Our spirits have had their ups and downs during the three weeks while “in residence” at Green Turtle Bay, a legendary marina in Grand Rivers, KY. The get-acquainted phase was exciting, in which we had called all the folks whose services we requested and were comfortably in the cue. We enjoyed the GTB (Green Turtle Bay) cuisine (especially the local catfish). A shout out to Violet, who worked the entire Dockers Grill everyday from 7-2:00 and always took great care of us—and Oliver. Even when the grill was closed, Oliver would saunter up the ramp to the porch, looking for Violet, the bestower of infinite treats. The fitness center and spa were just steps from our boat, and we stayed active most days. The hair service did not go so well, and I recalled what one looper told me a couple of years ago: “Sure, you can get your hair done. You won’t look the same, though.” As project after project went through the “hiccup” phase, we became weary of living in a “garage,” with 13 years of debris and dust from the ceiling removal constantly afloat, no blinds for heat reflection or privacy, no speakers for entertainment, and ceiling lights dangling by the wire and banging us in the face everywhere. After the second week, we rented a car and drove down the Land Between the Lakes, which is a rustic recreational area, offering lots of shoreline and camping services. We spent an afternoon in Paducah at the National Quilt Museum, a beautiful display of inspired vision and artistic skill.
We had a wonderful farm to table dinner at The Freight House, which also boasts a collection of over 150 Bourbons. This being Kentucky where bourbon rules, uncharacteristically, we ordered and shared one lovely shot.
Having come to GTB to attack some projects, here are brief summaries of the ones we persevered through to accomplishment. If you’re not interested, just skip this part.
- The outboard engine: You may have already read about its failing us way back in Demopolis in September. The engine posed further challenges as we removed it from the dinghy at GTB: the swiveling handle for one of the mounting bolts broke off, and Steve had to manhandle it off with a hack saw. We borrowed a marina courtesy van and took the engine to Jet A Marine in Calvert City on our very first full day at GTB. We were told it was a good time—they weren’t busy. To the best of our understanding, damage to the engine was caused by it remaining connected to one of those new non-vented gas cans (who knew!?)—and then, of course, breaking the pull cord off…and then, of course, sawing the bolt that held it onto the boat… It was a week before we heard anything; a salvage part was needed for our old engine. We waited and waited for a progress report. After more than two weeks, Steve called and was told the unwelcome news that a knob had broken during repair and they’d order a new one and have it by the end of the week. This was not acceptable, as we were planning on leaving before said end of week. In the end, the knob was overnighted, and we were able to pick the engine up yesterday at 4:00. We have yet to see if it runs.
- A simple oil change: While we have an oil changing system on the boat, Steve is not sure that changing the oil is something he wants to routinely do. It requires, not only having the receptacles in which to dump the old oil from two propulsion engines and a generator and then dealing with it, but also contorting one’s body to access hard-to-reach spots. An affable, young technician, Randy, showed up to do this, and we were grateful to have this easily marked off our list, until we realized a couple days later that he had over-filled all three engines. Randy having called in sick that day, his boss brought a bucket and coached Steve in bleeding off the excess, and he left with a gallon in the bucket. If you know nothing about oil, as I do not, it’s worse for oil levels to be too high than too low.
- The anchor and its supporting parts: Everyone knows what an anchor is, and yes, we did replace our mud-skipping anchor with a beautiful 44-pound Rocna, shipped free on Amazon Prime. But unless one is a model of youthful brawn and energy, one is looking for a mechanical aid to deploy that anchor—that being a “windlass.” I described in a past post the angst that our windlass caused, slipping and misbehaving, and ultimately leading to Steve’s mishap which required 6 stitches. This heavier new anchor requires a well-functioning windlass, and Randy ascertained that the gypsy was shot. When he returned a week later and installed the new one, the anchor chain still jumped and skipped… Oh, NO! The ultimate fix was the proper gauge chain to fit this gypsy. Luckily, Steve had just read a book on anchoring and knew more than this charming, inexperienced repairman, and it took the better part of a week to receive 200 feet of high test chain in the correct gauge by freight. It, too, arrived late yesterday afternoon, and Randy was at Red Pearl with the chain loaded in a john boat as we returned with the repaired outboard engine. The new chain/gypsy set-up is a match!
- Comfortable seating: The queen sofa/sleeper was practical but not comfortable for us. We vacillated all these months on whether to give up the flexibility for overnight guests and finally came to grips with the fact that, with a “one-butt-head” (bathroom), the boat comfortably sleeps 2, feeds 4, and parties 8. We have shopped online and in stores for boat chairs, and finally went out on a limb and bought some from—ta dah!—Amazon Prime. We tipped a couple of young, sinewy marina employees to make the sofa go away, and we assembled the new chairs on the pier. As luck would have it, one of the chairs had a defective back, but with persistence, the company finally acquiesced and Fed-Exed a new one. We are delighted with the improved comfort of our living space.
