Who’s afraid of the dark?…

We are, and that is why we are anchored in an unexpected location tonight. I will tell you the story of our long day and how we ended up sitting here riding out the night.

This morning at Anchorage Marina the weather was iffy. So we settled back to wait and see. While waiting I decided to take down the dinghy and make sure it would still start. It had not been cranked since I repaired it in Fairhope, AL. So much for those who insisted you needed a dinghy on the Loop. 

It did start but would not idle or keep running for very long. Clearly it was the carburator. Jan helped me and I pulled the the motor into the cockpit and began my disassembly. Just as I thought the carb was completely gummed up with a jellylike substance formed by the ethanol in the gas and the two cycle oil mixed in the gas. This is a great problem for boaters who really need 100% gasoline which is becoming harder to locate. 

It took a couple of hours but worked fine when I finished. Unfortunately it will do it again until I can find somewhere to dump the gas I have and refill with with fresh 100% gas. 

About the time we finished it was 1500 and I decided to try for Boca Chita Key which was only 25 miles away. We needed a little fuel so off to Gilbert’s across the channel where we took on 100 gallons. Then off to Boca Chita or so we thought. Do you remember last Thursday when I bumped the bottom near Toilet Seat Pass? After that we never ran fast enough to be sure whether we had done any damage and I assumed we were OK. A fool’s assumption. We finally got into open water and I jumped the boat up on plane to make some time as we were short on it today. You guessed it. A vibration in the port engine likely caused by a slightly bent prop. Same one we damaged in the Anclote River at Tarpon Springs though it does not appear to be as severe since it does not vibrate until a much higher speed.

So we kept it slow and continued doggedly on which may not have been wise. Rain was moving in and the clock was running. I spoke to Ken Searl on the phone. He strongly advised against trying to get into Boca Chita after dark even with a full moon. The entrance to the harbor is just too tricky. So we began to look for an alternate as the sun was sinking low. Soon we spotted a large cruiser apparantly anchored off Elliott Key Harbor. I tried to raise him on the radio to no avail. Some boats foolishly turn off their VHF radio at night. Jan suggested we call her cousin Mark. You may remember we visited his mother in Sarasota at the nursing home. Mark confirmed that this was a good anchorage so we zeroed in on the cruiser and headed for shore.

It took awhile to anchor due to our inexperience but soon we were hooked in the shelter of the key and the wind and waves had settled down. So had the sun and it was dark. We had made the decision just in the nick of time. So here we sit with a nuclear power plant lighting up the far horizon. I will try to add some pictures tomorrow. 

No the nuclear plant is not melting down. It is just about 10 miles away and lit up like a Christmas tree.

For tonight we seem safe and the generator is running. We even have 54 TV channels! Jan prepared a nice rerun dinner and you cannot ask for more. They say prior planning prevents poor performance but in this case a last minute call from Ken forced us to make a right decision. I say that until the anchor breaks loose and we get swept out into the bay. Hope not though. I will be on anchor watch along with the anchor alarm program on Jan’s phone.