I was recently contacted by a new boat owner to help him move his boat from Sanibel Island on the West Coast of Florida to Jacksonville. In my planning, we were going to travel through Fort Myers and then proceed through the lock system of the Okeechobee waterway. Our trip was planned to go through Lake Okeechobee and then on to Stuart Florida. Unfortunately, as we approached the Port Mayaca lock, the starboard side engine started to overheat.
Fortunately, there was a change in the engine noise before overheating and we were able to shut it down before the alarm started to sound. After a quick inspection we found no obvious signs of an issue and proceeded to River Forest marina on one engine so we could have it inspected by a professional.
After a few days, the repairs were done and we were ready to move the boat up to Jacksonville Florida by way of Daytona Beach.
After preparing the boat and leaving early in the morning, we proceeded out the Saint Lucie Inlet and into the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful day and seas were calm. We were on schedule to make great time to Daytona Beach. As we passed Fort Pierce Inlet we elected to continue on in the ocean since everything was running smoothly. Unfortunately after another 10 miles, we started to have new problems. The problems on the surface appeared to be fuel related since the engine never overheated but sputtered to a stop.
By this time, the wind had picked up and made it nearly impossible to diagnose any issues with the fuel filters in the ocean.
We decided against continuing on to Sebastian Inlet because the Sebastian inlet is notorious for being a rough inlet to traverse…especially on one engine, and the fact that Fort Pierce offers more choices for marinas and boat repair facilities. Our best choice was to backtrack to Fort Pierce for repairs.
While we surfed into Fort Pierce Inlet on one engine, it was clear we had made the right choice not to push ahead to Sebastian.
As we approached Fort Pierce City Marina, we soon discovered that our running engine was now stuck in gear. Without reverse or neutral, it was going to make docking very treacherous. We circled in the marina as we talked to the dockmaster on the radio. He was able to get us on a T-head that helped ease our situation. As we approached the dock we turned the engine off and my crew and myself were able to lasso the pilings and bring ourselves to a safe stop. This is not something I preferred to experience again.
Since we were experiencing multiple problems we secured the boat and the owner was able to quickly get someone to come out and fix the issues.
The unfortunate end to the story is that when we showed up to continue our trip we found that the starboard side engine was still experiencing fuel issues. The mechanic that came out initially, met us at the boat and discovered another filter that he had not seen when diagnosing the issue the first time. After further inspection he found pieces of silicone in that fuel filter and determined that the tank was poorly repaired sometime in the past. At the end of the day the owner was going to need to remove the fuel tank in order to rectify the situation.
While this owner did get a Boat survey, it’s always smart to go into a new boat purchase with your eyes open. This was a 30-year-old boat that needed a lot of work. Never close your eyes to the things you can see. When I initially got on board it was obvious this boat needed a lot of attention.
Always be prepared for mechanical issues, especially when taking a new, unproven boat on a long or shakedown cruise. It’s always a good idea to plan your trip around the time of day so you are able to summon help during business hours when these services are available.
If you ever need a professional to move your boat or to come along as support, give Trusted Yacht Delivery a call and we’ll be happy to assist.