Blue Turtle Cruising

Stuck in Annapolis with the Transmission Blues

After spending 2 weeks on a mooring ball in Annapolis, we released our ball and headed out of Spa Creek and into Back Creek. Since we couldn’t reverse, navigating through the channel was a little nerve wracking with others boats either waiting to get into slips or get fuel. We finally made our way to Bert Jabins Yacht Yard where they had us tie up on one of their maintenance docks near the forklifts. Shortly after, they came over with a few guys and a small tow boat to tow us further back into the creek to our assigned slip. We were glad they moved us since it was so noisy by the forklifts and main yard and the area they put us in was peaceful and quiet.

Once settled in our new slip, we gave Chesapeake Dockside Services a call. We were told they would be ready for us when we arrived, but they didn’t come to assess our transmission for a couple days and it was the end of the week before they came out to start disassembling the engine to prep it for removal of the transmission.

On Monday, a week later, the guys from Bert Jabin’s towed us back to the maintenance dock where the forklift was located. Originally, Chesapeake Dockside Services wanted to remove the engine but decided it couldn’t be done with our cockpit cover. They used the forklift forks, which were inserted into the side of the cockpit, to install a come-along so they could lift the main engine in order to get the transmission out. This took most of the day, so Sophie and I had camped out in the air conditioned laundry room. Once the transmission was out, it was put on a palette for transportation to Transatlantic Diesel for rebuilding. Randy had been communicating with Transatlantic Diesel and they told us it would take a week for the rebuild once they got it. It was actually done in a day and the whole process of shipping it out, rebuild and shipping back only took 1 week. We were impressed and hopeful to be out of there soon.

While our transmission was being rebuilt, we decided to use the time on various boat projects to get Blue Turtle ready to cruise again. Randy fixed our anchor locker jam, changed both engine impellers, replaced the water heater thermometer, painted the forward head and shower, cleaned out cockpit lockers and dove the bottom of the boat. While Randy was doing all that, I sewed new covers out of waterproof Stamoid® for our windlass and dinghy lift motors, cleaned the topside of the boat and used a lemon/water mixture to remove our ICW mustache, and cleaned the interior mildew in cabinets and vberth. We also put the dinghy in the water and celebrated Randy’s birthday with a cruise to Eastport for beers at Forward Brewery and Davis’ Pub.

We were a bit disappointed that during the week our transmission was out for rebuild, we were unable to make any other progress on our engine issues. During this time, we had hoped our mechanic would be out to our boat to install the new motor mounts and take care of a few other things (like install new seals) that could be done so that when the transmission arrived, it could be installed immediately. Unfortunately, they waited a week to order the new motor mounts (which were coming from the UK) and basically we lost a week and half with no progress.

Week #4 finally came and the motor mounts and transmission delivered. The mechanics devised a solid beam that sat across our cockpit from which they installed a come-along to lift the engine. We were thankful they came up with this plan because it meant that we wouldn’t have to be towed by the yard and use the yard’s forklift (which cost us $700 the last time just for that one day). It was a good thing too because that beam remained in our cockpit the rest of the week and we’d hate to think what that would have cost us with using the yard’s equipment for a full week. By the end of the week, the transmission was finally installed and they were able to remove the beam that Randy and I had to climb under and over every time we needed to get out of the boat or across to the aft cabin.

That weekend, we took another dinghy ride to Forward Brewery where we got to catch up with Jim and Kelly of SV Nickelby. We first met Jim and Kelly in Annapolis back in October 2022 along with fellow CSY owners Schyler & Laure of SV Ocean Cowboy. It was great to see them again and share stories of cruising and boat project woes. While there, we also met Molly and Chris of SV Mooch with whom we follow on Instagram. As always, it’s great to actually meet fellow cruisers in person after following them on social media.

Week #5 happened to be the Fourth of July holiday and everything was closed on that Monday and Tuesday. Since we were coming up on a month in the marina and didn’t want to have to pay for extra time, we begged our mechanic, Brandon, to come out and finish putting the engine back together. Thankfully, he agreed to work on that Monday and Tuesday even though his office was closed. He and Randy both worked long days trying to get everything wrapped up so we could leave. We offered Brandon a bottle of Jameson as a bonus if he completed everything by Tuesday, July 4th and he was finished with the engine running by 7:30pm that day (THANK YOU Brandon for the extra effort!). We celebrated with a drink of Jameson and leftover tofu tacos that I had made. Randy and I cleaned everything up after Brandon left and we prepared to be on our way the next morning.

We were stuck in Annapolis for a little over 6 weeks when the actual transmission rebuild itself took less than a week. It took us 2 weeks on a mooring ball before we could even get into the yard. After confirming with Chesapeake Dockside Services that they would be available and ready to work on our boat as soon as we got into the yard, a week was wasted before the transmission was even pulled out. We lost a week and half due to parts not being ordered when they should have been ordered. Most days, work didn’t begin before 11am and ended by 4:00pm. Lack of communication was a huge issue. To say we were frustrated with our whole experience is an understatement. We liked our mechanic Brandon and he was very knowledgeable, but we weren’t happy with the way things were run by the company. Our experience was a long, frustrating and very costly one and if we had to do it over, we would do things differently. We were happy to be out of there and on our way up the Chesapeake Bay on July 5th.

Annapolis Mooring Field to Bert Jabins Yacht Yard = 2 nm

TOTAL miles to date: = 3,500 nm

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