March 17-19, 2018 – Southport Marina-Head Case

IMG_20180325_132759So now we know the repair schedule. Steve Wallace won’t be back with a service technician until Monday morning, when we should have a completely functioning head. That means we’ve basically got the entire weekend to ourselves to enjoy Southport and the hospitality.

On Saturday we lower the dinghy into the water so we’ll have one more opportunity to exercise some of the rights we paid for with the North Carolina Out-of-State fishing licenses. Once the repairs are completed, our next port of call will be Coquina Harbor in South Carolina, so the fishing licenses will be useless until we turn around in April and come right back thru North Carolina again. Well the fish must know that we only have a few more chances to catch them because they are real good at resisting temptation. We go out in the dinghy and catch absolutely nothing!

Saturday afternoon we walk back to the restaurant hub and choose Fishy-Fish Restaurant this time. The food is as good as the Provisioning Company but the waitress is slightly more personable. She told us her name was Amanda and she would be our waitress. She was prompt with the beverages and prompt to check on refills. Then when the bill came, the name of the server on the slip was Peter. So after checking that we had the correct invoice (very good suggestion by Tracy), I asked her what the story was and she told us she was new and still on probation under Peter’s watch until tomorrow. Well we told her to tell Peter that she graduated today because the service was spot on and she handled herself very professionally. We tipped her accordingly and on the way out, I noticed her talking to a guy waiter, so I went over and asked him if he was Peter, which he confirmed. So I told him Amanda was done with her probation and to let her have her own tables. He chuckled (southern hospitality?).

Sunday, Tracy tried the pump out again just to see if there was any luck loosening up the clog. Also we were trying to expedite the work for Monday because if the tank was already empty when Steve showed up, his guy could start right away taking apart the plumbing. However, the tank was still not cooperating and it remained full until Monday morning.

Tracy also went out for an hour of fishing and her luck fishing was as good as pumping out, no luck!

As soon as Sunday afternoon rolled around, we started to hear live music coming from the restaurants so we decided to check it out, maybe get in some outdoor dancing. We discovered that the music was the entertainment for the Sunday afternoon Oyster fest at the Yacht Basin Eatery. Tickets were $40 a person for all you could eat shrimp and oysters. We can eat seafood, but not $40 worth each, so we passed on the dancing and decided to eat at the Frying Pan. We thought the Frying Pan was aptly named for specializing in foods prepared in a frying pan, but we soon learned that the restaurant is named for the Frying Pan Shoal just off shore from the Cape Fear Inlet. It’s a three mile long shoal shaped somewhat like a frying pan so it gets it’s name from there.

We went in, got seated, and were served our customary club soda with lime (Nick) and hot water with lemon (Tracy) along with a basket of corn fritters. After placing our entrée orders, Tracy noticed a large copper mural on the wall depicting the Frying Pan Shoal, so we got up, went over to the mural and spent a good five minutes checking out the detail showing the Cape Fear River, the Frying Pan Shoal, and the Intracoastal Waterway. As we walked back to our table, we noticed that the entire table was bare save for Tracy’s pair of sunglasses! The busboy had come by and cleaned up our place settings, beverages and corn fritters. Once we got our waitress’ attention we were able to get everything replaced and shortly afterwards our entrees were served and we savored the steak and cheese sandwich basket(s).

As we were walking back to the marina, we both agreed that there would be no ice cream on the Adirondack rockers today. Also, we passed a bike rack filled with four bikes and as we were checking out the models and features, the four owners came out of the restaurant and we talked with them for about twenty minutes about the area, the bikes and bike maintenance. Then they asked us about our adventure and we described the great loop. Tonight would be an early night because we wanted to be all done with our morning routine when Steve showed up at 8 am. So I set my alarm so I could get my two cups of coffee and walk Frankie before then.

Steve Wallace (the Service Manager that we had met last Friday) and Steve, the service technician showed up promptly at eight. Steve showed Steve our plumbing configuration, our issue, and his proposed solution. Currently we have two holding tanks, one for each head. The fore head has never given us issues with filling, or emptying with the single exception that last summer when Geoff Gow was aboard (in Mystic), we bought and replaced the entire head with a Raritan model that flushes raw water and macerates (pulverizes) solid waste during the flush. The aft head was always newer and more modern technology in that it’s a Vac-U-Flush model that generates a back suction that pulls all waste down the line into the holding tank under pressure. However, I’ve changed the duck bill valves twice and the pressure generating bellows once, but historically we’ve always had some slight issues with the pump outs from this aft head (see the Bohemia Bay Yacht Club blog). Therefore Steve Wallace’s idea is to isolate the two tanks so when pumping out the aft tank, the suction is working 100% on the aft tank and not sucking air out of the forward tank. This is a good idea, but the plumbing to create this separation will be an access nightmare for a grown man.

B93F79B8-E7E3-4564-977F-B5175CD8D2D9So Steve, the service tech must don his Tyvek space suit and climb down into the galley bilge to begin his job of unclogging the plumbing for the aft head. I asked him why nobody has invented a ‘Boato-Rooter’ yet.

Well once Steve got the plumbing opened to where he could access the clog and unclog it, we had the pump out suck the tank dry in four minutes!!! There have been occasions where we couldn’t suck it dry in four hours previously. So we’re confident that we’ve solved the problem for now and there’s no need for a complicated (and therefore expensive) isolation system and Steve re-plumbs all the piping on the tank and we’re good to go again. So bottom line, for 3-4 hours of Steve’s talented time and the expertise of Zimmerman’s Marine we now have two beautiful working heads on Kailani and once again, all’s well with our home on the water.

Oh yeah, Steve Wallace had previously offered us one of the company trucks as a courtesy vehicle. So once the repairs were completed and Kailani was all cleaned up, we borrowed the courtesy truck and drive to WalMart for a shopping spree of groceries, some hardware, some fishing tackle, and two relatively inexpensive cruiser bikes so we’ll have decent transportation from now on.

Once we were back on board we knew that we could make final plans to move tomorrow because the repairs were done and the weather should be good enough to cruise (rainy, but not extremely windy). So I called a dock master contact we had from a boater back home at Lightkeeper’s Marina in Coquina Harbor, South Carolina. I got his voicemail, left a detailed message of our needs and also went on their website and completed the on-line form requesting a slip for Tuesday night and possibly longer due to some early indications of small craft warnings starting late Tuesday and running into Thursday.

I didn’t get a response from James, the dock master by the time we turned in for the evening, but I was confident that we’d hear from him Monday morning while we were cruising towards his marina. We spent the evening reading, internet surfing, and setting the coffee for auto brew before turning in for the night. By tomorrow evening, we’ll be in South Carolina and only one more state to go to be in Savannah for April 6th to meet Nick, Dede and the girls.

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