Swing Set

May 1, 201303:13 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Harbour View Marina is Not a Bad Place to Wait

On Monday morning, after a quick breakfast, Rosie set to work scrubbing down the boat and I set off on my errands. My first stop was an outboard repair shop just down the road. They advertise generator repair, so it may have been possible for them to get the part I needed for our generator.

I couldn't be helped there, but they suggested Marsh Harbour Boatyard, which is ultimately where I figured to wind up, but wanted to check on possible places on the way, which by my best guess, was about four miles, at least. I was to ask for Dennis...nobody but Dennis, period.

NAPA auto parts was a dead end. The part number I supplied wasn't even in their system. This detail, I learned later, should not have been an indicator as to whether they could obtain the part, but I didn't know that then.

I stopped at the Abaco Hardware store, which is either a True Value or Ace Hardware affiliate, I'm not sure, but they have a well stocked store. I wasn't looking for the generator part there, but our dinette table needed some minor repair, and I found some hardware in the store that I could use.

I finally arrived at the Marsh Harbour Boatyard after a very long walk along a fairly deserted and windy road. I walked into the office and was met by a nice woman and less-than-nice man. When asked if I could be helped, I said that I would like to speak to Dennis.

"Can I help you," the woman asked.

"No, I'd like to talk to Dennis."

"What about?"

"Well, it's about an engine on our boat."

"What kind of engines do you have?"

I'm wondering what part of "I'd like to speak to Dennis" this woman didn't understand. I don't do well in these situations, but I held my cool and said I had a Westerbeke generator on our boat and that I'd like to speak to Dennis about it.

"Dennis is way down at the other end of the yard," the woman said to me.

"If you don't mind, I've walked quite a way already, and I sure don't mind walking a bit farther to speak to Dennis," I told her, with my last ounce of patience.

"Oh, I'll get him for you, if that's what you want," she said.

Yeah, lady. That's what I want, is what I was thinking, but didn't say.

Dennis finally shows up and was very nice. I explained my problem and told him what part I needed. He said that they could order the part, and I felt like things were going well, until he said the guy who orders the parts wasn't in today but would be back tomorrow.

I offered to let them install the part if that would be a better business proposition for them, seeing as how they would have to go through the trouble of getting the part from West Palm Beach. Dennis said that wouldn't be necessary and then he offered to drive me back to Harbour View Marina. I took him up on the offer.

On the way, Dennis mentioned the electrician, Andrew. I said I was considering calling Andrew to see if the solenoid could be repaired, but I didn't want to take a somewhat functional solenoid apart until I had a new part ordered. Dennis thought that was a good plan.

Once back to the marina, I called Andrew. A woman's voice answered the phone, and I asked to speak to Andrew. "Speaking," is the reply I got. Nearly made a tactical error there, I was thinking. Andrew said he'd be over in 45 minutes to look at the solenoid. He showed up in 20 minutes, and I immediately felt gypped because he wasn't wearing a skirt. (If you didn't read my last blog, that's your problem.)

Andrew climbed into the engine room and commenced to start the generator. I offered some key assistance, but Andrew declined any help from me, saying he knew what he was doing. I let Andrew fumble around a little while, trying to start the generator, before I informed him that he wouldn't be able to start the generator unless he switched the override into the override position, enabling him to start the gen from the engine room instead of the salon. I then added that I'd also might be able to help him further, if he lets me.

He grumbled something and then got his voltmeter out. It wouldn't work. I allowed as to how I had a voltmeter, albeit not as nice as the one he was using, but that it was in working order.

"Let's see what you have," he said.

I brought out my new voltmeter, which met his satisfaction, and his mood changed and he became cordial, even allowing me an opinion or two about the matter.


He agreed with me as to how repairing the solenoid could be possible, but an attempt wouldn't be prudent unless we had a new solenoid in hand. The repaired unit could be kept as a backup. Good plan, if I should say so myself.

I told him that if he could coordinate ordering the solenoid with the Marsh Harbour Boatyard, I'd agree to employ him in the task of installing it. He agreed, and called the Boatyard and told them to have the information ready for Victor, the parts manager, first thing in the morning.

