This was written approximately six months ago. Today I am publishing it, because on the day I wrote this I was pretty pissed about things. Read the first part, then read my notes and “afterthoughts” – because we all know hind sight is 20-20.
Begin Old Post:
Not literally, but figuratively.
We’ve been stuck in Cobb’s Marina now for over 6 weeks. Though a combination of mishaps, an accident and just plain old “mañana, mon” attitude.
While I can appreciate such an attitude in the hot, humid Caribbean, not so much in Norfolk Virginia. At a highly recommended marina where people are coming and going rather rapidly, we’ve been put off, stuck here, ignored and plainly, clearly been the subject of “non-caring”.
For instance just last week, the Marina closed down for four days for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Very nice for them and their families, I’m sure. But, what about my wife and I? I asked about getting our mast put back on the day after repairs were completed on the mast, so Tuesday afternoon the last of the work was accomplished.
The mast was supposed to go on Wednesday before the long weekend.
Nope, it did not, in fact, they stated they “didn’t have time”. Really? They had time to move the crane out of position and pull up docks. They had time to haul out 4-5 boats that had just come in. They had time to re-splash another boat that had been repaired, but no time to reinstall my mast.
I suspect they were concerned we might “skip out” on the bill or something. This is not something I would have done and would gladly have taken care of it just to get out in the good weather to head south.
That’s ONE of many delays we’ve experienced here. Other things have included “We’ll send you the bill” and they did, mailing it to the Florida address, meaning I had to then await it coming back to me here in the marina when they could have just as easily handed it to me. What’s up with that?
So, today is the 2nd of December. We’ve been since the 18th of October. On the 23rd of October a guy in an out of control power boat hit us severely damaging the bow of our boat. We’ve been arguing with the man’s insurance company since then. They have basically refused to help, pay or otherwise alleviate the problem caused by their client.
A few days ago I hired a lawyer. I’ll leave it at that for now. But, suffice it to say I didn’t want to do that, but now I plan to get my money one way or another.
I will say that the marina is just an “ok” place to be. But, there are hidden costs as well. Electricity apparently used to be included in the docking fees. In fact, they were very careful not to even mention electricity to us as part of the bill and we only discovered accidentally in conversation with a marina employee and another sailor here (who was also caught by surprise) about the extra fees if you’re on the docks.
The new docks (we’re actually in the “Pit” on a newer floating dock) are nice. The old docks are dilapidated so are coming out this winter for new docks to be installed. The workers are almost all family members, Cobbs, Duvals, etc. And the marina has been here a long time, surrounded by 3 others who are apparently owned by the competition, and have caused a lot of issues for this marina.
All in all, we’ve not had a horrible stay here, except to say, we had to STAY here. We wanted to be in Florida by Thanksgiving, not sitting confined to a dock here in Norfolk, Virginia. We’ve been up against every brick wall you can imagine until today.
Today I finally convinced them that the mast needed to go on, TODAY. Yesterday they wouldn’t do it due to rain (Ok, that could be a safety issue, but they were still hauling out boats yesterday….).
In speaking to contractors around here, apparently the speed with which things gets accomplished depends on who is paying, how they are paying, and how well the marina knows them. Several boats have come and gone under “emergency conditions” (Not that us getting here wasn’t an emergency condition, it started out alright, but rapidly turned INTO an emergency). And they were in and out in hours or a day, as opposed to weeks.
After our boat was struck, things slowed like molasses in January, I suspect because they believe the insurance company is paying up. Well, since they insurance company has told me to pound sand, it’s all on my now. Thousands of dollars in damages, paid for by me, and thousands more for other fees….. I’m not very happy about any of this.
Nor am I happy about the way the Insurance Company has treated us, and definitely NOT how the marina has approached customer relations with us. I am writing this as a draft to be published once my mast is in place, the bill is paid and we can leave when ever we want. So…. I’ll leave it at that.
Just know that there will an entry in Active Captain about this marina and unless you have a damned good reason for coming here, I wouldn’t do it. Go somewhere else.
