On a glorious Florida morning we left Steinhatchee and headed south for the port of Cedar Key. About two miles down the channel we lost power in Pollux, our port engine. We immediately turned around and tied up to the slip we had just vacated.
I changed the fuel filters, which is what I usually do when this sort of thing happens. Everything seemed fine, so the next morning we headed out again. About halfway to Cedar Key, Pollux conked out again. We continued on course using just our starboard engine and anchored at Cedar Key.
I went through the entire fuel system and actually found a few loose fuel lines. Thinking I had solved the problem, we headed off at dawn for our next port, Crystal River.
We travelled less than a mile when our Starboard engine, who we call Castor, sounded its engine alarm.
“What’s going on?” the XO asked.
“Castor is overheating. We gotta go back and check it out,” I said.
We went back to the anchorage and I discovered a busted fan belt which I replaced in about a half hour.
Off we go again.
As soon as I brought both engines up to speed, Pollux lost power and petered out for the third time, so once again, back to the anchorage we went.
Determined to find the problem, I dug back into the engine compartment, and with the help of my budzo Captain John Skerry, and Brian Smith of American Diesel (both via phone) I concluded that I needed a new fuel pump.
I ordered the new fuel pump and had it sent general delivery to the Cedar Key Post Office. At that point we knew we’re going to be stuck here a week until it arrived. It will be the longest we have ever been at anchor.
At anchor we stretched our resources to the limit. We used almost all our fresh water, our holding tank was nearly full, and our battery power dropped low enough that we had to use our Honda generator. It was quite an experience, but we made do and had a good time to boot. I suppose the worst part was that there was no internet, no TV, and barely any cell phone reception. I actually had to read a book.
Finally, on Monday morning the new fuel pump arrived. I installed it and we left the following morning for Crystal River, the winter home of the manatees. Our engines Castor and Pollux hummed along happily the whole way. SOCOBO 1/26/18