Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Green Cove Springs Marina WARNING!

In preparation for our departure north, we needed to find a good place to leave Drift Away for the many months we'd be gone.  Cost was an issue and we eliminated all the expensive marinas.  We didn't care about amenities since we wouldn't be there anyway.  We also wanted a do-it-yourself yard to perform some needed maintenance,  like painting.  We narrowed our list down to a few.  Green Cove Springs Marina looked good, relatively close by to Brunswick Georgia where we were docked, just south of Jacksonville.

I gave them a call to make sure they could accommodate us.  They asked the size, weight, and beam, and then confirmed that they could easily haul Drift Away.  Pam and I even took a road trip there to talk to the staff in person.

We arrived at Green Cove Springs Marina on May 10th, tying up to their wall.

Not the prettiest marina we've been at, but the cleats were adequate.

We were there for a few days and made arrangements to rent a U-Haul for our trip north.  The marina owner and office manager came by in a golf cart and we chatted a bit.  They both seemed like nice folks.  

I prepped the boat for long term storage, putting loose things in the Whaler and covering it with a tarp.  I turned off everything on the boat, both 110V and 12V.   The shore power didn't work on the dock and so we ran our generator to keep our food cold and water hot, but no big deal.  The only things running would be the bilge pumps, so I hooked both batteries together with booster cables to double the battery capacity for the pumps.  I couldn't just turn the battery switches to "all" because the engines won't start that way.

On the day of our departure, I stopped by the office to check out.  I paid for hauling, bottom cleaning, pump out, blocking, and three months storage in advance.  I asked that our boat be hauled as soon as possible.  I didn't like leaving a 33 year old boat in the water without someone reliable to watch it and check on it.  I was told that it would be hauled within a few days.

A couple of days passed and Pam and I were almost in North Carolina when the cell phone rang.   It was the marina.

"We can't haul your boat."

"WHAT?  Why not??"

"It's too big.  We can't do it."

"When I called, you assured me that you could!"

"Well, we can't.  It's too tall."

"So now what do we do?  We're on our way north towing a U-Haul and almost in North Carolina."

"Don't worry, I'll take care of it.  I'll have it hauled by Holland Marine and then stored at Reynold's Park Yacht Center right next to us.  They charge more than we do, though."

"When can you do this?"

"I'll make the arrangements right away and get it over there."

"OK, do it."

After I hung up the phone, I was extremely aggravated.  I found it incredibly unprofessional that they didn't take a few minutes to size up Drift Away in the few days I was there.  Plus, it would cost me half again as much as I planned on.  If I knew there was a problem hauling Drift Away at Green Cove Springs, I would have taken it someplace else.

Days passed and I heard nothing.  I called.  Drift Away was still in the water.

"I just have to get on Holland Marine's hauling schedule.  I'll get it out in a few days."

A few days turned into a few weeks.   Another call.

"Your broker said to leave your boat in the water because it shows better."

"What?  No way.  Look, it's MY boat and I want it hauled.  Why would you take instructions from a boat broker?"

And then a couple of months went by.  Finally, on the 12th of July, I had a call from Holland that Drift Away was hauled and at Reynold's.

I called Green Cove Springs and asked about refunding what I paid them.  I spoke to Crystal, the manager.  

"I'll talk to Bob, the owner."

"Fine," said I.  "I'll pay for the few days we were there on the boat, and I'll pay for the pump out you did, but I don't expect to be charged for the two months my boat sat tied up to your wall."

"I'll have to talk to Bob about that."

Several telephone calls and emails went unanswered over the next few weeks. It was apparent to me that they had no intentions of refunding me anything.  I guess they figured they could continue to play games since I'm in New York and they're in Florida.  They were wrong.

I filled out paperwork and sent it to my bank to have my debit card charged back the full amount I paid them, $773.

Now the tables are turned and it's their turn to wait.

A word to the wise.  Always put major expenditures on a charge or debit card.  You can always have the card charged back if goods or services are not delivered.  

Avoid Green Cove Springs Marina.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Own Less And Live More

I think we all go through various stages in life.  Young adults are often determined to "get ahead", as was I.  I was particularly driven to succeed.  I worked hard in various sales jobs to earn a decent living to pay the mortgage, the car loans, the boat loan, and to provide for my wife and daughter.  I worked long, hard hours and often stressed about money and paying bills.

As I got a little older, my priorities started to change.  Money was still important, but "stuff" not so much.  I decided, at age 32, to chuck my sales career and return to college.

"You're going to do WHAT??" shrieked my then-wife.

"I'm going back to college.  I want to learn a skill."

"You suck at school."

"This time will be different."

"What are you going to major in?"

"I don't know, but something where I can work an 8 to 5 job and earn a living."

Long story short, I excelled in college.  I would have gotten a 4.0 except for a B in stupid tennis.

I went to work for a computer software company and within a few years became vice-president.  I made a lot of money for that company, but it wasn't enough to undo the debt incurred prior to my involvement.  The company went out of business.  All was not lost though, and a company in New York City offered to buy us out.   They made me a very generous offer, which I declined.  I had enough of working 80 hour weeks, flying all around the country, and waking up and not knowing what Holiday Inn I was in.

The older I got, the less important money and possessions became.  I decided I had to make a choice.  I could either work my butt off to support my lifestyle, or I could adjust my lifestyle to fit my budget.

I'm leaving out a lot of details here.  This is a blog, not an autobiography, but suffice it to say that I'm living more simply, owning less and living more, and living more stress free.

Now, to shift gears.  Many of you know that Pam and I lived on Drift Away for several years.  We put the boat up for sale and had many prospective buyers come to look at it.  One nice couple, Conrad and Roxanne, took a liking to Drift Away.   They didn't like it as much as Pam and I did apparently and we didn't agree on a selling price, but there were no hard feelings and we exchanged many emails.  During the course of this, Conrad mentioned that he had written a book about their travels.  I mentioned that I've edited a few books in my day and I'd love to read his.   He sent me a draft, and I made a few suggestions and returned it to him.

In our mailbox yesterday was a signed copy of Own Less & Live More by Conrad Cooper, available on Amazon.com.

Conrad and I are truly kindred spirits.  As are most cruisers, liveaboards, and folks who live in the mountains.

By far the best sailing-travel adventure book to hit the shelves in years. We all dream about escaping the 9 to 5 and sailing away but Conrad, his wife Roxanne and daughter Logan didn’t just dream about it, they did it. Freeing themselves from jobs, house mortgages, car notes, monthly bills and all the other anchors of life that have us tied down, they managed to escape the default American lifestyle and live the adventure of a lifetime. In an extremely humorous way, Conrad describes quitting his job, medical visits and all the trials and tribulations that an adventure like this will create. This is more than just a humorous book, but a life philosophy. Conrad employs the theory of owning less and living more to live life to its fullest. Luxury cars and expensive houses mean nothing to Conrad and his family as they have learned to live more simply thereby allowing them to experience much more than they ever dreamed.

Tired of the rat race? Convinced that you need to work one more year before you retire? Read this book and get back to me.