Killer mosquitos drive us out of an anchorage at 4 am. It doesn’t matter that it’s pitch black. Trying to escape them wrapped up in sheets was unsuccessful. There was no more sleep to fall into, we are wide awake, and being attacked by vampires. I can’t say there has ever been a time we have hauled up the anchor, and motored away any faster.

Manatees and Dolphins rule the waters of the Florida-Georgia line. A sanctuary of underwater families play, eat, and rest around us every day as we travel north. The full moon this week brings 10 foot tides, making it very challenging to progress. We haven’t quite figured out how to time our movement around the roaring currents. I am convinced this is not possible. Katie on the other hand, studies the tides and does everything she can to figure out how to use them in our benefit. Thank god she is, because I gave up on that possibility before even trying. I have accepted that no matter what, half the day we move like molasses with the manatees, and the other half we can keep up with the dolphins.

My lips are chapped. I  habitually apply Chapstick  although it is not helping. The Sriracha I put on my lunch burns them. My nose is congested with hard, colorful nasal mucus. I have spent more time with my finger up my nose in Georgia than any other state. The temperatures have cooled, and It feels like we are in Michigan. But still can’t shake the sunshines intenstiy.  Creating a turban on my head with a scarf, is my new uniform. The wrinkles on my tan feet, reveal this weeks sun exposure. How we traveled without a bimini for the better half of a year, baffles me.

Flies the size off bats congregate in the cockpit, and on any place they can rest their wings. These are new. Can’t say I am excited about them. We stay as still as possible. Every once and a while getting bit by one. Swatting them away does no good, it only riles them up. Reggie on the other hand, is obsessed with these creatures. He yearns for them like steak. In fact, this is the most active I have ever seen Reggie. It drives him absolutely mad and he refuses to sit still. He slides all over Louise because his long nails refuse his grip. We would be encouraging Reggie’s hunt, if he were good at it. Instead, his unsettledness rubs off.

After replacing the pulley on the alternator belt, and trying a stronger brand belt, we have yet to shred another one. However, It hasn’t been long enough to know if we fixed the problem. We may just have figured out how to make them last longer. I thought tightening all of the hose clamps on the fuel lines (one in particularly was really loose) solved the “air in the lines” problem. It didn’t. Like clockwork, every 3 or 4 days, the engine spits out after starting her up in the morning. I have lost count on how many times we start our day with bleeding fuel instead of eating breakfast.

My hands are greasy and oily more often than they are clean. Scum somehow finds a way to live underneath my bitten nails. Most of my conversations with strangers last longer when referring to engines. I have a new perfume, its the flavor of diesel. My most recent battle was with an oil filter.  I may as well go pick up an application for the nearest Jiffy Lube.

Days go by. Miles pass slowly. Time disappears. Katie reads all day. I write all day. Patrick handles most of the driving. Reggie hunts flies. Katie finds our solar fan fallen apart in the V-berth. I go to open to the bathroom cupboard, and it falls off. The rub rail hangs in the water. Darbie’s one handle rips off. Our head sail is de-threading. Our stanchion is lose again. The lifelines are flaccid. The stays keep getting looser. We are convinced the mast is sinking into our deck. The pool in our bathroom reappears every time it rains. The toilet started gurgling at us in the middle of the night. The engine quits on a typical morning. Katie found squirmy, black, centimeter long worms living under the sink. BUT, our Uncle Tari, handcrafted us a new tiller, to replace the one that been rotting all year. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Every day I wonder if we will make it to the next place. Every day we are exhausted by the constant unknowns, and unanswered questions. Somehow, someway, we always make it. Our spirits remain high. Our lives are so weird. Once a day I laugh at the hilarity of it all. We have found balance between frustration and relaxation, boredom and entertainment, discipline and reward, captivity and freedom.  Balance, my friends. Find it. Without it, I would be a hot mess.

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11 thoughts on “Balance

  1. Some ideas to find your air leak in your fuel system.
    1. Check your entire rubber fuel line for a tiny hole. Small holes can occur where the fuel hose touches any part of the engine chassis because of abrasion caused by vibration. Look for any type of abrasion. 2. Make sure your fuel tank vent on top of tank is not partially plugged. This could cause vacuum to slowly form in the tank while running the engine. 3. Check that primary and secondary fuel filters are screwed tight and all fuel clamps are snug. Also check that hose ends are not cracked under the clamps. 4. Occasionally, the secondary fuel filter (on engine) diaphragm pump can fail and introduce air. The small rubber diaphragm in the hand pump gets old and cracks. It is easy to replace. 5. Occasionally, loose scale or debris in the bottom of your fuel tank partially plugs the small screen at the end of the pick-up tube (inside the tank). This causes the engine to shiut down after a while. When the engine is stopped the dirt sometimes falls off the screen but plugs again after the engine runs for a while. 6. Sometimes the fuel shutoff valve can begin to leak air into your system. If so, replace the valve. 7. All, Running the engine with less than 1/4 fuel in the tank can sometimes cause air to be sucked in when motor sailing in heavy seas or when heeled. I have had all the above issues happen to my 39 ft sailboat Diesel engine. We continue to follow your wonderful blog and are sure the big problem will improve once you get into the Carolinas.

  2. Seeing the zen like primordial peace in the scenes you so beautifully shoot, reaffirms why the trials and tribulations of your life on Louise are worth the effort of being afloat. Elie Wiesel has a great quote. “God created Man because he loves stories.” And beautiful hard working, long suffering women sailors too!

  3. Jessie

    I have a small diesel engine that was having similar symptoms and it turned out not to be an air leak. Diesels have two fuel pumps one that pumps fuel from the tank (low pressure) and another that pumps fuel to the injectors (high pressure). On mine the low pressure pump has two check valves. The check valves are thin plastic flaps allowing the fuel to flow one way. One of the check values had a small crack in it. Depending on its mood, temperature and who know what it would sometime work and sometimes not. Yours may have the same problem.

    I would check everything Lincoln recommended, fuel line, hose clamps, filters, vacuum in the tank, junk in the tank, leaky valve, cracked diaphragm. If all that checks out then I would suspect the low pressure fuel pump. It was pretty easy to take mine apart to find the problem. Not sure how difficult it would be to get to yours. Mine was also a zero cost fix because I just made another value by cutting out piece a plastic the same size. It has is still running several months later.

    If you let me know what engine you have I will do some internet research to see if I can get you some more details.


  4. I am very envious of your adventures. My sailboat is on a nice freshwater lake, great for swimming, no sharks. We belong to the Yacht Club and often enter races with our 28 ft. Hunter. BUT——-there is no where to go except up, down, around the lake. We love it, but have wanted to go to the coast for years. I am older and not quite as limber/agile as I used to be. Have a friend on the coast at Port Aransas, Tx, so when a saltwater sail calls, we take her 37 ft. C and C out in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Continue with your adventures, keep sending pictures and stories and i’ll live vicariously through it all.

  5. Jess and Katie, your photos are gorgeous, your commentary is captivating. Where exactly are you at this point?

  6. Katie and Jess, I am extremely jealous of your adventures so far. Your photos are amazing, and your commentary is motivating. I am moved and inspired by the amount of courage you two girls have. I wish I had such strength to take on a challenge like this! I wish you all the best in your future travels and adventures!

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