Pope tried his hand at diesel mechanics last night.
But alas, the giant 25-pound wrench we hauled down to Hampton on Megabus was too big.
Just as well. Instead we got the opportunity to do a good deed.
We bailed out a desperately poor, and probably homeless, diesel mechanic in Hampton, Va, this morning, offering him the exclusive opportunity to fix our stuffing box (necessary for engine operation) in return for a generous non-tax-deductible contribution.
He drove away pleased as punch that he can now take his gal out for a four-course feast at the Hampton Crowne Plaza Friday night--one of the few dining establishments still functioning in that otherwise lifeless town. (We supped at the other one--Ventures--which wasn't half bad.)
We didn't get very far up Chesapeake Bay before we heard yet another cry of panic by a mechanic in the tiny villa of Matthews, Va, on Mobjack Bay, for funds to care for his chronically ill wife (or child's college education, take your pick).
We duly obliged, as we have for so many other mechanics on the western shore of the Atlantic, both in the US and Bahamas. We are suckers for the soft touch. And I am always pleased to relieve Pope of the considerable responsibility of keeping the boat running.
Thus we are holed up at anchor in the East River on Mobjack Bay, north of York River and south of Rappahanock River, waiting for the desperately pleading and cajoling mechanic to visit us by skiff at 8 am to collect our charitable contribution and oh, by the way, examine an overheated impeller.
If time and patience allow, we are hoping maybe he will also oblige us (and acknowledge our considerable generosity) by explaining to we ignorant novice diesel operators why we were unable to achieve speeds greater than 2.5 knots today and saw unburned diesel being expelled from our exhaust.
Having succumbed to these two desperate pleas for charity, we travelled only about 20 miles today and have given up all hope of reaching Deltaville, let alone Solomon's where our friends on S/V Pearl have stopped over, before winter sets in. Our home base, Holiday Hill Marina in Edgewater, Md, is just a distant fantasy.
I called this blog post "Mechanics-ville" because it feels to me like we have been on a months-long tour of a very big boat repair facility the size of a large metropolitan area (about 1,500 miles long to be exact).
Pope insists I should be more forthright and admit that we actually signed up for the "Mechanics Tour of Atlantic Coastal Waters" in preparation for publishing a compendium of reviews of every mechanic on the east coast. Sort of like the mariner's "Angie's List."
I was hesitant to reveal our plans to make a million dollars on a best-seller, but there you are: the secret is out.