Double Trouble With Castor and Pollux

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.

Back at the slip in Steinhatchee.

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.

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.

Early morning start.

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.

Digging in.

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.

Not such a bad place to be stuck.

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.

There was no TV reception on Ginger Lee, so we watched the NFL playoffs at two different  waterfront bars.

The Cedar Key waterfront. There are like 8 bars.

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

3 thoughts on “Double Trouble With Castor and Pollux

  1. been wondering whats been happening with your trip. now i know. things like this always happen when your miles away from home.been following yours and my son’s by boat and him by tractor trailer. he just came thought donners path . both exciting travels.

  2. Question: One fuel pump for both engines?
    If not – the next question is: Since Pollux needed a new one, would that be that Castor is due for a new one soon too? Course, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but just wondering about that…

    Meanwhile, hope your stay in sunny Florida is a great one… You’re not missing a gosh-darn thing here up north, so linger all you want…

    • Each engine has its own fuel pump. We were considering buying two pumps, but decided against it at the time because they are readily available. Now we both agree that we should have bought two.

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