We left the shores of our Westshore marina, tired of being tied to the dock for far too long again!
Up until this point, we had only been able to take trips to St Pete and the convention center etc where we could be tied, yet again, to another dock because we needed our windlass repaired. There is an online company in the states that fixes these old windlass’s. They are of such good quality that its better to fix them than just go out and buy an new one. Well that took 9 moths with shipping and an incorrect motor sent and fitted, so reshipping, installing and installing 3 times!
Off we set, on our way to Bird Island, armed with our renewed sense of freedom and eager to be on anchor once more. Randomly, we decided to stop on the way and hook a ball in St Pete for the first night so that we could go to dinner to celebrate our 2 year anniversary of living on board.
As we approached the marina our starboard engine putted out and so we came in on one motor, which takes some skill!. We hooked a ball on the second take with me hanging over the edge and literally holding the boat in with one hand while securing the ropes with the other. With a slightly grazed hand at the end to show for it (because the barnacled rope pulled my glove off) we settled in and thought how wonderful it was that we made our stop here on the way. A stoke of luck? I always say, that where you are, is exactly where you are meant to be at that time.
Grateful to be near shore we set about trying to fix this motor which we could clearly hear was starved of fuel. Shaun cleaned all the necessary filters and after Uber-ring to get a filter, replaced the secondary one to no avail. After much YouTube researching and several phone calls later, we realized that were was just air in the system. We got a referral from a friend who could come and help us with pressurizing the system on Monday morning. So stay in St Pete on the ball was our only option. Well, the party must go on…so we walked up to Publix to get some more supplies (ie beer for Shaun and champagne for me. I had been to Party City the day before to get some festive plates, straws, hats to celebrate and Tam, our daughter had made a boat cake for us.
We came back to the boat for a late lunch and tried to help an injured cormorant that was sitting on the ball next to us. It swam away, poor little thing, but could not fly. We wished it well and hoped that it will be okay.
Had a cocktail as we watched the sunset and then got ready and went to Ceviche's for dinner where we shared tapas and a nice red wine. Dingy back to our boat where we had nightcap and slept well.
Woke early and did a brisk 4 mile walk in the extreme heat we have been having. Came back for breakfast and worked on the motor again trying to get it started. Not. I made a lovely salmon for lunch on a bed of salad. Later we had champagne and the cake that Tam had made for us and we laughed at how we thought we would be doing this at the islands instead of near the shore, but that's what boating is all about. Expect the unexpected and you go where the wind and the boat leads. We love love it and embrace it.
We went for a ride on the dingy to Snell Island and then into another marina just to check it out. We came back to cocktail hour and then I made a charcuterie board for dinner. Shaun opened one of our absolute favorite wines from a trip to Montepulciano and we toasted to our wonderful, unpredictable life. We both decided that there hasn’t been one moment of regret since purchasing our Happy Wife and again, reminded ourselves how blessed we are to be able to share this together.
On Monday morning, John came on board at 11.30 to help us get this engine primed and by 12.10 we were on our way to Fantasy Island only to get about halfway before both engines were starved of fuel. Clearly we have bad fuel on board, or we are running out. We drifted while Shaun worked on both motors. Got one engine up and running only to have it slowing run out of fuel too. We were so confused because the generator was still running so we couldn’t understand how it could be a fuel issue. Eventually that stopped too so now we knew it was low fuel for sure.
We had to drop the anchor by hand (as it runs off the generator) and pull it up manually too. We called towboat USA to help us out but they do not carry diesel! Go figure. We needed just enough to get us going as it appeared to be the uptake valve that must be clogged seeing as though our fuel tanks were not empty according to the mileage we had done in the past.
We decided to drop the anchor again and Shaun took the dingy to go and get fuel in our canisters - about 20 gallons, which would get us to bird island safely. He left at 3.30 with the happy wife alone on board. He got back to the boat at about 5.15 and we filled the starboard tank with the 20 gallons. We came in and did a manual anchor at bird Island at 6.10. Shaun got the generator going but soon that petered out because it needed bleeding. He worked on that for about an hour while I took a relaxing bath in the tub as the sun set. There seemed to not be enough fuel to feed the generator so we switched everything off for the night. I made salads for dinner, we shared some more of the Happy Wife cake and went to bed at bout 10, exhausted after that stressful day!
Woke at 6.30 to the sound of dolphins and birds around us. Such a lovely reminder of how peaceful and beautiful things are without outside “noise”. Despite it being too hot during the night to sleep in our bed and we spent our first night apart on the boat with Shaun sleeping up at the helm and me on the sofa with a breeze, we both actually slept well.
At 8 am Shaun made the first of a few trips to go and get more fuel from the marina 20 mins away by dingy. But first, on top of all of this, we woke to our dingy being flat. That needed pumping, which required the generator!
So Shaun had to fill the Raycor filter which gave just enough fuel to turn get it pumped up. Phew!
We filled up 4 times with 20-25 gallons from each trip to get the tanks filled to an acceptable level. Sweating as we were putting our last can of gas, the sheriff came speeding up to us in his boat. He asked if we were okay because there usually aren't big boats anchored here and he thought we may be stuck. We told him of our problems and he asked if he could help us with anything. We laughed and said, a cold beer? We chatted a bit before he left only for him to turn back around and bring us his water for the day from his cooler. I felt my eyes well with tears at this simple act of kindness. He checked in on us later again to make sure we were okay. This officers name was Alan and I wrote a post, tagged to the sheriff’s office, to thank him.
We made a trip together back to the marina to drop off the gas cans we had borrowed from them, paid our bill and headed next door to Riverside for a beer and lunch. It was so delicious! Not sure if it’s because we were so hungry and tired or if it actually was...but plastic plates and utensils did not deter us!
We came back to Happy wife and Shaun got the generator up and running and both motors. Hooray - we had air-conditioning again and we back on the hook, happy and relaxed.
We both did some computer work and headed up to the helm for our sun-downer and bath time! I love this most when we are out, getting to use my tub. It has to be the only luxury I may miss at times, but it makes it all the more sweet when I do get a chance to take bath in it. We made dinner and opened a second bottle of our Montepulciano vino to celebrate our amazing work today. Fell into bed
Woke at 7, Shaun had some computer work to do and then we got the boat ready for our sail back. Set up both sides of the boat so that we could stop at Hula Bay to refuel on the way in to Westshore. We left at 9.18 and tested the motors going out. All looked well so we will only know what truly happened to the fuel once we refill. Arrived at Hula Bay at 11.15 and filled up (Ouch! That was not cheap! Tanks were VERY low) Docked safely with Justine and Jax catching the ropes for us again at 12. What a learning trip this was but we still enjoyed all of it!