Medical Check Up time

A few days ago JoAnne and I left behind our boat, and headed for Colorado, on our way for blood work and Oncology checkups.

Across the country, we stopped in Kentucky to visit some of my relatives on my Mom’s side of the Family.  The Martins.  We ran into a lot of cousin, uncles and aunts, saw my Granny’s old house, which is still standing in the midst of chaos in the countryside.  I don’t expect the house to be there much longer as there’s a big fight over it between the family and some local doctor buying up all the land to develop it.

Long ago, that was a few acres of land that belonged to my Granny and Grandpa but it’s almost all gone now, as is the “quaintness” of the Appalachian upbringing I experienced as a child for a few years.  I used to wander in the woods down there, and cross the “New Road” (which is an OLD road now) to get the creek to fish or swim, and regularly get my butt whipped for going there. (We weren’t supposed to, but it never stopped us from going.)

Today, a Walmart stands near by, schools are bigger (and no longer a two-story brick building that I went to in 2nd and 3rd grade), town is a bit bigger, and there are housing developments around.  A lot of the old houses that were there when I was a child are gone.  The “woods” is much smaller than it used to be now, and of course, the hills are mountains to me any more after living for 25 years in Colorado – where mountains are massive, but still not as large as the Himalayas are (where I’ve visited and climbed).

In fact, the whole world has become smaller, more compact and familiar whereas Kentucky has become a less-than-familiar place for me.  But it was wonderful seeing relatives I’ve not seen in years.  I even managed to see my Uncle Rudy and Aunt Jenny (Rudy is my father’s older brother, and is at least 83 years old now).  He reminds me of my Dad in many ways.  Dad is gone now, for a few years, as is mom, so it was nice to reconnect to the rest of the family.

After the Reunion, we made our way to Colorado, stopping one night in Missouri at a dumpy hotel off the beaten path.  Then, next day into Fountain, Colorado and my son’s place.  We’ve managed to see all our children but one who is in Denver, most of the grandkids and visit with old neighbors.  The day after we arrived we went in for JoAnne’s blood work to be accomplished, and of course had issues with the doctor’s office.

They (CSHP) have decided that if you don’t see a doctor there in one year, you’re no longer a patient.  I guess that poses a problem for everyone who is healthy and sees a physician once a year for a checkup and physical.  After a bit of argument, and a request to talk to our regular doctor, they conceded the issue was theirs and wrote the paperwork out for the blood work (which had already, previously been arranged, but they didn’t appear to want to do it).  Dr. R. did the orders, and blood was drawn.  Then we had to wait a week for the oncologist to get it.

Yesterday the week was up, we appeared at the appointed time to see her Oncologist.  We saw the PA, and not the surgeon, but that was fine.

JoAnne’s numbers for her blood work were fine.  Maybe 2 points higher than last time.  Nothing significant.  No physical issues.  JoAnne got a clean bill of health from the doctor’s office, and we set up an appointment for next year.  Another milestone is past us!!

We head back shortly for our ship, after laundry, some more visiting and some celebration.

October-November time frame is our planned Bahamas departure time.  We hope to go there for 4-6 months, and then back to our slip in Cape Fear.  Lots of planning and lots of work to do before then!

Adventure awaits!

Two weeks ago my brother, Steve, who happens to be my baby brother and is significantly younger than me, went into the hospital.  He is suffering from kidney failure and congestive heart failure.  I won’t detail any thing else here due to his privacy.  But he has been on a ventilator for most of that two weeks.

I just got word that Steve will be taken off the ventilator today, which is a VERY good sign.  He’s awake, aware, and has even stood up and taken a few steps.  We can only hope he gets better in the next few days and can get his medical issues corrected.

We left last Tuesday morning by rental car to collect our own car sitting at Kurt’s place in the Northern Neck of Virginia.  The car issue was in and of itself an “adventure”.