End Old Post and start my new notes from today:
That evening, after the mast went up, JoAnne fell off the fixed, dilapidated dock onto another boat we had been invited to visit, and where they had chosen to place the boat to load tons of lead into the bilge.
Were it not for the fact we were stuck in that marina for so long, from 18 October 2015 through 20 May 2016, a full seven months and two days, through NO fault of ours, JoAnne would not have fallen. Had they taken care of the issues we came in for in the first place on the day they promised (that following Monday after the dockmaster called us and said “If you get here today, we’ll look at your boat tomorrow”) we would not have been hit the following Friday.
Had the marina moved us to a safer spot out of the pit where they were constantly dopping and retrieving boats, we’d not have been hit. Had they dock folks placed the boat properly, without a boat behind us, allowing our pulpit and bowsprit to be back from overhanging the dock, we’d not have been hit.
Had we not been hit, we’d not have had to hire a lawyer. The boat owner whom we ended up taking to court eventually settled out of court and did pay the full amount of damages and for our stay from the day of the accident to the date of final repairs. So, that all turned out good. We even met the owners later, shook hands and said “no hard feelings”, at least on my part, not so sure about their parts. But still, he came through like a champ, paid for the repairs.
What we never received was a break on the price of the stay (except the standard “If you’re here longer than a couple of weeks, we’ll do a monthly rate”). What we also never received from anyone on the site was an apology for the crap we went through there.
I will say that the dock master even allowed my batteries to boil out over the winter, instead of checking them every couple of weeks. They didn’t retie a line to the power cable and it fell into the water while we were away from the boat (after they changed things without telling me). A fender exploded.. and was changed out for one of my other fenders by the dockmaster, so they did catch some things.
We did meet several wonderful people there, Rhonda and Mike, Rob and Holly, Marc and Nicola, Vince Debbi, and Jeanie and Bart to name a few. The marina people were helpful most of the time, said hello, but at times went out of their way to avoid contact with us.
The marina is a working marina, thus, dirty, noisy and loud. We knew that. We expect that. But we also expect marina personnel to take care with our babies, our homes, the thing we supply a significant amount of passion towards – our boats. We don’t expect a lackadaisical attitude, we don’t expect to be pushed to a corner and ignored when we have specifically stated we have a schedule to keep, a weather window to catch and require assistance in accomplishing our tasks, especially when paying a lot of money, per day, for the “privilege” of staying there as a “transient” instead of a normal “slip holder” (which was never once offered to us).
I’m sure some will frown on this post, and I’m certain that most folks wouldn’t post something like this, figuring that “some day, I might have to use them again”. This is true of me as well. Some DAY, I might have to stop at Cobb’s Marina. But then again, if I do, and they have improved their work processes, I might do so.
I don’t hold anyone at fault for what happened to us. It was general circumstances and perhaps a bit of bad luck, something I sincerely DO NOT believe in. Luck is what you make of it (except games of chance, cards, dice, roulette and Lotto). You do NOT leave to chance things on a boat. You do your due diligence and you attempt to mitigate anything imaginable and sometimes you miss your shot. That isn’t luck, that’s simple statistics.
Cobb’s Marina is a decent place other than what we went through and in other circumstances, I’d never have written any of the original post or this. But I do what I do to inform people. Always have.
If you’re going to Cobb’s Marina… be aware of your contract. Be aware of your ability to say yes or no. And be aware that if you’re on those docks, multiple accidents have occurred there over the past two years, including one that happened just before we left (having nothing to do with the marina exactly, but with a sailboat driver who didn’t take care going out, hooked his rigging on someone sport fisher outriggers, that boat was a mess when I looked at it).
Nothing here is meant to discourage anyone from going there rather to inform you that it matters not WHICH marina in which you enter, you need to take care of those around you as well as yourself. Obviously no one can remain with their boat 100% of the time, and as cruisers we have to leave to get groceries, parts, get work done, see things and in general try to not stay on the boat when we are someplace trying to SEE things.
That’s why we trust the marinas to help us.
Honestly though, our ship has remained safer on an anchor and mooring ball than sitting in a slip anywhere we’ve been.