Is My Head Exploding Yet?

As reported a few days ago on Facebook, we were in Pine Bluff, AR, having easily traversed the Arkansas River for this particular leg from Little Rock. We anchored around 2 p.m. and had a lazy wonderful afternoon relaxing. Since we wanted to head out at first light the next morning, we set an alarm.

The routine when anchored is to run the generator while we have dinner and relax before bed, then go through the night without it to save on fuel. In the morning, we fire it up to get our morning coffee/tea and to make sure the fridge and freezer are staying cool.

This particular chilly morning, Rick started the generator to get some heat going while I got dressed. It ran…until it didn’t. No heat, no hot tea, no refrigeration, emergency lights only. “I knew we’d have to pay for such a perfect day yesterday,” I muttered to myself.

Rick started pulling out all the crates of tools he had stored below deck in order to get to the faulty piece of equipment. I kept my head down (he tends to get into a foul mood when he has to deal with things that may have been tampered with by the previous owners) and continued to get dressed. He checked the coolant; it was down. Of course we had coolant. That was, apparently, only part of the issue, however. He thought the water pump wasn’t working properly. Of course, we didn’t have a spare.

Choice One: continue down river and allow all the food needing refrigeration to spoil.

Choice Two: head back to Little Rock and get the generator fixed.

If we went with choice one, we would be headed into the unforgiving desolate waters of the Mississippi. We’d already been told to have enough food, water, and fuel to make it all the way to New Orleans. Ol’ Man River didn’t have any services for the likes of us after Greenville, MS. So we turned around.

The locks we’d successfully lowered through yesterday raised us up the next day. The first lock took four hours to get into. Four. Flipping. Hours. An excessively large barge in the lock was throwing a hissy fit at a dredging barge outside of the lock that was, in his estimation, too close to where he needed to exit. The dredge had to shore up a bit to please him and they didn’t seem to think that was necessary. So we waited. We tried dropping anchor but it didn’t hold. We didn’t have a lot of choices on where to wait, so Rick kept moving us in a pseudo-pattern in between idling. It was irritating, but they were bigger than us and they were commercial. Commercial trumps leisure in “lock-speak.”

Still, we made it back to the marina by 6 p.m. and docked fairly easily despite my awkward jump from the boat to secure a line. (Two days later, my re-injured shoulder is still painful. Bah! Rub some salt on it. Suck it up. It’ll be fine.)

Since we had a few days before parts would be here and the mechanic would be able to check on things, we decided to try AGAIN to switch our phones over to Verizon. A little background. We’d had Verizon previously, but had no signal in our house in Arizona. That problem coupled with their lack of customer service led us to switch carriers. Fast forward to our first trek to Little Rock. Our phones were useless, but the guys with Verizon were able to call, text, stream, and create videos. They worked for Verizon and convinced us we obviously needed to make a change. While we were in Little Rock (the first time), we took Uber to the Verizon store. Once there, we learned that we needed a code to “unlock” our phone from T-Mobile. “Unlocking” could take up to 24 hours. We headed back to the boat via Uber again. (By the way, Uber is fantastic!) So now we’re, what, something like fifteen bucks in to get these phones changed. We go back the next day with the unlock codes, at which time, we were pushed towards signing up for prepaid. When we declined (actually, I said, “why would I let you earn interest on my money when I could be?”) we were told given that because we had phone numbers from Arizona, were in Arkansas, but had a Florida address, we needed proof of address. “You know, like a utility bill or something,” said a different, red-headed dude (our original guy had not been working that day). Incidentally, I don’t know why I mention he had red hair. Only that it irritated the crap outta me at the time. We leave again. Now our travel expense is at around $30. The next day we headed down river, so we dropped the whole thing.

But now we were back. The lack of signal when we tried to call the mechanic on our way back to Little Rock solidified the need for the switch. So we sucked it up and went back, yet again, to the Verizon store. (Helloooo, Uber.) We thought we had stacked the deck in our favor this time around. We took a bundle of things to prove our address including the only utility bill we had (for internet back at the house before we moved), two recent credit card statements, copies of our insurance cards, an IRS statement confirming our refund, a Fidelity statement, a bank letter, the papers for the boat purchase, and a Declaration of Domicile for each of us, notarized by the Clerk of Courts in Florida (a requirement to register to vote.) In addition, we texted our friend who works for Verizon. He then called the store and spoke with the manager. We were assured they would take good care of us. And they did. But… (You knew I wouldn’t bother with all this if there wasn’t a “but…”).

