water is deeper and we do not this problem.
We arrived to the Rum Runner Docks in Cape Coral, FL and were securely docked at about 1815 at N26°32.600’, W082°00.415’.
We traveled today for 10 hours and 15 minutes covering 68.79 nautical miles averaging 5.73 knots.
Posted at 7:03 PM
RI to FL - Day 36
Stuart, FL to Moore Haven, FL
We departed from the Stuart City Docks at about 0650… as I was heading out to ICW I saw the RR bridge that is adjacent to the Roosevelt Bridge start to close… We would have to wait for the train to clear before we would be able to get an opening on the Roosevelt Bridge. We ended up waiting for two trains to cross before the RR opened… not terribly long time… 23 minutes to be exact.
After making both bridges we proceed west on the St Lucie River heading for our first lock… we had three locks to deal with…
1) St. Lucie, arrived at 0830, departed at 0900, we were raised 14.5 feet.
a. Between these locks we happen to hit the Indiantown RR Bridge closed for a train… waited 10 minutes here
2) Port Mayaca Lock, arrived at1217, departed at 1224, we were raised 0.5 feet.
3) Moore Haven Lock, arrive at 1720, departed at 1735, we were lowered 3.5 feet
We saw one boat all day long and it was in the rim canal of Lake Okeechobee between Clewiston and Moore Haven… other than it we were the only boat. Even the VHF was quiet today.
We arrived to the Riverhouse Marina in Moore Haven, FL and were securely docked at about 1750 at N26°49.853’, W081°05.446’. There was one other boat moored to the docks when we arrived and another boat was moored to the Moore Haven City Docks.
We traveled today for 11 hours covering 62.32 nautical miles averaging 5.66 knots. Our moving average removing the wait time for bridges and locks was 6.74 knots.
Posted at 6:13 PM