As I mentioned previously, we were hoping to get across Mobile Bay before the frontal system arrived. Forecast was for it to push through around 7pm. We were bucking a head wind, and seas, so were only making about 6.5 knots (about 7.5 mph). I had planned on at least 7 knots. It still looked like we would make it across Mobile Bay in time, until IT happened. First, the starboard engine died. Paula took the wheel and kept us on course while running on the port engine. I went down to the engine room and found the Racor fuel filter was completely full of water. WHAT??? A quick look to the port side filter showed the same condition. I did not have much time before the port engine died, too. Started draining filters, and to my horror, the secondary filters also had water in them. Yikes! Fortunately, it does not appear it made it all the way to the injector pump. After draining the filters I changed the filter element in the Racor, and was in the process of bleeding the fuel line when the port engine died. Great, dead in the water with 3-4' seas. This is going to get uncomfortable, fast. Ran back up and dropped anchor to at least keep the bow into the waves. Back down to the engine room, finished bleeding fuel lines, and get the starboard engine started. Back upstairs, get the anchor up, and we are back underway. Then down to the engine room again to repeat the process on the port engine. But, this time, I had to change the secondary filter elements, too. But, finally, I was done and we were back on our way with two engines. We had only lost about 45 minutes total, but that was to cost us dearly later.
|Nuttin' but water. This is supposed to full of red diesel fuel!|
The rough seas were stirring up all kinds of crud in the fuel tanks, so I fired up the fuel polishing system and started filtering the fuel in the tank with the least amount of water and crud. All seemed well, and the seas even laid down as we got behind Dauphin Island. We still had about three hours to go before reaching the ICW on the east side of the bay. We would be safe then.
We were a bit over half way across the bay, and were starting to pat ourselves on the back for getting through the tough times of the day. Big mistake. I noticed some light rain starting to show on the radar, about 12 miles behind us. I stepped out to take a look, and.... oh, crap... this is not going to be good. The sky was black, and everything behind us was disappearing in a torrent of rain. I could see the outflow boundary, or gust front, approaching at a frightening rate. It was obvious here was the front, and it was going to hit us before we got across the bay.
We had about an hour left to the ICW when the storm hit. It felt like a big hand had just slapped the boat sideways, and the wind immediately climbed to 30 knots, with gusts to 40. It took less than 15 minutes for the seas to build to 5-6', and they were beam seas. The worst kind for us. The boat was rolling 30+ degrees from side to side, and stuff was crashing around inside everywhere. The autopilot was struggling to hold a course, and we were getting pushed off course to the south. I turned it off and took the wheel, trying to anticipate the rolling and correcting at the last second. It seemed to makes things better, but maybe that was just because I was now so preoccupied with steering that I did not have time to notice all the stuff in the boat crashing to the floor.
Just when we thought it could get no worse... well, you know it did. We took a big roll, something went zzzzztt, and I smelled that burnt electrical smell we all know and love. And the computer shut down, which meant there goes the chart plotter program, the radar, autopilot control, etc. We were completely in the dark. I quickly turned on the big spotlight mounted up top and started scanning for the channel markers. Finally located them and adjusted course to stay between them. I do have a stand-alone radar and chart display on the fly bridge that was still working, but there was no way I was going up there with the boat rolling like that! We continued on like that for the next 30 minutes or so, and finally reached the safety of the ICW. We slowed (if it was possible to go any slower) and I spent a few minutes trying to determine the source of the zzzztt and burnt smell. Turns out the USB adapter I use for driving a second monitor had taken that opportunity to fry itself, and the short caused the computer to shut down. Once I unplugged it the nav computer booted back up and we had radar again. The rest of the trip to our planned stop at Ingram Bayou was uneventful. It had been a long 17 hour day, the longest we have ever run.
Upon entering Ingram Bayou, the wind was howling and it was pouring rain. I could just make out a small anchor light further up the bayou, and could see the target on radar. It was raining too hard to see him with the spotlight. Apparently the poor fellow thought I might run him over in the rain, and came out on deck (at 10:30 pm) and was wildly flashing a spotlight in my direction. He continued this until he was certain we were not coming that far back, and had stopped and anchored a fair distance from him.
|Duke says he is just glad it is finally over!|
That is enough for this post. I will continue with the saga on my next post, and make you all jealous of our cruising. You know what they say... Cruising is working on your boat in exotic locations! :)