They say that the cruising lifestyle is really just learning to do boat work in exotic locations. If this is, in fact, true, then we are well ahead of the curve. We aren’t even out cruising yet and already we are learning to modify our expectations of getting things done, especially when it comes to finding services. How’s that? Well, we’re moored in Astoria, exotic land of the self-sufficient fisher-people. And this effects us how? Apparently they never need help, unless it’s from the Coast Guard.
The issue is this: we need to be towed to the Port of Astoria boatyard. Our boat has no engine, so we can’t get there under our own power. So naturally, being naive and trusting, I called the Port of Astoria to find out about who does these things. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi there! We need to have our sailboat towed to your facility so we can put in a new engine. Who do you know that does that kind of thing?
POA: Well, um, I don’t know. There isn’t anyone around here. I mean there’s really not anyone in Astoria who does towing . Also our travel lift is broken and we don’t know how long it will take to get fixed. Maybe about 3 weeks. We’re having trouble finding parts.
Me (Incredulous): It’s broken? Well, good thing we don’t need it just now. Hopefully it will be fixed in three weeks. The engine is ordered but it will take awhile to get here. Why is it that there are no towing services around? I’m just curious. I mean, there are all kinds of boats around here all the time! Don’t they ever need assistance?
POA: Well, you know, they are fishermen. They pretty much take care of themselves and if they really have an emergency they call the Coast Guard. I think there’s a guy over in Ilwaco who has a service. I think his name is Capt. Bill. You could call him and find out but I don’t have his contact information on me just now.
Me: Okay, well thanks, I’ll call Port of Ilwaco and see if I an find this Captain Bill. So you think maybe that travel lift will get fixed soon?
POA: We sure hope so, but I don’t know.
Wow. Okay, time to regroup and think about what would happen if we were in Mexico, or maybe the South Pacific and needed to have our boat towed. I mean, we have some experience pushing Moonrise with our dinghy, but I don’t really want to start doing that with a boat I don’t know yet. Plus, I’m pretty sure our little Honda two stroke isn’t going to take this boat anywhere. Not only do we have no engine, we have no steering because that was removed to get the engine out. (Wait, we DO have the emergency tiller, so there is that…) So I called Boat US, our insurance and towing service company. Their website makes it sound like they can assist you just about anywhere!
Except in Astoria. There is no one in Astoria. But they do have Coastal Towing in Ilwaco on their list. Ilwaco, for people who are not from this area, is across the river on the Washington side. Turns out Coastal Towing is run by the same Captain Bill that the Port of Astoria knew about. So I emailed him to get a bid. Seems crazy to get someone from all the way over in Ilwaco to come across to tow us literally about 1/2 mile. But whatever… we have to start somewhere. If Captain Bill comes in at hundreds of dollars, that dingy tow will start to look better and better. Hey, at least we have time on our side! And by the way, the mechanic didn’t know anyone either. He referred us to the port office and to a ‘shack’ down by the boat yard where there is a bulletin board.
Here’s a link to the Google Earth image of this area. See the letter A? Our boat is just to the right of that, third boat down, next to an empty slip. We need to tow it to Pier 3. We’re on Pier 1. So close and yet so far away. Perhaps we could harness some friendly sea lions? They are huge down here.
I guess the good news is that if the travel lift is broken for awhile, that gives us more time to work on the engine room. The engine will be delivered to the Port of Astoria, and we can’t leave it there, but we can have it loaded onto our little truck and bring it home if we have to. See? We’re learning to be flexible already! Your suggestions are welcome.