Survey, Sea Trial, and Bombing

We headed back to Virginia for the Misty Pearl inspection.   Flew into Norfolk and stayed in Williamsburg.  On Thursday morning we drove the hour to Mathews, passing by the tiny hamlet of Gloucester.  Nothing special about Gloucester on the way in.

IMG_2892The night before the survey, Zimmerman hauled out.  That way the hull could be inspected dry.

The Cummins mechanical surveyor spent the day analyzing all of the mechanical systems, and the marine surveyor went through everything else.  For the sea trial we went out into the bay, where the nearly ski-able glassy water provided almost nothing to tell us how she handles in what old salts apparently call “snotty weather.”

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IMG_2895Dana’s piloting skills were not at all tested.  However, Doug was able to get a good sense of how he hopes to spend a lot of time.

We won’t know for sure until the test results from the fluid samples come back, but everything looks really good.

On the way back to Williamsburg after a very tiring day, we stopped off at Oasis Used Books, the very cool store–in Gloucester–owned by the very cool guy who is selling us the boat.  On the hour drive back, we were exhausted but starving so Dana searched for a place to eat.  The plan was to pop in, eat, and go to the hotel to sleep.  After all, we woke up at about 3 am Arizona time.

Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse “has been voted by locals as ‘Best in Williamsburg’ for over 10 years.”  When we pulled into the parking lot so we could judge Berret’s for ourselves, a fire truck, ambulance, and police car were arriving as well.  We parked a few spots away and went in.  The food indeed was delicious, although we barely could stay awake.

When we went outside to get the car, however, we found the parking lot crawling with police from seemingly every jurisdiction in the state.  Quite rudely, we thought, they had encircled the lot with crime tape and were guarding things rather aggressively.  Dana convinced a policeman to retrieve her iPad, but we couldn’t get to the suitcase that held all of Doug’s clothes.  (Doug’s plan to take everything so that he could change with the temperature proved unwise.)

Dana talked to a woman who had pulled in a few spots away from where we parked, who said that as she and her daughter parked, the ground just in front of them exploded.  Speculation amongst those of us without vehicle access was all over the board, but since nobody would tell us anything we concluded we should just head to the Fat Canary and wait it out.  (While there we met some delightful people, including folks from New Jersey who know a girl who will be Mallory’s teammate next year.)

Periodically someone would confirm that the lot still was locked down, so we waited.  And waited.  About four hours in, we went out for ourselves.  By now FBI and ATF agents were swarming and no end was in sight.  So we called an Uber and went to bed.

Friday morning the news confirmed that in fact a bomb had exploded in the parking lot.   Our rental car remained impounded.

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Fortunately, Dana’s smooth talking convinced the nice FBI agent in the hat to process our car.  Also fortunately, we had nothing to do with the bomb, so after collecting Dana’s information he drove it under the tape for us.

When we landed in Phoenix, we learned that a 30-year-old white guy had been charged with an act of terrorism, among other things.  They arrested him at his home in Gloucester.

Woooooo!

After all of the fluid samples came back and we cleaned up a few details, we finalized the deal and closed on November 7.   Misty Pearl is ours!  Very exciting and scary times for a family of land-lubbing desert dwellers.

Buying a boat is a tad more complicated than buying a car.  For example, obtaining the required Coast Guard documentation–at least in our case–required hiring yet another expert.  We now have that wrangled.  Getting insurance also was tricky but that’s done as well.

If Google Earth was up-to-the-minute current, Misty Pearl would be in this photo of Zimmerman Marine’s Mathews Shipyard:

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This is where she’ll sit until she is delivered up the Potomac to DC in March.  Our plan right now is to moor at The Yards Marina, which is less than 5 nautical miles from Georgetown.

Deltaville is nice, but enough is enough

img_3138-1Right outside Deltaville, Virginia, sits an historical-site sign that reminds us–every time we pass it–that so far our plans seem foolish.

Although the weather has cleared for us, Poseidon decided to jack with our little boat just a bit more.  We might as well have changed her name.

As a last minute item, we asked ZMI to check the engine aftercooler just to be sure it was okay.  Thinking it’d be easy and quick, we headed up to D.C. to watch some softball and enjoy Easter with the girls and the dogs.  Back Sunday night for an early start Monday morning.  To quote the increasingly-senile Lee Corso, however, “Not so fast my friend.”

The aftercooler uses seawater for cooling.  Seawater enters the engine room via a thru-hull.  A sea-cock valve is supposed to close off that opening so that the aftercooler can be serviced.  The sea-cock is pretty important because if a hose or fitting fails, one would need to stop water from being places it shouldn’t be. We’re green but we still know that water outside the hull is good and water inside the hull is bad.

Unfortunately, the aftercooler sea-cock won’t close.  So (1) nobody can service the aftercooler and (2) if we need to close off the hole in the hull to stop water from rushing in, we can’t.  And since we also can’t decide what to grab in the minutes before sinking, we have to fix the sea-cock.  Now ZMI has to haul the boat again.  That means more delays of God knows how long.  Grrrrr.