- Electronics: the least drama—and the most expensive. We admit that we made it all the way here utilizing a 13-year-old radar, a new radio with AIS (Automatic Identity System, which allows us to identify commercial traffic before we come face to face with it, but not visa versa), and an iPad with Navionics GPS charts. It can be done. However, redundancy is a good thing, as systems DO fail, updated technology (and especially radar) has advantages, and we were increasingly uneasy with commercial boats not being able to detect US, until we called THEM on the radio. Justin at GMENI offered us great service, worked steadily for 2 long days, and patiently tutored us way past dinner time. It’s much more than a toy, but new toys are always fun.
- The Headliner: This was a big challenge for us and Mark Sunderman of Creative Canvas and Covers. Mark has a reputation for awesome craftsmanship of boat enclosures and cushions—and for running behind schedule. I had researched canvas contractors and contacted him months ago, while we were marooned in Goshen over the summer. Headliners are not his specialty, but he often puts them back after repairs that require their removal have been made. *How difficult could it be?!* He had us on his calendar, I stayed in touch with him, and I am happy to say that he gave our project the priority that we had hoped. The headliner had circular staining which looked like moisture had pooled on it, and while it was advancing, it never seemed wet. We wondered whether to invest in the repair, not knowing from where the staining came, but hoped that it would become clear once the old headliner was down. Mark was punctual, and we met the very afternoon we arrived at GTB. The next morning we selected the material and he ordered it. A few days later, the old headliner came down, and we entered our garage phase, which I have already described.
Luckily, it was a rainy period, which allowed us to discover that broken speakers above in the flybridge were allowing water to seep onto that stained area in the headliner. Despite this bit of luck, from the get-go, installation did not go well; the fabric and the plastic track failed to perform as we expected. Mark researched online, he watched YouTube videos, he called the manufacturer, and finally decided to buy two recommended tools, a $500 investment! When they arrived, it was clear right away that the new tools were not the magic bullet. It was probably around this time that he admitted that he was regretting taking the job, but he also said he had messed up our boat and needed to see this through. We wondered what other jobs were going unattended or were falling by the wayside, but were grateful as he continued to seem committed to our “3-day project,” which now taunted us as it loomed over 2 weeks. Mark mentioned that sometimes new track is helpful, as plastic can get brittle over time, and we decided to try that. The 18-foot lengths shipped from NC, and we waited several days for shipping by freight. But the track was not the magic bullet, either. In fact, in the end, there was no magic bullet at all. What remained was slow, painstaking, hands-constantly-overhead persistence. Steve, always buoyant, always with the right encouragement, assisted in removing the old track and installing the new, and in putting things back together after the vinyl work was complete.
Mark’s frustration showed, but his gentle spirit and professionalism consistently won over. He was kind to our dog. He loves good food and perked up over foodie conversation. He is an artisan, a man of his word, and Steve and I feel that we are better for having met him and watching his arduous, beautiful work. We hope Mark remembers us in the future as good and fair clients with a better-to-forget project. He helped us mount the newly-repaired engine onto our dinghy after dark last night, and we parted with a hug.
I know this is getting long, so I will just add a bit about our departure from Green Turtle Bay. Our goal has been arrive at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, AL on Oct. 14 for the Fall AGLCA Rendezvous, a pretty intense 4-day cruise from GTB. These events offer 4 days of socializing with past, current, and future Loopers, educational seminars, and access to vendors offering services and supplies important for this endeavor. A similar rendezvous in New Bern, NC a couple of years ago was pivotal in our decision to embark on this adventure. So, we pushed everyone offering us their services to be finished by yesterday, and off we cruised this morning at 7:00am, anticipating a high of 65 degrees, but sunny skies and a 10-mph wind at our back. Less than 10 knots into our cruise, Steve, Oliver and I were all shivering, the skies remained heavily clouded, the winds, we later learned, were 17 mph with gusts up to 24 mph, and the waves rolling from astern became white-crested. Steve quickly decided that this was not fun. Or wise. And so we are serendipitously at anchor in Sugar Bay, a beautiful cove protected from the northerly winds and waves. Yes, the time table compromises our rendezvous plans. But this is precisely the serene setting that we envisioned as we planned to “spend the summer” in the Kentucky Lakes area.
The only other thing we could possibly need is a dog whisperer to convince Oliver to use the 2-foot artificial-turf-on-a-tray with the spray attractant.