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Date: 17 August 2014. Hot Engine.


Steinhatchee and Horseshoe Beach are on the west coat of Florida.

In the morning after leaving  Westsail-32 [see Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child) article] off Pepperfish Keys I continued south along the Gulf coast.  The forecast of one to two foot seas was wrong. It was not even close to reality. On the beam I was taking 2-3' seas with occasional swells even larger.  And it's my fault too.  Let me explain.

First of all, the winds were higher than I like (15 mph with higher gusts) and that means in my mind that the seas will be kicking up ahead of those winds. Whatever is predicted tends to be a bit larger. That's my experience at least though the experts may differ.

And prior to this particular morning, the winds had been below ten miles per hour. During the night it started blowing harder. Indeed Thursday's Child relocated a bit* during the night.

*Relocated a bit: dragged anchor.

So, cruising along at four to five knots, Seaweed was riding nicely. She doesn't roll (much!) though a few times the boat didn't behave well and we did some serious rocking. Of course I watch the instrument panel and noted the oil pressure was right where it belonged (38psi) and temperature was steady at 160 degrees.

That's normal for my Seaweed.

I know that boats can take far more than their owners and never felt in any particular danger. Even though the waves were higher than anticipated and forecast by NOAA (who can kiss my transom), all was well aboard Seaweed. That said, the doggone DVDs atop my bookshelf did not stay put. And I have a lot of DVDs up there! Or, more accurately, had up there -- until they fell down.

However, about ten minutes after the above readings of 38psi oil pressure and 160 degrees for the engine temp, I heard a different sound. No, not a clunk, clank or bang -- Robert (aka BOB, the Volvo) just sounded "different". A quick glance down showed me what I did not want to see. The engine temperature was at 200 degrees.

I immediately shut down the motor, and looked out the starboard side to make sure water was coming out of the exhaust.  It was, or more accurately: I saw water exiting the thru-hull. That's not quite the same thing.

Anchoring was the next thing on my agenda.  I needed to be safe, secure and stay in place while waiting for the engine to cool off. And the winds and waves would push me aground if I didn't anchor.

I had been following the  three mile line -- that pencil looking mark on the chart shown below:

There's not much depth to the Gulf of Mexico near the west coast of Florida.

Opening the engine hatches showed nothing out of the ordinary and I didn't know what to do -- except wait for the engine heat to dissipate. So I did.

An hour and a half later I restarted the engine. Alas, she would not stay lit. Basically, she was running ragged and stalling with no discernable reason. 

In this particular area of Florida's west coast, I have found Verizon cell phone coverage abysmal.  I knew from previous experience [see the Expert Advice versus Intuition (spare parts inventory) article] that the easiest way to contact TowBoatUS was through an intermediary: specifically, SeaTow in Horseshoe Beach.

Yes, the SeaTow radio man Captain Sammy responded to my request for a phone patch to TowBoatUS and called Captain Dave out to my location. A few hours later Captain Dave arrived and gave me a tow back into Steinhatchee.

Both are good guys. It's nice to know the two services work hand-in-hand to help boaters like me. I appreciate that sort of professionalism.

This is Steinhatchee's Captain Dave from TowBoatUS:

Captain Dave towed me back to Steinhatchee and helped me anchor safely near Ellison's Fish Camp.

Ellison's has the freshest seafood found locally. Here's one of the boats arriving with a fresh catch:

So, next begins the process of troubleshooting this engine.  I've got to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it. Wish me Luck!

Have you spent time in Steinhatchee?
And, what was your favorite part about the place?  (As for me, it's the people.)

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Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters,  Locations

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