Our original guy was back. (Yay! Carrot Top wasn’t working.) He did the paperwork and sent it along with our documentation to New Jersey for approval. It was rejected. Our credit is fabu. What was the deal? Weeeelllll…

We kept sending more and more documentation; all of it was rejected.

Now, as a teacher, I was known for keeping my cool even though certain kids would put other teachers over the edge. It took a lot to rile me. But my foot started tapping. Not a good sign. Our Verizon guy called to get clarification and eventually put the woman, Sabrina was her name, on speaker for us (and the entire store) to hear direct.

“I have a list of things that are acceptable and you don’t have those things,” said Sabrina.

“But we were told to bring a utility bill,” said Rick.

“Tappity, tap, tap,” said my foot.

“It’s too old,” said Sabrina.

“I gave you a credit card statement,” countered Rick.

“It’s too old as well. It has to be within the last 30 days.” I pulled out the other credit card statement, with a payment date of 10/15/16. We faxed it, then waited (tap, tappity, tap…). Everything we had, she had an excuse for not accepting. The Declaration of Domicile wasn’t “on the list.”  The IRS paper and insurance card were in my name, not Rick’s. OKAY. Enough.  I spoke up.

“Let me speak to your supervisor, please.” I thought I was pleasant, but both guys were silent and looked at me sideways. So maybe I didn’t say “please.”

Obviously tight lipped, she put us on hold to go get her supervisor. We waited a good 15 minutes before Nancy came on the line. By now, the entire store was listening intently as I attempted to explain our situation. “We recently retired,” I started. “We sold our Arizona house and our belongings and bought a boat. The boat was in Arkansas, but our new address is actually in Florida. We are traveling there via the boat and wanted to switch carriers so we had reliable service while on the river system. I asked for you because I wanted to talk with someone that has the authority to make common sense decisions based on special circumstances, rather than someone who can only repeatedly give me ‘the approved list.” She said she understood. I explained we had given quite a few documents to prove our address including the notarized Declaration of Domicile.

“I haven’t had the chance to review the documents yet. Give me a minute,” she said. (What was she doing for that 15 minutes we were on hold? Pilates?) “Well, you have a credit card statement that’s over 30 days old. We can’t accept it.”

“It had a charge of $100, which we paid. We have a zero balance. We didn’t get another bill.”

“We can’t accept it. It’s too old.”

“There is another credit card as well.”

“The date of issue isn’t within 30 days.”

“It says at the top October 16, 2016.”

“That’s the due date, not the date of issue.”

Rick interjected, “You don’t understand. We live on a boat.”

I finished his thought, “We only get our mail once a month. We don’t have another statement yet.”

“We can’t accept it.”

“Okay. We also gave you an insurance card and the Declaration of Domicile. It’s notarized! It can be used to obtain a U.S. passport. If it’s good enough for the U.S. government, why is it not good enough for you?”

“It’s not on the list.”

“Okay. I’m trying very hard not to go to Crazy Town right now,” I said, as the lady sitting next to me started chuckling. “What can you do for me?”

“I can go over the list of approved documentation.”

I wanted to ask why she presumably earns more as an assistant manager than Nancy does as a worker bee, when she obviously does not have the autonomy to do any more. I also want to tell her that’s sad and she must feel bad about where she is in life. Instead, I said, “And who is your supervisor?”

Now Nancy is irritated. “Viola.”

“Let me speak with Viola, please.” We were put on hold only to be told that Viola has apparently refused to speak with us. We were then told that “a call is only allowed to be escalated once and that was from Sabrina to me.” Thanks for nothing, Nancy. The lady next to me clucked and said she saw that coming.

I’m furious. My foot is tapping, my leg is bouncing, and my snark is peeking through.  “So you are saying you don’t want our business.”

“I’m not saying that.”

“Well, okay, what can you do for me?”

“I can give you the list.”

“We’ve been through the list. You are saying there is absolutely NOTHING you can do for me other than reading me a list.”

“I’m sorry. That’s all I can do.”

Great. And no one else could help us because we had already been “escalated”. I got her last name and attempt to get both Sabrina’s and Viola’s last names as well, but she was not forthcoming. We hung up. We apologize to our Verizon guy who had wasted his day on us. (By now it’s been 2-1/2 hours and he has earned no commission for this time.) We walked out. I was so angry that even a visit to Barnes and Noble did nothing to cool me down. (If you know me, you know that’s HUGE.)