Andrew then presented me with a bill for $85, having told me exactly what I knew in the first place, but I couldn't have sat all day doing nothing to resolve our issue, so I paid him without complaint. I considered charging him for using my voltmeter, plus my expertise in knowing how to start the generator, but I decided against it. Andrew said he would call me on Tuesday morning with an update.

On Monday afternoon, Rosie and I spent some time at the little pool at the marina. We met some nice folks and wound up having a very nice afternoon. After a good dinner on the boat, we watched some network TV for the first time in months.

On Tuesday morning, I sent Victor an email, outlining our issue and getting him on track. I told him I'd call once he got settled into his workday, not entirely trusting Andrew to be on top of things.

After 10 o'clock I called Victor and asked if he'd gotten my email. He had, and he had also sent me a reply. I was at the marina office making my call, so I asked Victor to tell me what his email said. Basically, his email said that he wouldn't be ordering the part because they were not a Westerbeke dealer. Now I knew why I needed to speak only with Dennis about ordering the part, but that tactic wasn't going to work at this point.

Victor had some detailed instructions as to how to go about ordering the part and getting it to Marsh Harbour without paying duty, upwards of 45 percent of the price of the part. His best information he gave me was who to call in Palm Beach for ordering the part, so I did that first.

I called JAS Marine in West Palm. They have a store in Fort Lauderdale, too. Lisa, in parts, told me she would call be back when she learned about the availability of the part, because the part number I supplied was not recognized by her parts list. I know these things happen when equipment is old, and our generator is 17 years old, so I wasn't worried.

While I was waiting at the phone in the marina office, another boater nearby told me how to order the part without paying duty. The woman in the marina office concurred, saying what I should do is have the part sent via FedEx and have the invoice and a copy of our cruising permit attached to the outside of the package. Also, it was very important that we have our boat name included in the address line, such as M/V Swing Set. This was good information.

After waiting a reasonable amount of time, I called Lisa back. She still hadn't located the part but was sure she could. I told her that if I could have a primary fuel filter sent along with the solenoid, that she could go ahead and do that. I supplied her with the shipping information, my credit card information and told her that I'd fax a copy of our cruising permit right away. I told her I'd also send her an email and that she should send me an email confirmation once she found something out. My day was getting better. Back at the boat, I sent Lisa another copy of our cruising permit, plus a photo of the solenoid we needed, so there would be less confusion. I would say "no confusion," but there's always "some confusion."

The day was overcast, so Rosie and I went for a walk to find another chart we needed for Eleuthera and to pick up some groceries at Maxwell's, a very nice, modern grocery store here in Marsh Harbour. Maxwell's is big and well stocked. Some of the prices were unbelievably high, but others weren't too bad. We filled three bags of supplies and planned to go back later in the week. We wound up walking back to the boat in the rain. Rosie hates walking in the rain, but it was interesting to see just how fast she can walk when she has to do it.

By 4 p.m., I hadn't gotten a reply from the email I'd sent Lisa, so I called JAS Marine. Lisa was busy, so I talked to Mindy. Mindy couldn't understand why Lisa hadn't gotten my email, so I sent her one, and she got that one and forwarded everything to Lisa. Mindy then went to speak to Lisa in person while I was nervously on hold on the phone. Mindy said Lisa was still working on it. My outlook darkened.

A half hour later, Lisa sent an email. She located the part and would have it in hand by Wednesday, the next day. She would then send it to me along with the fuel filter and provide me with a tracking number. Yahoooooo! A celebratory Budweiser was in order!

This morning, it has been raining. It's due to rain the rest of the week. Quite a few boats have arrived here at the marina, which is a very nice establishment. We could've found ourselves waiting in a worse place.

Meanwhile, we'll wait to get our tracking number for our package. I hope the right part comes and it's here by the weekend. I haven't heard from Andrew, and I don't expect to. If the right part is sent, I'll put it on myself, and we'll be in business. If there is still a problem...well, there won't be. But if there is one, I'll do what it takes to make it right.

I'll keep you all in the loop.

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