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Off I went

December 7, 2012

After changing climbing the mast to rewire, splice the connection and install the anchor light assembly, I was proud of myself. I had done the last repair the boat needed before leaving. In the last three days I could legally squat at the marina, I had changed the oil, siphoned the diesel tank, replaced the hand pump, spliced the anchor line to the anchor chain, and installed a deep cycle battery as well as a solar panel and its controller. I felt like I had learned a lot and ready for cruising.

Saturday, December first, I got up and immediately started to prepare for my grand departure. I loaded the bicycle and roughly sorted out the cabin. I then put started the diesel and let it idle while I got some fellow boaters to help me take all my dock lines with me as I cast off for good.

My friends were still holding my lines when the diesel died, and just wouldn’t restart. The diesel engine was the one thing on my sailboat with which I was not entirely comfortable, not that I’m comfortable with any other type of engine, who is?

The engine would not take its fuel. I knew that much. I also suspected that the bad fuel I had siphoned out was not the last of the dirt inside the diesel reservoir. I jumped down into the cabin and opened the filter valve to see what would come out of the filter. I took out about a pint of fuel and a fifth of it was a greenish liquid with stuff moving in it. Well it was not moving but it didn’t look too healthy and it was nothing like the red color diesel fuel. It sat sadly on the bottom of the water bottle I had put it into.

At least I knew what the problem was. My fuel was still full of water and other contaminants. This time I did not siphon the diesel. Instead I took it out from the engine side by taking the fuel intake off the engine. I used the little primer pump to laboriously pump out about seven gallons of fuel. It took me about an hour.

I then got my bike out of the boat and pedaled to the car part store to get a new fuel filter. I took the old filter out, screwed the new one in and put new fuel in the tank. Then I checked the ancient engine manual to learn how I was expected to bleed the fuel system. It involved starting the electric fuel pump and unscrewing two bolts at different stages of the fuel system. I did it and felt pretty good about my work. I felt even better when the engine started and, more importantly, kept running.

I fueled and got on the intracoastal as soon as I could but it was already late in the afternoon. The wind blew hard from the east, so it was a fast trip to the first good anchorage. I anchored in the dark and anxiously watched my GPS to see if the anchor had truly set. The wind was not really stiff, my rigging clacked and vibrated like crazy, the boat swung at the end of the 80 feet of line and 25 feet of chain. I was anchored in less than 10 feet of water on a mud bottom so I figured that I would hold.

Sitting in my cabin I listened to all the noises my boat made while on anchor in the wind. I was not in a slip in a safe marina anymore.

One Comment
  1. Linda Baugh permalink

    I love when that happens, you end up at anchor….

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