Enterprise Car Rental loaned us a car for a one way trip.  I’d had the vehicle over the weekend and we did the required “walkaround” and there was some damage to the left front fender where it appeared something had gone up inside the wheel well, bounced around and then probably went out.  I pointed it out, and the guy there (Ben) said they had it on the paperwork and were aware.  There was also a window ding, where a rock had hit the window.  That too, was known.

When I tried to turn the car in on Tuesday, they told me to “keep it for my trip” and they would adjust the paperwork and not charge me the extra few hours.  All good so far.  We departed more or less on time and headed for Tappahannock, VA where we would eventually try to turn in the car.

It was a five hour trip.  Now, mind you, we are very careful with our cars (whether ours, or someone else’s cars) and there were no accidents, no bumps, no crashes, no demolition derbies or anything in our trip.  The trip was completely without incident except stopping to put gas in the tank.

I called the rental place in Tappahannock to tell them we’d be arriving around 4pm and would require a ride to our car along with all our stuff. They told me they couldn’t give me a ride after 4:15 PM.  So, I said I’d call if we couldn’t make it until after 4pm.  Henry said he would have someone take us around 4 anyway.  Cool

In fact, we made it at 3PM.  When we arrived, I explained that JoAnne couldn’t drive the car all the way back, so we wanted to drop off then and get a ride to the house where our car was located, and we didn’t know if it had enough gas, would start or we could get the keys.  There was some issues with calling the drivers and they pretty much refused to get back before 5pm and told him they weren’t staying to do the drive.

Of course, Henry didn’t know I could hear these people giving him crap on the phone.  A good manager doesn’t let on there are issues, and Henry was polite and told us we could simply call tomorrow and leave the keys with the car and they’d pick it up.  I told him I would TRY to return it myself that evening, but would call at 0800 if we could not.

Next morning I left the keys in the car under a floor mat and tried calling.  They didn’t open until 0800, and no voice mail.  So, JoAnne and I got on the road and were two hours away when we finally reached Henry.

I gave him the address, told him where the keys were located and that the car was in the drive way at the house and should not be an issue for him.  My car sat there for three months with no problems.  Henry assured me he would call when they recovered the vehicle.  Still, no problems.

At 1830 on Wednesday evening, in the middle of rush hour traffic in downtown Detroit, he calls me to tell me they recovered the car and “there’s a problem”.  Starts telling me about a “rocker panel”.  I wasn’t even sure what a rocker panel was.  Said there was “damage”.  After an explanation of what it was I said there was indeed damage to the car on that side (driver’s side) under the wheel well and on the fender from something that had happened and it was clear that any damage on that side likely had to do with that previous accident – and Enterprise WAS aware of the damage.

He insisted that it “must have happened while you had the car”.  Ummm… no.  I contacted the other office and had them talk.  Next day (Thursday) I get a  call from the manager in Southport asking questions.

After I explained it all to her, she said she would take care of the issue.  Today I plan to drive up to the office and see them face-to-face and see whether this has been resolved or not.  They promised me pictures, which I haven’t see yet.

So, here we are in Southport with a ship and a car.  I need to figure out what to do with the car, and plan our escape from here.

JoAnne and I discussed making Southport our “home port” though, last night.  Not necessarily this particular marina, but this area to be able to sail in and out of Cape Fear and down the ICW.  Why would we do that?

When we arrived last night no one was around. The place was quiet, and we unloaded our car and moved our stuff aboard.  Then we decided to head over to Check Six (a local brewery) that we’ve been visiting.

When we walked in…. wow.  The people here are wonderful.  They all knew about my brother, and they asked about Steve.  There were hugs all around, the owners came over to hug us, patrons and people we barely knew treated us like family.

Southport has been wonderful.  All of the people are nice, helpful and it’s not very stressful here.  It “feels” like home.  Though, for us, Home is where ever we drop anchor or can stay a few days normally.

