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Date: 15 March 2014. Tired Captain.


I am an inveterate kibitzer. Seaweed always has the VHF radio turned on. There is a world out there and I am interested in what others do and say. One day recently I heard SeaTow responding to a fellow who apparently was having fuel/engine difficulties.  That is not uncommon in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is often a preventable problem.

Boaters should know that when we get into rough seas the gunk in the bottom of the fuel tanks WILL get into the fuel lines. That's why having spare fuel filters is critical. Additionally, knowing how to bleed your system is important.

If you do not know how to bleed your engine (get the air out of the lines) then definitely hire a mechanic to teach you. That is one thing everyone who runs a boat ought to know, including the children. And it is not magic, nor is it particularly difficult. However, if your system is convoluted or difficult to bleed, fix that issue ASAP.

Carrabelle's TowBoatUS Captain Russell:

If you do not know how to get the air out of your fuel lines, it's something you need to learn.  And having a clogged fuel pick up line is not fun either. (Ask me how I know that!?!)

Trust me when I say that air in your fuel lines will not do you any good whatsoever. I spent over a week trying to get a clog out of my pick-up tube before knuckling down and calling for help.  And I probably would not have radioed but for the fact that the weather was deteriorating. 

What I did before calling:
First, I turned my fuel pump around so that it would pump INTO the tank. Then I tried:

  1. Back flushing with Sea Foam.

  2. Ditto 90% rubbing alcohol.

  3. Sta-Bil did not work either.

Finally I admitted defeat and used my TowBoatUS insurance to get hauled to port.


Have I mentioned that TowBoatUS is amazing insurance? 
The local guy, Russell is a tip-top captain, and always ready to help boaters.


I have been off on a bunny trail* talking about my experience versus what intended to tell you about.

Bunny Trail: What my daughter calls the mini-tangents off topic I take when conversing with her. And for the record, I like bunnies.

The boat in question, a lovely Hatteras48 Sports-Fisherman had SeaTow for their towing company and I heard SeaTow talking with the captain a few times over the course of the day. She was having engine/fuel trouble. The Hatt did get her engines going again and headed to port here in Carrabelle.

I overheard the captain getting confirmation of the entranceway to the Carrabelle River which SeaTow provided on Channel 11. The boat intended to go to Dockside, a boatyard near where I am anchored.

This is the Dockside boatyard in Carrabelle, Florida:

It was about 2030 at night, well after dark when I heard the Hatt calling on Channel 11 for confirmation that he was at the right place.  (SeaTow's working VHF channel locally is 11.) SeaTow did not respond, so I did.

I answered saying "Yes, that is Dockside".  The captain replied "But there are no slips open" and then asked if I was on the sailboat he had seen when looking with the spotlight.

"No, I'm on the trawler anchored a bit further up the harbor."


I could tell from his voice that it had been a long day.  Although I mentioned anchoring nearby I also added there was a marina [C-Quarters] across the river and that he would find plenty of power (50 amps), water and wifi there.  With a reminder to take to the north side of the river (oyster beds in the middle) he headed that way.

A bit more guidance ("Just past the two catamarans") and that the current was on his nose was all the help he needed.  Rather than back into a slip he chose to stop at the fuel dock over night though in the morning he snugged into a slip. And there she remains.

As for me, I would love to have a look-see at the Hatteras 48 sportsfish. She is a gorgeous boat, but then again she's a classic girl. Hatteras makes boats that surely are eye-catching, and this lady is no exception. 

Plus it was fun to be able to help a boater, albeit just as a reassuring voice of calm with directions to a nearby safe haven. 

Does this make me a local now?
And, how long does it take to move from transient status?

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2014, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, In the Bilges, Locations, Recommendations

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