It was two weeks ago this morning, after shortening up our anchor to leave Beef Island for Portlock Harbor, Ron started our engine and it immediately “coughed” and died. Really??! We tried starting it again and the engine would not turn over. Obviously, she wasn’t getting fuel.
First thought was a clogged fuel filter. As we assembled what we needed to change the fuel filter, we realized that we don’t have our large wrench on board. Oh shit. Chances are it was left south on the new-to-us trawler. This is a problem with owning more than one boat. We have yet to figure out a decent system (besides owning 2 of everything and leaving it aboard each boat) to know what we’ve left and what we’re sharing between boats.
After trying to jury rig a tool, to no avail, we began to look at our options. It was Monday. We had planned to meet up with friends at Hilton Beach on Tuesday, and to be back at Duncan Bay by Friday. Light easterly winds were forecast. East winds are favorable for getting to Cheboygan (though the winds that morning in the anchorage were light out of the north). The forecast for the next 3 days wasn’t good: strong NW going W going SW, which would rile up the big Lake. We decided our best bet was to sail towards Drummond Island and stop in at the Yacht Haven for needed repairs that day. But first, we’d make another try at starting the engine. With the scary starter spray in hand (thanks to our friend, Carl, at Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage!), I was at the throttle and Ron was at the engine. A few times turning her over, and suddenly she coughed to life. We let her run a couple of minutes–she didn’t die–and so we raised anchor and motored out of the anchorage. For the first half hour or so, we kept expecting the engine to die, being starved of fuel. But she didn’t. She kept running. And so we kept heading towards Detour Passage and into Lake Huron. Still she kept running. In U.S. waters, I made the call to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to check back into the country using NEXUS. They seem to finally have a system down and checking back in couldn’t have been more easy this year.
We had a bit of wind once we got into the big lake and would have had a nice broad reach all the way home, however we didn’t dare turn the engine off for fear she wouldn’t start again. We motorsailed all the way home.
We ended our summer cruise a few days early. Oh well. We were snug and comfortable and secure in our slip as the wind blew and whipped the Lake up for the next 3 days. It’s good to be home.