So Rick let our friend know our troubles and that we won’t be switching to Verizon after all. We-el, he apparently must have a pretty good position at Verizon. He got the info from us, called yet another supervisor and got it sorted out. Easy-peasy. My hero. (Thanks again, Justin!) That supervisor called Rick to assure him we could go back into the store and get signed up. Rick took the opportunity to explain our frustration. He assured her no one was rude to us. But no one was able to help or had the authority to think outside the box. She said this would become a learning tool at the next meeting and assured us customer service would get better. That’s still to be determined, but I will say our signal is markedly improved. I will also say it’s good to have friends in high places. All’s well that ends well, as they say. Now, I need to clean up. This whole “head explosion” thing is a real mess.

 

Are You An Adventuress?

Last week I was walking through WalMart in Sallisaw, OK, gathering supplies for the first leg of our trip. The list I had was an eclectic array of things ranging from bungee cords, work gloves, and a battery powered radio to canned vegetables, coffee, and bottled water (three large 5 gallon containers). I was cruising through at a pretty good pace until I reached the canned vegetables. I selected a half dozen cans and started down the aisle, thought better of it and tuned around. In a sudden panic, I started filling my cart with cans and cans and more cans. My brain was going overtime, but not firing on all cylinders. I knew we only had three days to Little Rock and civilization; but in that moment, I was convinced we were going to get stranded and run out of food. It’s the Arkansas River for gosh sakes, not the Nile. I mentally talked myself down and headed to the checkout with my load (I did NOT put anything back, however).

With all my things piled onto the conveyor belt, the checker lady (who sounded exactly like Roseanne) said, “Are you an adventuress or somethin’?” So I explained our plan. She was enthralled and I regained my excitement.

Returning to the boat, I handed over the car keys to the new owner. Now our only means of transportation besides the beast were bikes or feet. We stayed up until midnight working on the things we meant to get to earlier. We even had to borrow the car again so we could go to Best Buy. Loading the navigation charts into the system, we found the system required a “mini” chip but we were given a regular one. We lost several hours to/from the store. Props to the Best Buy guy who figured out how we could load them since the store didn’t actually have what we needed. So our navigation was set but other things went by the wayside because we needed to be somewhat rested for the long day ahead.

Heading down river.
Heading down river.

In the morning, we headed out with our “crew.” We had another boat with us until Little Rock, which seemed safer. More important, several of the guys from the marina were coming with to the first stop. Ed was on our boat and Pat, Brian and Carrie were on C.A.’s boat. I was a little jealous, since the other boat also had Summer (a yorkie) and Swab (a little grey kitten). But I was too busy worrying about the first lock to get too worked up over it. At each lock, I had to climb down to the swim platform, pull in the dingy close to the back end of the boat, and tie it on a short leash. Picture all 125 pounds me pulling against this thing while we continue to move forward. The boat is kicking up waves that the dingy is riding, while I’m muscling the thing in. Next, I climb back into the boat and exit onto the side deck where I handle the lines to tie up to a post (called a b0llard) on the side of a ginormous wall. The bollard is what stands between us slowly slipping down as the water recedes in the lock or us being tossed around bouncing off the walls. Once we have the all clear, I need to quickly untie so we can move out of the lock. I also need to neaten up the lines. Finally, I have to head down to the swim platform again, to untie the short leash on the dingy and slowly let it out so we can continue. I was yanked toward the water enough times that I was finally able to convince Rick we needed to change what we were doing.

Thanks to Ed, I survived the first two locks. We encountered wind that worked against us in the first lock, but were able to secure it. I was too distracted to really listen to what Ed was saying when he told me to go over to the other side of the boat to watch as they “pulled the plug” and look for the whirlpool. He fessed up immediately that there was no plug. I already knew that, but foolishly was listening to the expert. At one of the locks, the bow of the boat hit against the concrete side of the lock, but there was no damage other than a little scrape to be rubbed out later.

Snug it up tight!
Snug it up tight!

We had a decidedly pleasant first leg. When we reached the first stop around Ft. Smith, the crew was dropped off. (I got teary eyed.) C.A. had two more people coming aboard, but Rick and I were alone from this point on. C.A. was having some issues with his boat, so we decided it would be best to stay for the night and head out early the next morning. He was tied up to the dilapidated dock and we tied up to his boat.

