The longest Ride to Sint Maarten

Things were going well as I drove through the big waves; I thought/ was hoping the seas might die down a bit as the day progressed, but no such luck. Around noon, we heard Perky hunt for fuel, the RPM’s floating up and down, and the engine died soon after. Oh no, not again. I thought I’d cured that problem the year before. Apparently not. I discovered no fuel passing through the Racor filter assembly, just like last year. We rolled out the Genoa and bore off to sail, at 3 knots, well off the course to Sint Maarten. Try as I might, and I tried mightily, to clear the Racor housing, nothing worked. I could not even blow air from a pump through the assembly. Something in the housing was jam packed solid.

When I reached the point of total frustration, Joy calmly suggested I call our good friend back in Florida, Fred Ruggiero, the world’s foremost diesel genius. After telling him what had happened and what I had tried, Fred suggested I bypass the Racor assembly and plumb the fuel lines straight to the engine filter. He felt that move should at least get me to port. Wow; light bulb moment. Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks Fred for saving the day.

I re-plumbed the fuel lines direct to the engine, bypassing the Racor entirely. I then changed the primary engine fuel filter, and bled the air out of the fuel system. All this work took place as we rolled through 6 foot seas, with my body stuffed in the engine space, and I do mean stuffed. After bleeding the air from the system, Zoom! Perky fired right up and hummed like a sewing machine, just like he should. Now this process sounds simple enough. Clean a few lines, replace a filter or two; no big deal right? Six hours after the engine died, we were finally back on our way straight to our destination. We’d been sail-drifting for 6 hours as I worked on the engine, took breaks to tweak an extra half knot out of the boat under sail, and made a total of about 10 miles towards the island.

Once the engine was humming along, Joy asked me if we had just a couple more hours to go. I could see the despair in her face when I told her we still had about 6 more hours of motoring before landfall.

At 01:30, that’s in the middle of the night. dead on our feet, we dropped anchor in Simpson Bay, tucked in among several mega yachts. We were asleep within seconds of hitting the pillows. Thankfully, a quiet night with little roll, and we woke in time for a good breakfast before entering the lagoon on the 08:00 bridge opening. After the normal formalities of clearing into the country, we laid back to a do nothing day. I think we deserved it.

Move on to all the Repairs