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September 11, 2017 Boat, Boat Buying, Chesapeake Bay, Florida, Rates, Reviews, Sailboat, Sailing, Texas, Trip Advisor, Tugboat, US Coast Guard, Williamsburg, York River

Salvage After Storm

Salvage After Storm
With the threat of Hurricane Irma looming and amid a bevy of oil tankers that showed up in the York River, we went sailing on a bright and beautiful day with two delightful couples.
Julio Pons and his wife took their friends Steve and Bridgette Perry sailing so they could appreciate Julio’s passion of sailing.
Salvage After Storm“I’m in the US Coast Guard Reserve and I have my captain’s license, but I’m about to lose it for lack of time on the water. Years ago when we lived in Florida, I salvaged a 27-foot Hunter that sunk in a storm at a marina. The man who owned it won the lottery and then died suddenly.”
I had to take a moment to process that. “The marina owner said I could have the boat if I could raise it up. He even waived the slip fees. All I had to do was pay $600 for the survey to gain the title. I got it up and tried to fix the 2 horsepower diesel, but it was ruined.
“Then I found a used 10 horsepower Yanmar and the guy who helped install it was a former football player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I went off to get the hoist to install the engine. When I got back, he held it up in his arms and smiled to say, ‘Where do you want it?’ It weighed 250 pounds.”
Salvage After StormJulio switched gears. “I have to renew my Coast Guard license because the five-year period is up, but I’ll have to get waivers for the lost time. That’s an extension to gain time on the water. I work in Search & Rescue for the Coast Guard and travel all over the world, but I didn’t get enough time on the water while in the Reserves.”
That helped explain the sailboat. “I went down to the marina every week to run the engine but didn’t get out much. After three years I was reassigned by my work with Verizon to Texas. By now the marina owner had fallen on hard times. I turned over the boat to him to help pay the slip fees for all those years. It seemed only fair.”
Salvage After StormWith whitecaps appearing as the wind picked up. It seemed only fair to let Julio run the helm all day. He loved it and quickly adapted from a tiller on the H-27. Eventually he took Gerrly up on the bow for some privacy. We sailed fore and aft among five barges anchored outside the main shipping channel. They were a half-mile apart to allow plenty of swing room in a storm.
Salvage After StormWe got close enough to one of the tugs that lay snug in a barge. I gave Juilio’s friend Steve the binoculars to read the name of the tug on the stern. He said it was Bluffin. That sounded esoteric for a tug, but okay.
I radioed on Channel 16, “Tugboat Bluffin anchored in the York River, this is the sailboat Deadline on your aft quarter.” No response, so I repeated the call but this time on Channel 13. I called twice. Eventually he responded with one word.
“Bluefin,” he said coldly. I turned to Steve and glared. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, I went to school in Texas and they didn’t teach me to read.”
Salvage After StormI thought the barges contained gasoline that they picked up at the York Oil Terminal through the Colonial Pipeline. The captain of Bluefin reported instead that the barges were en route from New York to New Orleans when they ducked into the Chesapeake Bay to ride out Irma. “We have ballast, not gas,” he concluded.
The next day with another group, I contacted Bluefin again to ask, “If the ballast is water, I hope it doesn’t get mixed later with oil.” This time the captain was more cheerful since I didn’t call him Bluffin.
Salvage After Storm“The water is stored in horizontal tanks that lie below the oil storage. The water also flows to tanks on each side of the barge.” I asked if that leaves much room for oil. “We’ve got capacity for 70,000 barrels,” he replied. I wished him well riding out the hurricane, which by now was forecast to veer west and bypass Virginia altogether. He wished me well too. We sailed up the York River in perfect 12 mph winds. There was no need to salvage after this storm.

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