We left a little past first light and had no real issues until we reached the next marina. We were too big to fit anywhere and our attempt to get alongside the covered slips resulted in some scrapes and regular hitting against the dock’s tin roof. The woman running the place wasn’t much help in securing the lines and with as low as the dock was, Rick had to jump off to tie up to the cleats. When the others got secured, they helped up walk Nautical Dreamer forward so that we wouldn’t be hitting the roof. That effectively blocked off access to the river for the folks whose slips were on that side. The dock worker assured us that was fine—the parking area is gated and locked anyway so no one will be leaving until 8 the next morning. We planned to be out at first light. We spent the evening securing the dingy onto the swim platform and its engine onto the rail at the bow of the boat.

Before we left Sallisaw, we had watched the destruction of a bridge in Little Rock, along with the shut- down of river traffic for 24 hours. Unfortunately, the blast didn’t go as planned and there was debris all around the area in the river. Our Little Rock destination, Rockwater Marina, was just before that bridge, so it wasn’t going to be an issue for us. Or so we thought.

Getting up the next morning to set out, we called the first lock (just a few miles away) to check on traffic. Commercial traffic takes precedence over leisure and one barge takes at least two hours to get through. We had gotten up at 5 to leave by first light, but were delayed until 10:30 because of two barges. With the four-hour delay, we’d have to book to get to Little Rock before sundown. C.A. needed a crew change again, since we couldn’t guarantee we’d make it to Little Rock and both guys had to work the next day.  That delayed us more.

But the capper was the mechanical trouble. One of his engines went out. Three times. We were the lead boat, and each time, I’d look back to check on them and they’d get farther and farther behind. So we idle and call them on the radio. His boat’s radio didn’t work, so we loaned him our handheld. They were busy working on the engine, so it would take several tries to get someone to answer back. Meanwhile, we were totally exposed in the middle of the channel and they were dead in the water. Eventually we’d hear about swapping out a battery or filter. As the day wore on and the sun started going down, we were quite worried we wouldn’t make it to the marina. We consulted out charts and didn’t really see a good anchorage. We might have to travel at night. But we’d not planned or attempted that ever and really didn’t want to do it. Rick implored C.A. to run on one engine, but he refused.  He told us to go on without him, but we couldn’t do that in good conscience.

With the sun setting, the engine went out again. We told him to tie up to some posts along the edge of the river (or at one of the many docks the homeowner’s had built) and we would send back help. He didn’t listen. In desperation, we called his son-in-law (one of the guys from the second crew). We were five miles from marina. We got his blessing to leave C.A., book it to the marina, and send back help. Along the route we contacted a barge headed towards us to warn him of the disabled yacht.

When we reached the marina, C.A.’s daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were there. As C.A. was in contact with us via radio on a regular basis, we waited him out (family’s choice). He slipped in under darkness and the guys got him tied up in his permanent slip at the Little Rock Yacht Club www.lryachtclub.com/ We tied up for the night at the fueling dock and fell into bed.  In the morning, we talked with the owner of the yacht club and received some good info on the Mississippi River. He didn’t even charge us for staying the night!

In an hour we were at our destination: Rockwater Marina (www.rockwatermarina.com/ ). We are their first transients, so there were some things to work out. The transient dock is missing cleats, so we had to tie up to some posts on the opposite side of the dock. Although we had been told they had the electric we needed, they didn’t They did make a gallant effort to get us electricity and when they couldn’t, the owner brought a bottle of wine for our troubles. It’s a lovely place. The pump out is actually a mobile unit which is quite fancy compared to what we’d had seen thus far. The location is great. We were able to walk to many of the places we wanted to see and we have a beautiful view of the Little Rock skyline.

So, as it sit here reflecting to a few days ago in that WalMart, I’d have to say “yes, I AM an adventuress!” And I THINK I’m even enjoying it.

Remodeling

I’ve had a lot of requests for pictures of Nautical Dreamer but have been apprehensive since we aren’t done “fixing” it yet. Some family have visited recently so I feel like the cat is out of the bag. So I went ahead and snapped a few pictures to show here.

There are a few areas missing. Both “heads” (baths) are purposely left out since they are an embarrassment. We will address that in the future but they are very small and ugly. The third sleeping area is basically storage and laundry right now, so there is nothing to see there. I didn’t take photos of the outside areas either: the fly bridge and the seating in the fore deck. As you look through, keep in mind we aren’t finished with our “remodeling.” Flooring is incomplete in several rooms, for example.

