Fuel filter fun

Ahoy my fellow US DIYers! Are any of you planning a trip that is out of convenient driving distance to your garage-land of spare parts? Has your primary fuel filter seen better days? Are you planning a trip to where West Marine is not anywhere near your anchorage? If you answered “YES” to any of the above questions, it is time to reasess your spare parts booty.

Since the new Beta install, Brian has been meticulous about engine maintenance. He even ordered the spares kit, which arrived a whole day after it was ordered and immediately went onto the boat. About a month ago, he made mention of the replacement primary filter that I had ordered back in the day when the old Volvo was still in. “I really need to replace that filter someday.” It was on the boat, originally, and somehow had made it to the wasteland of parts known as the garage. Garages are for storage of crap- not for cars.

This big ass Fram filter never made it back in the boat. It was forgotten in the quest of loading the boat up with important things, like rum and steaks and the Western Florida Cruisers Guide. We were going south- to the open waters of the ocean. Day 1 would be to Longboat Key, Day 2 to Sarasota. Eventually, we would be back before our leaves ended and Uncle Sam had us AWOL. We even had the foresight to leave our float plan with responsible adults.

Day 1- Too incredible for words. Went out with the tide, dolphins doing tricks at Anna Maria Island, and made our anchorage at Longboat Key waaay earlier than expected. Fabulous food at Mar Vista (within dinghy reach), and good rum onboard boat. Excellent trip.

Day 2- Navigated ICW to Sarasota. Friggin nightmare of channels and stinkpot traffic. We were not digging this area, and since we were spoiled by Longboat Key’s anchorage, we decided to head back. THIS is where is became a nightmare. The inlet was not well-marked, and we were grateful for our shoal draft. Once we got out to the ocean, it took what seemed like forever to get back. Even with genny out. We were elated to see the Longboat bridge and the genny was rolled back in.

As we went through the channel, a large stink pot came up at full speed on our port side and waked the hell out of us. The channel was already rough, so this was not appreciated. We made it through the bridge (we had even called in for the 60 footer behind us) and Brian started to curse. At only 50 hours, the engine had died. There was no need for words- I started to pull the genny out- and nothing. I later discovered the damn spinnaker line had gotten wrapped around it. Talk about HORRIBLE timing. Somhow, Brian got the engine started again, which died when we were waked by yet ANOTHER stinkpotter in the ICW and limped our way back to our anchorage. By then, Brian already knew it was that fuel filter we never replaced. Troubleshooting commenced, and this was pretty much confirmed. A search of Wu-Wei confirmed our worst suspicions- replacement was in the garage. Darkness was falling, so it was time to take showers and dinghy to the bars for Corona, margartitas, and a Yellow Pages. Our very nice waitress at Moores Crabhouse hooked us up with the phone book. Upon our return, our evil sailboat neighbor reprimanded us for being too close to her piece of crap sailboat. (Bigger is not always better). We told her we broke down- she did not care. We ended up reanchoring via the dingy at midnight to appease her

Day 3- How the hell are we getting to West Marine? Brain called everyone on the Yellow Pages list, and no one deals with diesel. WTF?!? Cell phones have internet nowadays (how the hell did they do it before?) so we had a variety to choose from. Brian called a West Marine for a whole new assembly- one in stock. Hooray! Now, to find transportation… We dinghyed up to Mar Vista, and thought asking the bar how to call a cab would be wise. The manager, after hearing our sad story, got the waiter to drive us there in her car (we thought he was only taking us to the bus stop). Turned out to be the wrong West Marine, but he drove us to the right one. (We bought him some gas at the gas station.) Returnng at lunch, starving, we ended up eating another excellent meal there (guess who our waiter was?) and left him a $50 tip. Hell, not only was the food excellent, and he gave us ice tea in to-go cups, but that guy went on a wild goose West Marine chase to save us. Plus, he told us where the best snorkeling spots were. Brian installed the new part (I gathered tools, made an awning, gathered hardware, and cleaned up), and all was right with the world. Who would have thought one stupid fuel filter would lead to chaos? We bought a spare, too, and replaced the other one on the Beta (this was preventative.) If anyone needs a spare for the original one, I will send it to you free of charge.

Day 4- We made it back home, having learned a new lesson the hard way. No problems. Diesel ran like a champ through direct opposing current. As we plan for the cruising future, these are the kind of setbacks that we learn from. I learned that there are really good people in the world that ask nothing from you in return for a kind deed, carry almost every spare part you can, and despite the fact we had two powerboaters slow down for us (one was the Sheriff), powerboaters are evil to sailboaters and wildlife (they are an illiterate bunch who can not read “No Wake.”)


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