No matter what we decided to do, we have to decide by 6 Feb 2017 as that’s when our paid time on the docks is up and we either need to move on or pay (and it’s not cheap here in this marina either).

Now we’re faced with finding a place to store the car (or sell it, which we’re both opposed to doing at this point) and move down the road to Florida, or we have to go south to Florida and find a place to get a mooring ball or slip (and pay for that) and leave our car THERE.

No matter WHAT we decide though, we will be coming back to Southport to visit.

Today I check on prices for marinas here, Florida and have a chat with Enterprise.  I’ve rented from them almost exclusively for years and if they attempt to charge me for damages to a car that I didn’t do and were already on the vehicle, I will never rent from them again and I’ll be spreading the story far and wide. (There’s more to this story than I’ve told, about how they give out damaged cars, and what they do if one comes in damaged… more on that later IF necessary).

On a boat note here, batteries seemed ok with sitting here running only the bilge pump and charging on solar.  Then again, we don’t have any leaks that could cause the bilge pump to go come on often (if ever).  So, she sat here at the dock a full eight days without any maintenance, checking or supervision. 🙂

Thanks to the Dockmaster at South Harbour Village Marina, Bill and crew for looking out for us, and a special thanks to Jay Beard, another full time cruiser friend for “keeping an eye on her” for us.  I appreciate all of you.

Finally, IF you’re ever passing through Southport and you happen to like craft beer, I strongly suggest you do NOT miss the Check Six Brewing Company over on Southport Supply Road  (http://www.checksixbeer.com/).  Good friends, good beer, good company!!!!  (And to be sure, I RARELY give such endorsements!)

rick_joanne_adventure

s/v Adventure and Crew at South Harbour Village Marina, Southport, NC

 

 

Ready to depart

And then…

Well, nothing really.  We got all excited about departure yesterday, planned for today and little things kept happening.

  1. Our mail arrived
  2. I cleaned under the engine and found things
  3. A water jug broke (brittle from the UV rays of the sun)
  4. No wind today
  5. Haulout

Basically, nothing important.

Mail:  Our mail brought a little surprise.  Not a good one.  Apparently JoAnne’s doctor’s visits in Colorado “weren’t covered”.  So we got a huge bill in the mail.  Turns out, after examining it carefully, they are submititng the information to the wrong insurance provider.  I was military, I have Tricare, and because of our address they use Tricare South (and Colorado was using Tricare West).  So, we have to get in touch today and fix that, have them resubmit the information and use the right ID card etc.

Engine:  We had some water under the engine, it’s really been there from day one.  There was a little oil floating in it. I can’t find any thing other than a few drips on the engine so I don’t think we’re spraying oil anywhere, and again, all of this has been under the engine in the tray that collects everything since we got the boat.  It wasn’t a job I wanted to do, it was not hurting anything, couldn’t go anywhere and wasn’t getting into the bilge.

So I had picked up some of those absorbent cloths to pull out the oil, and man they worked well.  I was above to pump the water (less than a gallon) out after removing the oil.  I found a washer – that looked “familiar” (as familiar as any of million washers I’ve handled, but somehow I recognized it as one I had touched before).

Why it was down there was a mystery and I didn’t see anything obvious, so I set it aside for a bit while I finished cleaning and then began an engine inspection.  Back to front, looking for leaks, wear, tear, chaff, all that sort of thing.  Then when I arrive at the front of the engine, I see a piece of a bolt laying there.  An inch long piece of 5/16th “threaded stock”.  But, it wasn’t threaded stock, it was a bolt, with the head sheered off.  Just laying there.

Now I’m worried.  I start digging around and sure enough I find the head.  All of this was on a small shelf near where the fuel lines come in and go up to the engine, under and behind some valves.  Then I look up and see the culprit.

ALTERNATOR!  Damn it.  It’s odd though.  The bolt head must have sheered off, fell to the side, and the washer dropped straight below and backwards into the pan.  The engine must have been running for awhile after because the screw simple rotated itself out and fell where the head of the bolt was laying.  That means this happened on our way up to Cole’s Point from out last stop in May.

