Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hello Fort Lauderdale

Poot, poot, poot, pshee....engine dies. Turn the key, poot, poot, pshee. Crap! We just went through our last bridge of the day, number 10, and are now in bustling downtown Fort Lauderdale, looking for a marina or anchorage to pull into, when our engine dies. Now we are looking for anywhere to drop an emergency anchor before we drift into one of these mega yachts cruising by us or get swept aground. Time is wasting, and that we do not have. We immediately hoist the jib to keep up some speed and control over our boat.

I'm thinking to myself, do I activate the SPOT emergency help message? Hmmm, how will my sister or Hans help us right now if they receive this Help message. I wish it connected directly to Seatow right now, so they would be at our side in the next few minutes.

Mike is dashing around the boat hoisting the jib and preparing the anchor, while in search of his Seatow card. I'm at the helm, maneuvering through the traffic and trying to get us to a reasonable location that Mike spotted on our charts, off the main channel of traffic where we can drop our anchor. We find the spot, what we later hear called "The Bermuda Triangle", to drop anchor, it's about 8 feet of water.

We've tried to re-start the engine a few times and realize it's not going to start. What went wrong? We couldn't possibly be out of diesel, we haven't been running the engine long enough, so we think. But I run the numbers and it's been 38 hours since our last fill up. That should give us at least 20 hours left of fuel, but we've been running it 500 rpm's faster and maybe we are burning through more fuel than usual. Yes, that is it. We've run her dry! And we've tried to re-start a few too many times, so now we have air in the fuel lines.

Next question, how to bleed the fuel lines? We use all our lifelines, watch Youtube videos, phone a friend, phone family, process of elimination...we still can't get it working. Luckily for us, Seatow shows up 2 hours later and tows us to a free anchorage. He says it's a good thing our anchor did not drag because just 100 yards behind us is such shallow water that people are walking around in waist deep water! Seatow says he's always towing people with no draft that have run aground here, hence the name "Bermuda triangle". That was a close one.

We arrive at the anchorage just a mile away with Seatow escort (how classy) and here we meet Justin, our neighbor, on a 42 foot ketch. He was in Fernandina on his grandfathers sailboat, Oba, in front of us at the dock a couple weeks ago and remembers our boat, so he comes over to say hi. We find out quickly that he's quite the handyman and he also just returned from the Bahamas a couple months ago from an 11-month trip. He says he'll stop by later that evening and help us bleed the lines. We also discover that Justin knows way more than just bleeding fuel lines and he's willing to help us while we are in Fort Lauderdale, teaching us Boat 101 Maintenance. How lucky are we?! He knows how to install a working refrigerator, get the good discounts, fix the holding tank, and fix a dinghy carburetor, just to name a few of his many skills! We are most likely staying in town for awhile now, in our free anchorage, at least until we learn as much as we can from Justin. What a nice guy. We will hopefully see him again in the Bahamas as he's on his way south again in January!


  1. Lucky days come in many forms! Glad Justin stopped by to say, "HI."

  2. You found the right "SPOT". So, a good 1/2 gallon an hour at the higher RPM it sounds like and a fairly low consequence lesson, can't beat that. Have fun in Ft Lauderdale!