First, here is the master stateroom and the infamous “Princess and the Pea” bed. I’m standing in the doorway to take these photos. What you can’t see are the his and hers closets on either side of the room or the cabinets below the storage baskets on both sides. The headboard had been mirrors, but we covered them with padded material so it’s more comfy (and nicer looking).

You can't see the height in this picture, but I need a step stool to get into this thing.
You can’t see the height in this picture, but I need a step stool to get into this thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick built shelves to house the storage baskets on the counter tops at each side. Below the counter tops there are cabinets. We were excited there was so much storage and then opened them and realized they were cabinet doors that hid boat innerds with a small amount of storage.  We’ve not replaced the window treatments yet.

This is my side of the bed. The other side is identical.
This is my side of the bed. The other side is identical.

The next pictures are of the office/spare bedroom. The day bed has a second bunk that flips down, a sort of Murphy bed. We were excited there was a lot of storage and shelves, although they are all narrow.

Day bed.
Day bed.

 

Cabinets next to the day bed.
Cabinets next to the day bed.
The "office" part of the room: computer, printer, etc.
The “office” part of the room: computer, printer, etc.

I thought I’d show the before (first two) and after pictures for the main salon. We haven’t completed the breakfast bar, so keep that in mind. We’ve purchased a solid live edge piece of black walnut to put on top of the cabinets to form the breakfast bar with the chairs in front. We haven’t done anything with the window coverings yet, either.

Before One.
Before One.
Before two.
Before two.
After seating area.
After seating area.
After looking toward the aft deck.
After looking toward the aft deck.
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We pulled out the built in seating and will put inn a breakfast bar (not completed yet). On the right hand side is the start of the galley and the end cap of the breakfast bar storage is a spice cabinet. Cabinets and wall will be stained/painted to match and there will be shelves on that wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the main salon there are two steps down into the galley (kitchen). As you can see, it is quite small, especially if there are two of you in there working! We are getting used to it, but do have plans to renovate eventually. For the picture, I’m standing in the main salon by the breakfast bar.

Our "micro" kitchen. We've not done anything with it yet.
Our “micro” kitchen. We’ve not done anything with it yet.

The last photos I’ve got are of the aft deck. Again, we haven’t changed the window coverings. In all the boats we looked at, this room was more like a screened in porch. We really like that this boat is an actual room. Still, we picked outdoor furniture, a sectional, that can be used for sleeping (grand kids, maybe?) if needed. This is where our front, back and side doors are located, as well as the steps to the fly bridge. We are trying to decide how to be able to stow the steps out of the way unless needed. Any ideas?

This is where Rick can steer if its raining and he doesn't want to be on the fly bridge.
This is where Rick can steer if its raining and he doesn’t want to be on the fly bridge.

img_3220img_3218

 

River Cruise Leg One

2016 Nautical Dreamer River CruiseArkansas River to Mississippi River to the Gulf Coast

LEG ONE: SALLISAW, OK TO LITTLE ROCK, AR VIA THE ARKANSAS RIVER

  • 106 Miles
  • 4 Locks

Schedule

  • 15OCT16 Leave Sallisaw, OK
    • anchor @ Ozark Lake in Crawford County, AR
  • 16OCT16 Leave Ozark Lake
    • dock @ Russellville Marina, Russellville, AR
  • 17OCT16 Leave Russellville Marina
    • dock @ Rockwater Marina, Little Rock, AR
      • 3-4 Days in Little Rock, AR

 

What a Waste

Living in the desert, there were inevitable questions about boat life that came up any time we talked about our plan. I had several students who couldn’t grasp the concept we could dock the boat and fly to relatives for holidays. “How will you ever see your kids and grandkids?” they’d ask. I got asked a lot about fresh water supply when we were traveling or anchored. (There is a freshwater tank for potable water.) Then inevitably, I would get asked about where the water goes. (Water from the sinks or shower is called “gray water” and goes directly into the lake, river or ocean you are on. Its allowed because that water is not considered harmful but I’m glad we use eco-friendly shampoos and soaps nonetheless.) Finally, the question of toilet waste gets thrown out there. (Waste goes through a macerator at the toilet to chop up waste and easily dissolvable marine toilet paper, then goes through pipes to a separate holding tank. When full, you go to the marina dock and pump out, similar to an RV.) Sometimes there is a fee involved and sometimes, as with our current marina, its included in the cost of the slip.