I had never noticed it when I looked in at the engine since we arrived, and I had not really done a full inspection because we really weren’t going anywhere…

After checking and realizing I didn’t have the right size (or if I do, I couldn’t find it right then) we went and found several “replacement bolts”, a few extra washers (because I want to figure out why this is vibrating like this and fix it, as I don’t think it is all perfectly lined up as it should be) and replaced the one and placed the new bolts with the engine parts where I can find them now.

Water Jug: I think these are just “Walmart” specials.  Five gallons.  Blue.  They sit outside normally.  One in and one out really.  The one inside is fine.  They are “emergency” water containers, in case we run out, something happens, we have to dump our tanks, or for hauling water.  I need to replace that one.

Wind: After checking the winds today and tomorrow (Friday) there won’t be enough to move us.  Saturday morning though, we’re suppose to have 15-22 knot winds out of the NW.  Just right for moving us down the river and around Smith Point to where we want to go.

Haul Out:  Something we couldn’t get done here.  So we spoke to Charlie at Jennings Marina down river and he said he could haul us out, as their lift is a 35 ton with bigger arms and extensions than they have at Cole’s Point.  Cole’s Point, as I mentioned before couldn’t do it because they were concerned about the straps being in the right place.

I spoke to him yesterday and he said he could do it Monday morning.

After all that we decided to delay until Saturday morning and beat feet down the river in a good wind on a reach and without wind on the nose (as usual).

Today we’ll head to town one last time to get a phone signal (yep, can’t get one here) and make sure our bills are paid with the medical people, pick up a water jug, maybe some more fresh fruit and then head back.

We are leaving the car with our friend Kurt, who will be down at the marina we’re headed to sometime on Saturday.  We want to finally see Lo-Kee in person so I can pass the keys off to him there I think.  We were going to leave them with the marina here, but I think it might be just as well to pass them directly to Kurt instead of having them pass from person to person.

This will be my last entry for a few days I think.  I’m not sure about Internet on the way down.

So… the plan, such as it is, is to try to do this day to day.  Plan short hops, sail as much as we can, drop anchor, plan the next day, eat, sleep, then go some more.

Basically, we are going to head for the ICW, so south to the Norfolk area, swing into the Elizabeth River, catch the canal, dodge the bad timing on bridges and locks and take the quickest, easiest path we can to the south.  I’d personally like to get to St. Augustine, and then decide where to head across to the Bahamas from there.  Marsh Harbor is our ultimate destination to range out of in Abacos for the winter if we can swing it.  Spring we will visit other places and head back this way, or back to Florida.

If we can make it back up this way, we’ll look for a place closer to civilization perhaps (and look for cheaper, but closer, which I know probably won’t work) or come back to Cole’s Point if they have their issues worked out here.  Not sure that’s going to happen at this point.

I’ll be updating the family with more information than I put in here so they have our “float plan” and can look for us if something happens.  But, in general we’re on our own out here and don’t count on others to help most of the time; however, over the course of the last 14 months, we’ve encountered numerous people that were not only willing to help, they have gone out of their way to assist us when it was needed.  We appreciate all the friends we’ve made and all the advice, assistance and understanding many of them have given us.

To our friends at Cole’s Point Marina, and Tim’s on the Shore;  Thank you everyone!

 

Hurricane Matthew

Against the odds, against the forecasts, and against the models a massive hurricane has formed in the Caribbean Sea.

This morning when I checked it had been upgraded to a Category 5.  It is sitting in the southern Caribbean Sea, south of Jamaica and appears to have taken a slight left turn, and will probably, quite suddenly swing northward on a collision course with Jamaica, the across Cuba, and onward into the Bahamas.

The conditions were really NOT all that conducive for forming such a massive hurricane which is why I said “against predictions” above.  But, predictions, humans and computers programmed by humans are fallible.

