First Sailing

6 minute read

At 5:03pm on July 8th, 2017, Capt. Chris Goodwin texted me:

Found a marina near by that opens at 7. So no problem for fuel. Water tanks purged and topped.

His text was in preparation for a 3-day sail that I had hired him to perform.

Loafers Glory was to be moved from the private dock on Carolina Beach where she had lived for over 5 years to our new home in New Bern. The new slip in Northwest Creek Marina would provide water, power, Wifi, restroom and laundry facilities that would make life livable as I prepared for my Southern expedition. The marina was also well suited as a base for me to learn to sail.

Everything was going smoothly.

Further messages from Capt. Chris reported on the batteries, air conditioner and other facilities on Loafers Glory.

On July 9th, at 7:24am I received an MMS with a photo of Loafers Glory at the fuel dock:

Image at Fuel Dock

Loafers Glory was on the move.

About an hour off the fuel dock, the transmission on Loafers Glory failed.

A significant amount of transmission fluid was dumped unceremoniously into the bilge. Anchor was dropped, TowBoatUS called, and Loafers Glory was towed to Carolina Beach Boat Yard, less than a mile from where she had started earlier that day.

A series of texts and phone calls followed. The plan was to have Loafers Glory hauled out, and a number of punch list items (that I had not planned to have done at that time) worked on. If the boat was going to be hauled out, it was the right time to get things done. The text that I sent:

Sending list as a text because Im too lazy to dig the laptops out of my car.. things to be done on the hard in no particular order: repair swing keel (previous survey said this was a location of leak). Repair transmission. Any engine work that is easier done out of the water (tune up?). Propane leak locate and repair (more space with engine out). Install dripless stuffing box replacement.

Capt. Chris was in contact with Carolina Beach Boat Yard and, I assumed, was dealing with getting the work done.

On July 12th, I got a text:

Talked with Eric at Carolina Beach Boat Yard. They will begin work in a couple of days. I’ll get together with you about work order tomorrow.

On July 21st, I reached out to Carolina Beach Boat Yard in an attempt to find out what was going on with my boat. I messaged Capt. Chris:

I tried to call today to see what status is, but his voice mail is full and he didn’t answer my text.. I have no idea what is going on or if the boat is even still afloat.

On July 31st, I was still trying to get information from Carolina Beach Boat Yard directly:

Any update in Loafers Glory? I’m ready to pay for things…

August 3rd found me sending this text:

Having heard nothing since last week and not having calls returned, I am very curious as to the status of my boat. Can someone please contact me? If the work can’t be done, that’s fine, I just need to figure out what my next steps are. Thanks! Alan Clegg, Loafers Glory, 919-XXX-XXXX.

At this point, I was told (on a phone call) that the boat was being worked on - the engine was out and the transmission was being looked at. Then, a few days later, I was told that the engine was not out and that there would be a need to cut fiberglass to get it out…

I got in contact with a company that had worked on Loafers Glory in the past. They were scheduled to look at my boat in “a few days”.

On August 9th, a month after the move began, Carolina Beach Boat Yard sent me the following text:

Hey Allen this is Brandy at the boatyard. I just wanted to touch base with you on specialized mechanical coming to look at the boat. Our lay days on the dock are 1.50 a ft per day. If you are on the hill lay day are 1.00 per ft per day. Wanted to see which one you perfered. If you go on the hill there is a 10.00 a ft haul out charge and a 95.00 block fee. Thank you please give me a call if I can help assist in any way.

I responded:

Took 4 weeks to determine that the work was not going to be done, and 4 days to get with me about billing for dock. Sorry. I’m trying to get them to return a message and will get back with you asap.

All of this time, my boat was left unplugged and the bilge pumps were down. With the 1977 plastic ports (leaky), she was drowning in rain water. Worse, she was drowning in rain water that was entering a bilge that was filled with transmission fluid.

A call to TowBoatUS on August 10th and Loafers Glory was headed back to the dock from which she had left.

TowBoatUS was extremely professional and was able to get her moored back at the dock (facing the opposite direction), plugged back in and, I thought, ready to be looked at by Specialized Mechanical - the company that had worked on her previously.

TowBoatUS messaged me a photo of Loafers Glory back at the private dock on Carolina Beach:

Image at Dock

If there is one thing I’ve learned during the ownership of this boat, it is not to ever think that you know what is going on. Ever.

Specialized Mechanical went out to look at the boat and reported back that they were pretty sure they could work on it, but with the amount of water, they couldn’t do anything.

I still hadn’t been to see Loafers Glory since she began her move on July 9th and was frustrated at them. How bad could it be? Don’t ever ask questions that you don’t want the answer to.

Not being able to go to the boat, I did the best thing that I could think of and called the Wilmington West Marine store. I was told that there was an employee that might be able to help and that they would pass the request on. I was contacted by R that evening and he made arrangements to go out to the boat on August 14th.

What he found was horrifying.

There was significant water (now measured at about 5”) above the sole. The water was contaminated with transmission fluid so it wasn’t legal (or ethical) to pump it directly overboard. Even if I had been willing to pump it over, the bilge pumps were down and the floor access to the bilge was swollen shut. It would be 3 weeks before I was able to access the bilge and clean/repair the pumps.

Image inside 1 Image inside 2

Getting rid of contaminated water is an interesting issue. You can’t dump the water and you can’t flush the water. Western Auto is willing to take certain fluids, but transmission fluid contaminated with water isn’t one of them. Their system won’t separate the water out and the company that gets rid of the waste for them complains.

The water was vacuumed into 5-gallon buckets which were then hauled to the road access at the dock. I hired a company to come out and remove the 75 gallons of tainted water.

The buckets, still slick with transmission fluid were also fun to dispose of. Did you know that to dispose of “contaminated” items you are supposed to triple wash them (collecting all of the water that comes off)?

I’m just now (October 29th) comfortable enough with the water quality in the bilge to allow the automatic pump to be left “armed” while I’m away.

Quite the adventure.