Our first stop after leaving the marina was top off the fuel tanks. Cream Puff holds 158 gallons (US) of diesel fuel. This is used to power the engine and generator. The engine is used in cases where wind is nowhere to be found or for tight controlled maneuvering. The generator gives us all the electrical comforts of home such as air conditioning, microwave, washer/almost-dryer etc. Running the generator is an expensive luxury. If we ran it all day every day, this would equate to an electric bill of about $2,000 per month (not including the price of a new generator every couple of years due to wearing out). We typically do not use the generator while sailing except to charge the house batteries from which all of our lights, pumps, refrigeration and navigational systems work. However, while at anchor, using the generator to crank up the air conditioner is a luxury second to none. It is always a good idea to leave port with full fuel tanks. Fill her up please. Ouch! The sad part is this is probably the cheapest diesel we will purchase on our travels. From here on, we can expect to pay more.
We took a couple of days to chill and settled into one of our favorite anchorages in Tampa Bay. It is the Manatee River at the mouth of Tampa Bay. The river has scenic state parks on either side. Our intent was to make sure all of our gear was working prior to setting off for the Dry Tortugas about 2 days away. We experienced a small problem with the generator and needed to swap the water pump for the spare in our parts inventory. I will rebuild the old pump and place it back into the inventory. Other than this, all went well.
The flies started to drive us crazy. Cindy put up our screens and armed each of us with a swatter. We, meaning Mark, Cindy and our abundance of fly carcasses decided to set sail and head south. I am starting to think the previous post entitled Gone Sailin’ should have been called Gone Motorin’. We had so little wind that sailing the entire way would have taken a 2 day trip and turned it into 10 days. We motored all but 4 hours of the 30 hour trip. We are not fond of motoring. It is noisy and makes it hard to sleep when not on watch. But on the bright side of motoring, at least we make headway, have calm seas and the dolphins come and play in our propeller wash.
We seem to be prone to picking up feathered stowaways. This little fellow joined us about 50 miles west of Florida. He hopped about on the deck and feasted on dead flies. After which, he nested into a coil of rope and nodded off to sleep. I’m almost certain that one day, many years from now, in bird folklore there will be a tale of a lone bird flying wearily over the ocean only to find a secret island in abundance of plump delicious flies. This little fellow hit scrumptious pay dirt when landing on Cream Puff.
The following day we made our first port of call as full time cruisers in the Dry Tortugas.