Right now, the various models show the path taking a plunge to the north, through MOST of the Bahamas and on up the coast.  Since yesterday evening, that has changed slightly and models are showing it moving north and then pushing eastward.

I’ve been watching some fronts moving across the states which might prove to save the day.  If the timing is right, and I say IF, the two fronts should converge around Tuesday and push the hurricane east ward.  Unfortunately, there is also a pretty big High sitting off the coast and that might cause some problems.

I’m not a meteorologist but I’ve studied it enough over the past 40 years to have a bit of knowledge on the subject.  JoAnne and I storm chased and spotted for the NWS in Colorado for about 20 years.  So we have a bit of background in mesoscale events.  This is not meso.  This is massive.  Synoptic observations and data are easy to get these days, but I’m again, no expert in reading it all.

My “take” on this hurricane is that it WILL blow out over the Atlantic after reaching the Bahamas.  It will weaken after hitting Jamaica because going over land reduces it’s power.  It will build a bit, but hit Cuba further weakening it.  By the time it hits Bahamas I think it Cat 3 or even a Cat 2 is all it will be.  With LUCK and timing, the fronts should be above it and pushing outward to the East.

The Earth’s rotation as it travels north will also cause it to spin out away from the US.  And prevailing westerlies.

At this point, I HOPE I am right.  And I hope that the folks in Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica all fare better than a category 5 will give them….

In other news, we’ve had rain, rain, rain for the past week.  Either in Richmond where we visited a couple of days for my eye check up, and all the way here to the boat.  Lots of rain.  We had super high water a couple of days ago, washing over C Dock and some of the others.  We’re on a floating dock, so the only issue we had was a dinghy full of water because SOMEONE forgot to pull the plug when he hoisted it onto the davits.  Fortunately a kind neighbor noted something amiss and went over in his dinghy and pulled the plug for me.  Normally, I remember to pull it, but for some reason I just spaced it.  THAT is the kind of thing that sinks boats.  Not remembering the little things.  Live and learn.

Windows still leak somewhat, here and there.  I think I have discovered one of the major leaks though.  I believe at this point water from rain is coming in through the traveler area in front of the cockpit.  I can’t pull out the stuff due to the building of the boat.  I think I can seal it though.  As to the windows, I don’t have the right gasket material and not too sure where to get it. So, I thought I’d do an experiment.  I cleaned out the old, dried up gasket from one of the portlights and used RTV in the place where a gasket should be.  I let it cure and sure enough, it works.  Not the best thing, not permanent, but it DOES work in a pinch.  So…. I’ll keep a few tubes of that stuff around for emergencies.

Front area cleaned up, and I can walk in there, I can access the anchor locker if needed, I can move stuff out of the forward head easily now and we can use that bathroom if necessary too.  Hung our walking sticks, and some other long items up front from bungie cords.  Tools accessible now.  Front name plates are varnished, the red paint is on them, and at some point I can paint in the name of the boat on the forward plates…. maybe it will quit raining for a few days this century….

Plans now include a trip to a military commissary for paper products (TP, paper towels, plastic trash bags to store things) and of course “boat alcohol”.  LOL.  Cheaper, no taxes, but it’s a long drive.  While we still have our car.

Our friend Kurt has promised to store our car for this winter/spring coming up until we come back this way.  So we have that going for us.

I have a radio modification to perform on one of my rigs before we bug out.  And I’d like to install the vhf/uhf rig some where in the boat where I can get power to it easily and get an antenna up on top somewhere.  Might put that off awhile.

Eyes were pronounced “awesome” by the Doctor.  I am 20:25 unaided by glasses, but do require reading glasses for up close.  Can’t focus that close now.  I can free dive soon if I want, or use a mask.  So I’m good again, and I can SEE.  Wow.  Just wow.

