It was time to head toward home the day after Mini Lobster Season began and we headed toward Flamingo, Florida. Flamingo is the southernmost headquarters of Everglades National Park and home to world-class fishing. Randy had been here before years ago on a fishing trip and learned of the anchorage. We decided we would stop here for a night and let Corey and Randy take the dinghy out for some fishing. The anchorage was remote and calm—not a boat in sight! It was a relaxing, peaceful place to anchor after our time in the Contents.
The next morning, we left Flamingo very early and headed towards Marco Island. It was a long day and we covered some 70 miles or so while dodging thunderstorms. We pulled into the anchorage by Coconut Island at Marco around 7pm and got settled for the night. We decided we would stay 2 nights here before moving on. The next day was a gorgeous summer day and we headed to the beach to wear out the boy and the dog. Once we were exhausted, hungry and sunned-out, we dropped Sophie off at Blue Turtle and headed to Snook Inn Restaurant for a late lunch. Luckily, we returned to the boat right before some thunderstorms rolled in.
The next morning, we pulled up anchor and headed home. About 10 minutes into our trip, we lost power to the engine just like we did at the Dry Tortugas. Immediately, Randy shut down the engine. We were adrift just off the coast of Keewaydin Island and Randy went into the engine room to figure out what was the issue. It appeared to be an issue with getting fuel to the engine again. When we were in the Dry Tortugas, we had a line clog to one fuel tank which caused us to run out of fuel in the other. Randy unclogged the line but had to endure the task of bleeding the lines to get the air out with dying starting batteries. We replaced all of our batteries (we have 6) in Marathon because we kept running into charging issues. This time around, we knew it was once again related to fuel not getting to the engine. Randy diligently went through the lines and did find a clog, but we just couldn’t seem to get the lines bled. Randy determined that our fuel lines were very brittle and one had a small hole in it. We decided that we couldn’t fix it while bouncing around in the Gulf of Mexico, so I called Boat U.S. to come get us. Boat U.S. came out of Marco, but they towed us into the Naples Municipal Marina (aka City Dock) so we would be a little closer to home. Once we were docked, Randy continued to work on the issue and determined that he would have to take a cab to the parts store the next day for new fuel lines.
The next day, Randy worked most the day in the engine room, replacing all of our old crusty fuel lines. It was a great day to do this since it rained most the day anyway. He got the engine started finally in the afternoon but the weather was awful so we waited to leave for home the next day. We ran the engine at the dock for an hour anyway just to make sure we had things under control. Finally, the next day Randy and I left Naples Marina for home. The storms had calmed down, but there was still a 4-5′ swell on the Gulf that was hitting us in our side. Ugh! It’s not big stuff, but uncomfortable. We’d had side rollers in the Contents and this time, I was hoping for a nice flat-calm ride home in the cabin which would allow me to work on my laptop. It wasn’t happening…I ended up on the bridge with Randy securing the wiener dog so she wouldn’t go flying. We made it back to home port without incident so we were happy. It was good to be back, but boy did we miss that clear water!