Friday, December 19, 2008


We are here. Miami at last. One month and 1100 miles after leaving Havre de Grace, we're warm and we're staying put until late January. Of course, the last leg of the trip had to have a little excitement. It was only about 100 miles, the weather looked good, what could go wrong?

Last Leg

After a couple of days of very strong Easterlies, we waited a day and a half for the seas to calm down and left at 4PM in very light NE winds. We planned on motorsailing, at least until after midnight when the wind was supposed to fill in from the East. We suspected that the white exhaust smoke problem we'd been having was from too many additives in this tank of fuel, and we wanted to burn through as much of the remaing 1/2 tank as possible. About 3 hours out, we realized we'd probably be motorsailing the whole way. The gulf stream was extremely close to shore - we were only 2 miles offshore but we were being set by as much as 3.7 knots of current! Hey, on the bright side, we'll get through more of this fuel, right?

Running on Empty

About 35 miles out, just as the current against us was reaching new highs, the diesel sputters to a halt. Seriously?!? You have got to be kidding me. This didn't seem like any of the usual suspects - fuel filters, something wrapped around the prop, etc. To be honest, it seems like we're out of fuel, but clearly that's not possible. The gauge shows 1/3 of a tank, and we've only motored for 50 hours, so by both measures we should have about 30 gallons left - exactly 1/3 of a tank. So why the hell isn't there any fuel in this tank? Turns out that a) the guage is broken, and b) our newly serviced injectors have increased the amount of fuel we burn at a given RPM. So yes, we are out of fuel. We are out of fuel, we still have 75 miles to go, we don't have a ton of wind, and with the current running against us we are moving less than 3 knots over the ground. Not cool.

Back to Basics

Without auxilary power, things that are ordinarly nice to have - like favorable current going in an inlet - suddenly became requirements. Which meant we needed to arrive in Miami before 3pm or we'd have to sit offshore waiting for the next favorable tide - which would be in the middle of the night, which meant we'd be waiting until the next morning. Which meant we had to get Cielo moving faster or it was going to be a long trip. We cheated in closer to shore, and once we got a little less than a mile offshore the current dropped down to less than 1 knot. With Cielo moving at 6.5-7.5 knots in 12-15 knots of apparent wind and less than a knot of current, it looked like we just might make it.

Under Sail

And make it we did. The wind built a couple knots and we kept Cielo moving as fast as we could. Good sails and vigilant trimming had us averaging over 7 knots. We made it to the Miami inlet just before 10AM. Ironically, we made it sooner than we would have had we not run out of fuel. If we hadn't run out of fuel we probably wouldn't have run in so close to shore in the dark, and the lack of a motor slowed us down far less than the extra current. We sailed in the inlet, sharing the narrow channel with 600 foot long tankers, dropped the anchor, and dinghied over to get some fuel.


Blogger Hayden said...

Liz and Kevin, you guys are great explores and adventurers on the IP40! We loved reading this report right here in snowy, icy cold PA. Please, keep sharing, keep posting, because we need these reports. You guys are lucky your in FLA, it's going to be a long winter up here. Thanks again for the stories, they are very fun to read.
Hayden & Radeen

December 19, 2008 at 5:04 PM  

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