We learned early on about the process behind the waste system because our master head wasn’t removing waste well. The inspection showed water flowing so we assumed it was working fine when we bought the boat. We had an unexpected expense on day one when we learned the pipe leading from that head to the holding tank was so gunked up from years of use that it couldn’t make its way to the tank except in tiny increments. It had to be replaced. (That was a job we paid someone else to do. Well worth the cost at ANY price.)

A little aside here, according to an article on nautical terms by Russ Moran, a writer and former Navy vet, “Head is an old Navy term for the place where sailors would go to relieve themselves before the advent of modern plumbing. The forward most part of a vessel was called the ship’s head. It often protruded out beyond the bow (aka the front of a vessel). There was a grate through which the waste went into the ocean.” Nowadays, the term is used for the bathroom.

Our wastewater tank does not have a gauge to determine when its full. We’ve learned to take it for pump out once a week. However, a few weeks ago, we woke up to the tell-tale smell that we had waited too long. Time had gotten away from us; it had been ten days. So we headed over to the pump out. The pump didn’t work. Think about that for a minute. We had sewer smell in our home, a full wastewater tank, and the pump out DIDN’T WORK. Rick fiddled with it. He talked it through with the mechanic (who was not working that day), and eventually we gave up and headed back to our boat slip wondering how long it would take to fix. My worst fear had been realized; it was just like camping now. We had to go up the hill to the communal bathrooms.

The next day, the mechanic gave us more bad news. He couldn’t fix it and the owners weren’t too interested in paying for a new pump. They dragged their feet asking him to do research, research, and more research. He found a small pump at the tractor supply store for only $100. The owner refused to allow him to purchase it because he didn’t think it was beefy enough to work. The mechanic argued if it didn’t work it could be taken back for refund. The owner still refused. The search continued. The “proper” type pump was found but the owners wouldn’t spend the money. Two days went by. Five days.  We got the owner’s cell number and left messages. None were returned. We drove to the Coast Guard station to see if they could pump us out. They couldn’t and confirmed the nearest marina was too far to go there and back in a day. At six days we got the idea to call septic tank guys. No help. Then it was a week. We had family coming to visit. They were seeing our place for the first time and it STANK. I jumped on the internet to read about the gas emitting from our tanks. I felt it was becoming a health issue. We were told to go into the river and dump overboard (not allowed but we were desperate and actually thought about it). Our boat did not have that capability and in retrospect, I’m glad it didn’t. We solicited other suggestions and bought a large shop vac. But the length of pipe from the tank to the pump out valve was too far for the suction of the shop vac. We used fans to blow the smell out the hatch in the forward head. I cooked lemons and limes in the slow cooker as air freshener. Family arrived and everybody understood. Even though the smell was sort of manageable with our fixes, it was embarrassing.  We offered and paid for a hotel room for the boys. By the time everyone left, it had turned into TEN days. I’m gonna leave that there for a minute.

Ten days.

Close your eyes (well, read this first, then close your eyes). Can you smell it? Could you sleep with that? And can you imagine taking that long walk down a virtually unlit pier to the bathroom in the middle of the night in your PJs? I’m a 53-year-old with a tiny bladder. Yeah.

So at ten days we felt we had two options. We could use the shop vac direct at the tank site and carry the full vac through our home, off the boat, up the hill, to dump it in the toilet. (The tank was 50 gallons and the shop vac was 6 gallons. You do the math—It makes me too tired.) Option two was to go to town and buy the damned pump ourselves. If it didn’t work, we could take it back. If it did work, we’d be home free. The mechanic agreed to try it against his boss’s wishes. We told him it would be waiting for him in the morning.

As I headed up the hill for my morning constitutional the next day, the mechanic was at the pump out area. He saw me and shouted, “It’s working!”

“You already have it hooked up?”

“Yeah. I’m pumping out the cabin now.” (Not even going to complain that we bought it and didn’t get to use it first.) “It works better than the old pump ever did.”

All of a sudden, the sky was bluer. The air was crisper. The sun was brighter. I was smiling. I practically danced back to Nautical Dreamer to wake Rick so we could head to the pump out. Best $100 we’ve ever spent. It just needs to last for another three weeks and we’ll be at our go date, leaving behind an overly lackadaisical owner of an abused marina.