The Final Countdown (we hope)

Knock on wood, we’ve reached the point of two steps forward for each step in reverse, rather than the other way around.  DirecTV is up and running.   Art masterpieces created by the girls when they were little are on the wall.   We’ve installed and figured out the grill.  There’s equilibrium between the boat and the storage unit, meaning we no longer need to increase the net volume of stuff we’re taking with us.  The showers and the beds are glorious.  We said goodbye to fleece sheets, which almost by themselves are reason to live someplace cold.  We installed a new stereo system.  Heck, the marina even scrambled up the gate code a bit.  Life is good.

Good, but still with some imperfections.  Like the AC system not working.   Remember the earlier post about the seacock valve for the main engine?  Stopped us cold for two weeks.  There’s also a seacock and strainer for the AC pump.  No water, no AC.  And it’s getting hot and humid, seemingly in just the last five minutes.

The good news is that we easily diagnosed the problem.  The seacock was plugged.  Not the strainer.  Not the through-hull.  The actual valve was mushy, meaning something was blocking it.  It’s below the waterline so you don’t just take it apart in the engine room.  That left two choices.  First, one of us could jump into the cold, dark, scary, and potentially toxic Anacostia River to try to fish out whatever had lodged up in there.  When Dana refused, however, it eliminated that option.  So we called out a pro.   Dude had a wet suit, a dry suit, a huge light, the correct tools, and most importantly a willingness to get in the cold, dark, scary, and potentially toxic  Anacostia.  We would have paid him double.

We guess we’re just lucky, because he’d never seen a situation like ours.  Neither had the folks at Zimmerman Marine.  Neither had the folks at Peake Marine.  Somehow or another a ridiculous stick found its way directly into a small hole and jammed up the valve.  (Dana photographed the shoe for scale.  It obviously wouldn’t fit in the valve).  We don’t really feel the love on that one.  However, today it was about 90° with humidity about 110%, so we’re just happy to have the AC back on line.

img_3264The dogs also are hitting their groove.  Oscar still thinks it’s more efficient to poop on the dock rather than wait until reaching the grass.  He must be feeling at home, since he used to poop on the pool deck rather than the grass at our Scottsdale home.  Benny finds the front porch very comfy as long as there’s a handy pillow.

And yes, we’ve added netting so they don’t fall off.   We doubt we could get the diver back out fast enough if that happened.

We enjoyed our second guests, Lewis and Terri of the Tennessee Belknaps.  Hopefully they’ll join us again down the line.  We’re also hoping for many more visitors over the course of our journey.

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Mini Pearl has taken us around DC, but we don’t quite have the whole crane launch thing down yet.  Fortunately there generally are only about a hundred people watching us bumble around.  However, the pressure still adds about 20° to the heat index.

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It’s always good to remember that no matter what happens, someone someplace has it worse.  Like the owner of the boat that appeared on the shore across the river from our slip.  We took Mini Pearl over to have a closer look and to see if there was anything left we might be able to use, but there wasn’t.

We’re quite excited that the entire family will be on the boat in just a couple of days.  If all goes as planned, the six of us will leave The Yards on May 23, with a couple of stops before spending the holiday weekend in St. Michaels, Maryland.

Of course, so far exactly nothing has gone as planned.

Goodbye D.C.

Our last weekend in Washington D.C. and—shocker—it mostly rained.  This wasn’t just the warm drizzle that one might enjoy on a veranda with a newspaper and coffee.  It was the torrential kind that makes it miserable to poop on the dock if you’re a dog and your name is Oscar.  It soaks fresh laundry between the car and the boat if your name is Dana   It also causes massive flooding in the area, which if you live on a boat should not be a big deal.  When those floods deposit flotsam and miles of shoreline detritus, however, it makes things hazardous (and gross).  At one point we could’ve stepped off the deck and done a polka on the stuff that collected in our slip, except we don’t know how to polka.

img_3357The huge silver lining—which outweighed the storms—was that Shannon arrived, putting the family together again.  She brought along her boyfriend Ryan, who handled us quite nicely.  The sun even came out one day while he was with us.

Mallory got out of her on-campus apartment and into her off-campus apartment just in time to come home for the first bit of the Loop.  It literally took 1 1/2 hours to drive the six miles from the marina to Georgetown to pick her up the last time.  We could’ve gone faster by boat.  Did we mention that Washington traffic is absurd?  In large part that’s because the Metropolitan Police Department’s main job involves parking squad cars with full lights in the middle of crowded roads for no reason other than to mess with already-irate drivers.  It’s amazing there aren’t road-rage incidents every minute.

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On our last night at The Yards we enjoyed the view from our front porch one last time.  Overall it probably wasn’t as bad as our posts might suggest, but we’re happy to be on our way.