Fort Meyers to Ingleside

We left Fort Meyers, headed for the Dry Tortugas, our 3rd trip within a month. To some, that may seem a little excessive, but this is a wonderful place and we wanted to share it with our boys and my Dad (who had introduced me to the keys in the late 70′s).  So off we went to the Dry Tortugas. We left in the evening of Saturday, May 22 and had a great sail, arriving just after sunrise on the 23rd.

After a fantastic day of snorkeling and exploring Fort Jefferson, we had dinner and set sail for Texas. The sun was setting as we motor-sailed past Loggerhead Key. I had heard about the “Green Flash” for years and since I’d never seen it before I assumed it was either a form of booze induced mass hysteria or a cruel joke played on the gullible, like snipe hunting or cow tipping. Nevertheless, I’ve spent hundreds of evenings over the years watching the sun set, in hopes that it was true. It happened!! On this day, just as the sun disappeared below the distant water, there it was — a green splash of color — and then it was gone. Amazing!

This is my 5th gulf crossing and I have to tell you honestly, that there is nothing particularly exciting about 90% of the time spent at sea. You take your turn at the helm, you read, you eat, and you sleep and then you do it all over again, and again, and again. The other 10% of the trip is spent fixing and maintaining things. Rarely (thankfully) you are scared to death because of the weather! The other thing that I’ve noticed about cruising that the wind is ALWAYS coming from wherever we need to go!

So, with regard to this trip, I’ll just say, “DITTO!”

Well, not entirely Ditto. On the final night of the trip, I was monitoring our fuel very closely. At 1:00 AM, we had 20 gallons of fuel left and less than 50 miles to go. At our burn rate (1.25 gallons per hour at 6 Kts), I calculated that we had plenty of fuel to make it to Port Aransas, so I went to bed. At 3:00 AM, both engines died within minutes of each other. I checked and still had 18 gallons of fuel in the tank. We were sailing nicely with a 12-15 kt wind, so I decided just to go under sail until morning.

At dawn, I checked the starboard engine and found that the fuel filter was badly clogged and replaced it. The engine started right up, but as we were tossed around by the cross sea, the engine would lose its prime, which made me think the fuel intake was sucking in air. I changed the filter in the port engine, but when I was bleeding the injectors, I accidentally broke the bleed off pipe, which put that engine out of commission for the duration of the trip.

By 8:00, we were still 20 miles off shore and sailing nicely, though the wind direction was forcing us to sail north of the Port Aransas jetties. We decided to see if we could reach our friend William Vespe to see if he would be willing to come out in his 30 foot sport fisher with fuel. We were within text range and he agreed to bring us fuel after lunch. In the meantime Sean (my son) noticed that the bleeder valve on the top of the fuel filter was bubling (leaking air). Once that was fixed, we were able to run the starboard engine. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize we had it fixed until William was well on his way.

William showed up around 1:00 PM and transferred the fuel aboard. Michelle and Patrick (our oldest son) jumped aboard Will’s boat and headed in with him because Patrick needed to catch a flight to Denver. Sean, my Dad, and I continued on and made it to the dock at 6:00 PM on Friday, May 28.

Another Gulf Crossing successfully completed!

The real story about this crossing is the story of 3 generations of Haleys crossing together. But that’s another story…stay tuned.

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