There were no issues with the new fuel pump. I spent most of the day packing for the next leg of the journey to the Florida Sea Base. I sacked at at 6 pm in preparation for an early start on day three.
I woke up around 10:30 Tuesday evening. I spent about an hour trying to get back to sleep without success. I got up, got dressed, fixed a cup of coffee, loaded the Suburban and headed south to Interstate 10. I left the house at 12:09 am (9 minutes past midnight) Wednesday morning. I fueled up in Orange, Texas where I get onto I-10.
Everything was fine until I was half way across the bridge over the Atchafalaya Bayou. The bridge is 96,096 feet (18.2 miles) long and is between Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was between 2 and 3 am and another gas issue with the Suburban emerged; or so I thought. I managed to drive the remainder of the way across the bridge at 25 to 30 mph on the shoulder and praying that I wouldn’t get smashed in the fog from the rear by an 18 wheeler. A mile or so past the bridge and the problem disappeared – for a while. Then the problem was back and I was approaching the Mississippi River bridge. It is a very tall, very steep bridge with no shoulder. I knew I could not make it over the bridge so I pulled onto LA-1 which runs along the west bank of the river. It was 3:30 in the morning. No one to call. No one to help.
I made myself at home in a Walmart parking lot and waited. To shorten the story a bit, I was able to call two mechanics from back home and we decided that the likely culprit was an excessive amount of ethanol in the fuel. [This can easily be confused with water in the gas as the symptoms are the same.] We came up with a plan, I got the Suburban running properly, took a big breath and headed for the Mississippi River bridge.
I had lost several hours of travel time and my usual 20 hour drive was going to be much longer. I stopped at a roadside park and slept for about an hour. This sign was posted in the pet walk area.
After my nap I was back on the road. Totally exhausted, I stopped again at a service plaza on the Florida Turnpike. I passed out for over four hours. Then back on the road and finally arrived at the Florida Sea Base at 10:30 am Thursday, more than 12 hours later than I had planned.
The Florida Sea Base is a beehive of activity. It is kind of cool to be a spectator for the first time since I joined the staff in 2000. Coral Reef captains are making final preparations, the dive staff is getting weft and renewing their underwater and rescue skills, and the sail staff is preparing for the incoming sailors.
Captain (and recent PADI IDC Staff Instructor graduate) Brenda Mallory will serve as the second captain aboard the Schooner Pirates Lady in the Scuba Liveaboard program. Pirates Lady is under new ownership and is very fortunate to have Captain Brenda aboard.
The Schooner Spirit of Independence has moved from the Sea Exploring program to be the third schooner (Conch Pearl being the original) to join the Florida Sea Base Scuba Liveaboard fleet.
Captain Christy Costa has gotten all of the Florida Sea Base Newton Dive Boats through their annual US Coast Guard safety inspections.
Captain Steve Owen has brought a new vessel into our sailing fleet. S/V Missty (not a typo) will serve in the Order of the Arrow Oceans Adventure program (OAOA).
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape