Southern Crosses

Vessel Name: AbbyGale
18 October 2009 | Florida
Recent Blog Posts

eMarine Systems

18 October 2009 | Florida

I wonder when it actually changed. I don't believe it happened overnight but surreptitiously crept in while we were all sleeping and the Internet was being invented.

For those of you not old enough to remember, we used to have something called "Customer Service." This was a grand thing. You would walk into a store and pay money, thus walking out of the store with your item. If it didn't work when you got home and tried to use it, you would simply take it back to the store.

The person standing at the store would exchange it for one that did work, or make some arrangement with you to ensure that you became a 'happy customer.'

This procedure was done so you would tell all your friends and they would tell their friends and everyone would want to shop in your store. The next thing you know there you are, a major force on the stock market making a zillion dollars with a helicopter on a mega-yacht.

Today is apparently much different. I have the magic of the Internet, heck, I'm using that magic right now.

The set up: There we were, sitting at anchor 2 am, sound asleep in the aft cabin gently rocking with the slow rhythmical ripples in the bay.

When you live on a boat your senses get tuned into it pretty quickly. A different odor (like a melting circuit breaker) or the way the boat rocks will wake you up. This time it was the shifting of the boat with the waves. I could feel the difference as we came around the anchor chain. I also could hear the wind generator winding up. You can pretty accurately guess the wind speed by the pitch of the generator.

Living on shore has several advantages. One of them is that when you go to bed at night, you can be fairly certain that your house will be in the same spot when you wake up.

Sailing is different. I have been suddenly awakened in the wee hours to discover that we were not in the same place. This is a process called 'dragging the anchor', which can have catastrophic results.

Anyhow, when you hear an increasing wind and feel it shifting your anchoring position, it gives you cause to wander the weather decks up top. This task has you wearing whatever you happen to be wearing, or not, to check the anchor.

Taking time to get properly attired is directly proportionate to where you are anchored. In a brightly lit anchorage with lots of other boats around you, well I probably want to layer clothing so as not to terrify anyone who may be up checking their anchor as well.

Lonely anchorages, well, you get the idea.

The wind had shifted and we were resting a bit differently on the hook. It's time to wander the decks and check that we are secured as the goal is to wake up in generally the same spot we went to sleep in.

As I passed my new solar panel charge controller installation that I'm so darn proud of, I notice a slight problem. I'm low on battery power. Strange... with the wind up and having had the sun exchange rays for electrons all day, my battery bank should be much higher.

The power panel, solar and battery voltage
The power panel, solar and battery voltage

The wind generator should be making surplus power at this point as the only thing running is the 12 volt reefer.

You know you are a boater when...

It's 3am and I'm lying on the cabin sole (the floor) with the aft hatch to the engine room propped open. My head is buried into the engine compartment with my unpleasant side protruding in awkward positions holding me in place as the boat rocks at anchor.

Like a surgeon I simply reach behind me and say, "Alligator clips," as they get slapped into my hand by my able assistant and ship's Admiral.

"Multi-meter," I request.

"Long Phillip's head screw driver," was next on the list.

"Knife," is requested to cut open the wire insulation.

"Band-aid." (self explanatory)

Aft engine compartment hatch
Aft engine compartment hatch

Hummm... the wind generator is producing 12.9 volts going into the charge controller, but nothing is going out. I suspect that the charge controller is not doing its job having passed away sometime after I installed the solar panel.

That is life on a boat. Here we are at the famous juncture of, 'if it's not one thing' then this must be, 'the other.'

Secure in the knowledge that the anchor is firmly holding we head back to bed. The sun will be up in a few hours and we will once again convert solar energy into battery voltage.

The morning cup of coffee is enjoyed while ordering the necessary part, hence the eMarine reference. I check the calendar and after giving it some thought, I choose the 3-day shipping option, and electronically pay for it. Fast as lightning, they have my money. I figure that if I give it 3-5 days from ordering, I should be in the same place as the part when it arrives after a 50 or so mile drive to get there. We will go ashore for a couple of days and take care of other business as well. So ends day 1.

Day 4. We are sitting ashore anxiously waiting for the part. As soon as it arrives we can return to the boat, effect the repair, and continue on our journey. The part should be here any minute now.

In place of the part (on day4) I received the following email:

The broken regulator, buried deep in the engine room
The broken regulator, buried deep in the engine room


We received your order for a HRSi Controller.

We are currently out of town at the Annapolis Boat Show.

We can ship that out to you as soon as we get back. (Middle of next week)Sorry for the delays -


Dang it... I didn't see anything on the webpage about delays in orders. Looking at the calendar it would appear that my part will get shipped sometime around 7-8 days after ordering. The webpage has a scrolling banner on it about the Annapolis Boat Show, but NOTHING about any shipping delays. Adding in 3 more days of travel time- and my original 3 day select shipping order turns into 11+ days. I've already paid with PayPal, so canceling the order and restarting is way too time consuming at this point. Let's hope for a speedy arrival of the part.

Now I have to figure out where I might be when they decide to actually send my part.

Day 6. I hear from the company again after sending another email to them asking if they would overnight it when they ship it, or still send it via the 3-day route, here is the reply;

Middle of the week, so it should ship out Wednesday or Thursday. Let us know the address you would like this shipped to -


We work on the schedule and make necessary adjustments to try to get us in the same place as the part on the same day. The calendar shows Jeremy's estimate of the middle of next week as day 9. I send the address of a municipal marina on the west coast of Florida and we start traveling again.

Day 9. I send them the address of the marina and get this reply;

Ok Larry. We will ship it to your new address. I just got back in the office, so that will go out tomorrow, and you should be able to receive Friday. Tracking will be sent to your e-mail.


Day 11. No part, no tracking number. I send the following email;

Good morning,

It's Friday. I've not received a tracking number. Has the part been sent yet? (It was supposed to have arrived again today)

I receive the following;

Its shipping out today. tracking will be sent by e-mail from UPS once it ships.

My reply;

So I understand I'll not receive it on Friday (today) as you advised.


Apparently I've offended Jeremy with my comments as his next email states;

Look - I've tried to work with you. I just got back into town with hundreds of things to do and demands from several customers over the past two weeks. Unfortunately you need a controller, and are not at a stationary location which is your problem. I am trying to accomodate to your needs and I am doing everything I can to catch up. Your 1 controller going out today is a part of catching up. Todays shipments are the first going out since returning. Tracking # will be sent to you, which you should receive the controller Monday.

The silent tied down blades of the wind generator
The silent tied down blades of the wind generator

I'm looking forward to receiving the controller on day 14 or 15. It would also appear that our moving about is my problem, which it is and I'm not sure how, a factor in actually shipping the part out. I've been enlightened to discover that it is actually I who is being less than accommodating in this transaction. It also appears that there are additional customers with 'demands.'

When a company takes care of nickels and dimes, dollars will surely follow.

Okay then, we are back to traveling and changing plans. I suppose that I'll just have to settle back with a refreshing beverage while I continue to wait for my part. I'll spend this time contemplating on why eMarine kept my payment for the 3 day shipping and wonder at the logic of how poorly they treated my nickels and dimes with a lack of customer service.

After all, I may know people with dollars...
Gallery Error: Unknown Album [1:]:9174
AbbyGale's Photos -

About & Links