Last weekend, on our way home from Tween Waters, we stopped at Ballards on Fort Myers Beach to fill up with diesel fuel. Blue Turtle can hold 500 gallons of fuel (two 250 gallon tanks) and because we have only one engine and because she’s slow, she sips fuel. The last time (and first time for us and this boat) we put fuel in the tanks was over a year ago. We had attempted to fill up the diesel tanks until our boat began listing to one side. We had filled up one tank, and while filling the second one, out trawler started listing. We decided we would stop filling it and see if it leveled out, which it eventually did.
This time, however, we fully filled both tanks and the full tanks caused our bow to be so heavy that a sump intake was fully under water. We’ve always been somewhat bow-heavy because we are missing a water tank in the stern. When we purchased Blue Turtle, one of the water tanks had a leak that couldn’t be repaired. We removed the faulty tank with plans to replace it at some point but haven’t had the opportunity yet. With our sump filling with salt water and running continuously, Randy had to find a better way to ballast the boat. He moved our 3 spare anchors to the back as well as filled up every cooler and bucket on the boat with water. He was successful in getting the sump intake above water, however, we had another issue to attend to.
The next day (after ballasting the boat), we smelled diesel fuel—big time. Randy investigated and found that we have an outlet, valve or vent on the top of one of our fuel tanks that was leaking. We believe that after we ballasted the boat, with the bow being higher now, that the fuel leaked out of the top of the tank where the air vent or fuel intake hose is. It is hard to determine where the fuel came from because we cannot see the top of the tanks. We’re really hoping that it isn’t actually a hole in the top of the tank. Thankfully, our fuel leak was contained to within our boat and not going into the water. The fuel was leaking into a side container and luckily didn’t go into the bilge. Randy bailed out a gallon or so of the red fuel and made a phone call to my father. After discussing the issue, they decided the issue would be remedied if we burned several gallons of fuel. Once the fuel level was lower in that tank, we wouldn’t have the issue of leaking.
Here’s where the impromptu trip comes in. It’s interesting to be in the situation where you need to just burn fuel. We are conditioned to save fuel and drive slower in order to save money and be cost effective. Now, we were in a position where we needed to get rid of fuel—which for an efficient trawler, means going for a very long ride. At the spur of the moment, Randy and I decided we would make a trip to Cayo Costa (one of our favorite spots) which is about a 4 hour trip one way. We usually wouldn’t make a trip to Cayo Costa unless we have a 4 day weekend because it takes half a day to get there. We left the dock at 2:oopm on Saturday and arrived at our destination around 6:00pm. It was very fun to spontaneously take a trip like this. Because it was so hot, we started the generator at the time we left the dock. We’ve never run the generator while underway (again ’cause we want to conserve fuel) but it was so nice to be comfortable in the cabin below. Randy toughed it out as long as he could on the bridge until the afternoon sun was blasting him in the front of the bridge. At that point, he came down below and drove from the lower helm in the air conditioned comfort of home.
Once there, we launched the dinghy and headed for the beach for sunset cocktails and to let the dog run a little. The next morning, we relaxed a little and had coffee and then pulled up anchor and headed home. It was a gorgeous day with a nice breeze and not as hot as the previous day. Even though the generator was still running, we didn’t need to drive from below. With the gen and AC running, it was nice to pull into our slip at Snook Bight and already have the cabin cooled down.
There’s nothing like a spontaneous, last-minute trip. Randy and I had a great time. We even realized that this was our very first trip on Blue Turtle alone since we’ve owned her. Every trip we’ve been on so far, we usually have either Corey or Randy’s dad or both along. It was nice to have just the two of us on this awesome cruise. We can’t wait to be off the dock again!