Solo and Running Away…

Monday Sept. 26:

My hide out. I probably could have got closer to shore but this worked.

After a three days of hurried prep work and fighting an infection (see post here) I was under way to leave the marina and find shelter from hurricane Ian.

This was not how I imagined my first cruise would be, running from a hurricane and sick, but getting better, to a place I hoped would be sheltered enough for me and the boat. The location I picked was 20 miles west (of the current marina) in a smaller bay called Tarkiln bay which is part of the bigger Perdido bay. It looked to be well protected from winds blowing from the north and east. If hurricane Ian stayed to the east of Pensacola, then I would be safe from the wind.

The trip started well enough. The first mile or two is a no wake zone, meaning you can only idle through the area. At idle speed I can go about 3-4 miles per hour. Once out in Pensacola Bay, I turned westward and upped the speed to about 8-9 mph. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, it was warm, but the strong breeze from a recent cold front made it feel a bit chilly. It had been breezy for several days but not directly related to Ian.

After about a half hour I noticed the engine temperature was rising. I slowed down and ran for a bit and the temperature went back down. I was hoping to do the trip in under 3 hours but at this pace it would be closer to 4 hours, getting me there about sundown. Great.

The Gulf of Mexico out past the sand spit.

I tried a couple more times to increase speed however each time the temperature would increase. During the buying process the surveyor (inspector) noted the high temp during a full throttle run and suggested the heat exchanger (radiator) may need to be flushed. It seems I have some time to think about how to fix this while I waited out the hurricane.

At this point I was getting close to exiting the bay and entering the intracoastal waterway (ICW). While I was waiting to leave the marina I overheard on the radio several boats from the marina organizing on the way out of the channel. They were traveling together as a group of 5 sailboats. I saw the 5 sailboats in front of me, heading in the same direction. I decided to just follow them since I could not go much faster.

I followed in line for about 5 miles and when they continued west, I took a turn north into Perdido Bay. I still had about 3 miles or so to go but it was getting dark fast. I opted to not pull into the little bay and just got as close to the tree lined shore as I dared. This place offered protection from north winds but was much more open than where I wanted to be. I had to be flexible. I would just move around the corner in the morning.

Skinny place along the ICW. The green buoy is about 50-75 feet from shore.

I did not sleep well at all that night. This was the first time I had to put an anchor out to hold a 25,000 pound boat from blowing away. It was the first time setting an anchor alarm on the GPS. The alarm is to let you know if you moved more than X feet. It was the first time taking site bearings on objects on shore (to verify if your moving, or not, too much). I read about how to do these thing many times. It was a matter of putting the knowledge into use. Out of these three things, the only one I got right was taking the bearings. For the anchor, I thought I put out 80 feet, but as I learned in the morning I had put out about 120 feet. It was more than I needed, but it did not hurt. The other mistake was setting the the anchor alarm too short. With that much chain out I was easily swinging around 50-60 even 80 feet The alarm kept going off every 30-45 minutes. After tweaking the setting a couple of times and several hours later, I was able to get some sleep.

Tuesday Sept 27:

I woke to a clear and sunny day. I was up before the sun but could see it was going to be a sunny day. I started the generator to charge the batteries and brewed myself a nice hot latte, well two or three. As it got brighter I started the main engine and prepared to move the boat around the corner. I turned the radio on to catch the weather and to my relief Ian had taken a right turn and was not heading to Pensacola. I could head back but decided to stay one more night giving me time to work on the cooling system.

I fixed something to eat while I waited for the engine to cool down. I had all day. I pulled up the floor boards and jumped down to see what I could work on with the limited tools I had. What I found was easy to work on. A single bolt held on one end of the heat exchanger and the same on the other end. Once I removed these, I found cleaning was needed. There was a lot of sediment and some mineral deposits. I scraped and flushed as best I could and re-assembled the end caps. Looking at the rest of the cooling system I was not going to touch it. If anything was wrong in this part I did not want to make it worse. I would just have to take it slow on the way back. The rest of the day consisted of doing any odd job I could find and taking several naps to catch up on the sleep I did not get the night before.

My temporary neighbors.

Wednesday Sept 28:

Another sunny day. The wind picked up speed overnight. It was now blowing a consistent 20 MPH gusting to 25. I was going to leave early so I would have plenty of time to idle all the way back if I needed to. As I was heading out, I tested the cooling system and it seemed to run a bit faster. Maybe my little cleaning helped. When I get back to the marina the rest of the cooling system will get the attention it needs.

With all this wind blowing for so long the waves in the bigger bay had built up to a 3 to 4 foot range. It took some time for me to learn how to ride them so I did not get tossed around like a cork. The smaller parts of the ICW were calm compared to the big open waters.

By the time I got back to the marina the wind was still blowing. This made it very difficult to dock into my slip. The first try, I got blown into the boat next to me. We both have big rubber bumpers hanging over the sides so there was no damage. The second try was much better, but I could not get out and tie a line quick enough and started for the boat next door again. Fortunately, a couple of guys saw my plight and came running to my aid. I was able to toss them some lines and we get tied up and safe.

The only damage from all the waves on the way back.

Up next: Cooling system fix.

2 Comments on “Solo and Running Away…

  1. Regis,
    I admire your search for adventure. Congratulations on taking on the job training to a new level. Amazing story. Thanks,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Cooling System Fix – Linda and Regis travel…

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