Basically, all the BIG jobs are done.  Just the little stuff.  And waiting out hurricanes.  I recall at this time last year, we were sitting in Galesville, Maryland awaiting Hurricane Joaquine which was making a bee line up the coast…. and was very similar to this one, except it started further north, went west, and then turned suddenly out to sea and never threatened the coast at all.  Almost exactly a year ago today….interesting isn’t it?

Fair winds.  Catch you on the next update.

To See, or Not to See….

With apologies to Bill Shakespeare…

To see or not to see, that is the question.

Cataracts are nothing to sneeze at, though, you can sneeze with them and I’m not sure about sneezing after eye surgery.  I’m afraid I’ll blow the new lens out of my left eye now.  Of course, I was pretty certain that’s what was happening after my open heart surgery last year when I sneezed too.  In fact, that STILL hurts when I sneeze.

My chest, not my eye.

Yesterday afternoon, I underwent surgery on my left eye to remove the bad lens that ha cataracts in it.  I was pretty terrified. But my left eye was pretty bad.  Worse than I even knew.  I couldn’t even get it corrected to 20:50.  It was more like 20:100.

This morning for the test, I was at 20:25.  That’s as GOOD as my right eye, corrected with glasses and my right eye is my “shooting eye”.  I can still hit targets at 100 yards in the center of mass (that’s all that’s required at that distance, I’m no sniper, lol) and mostly read.

Today, however, I can see 1000% better than I could yesterday with the left eye.  And just as bad as before with my right.

The “terrified” part was due to a severe phobia I have about my eyes, and things, people, fingers, knives, needles, sharp things being around them.  Most of us have that issue with our eyes, except those who stick things in their eyes, like contact lenses.  Nope, NOT ME.  I don’t even put eye drops in.

Until a few days ago.

Now I can, and do.  It took me a few days of putting drops in pre-operative to be able to do it without flinching.  And yesterday, before the surgery, they put in about a dozen drops into my eye, and the last few were this gel gunk.  Gross.  Gross. Gross.

Fortunately, they gave me some kind of drugs that let me get through without killing any one.  That was cool.  I did get yelled at perhaps three times by the Doctor.  Not supposed to lift my feet, or move, or pee on myself, or something.  Not sure I remember it all, but he looked a little sheepish when I mentioned it this morning. haha

So, why the title?

Because of fear of surgery.  Fear of anesthesia.  Because fear of needles in my eyes.  Because I am, or was, mostly blind yesterday and was more than willing to stay that way because of the previous things.

Today, with my left eye opened and my right eye covered, I looked into JoAnne’s eyes (with my one good one) and could accurately see the color of her eyes again.  Beautiful, deep and green.  I was moved to tears.

I know I’ve missed seeing a lot of things over the last few years, and my work was becoming increasingly difficult to do, color codes on wires, close work soldering, and a few weeks ago I completely failed my grandson on attempting a repair on his tablet (that he’d broken the charging connector on) when I could have easily repaired it in earlier years.

I couldn’t see well enough to do the soldering.  My work at my job was increasingly difficult and stressful, not because I couldn’t do it, but rather I KNEW I couldn’t see it well enough to do it right.  So, it took me twice as long to do things.  My partner couldn’t do most of the physical stuff either due to his injury.  When we hired someone to take my place, we chose someone young because we knew he could keep up.  The rest would come to him in time.  I know he will eventually do the things I was doing (and if he doesn’t well, this IS a throw away society, isn’t it?  They will simply replace those things that those guys can’t repair because they can’t or don’t know how…. such is life in the 21st Century).

What this will do for me now though is allow me to see charts (using glasses on the close up stuff) and at a distance through slightly less than 20:20 vision to see numbers on buoys, names on ships, lights at night so I can night sail now again, and actually ENJOY what’s left of my life, to see those things I was missing before.

What I will have next Wednesday night, after the second surgery, is good eye sight in both eyes.  I’ll still need glasses for close work.  But, I’ll really be able to wear sun glasses without any special lenses in them.

