Friday, October 11, 2013

Stuck in the Middle

Finally, leaving Norfolk today, or so we thought. Threw off the dock lines to continue south and finally start down the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Just as we were heading out the inlet back into Chesapeake Bay a very strange message appeared on our Garmin GPS Chart-plotter “Voltage too high! Shutting down in 5..4..3” The message took over the whole screen in that Windows Blue Screen of Death operating system kind of way. The unit did shutdown and when restarted showed the same issue. Our GPS Chart-plotter is our primary piece of navigational equipment (say what you will about dependency on electronics) so this was a big issue. I mean sure we could have easily followed the buoys to the ICW but it would have been a big hindrance and stressor. Also the problem would be solved much easier & faster while here rather than on the go in sparesely populated places en route. So we turned around and came back to Cobb's Marina, where we had just paid our bill and bid everyone adieu.

We thought the problem would be relatively quick fix so we just tied up to the front pump-out dock instead of all the way back into the slip we previously occupied. A call to the electrician who was on board earlier and consultation with marina staff yielded no results. It's a very strange problem. I won't go into too much technical detail here (as I've been told I am wont to do) but basically the GPS unit is rated to work from 10-32volts, the voltage all along the circuit (from batteries to junction box to cable plug directly into the unit) reads 13.8volts (normal) but for some reason the unit display shows that it is getting over 32volts and thus shutting down. Even the Garmin technical support people, who have been very knowledgeable & helpful are perplexed. They are actually rush shipping us a replacement unit, which was supposed to arrive today (Saturday) but of course didn't (damn UPS). So here we are still tied up to the pump-out dock (no need to move). Luckily, when we left the marina it worked out cheaper to pay the monthly rate so there is no added cost to staying longer.

Talk about a small world though: while we were trying to sort out this chart-plotter issue I looked across the dock at a gentlemen filling up his tank from a fuel can. On can was written Basta. Basta is the name of the boat that we chartered last February in the Bahamas and indeed it was her! I took a moment to go over and introduce myself only to further learn that this gentleman had just been rescued by the US Coast Guard. He was delivering Basta back to the Bahamas (she had been back up in Lake Champlain for the summer) and had been caught out in the Nor' Easter storm that had delayed our departure from the marina for so many days. His story was riveting; we're talking 60mph winds, twelve foot waves, engine failure, emergency beacons, helicopters, coast guard boats, coast guard divers jumping in to swim and board him! Eventually they were towed in to safety. They were even on the local TV news! Basta has some pretty significant damage and so we'll be dock mates for at least a few more days while we wait for our GPS unit to arrive.

We're trying to make the best of our extended stay here in Norfolk. Although the weather remains rather glum we are trying to get as much boat stuff done and be productive (and not go insane with cabin fever – which we were already getting). For instance today we bought an EPIRB (an emergency beacon) just like the one Basta used to call for help. It was on our list of things to get as we continue down the US coast (always within radio range) and would have not left the US without one but after hearing this harrowing real life tale we bumped it up the list.


Blown out port hole stuffed with a lifejacket, guess what's under that port hole... electrical panel :-(

BBQ twisted metal


Still turned out better than this

Mermaid is symbol of Norfolk, this one is half army and half navy

I wish I hadn't asked what these were...

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