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 by:Jay