And I’ll be able to see only one moon now, instead of seven or eight of them.  And no halos, glare or just nothing at all.

And… I will be able to see the stars at night again.

But above all, I can gaze into my wife’s beautiful eyes again.

 

Addendum to “Stuck in the Mud”

The Stuck in the Mud post caused a bit of contention with a friend who is a sometimes resident at Cobb’s Marina.  She disagree (as she put it) with 99.9% of my post.

I’m writing this particular post to hopefully unruffle some feathers.

First off I’m not saying people shouldn’t visit Cobb’s Marina.  I liked the place.

Second, I stated clearly that the majority of what I wrote was written in December of last year, six months prior to posting.  I considered NOT posting it at all, but this is a blog.  The blog is here to document the trials and tribulations of us as cruisers.  When something good happens, we will tell the story.  When something bad happens, we will tell the story.

Third, the things I say here are my opinion and as factual as I can be.  I sometimes leave out names, exact locations and certain details in order to protect the innocent.

Fourth, My opinions of things may vary widely from the readers; including things from politics, to marinas, to the right anchor to use, the right lighting systems to use, how to use a radio, how I write and what I say when I write.

I am not sure my friend will even bother to read anything any more on the blog because she disagreed with me on the “Stuck in the Mud” post, but I hope she can understand something simple.  I’m here cruising because it’s my wife’s dream and it’s my dream.  Everything I do is for the comfort and safety of my wife, the safety of my ship and anything that occurs out there, or inshore that affects the boat, or the morale of our little crew is crucial to our survival.

This includes good AND BAD experiences in marinas.

Again, for the record, I will state that people should NOT pass by Cobb’s Marina if they need a place to stay.  They should, as in ALL marinas, READ the CONTRACT, ask questions and be clear on what you’re getting for your money and their time.  Above all, you should as boat owner be aware that your responsibility to the boat is yours, and what you hand off to them is theirs.

There is, in all cases, an implied contract, never written in to a piece of paper when a marina accepts responsibility for doing work on your boat or having you in the marina that they too are culpable in certain situations and conditions.  While paper contracts are all well and good, some states have laws against writing contracts that completely indemnify a marina (or anyone) from any damages caused by others or themselves.  Many places blithely write in clauses into contracts without actually checking the law and assume (or hope) you will go on about your business and assume responsibility completely simply because it’s written in the contract.

When it comes down to the actual law, said contracts can be nullified in a court.

I didn’t want to hire a lawyer.  But I did, because the other party’s insurance company began to get testy with both parties involved.  In fact, the other party also hired a lawyer to deal with the circumstances.

At NO time did either party consider Cobb’s Marina as being liable for what happened.  The lawyers were due to the INSURANCE company.

Which brings me to the last point.  I had all my paperwork together for full coverage on the day of the accident.  Before that I had simple liability on the boat for damages we  might cause in case of fire, accident, me driving badly and so forth.  However, because of the accident, full coverage was immediately denied and all my paperwork was for naught.

Now I had to 1) Show that the damages were fully repaired and 2) answer new survey questions to the insurance company.

So, the accident in the marina was caused by two issues.

A) Having the boat placed in a location that was dangerous and hung the bowsprit out over the corner of the dock

B) A boat driver attempting to drive a malfunctioning boat with one engine, turning it with a strong wind blowing into the area.

The marina could have been held liable, as they were the deciding factor on where the boat was placed, and THEY placed the boat there. Not me.  I did not pursue that aspect.

As to everything else I wrote, the majority of it was written when I was mad about all the accident.  That includes the batteries (which are no worse for wear by the way, I was able to save them without any problems) and some of the other situations.

The very last thing I’d like to say, this is my blog.  I will write what I like, when I like, how I like and I will post whatever I deem fit to publish.  If someone doesn’t like my opinion, that’s ok. You’re entitled to your own, and your own blog.

 

Stuck in the Mud

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.