November 29, 2017
We have been told cruising aboard a sailboat is performing endless repairs in exotic locations. I don’t think this was the exotic location that was envisioned.
The location of our breakdown could have been much, much more dire. The timing of our breakdown, however, couldn’t have been orchestrated at a worse time. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, we had to sit from Thursday until Monday before we could speak to any human on the phone that could check stock, take an order, or ship parts.
Sunday afternoon James and Dena, aboard S/V Nomad, who had left Annapolis shortly after we did, arrived at our location. Lacking a spare raw water pump for a Perkins engine aboard their boat, all they could do was offer a cheerful greeting and moral support as they sailed past. We vowed to catch up.
Monday finally came. We had not left the boat. There had been no problems; at least after four days we knew with confidence that our anchor was well set. Undoubtably, passing power boats, because of their wakes, caused the most pitching about for Exit. But it was the passing tugs pushing barges, especially at night, that we found to be the most intimidating. You could hear them coming, even over the din of the I-64 Bridge noise. Oftentimes, it was the flood of a powerful spotlight beaming in momentarily through the windows indicating the tugboat captain had seen us at anchor.
After four days, we were starting to go a bit stir crazy not making any progress.
When we finally were able to start speaking with people on the phone Monday morning, as was already expected, the pump was readily available; it was the damn drive coupling, specific to the Perkins engine, that was not so easily located.
We called TowBoat U.S. to find out what our options were; but, after talking to them, we decided to stay put where we were. A tow could have been arranged, and we were even insured for it, but the only option would have been to get a tow to a marina which would then charge us $100 a day to tie up at. We rolled the dice on still being able to work through this ourselves. If necessary, we could arrange for the tow later.
Finally, by the end of Tuesday, we had mixed news from Trans Atlantic Diesel, in Virginia. We were ecstatic to receive confirmation that the parts we needed had been located and ordered. On the other hand, we were mortified to learn that it would be two more days before they received the parts and another day before we got them (any later and we’d have to wait through another weekend, which we did not want to think about).
Waiting for parts was nothing new, even for us. At least we weren’t looking at six weeks again! But, after four days of sitting already, we hoped things would materialize with a bit more haste.
In the interim time, we needed to sort out where we were going to get the parts shipped to, once Trans Atlantic Diesel had them. “S/V Exit, at anchor 1000 feet North of the I-64 Bridge” just wasn’t gonna cut it for UPS. Our best bet was Chesapeake Yachts, a small yard right on the other side of the I-64 Bridge, which had a long dock accessible to our dinghy, unlike the barge docks across the river.
After calling and explaining our predicament, the initially suspicious Vice President of Chesapeake Yachts, Kymberly, grew sympathetic and offered to let us tie our dinghy to their dock and ship the parts to the office there.
Considering we hadn’t stepped off the boat since Hamptons Road, a week ago, we took the opportunity Wednesday to go ashore and catch an Uber taxi to pick up some provisions and extra tools that were obviously going to be needed over the long term.