Fort Lauderdale, FL to St. Augustine, FL

By aaron.axvig, Mon, 05/20/2019 - 03:00

In our last update 2.5 weeks ago we were in Sunrise Bay near Fort Lauderdale. From there we motored north in the ICW to Lake Worth. About 10 miles from where we planned to anchor Aaron went below to check on the propeller shaft seal which is supposed to slowly drip. It was dripping aggressively (not a significant problem) but there was also a lot of other water in the engine compartment (a problem). After a little looking it seemed to all be running from above the engine but we couldn’t find anywhere that it was spraying upwards to get there. So it was probably coming from the anti-siphon valve that is located up there. This prevents the seawater that cools the engine from siphoning through the exhaust mixing elbow and filling the engine cylinders with water while it is not running. Enough water was still coming out of the exhaust pipe so it seemed to be OK to keep motoring. We went a couple miles further to a good place to anchor within reasonable distance of a boat ramp and West Marine.

With the engine off we confirmed that the anti-siphon valve had indeed broken off and that the nearby store had one in stock. So we took the dinghy and Louise to the boat ramp and then walked about a mile to West Marine. It was very hot so we took a hailed ride (brand agnostic way to refer to Uber/Lyft, right?) back. The part worked and we were back on our merry way the next day.

We spent the next night at Peck Lake which is just a few miles from where we stayed for 2 months in Stuart. Some of our neighbors in Stuart would go to Peck Lake for a few days when the weather was good and they wanted to visit the beach. Louise played with another dog for a few minutes on the ICW side of the barrier island--we didn't make it to the ocean side. No-see-ums were terrible!

We anchored near Sebastian, FL the next night. We had a hankering for groceries but the boat ramp that we planned to dinghy to didn't have a very good dock. So we dinghied a mile or so north and found a restaurant named Squid Lips with a decent one. Their food was very good, and then we took a hailed ride to and from Wal-Mart for groceries. Somewhere around here we were hoping to see a rocket launch but it got postponed a couple times until eventually we were out of the area.

I believe that the next night was spent just south of the NASA Causeway Bridge. This is the main road out to Cape Canaveral and in the morning and evening it will not open to boat traffic due to all the commuter car traffic. We arrived at 3:45 and there were no openings between 3:30 and 5:00 so we just decided to anchor there. It was a very nice quiet spot. Surprisingly none of the passing drivers honked in appreciation of the guy running around on his sailboat in a speedo!

We did some nice motor-sailing the next day with another sailboat leading the way up the ICW. It was the weekend too so lots of locals out boating…fun to see. We anchored in the New Smyrna Beach area just inside of the Ponce de Leon Inlet. There were about 7 boats already there and we tried to fit into one spot but almost backed into another guy in the process of anchoring. It was tricky with opposing wind and current and I swear that guy's boat majorly swung while we were dropping anchor. Anyways, we went and anchored between another couple boats, and a few more filtered in after us too. One guy perfectly positioned himself near us and we joked that if everyone could anchor as well as him then there would be room for 20 more boats in that anchorage. Good inspiration!

The next day we made it to about 10 miles south of St. Augustine and then our engine died. First time! I was pretty sure we had fuel left but put in 5 gallons of the 10 that we carry on deck. Then I made my first attempt at bleeding air out of the fuel lines and it didn't seem to be working. Of course I had always told myself that I needed to practice that but had never gotten around to it. I peeked at the fuel filter and it looked pretty dirty. It is a 300 hour maintenance item and we only had about 200 hours on it but it seemed like the most likely cause. Then I couldn't find any of the spares which the prior owner left that I'm sure we still have on board somewhere. So we took a 10 mile tow from TowBoatUS up to St. Augustine where we anchored in the bay near the marina. We paid $12 to park our dinghy at the marina dock and ride-hailed to West Marine to get three fuel filters. Back at the boat the engine started up immediately after installing the new filter and bleeding the lines. On our way out the next morning we filled fuel and figured we did in fact have about 7 gallons left in the tank at the time the engine stopped.

We are heading north from Southport, NC this afternoon. The next post will fill in between St. Augustine and here.