Tough weekend for us. After changing the fuel water seperator filter on Friday, I never started the boat. On Saturday morning before departure I decided to test start the boat on the trailer. I never do that. Good thing I did because the boat wouldn't start. Fuel primer bulb wouldn't harden. What's the chance that goes bad too? Next to none but since it's a maintenance item, may as well change the entire fuel line and bulb assembly, from the filter to the outboard. $50 at Wal Mart.
New bulb still wouldn't harden. Determined no fuel was getting through the new filter. Took the filter off and found the outer corrosion was just as bad on the underside of the cap. Scrubbed it up with some Emory paper, deciding next time I will definitely change the entire assembly. Put it all back together...primer bulb hardened...good! Motor started...better! Let's go fishing.
Worked the East wall behind the bar. Went as far south as Cormerant Key,mother went a mile back in the mangroves to search new grounds for Reds. Caught one short sheepshead (11") and 7 catfish. Went back outside after high tide and was able to cross the bar at 1.5' above mean low. Trolled a twitch stick on the way home and landed a nice 19" Spanish Mackeral that ended his day on my fillet table. Made the dinner party at Celtic Ray at seven and was in bed by ten.
Sunday we started at the Placida Ramp at 9am. We promised the wives we'd be home by noon, so we had a short window. After parking the truck and trailer I returned to find my buddy had broken a deck latch by forcing it open, not realizing they turn to unlock. We headed out the channel until normal conditions but the second we tried to throttle up and run for the pass.....pppffftttt. Dead in the water. Trying to start her sounded very familiar to the previous day in the driveway. My calculations told me we should have had plenty of fuel for a 3 hour fishing trip. (I don't rely on the gauge, since the sending unit is unreliable). I know what the motor uses and how many trips I get out of a 35 gallon tank. But this day, I was praying I was wrong and we'd simply run out of fuel.
We used the trolling motor to return from the Intercoastal to the ramp. I had just bought a new 25' dock line (16.99) and it came in handy to load the boat onto the trailer....sans motor. We drove to Race Track on 776 & Toledo Blade, where we took on 30 gallons of fuel. This means we had 5 left and didn't run out. Back to the driveway and back to the drawing board.
Back to Wal Mart for the full fuel water seperator kit ($30). Returned home to find that, although the filters were universal in size, the fuel hose brass fittings were not. Trip to NAPA auto...no. Trip to Home Depot...no. Trip to West Marine...yes. Cudoes to Jeff the store manager for excellent customer service! Can't say what he did....but he took great care of us! Picked up new
deck latch while we were there ($45). Thanks to my buddy for paying for what he broke. Also decided to spend $6 extra on a brass coupler to by-pass the filter system altogether, as a trouble shooting step.
Back home, the by-pass took 5 minutes to put on and the primer bulb hardened after 5 squeezes and I knew we were close to a solution. Boat ran perfectly on the by-pass. Shut it down before we picked up any old crap from the fuel tank. Installed the new seperator kit. Neighbor suggested throwing away the new $8 filter we'd run on yesterday....just in case the old cap had deposited any crap in there. Good call. Put another new filter on the cap assembly. Changed out all old hose clamps too, since we were in there. Remember, these flats boats take a lot of water into the bilge, so you can't be too careful with corroded parts. Zoom....she runs like new!
By 1 PM Sunday we were done and the girls had a feast ready for us, pool side. Some Bucknut Style jalapeño poppers, a loaf of onion liverwurst from Kallis Sausage shop, with crackers, and our broiled Spanish Mackerel over crackers with hot sauce...yum, yum, yum. Boat problems, what boat problems? We drank and swam from 2-5 in a beautiful weekend of weather in Southwest Florida.
It's 530 as I finish writing this. The girls just lit the grill for HUGE ribeye steaks and corn on the cob. I'm trying to talk everyone into trailering the boat down to Placida for a quick Sunset Cruise after dinner. Will let you know how that works out.