Paperwork and Water Pumps

DSC00551It’s July and we haven’t been sailing—have not even been out on our boat—since November when we took Moon up to Riverside to have her pulled and placed on the hard. Sailing is what we do, what we’ve done together for going on nine years. We are chompin’ at the bit to get out there, but…

Before we can take Gratitude out on the water, we need two things: to be legal and have a running engine.

Over the last few weeks, when we said we were getting the boat ready, what we really meant was we were working on solving these two problems. While Peter talked to boatyard men about engine parts for our new-to-us Yanmar, I talked to a few fools and shysters who knew even less than I did about how to process boat paperwork. We wanted to be able to take Gratitude out for the renaming ceremony, but that was looking less and less likely as we were consumed with these two challenges.

At each and every step we are reminded of our friend. One of our last conversations with Russ about the boat was relating an engine problem. Peter had been trying to get the engine started so that a couple who were potential buyers (henceforth known as Frick & Frack) could come take the boat out sailing in February (yes, February when our whole marina world froze solid and broke apart). Peter, with Al’s help, had the engine working and then the water pump just went kaput. Talking to Russ at that point was not easy for him, but with help we were able to hear that he liked Peter’s strategy of a “bubble gum duct tape” approach. In the end, Frick & Frack lost interest in looking at the sailboat and by spring, Russ was gone.

In the weeks after we bought Russ’s boat, Peter worked on the water pump issue. He discovered it was the shaft that was leaking and talked to a few guys here at the marina, and then a friend who has a metal shop, and finally a guy up at Riverside, where Moon is on the hard, and which also happens to be a Yanmar dealer. The advice was not to bother with the individual small parts, but to order a whole new pump shipped from Japan for $800! After this informative, but disappointing process, Peter was messing about on Gratitude again and a little voice he describes as Russ’s said, “Look, dumb ass, look over there in that locker.” And there Peter found a Yanmar catalog with the parts for the water pump circled and Russ’s hand-written notes pricing the parts Peter had been looking at…along with something else in the container wrapped up…it was a spare shaft! Albeit a used one, but one that will work for the time being. And Peter now has a thorough understanding of that engine. Priceless.

As details shifted into place for the renaming ceremony, I continued my quest for the holy grail of boating legally in Pennsylvania waters: the registration stickers. In PA, when you buy a boat, most notaries expect you to provide the bill of sale and the title. Because Crash Pad was a Coast Guard documented vessel, there is no state-issued title—no title at all actually, which flummoxes everyone at least in Philadelphia where this is somewhat rare. We’d faced the same issues when we brought Moon down from New York. The Coast Guard Documentation is an optional extra, but we like it because it means the paperwork is internationally recognized. We went back to the same notary where we’ve done most of our boat paperwork over the years and found out that Maryann, the expert in boat registration, no longer worked there. No one else there really understood the process. Great. I called around and made inquiries, the deal breaker each time was when I heard, “A Coast Guard what?” (As I write this the Coast Guard boat William Yate passes by my kitchen window.) Finally, we find a notary who at least knows some of the right buzz words. We drive to South Philly to get the job done. The fact that we have to be buzzed in the door like some kind of questionable pawn shop rather than a place to sign forms and pay state taxes and that there are three cubic zirconia studs in his ear, should have told me this was not our guy, but I sit down and pull out all the paper work we’d discussed over the phone. He then tells me that he did a little more research and we’d need more paperwork because the previous owner is deceased. Great. How to ask Russ’s family for one more thing? How to be sure there wouldn’t be another piece of paperwork after we got that one?

Alas, we gave up on the idea of a renaming ceremony on the water and decided that a dockside ceremony would work just as well.

In the meantime, I gave up on notaries and started talking directly to the PA Fish & Boat Commission. After determining precisely what we’d need, we reached out to Russ’s family and yet again they came through and swiftly mailed off the documents. Rather than wait the 8-12 weeks, we decided to drive up to Harrisburg to visit the Fish & Boat headquarters. We drove up on Friday afternoon and arrived at 3:15 giving us 45 minutes to file our forms. And guess what? There was yet another form they wanted signed by the seller. Really? But in the end, one of the several people I’d spoken with over the phone came out to the reception desk and sort of waved her hand and made it all alright. WOW…so glad we went. The PA Fish & Boat folks are such nice people and they don’t charge $70 to file a piece of paper! AND we walked out with the stickers high fiving and then hugging each other. I feel like I learned so much about the paperwork process that by the end of it all… They actually asked me if I want to be one of their issuing agents! Maybe next year…

All we need now is the vinyl lettering and we’ll be applying stickers and going sailing! Yay!


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