I’m really trying to keep my tone positive on this blog. We’re on an awesome adventure, and I really am loving it. However, you do need to know the whole story, and, if you’re planning a trip of your own, you need to know which places to skip.
Alpena just might be one of them.
The town is fun. There are some great places to visit. There is a certain old-school charm that you have to love. A real theatre, a beer garden, a walkable downtown.
However, we’ll go there by car next time.
We actually weren’t even planning on stopping in Alpena. We were on our way to Presque Isle, when we noticed we were running low on fuel. It was a very rough day, and we didn’t want to be stranded. So we made for Alpena, even though it would add an hour or two to our day’s journey.
When we got there, we took their last gallon of gas. The dockhand made a phone call and assured us that the gas would be there within the hour. It wasn’t, so we got a slip.
After sight seeing, we decided to check on the gas. The dockhouse was empty. Were they closed? Every public marina we have been to has had an older harbor master in the dock house, with many college-aged dockhands helping out. Eventually, we saw one dockhand return, and he told us that the gas had not arrived.
In the morning, nobody was there. As I left for my shower, I passed a dockhand, arriving on a golf cart. So I asked again. No gas. He would go find out when it was scheduled to arrive. Off he drove.
I used my key (a $5 deposit on it!) to get into the less-than-clean boaters’ bathroom and shower. My cold shower would last about 2 minutes before I needed to push the button again to restart it. After about 3 pushes, it did get warm enough to enter. After my shower, I headed to the boaters’ lounge for a cup of coffee. My key would not open the door. I meandered back to Moonraker, past the empty dock house.
Three hours passed with no signs of life in the dock house. Presque Isle was a 6 hour sail, and my parents would be picking us up that day. If we didn’t leave by 11:00, we wouldn’t be able to go. At 11:00, Rob saw the dock hand. He followed him to a boat that was being launched, and asked about the gas. Nope.
12:00. A sign of life in the dock house. It’s the same kid. Rob asks. No, the gas has not been delivered for today. However, 150 gallons were dropped off last night. Grrr.
It’s too late for Presque Isle, but we didn’t want to be stranded after we came back. So, off to the gas dock we go. I stand on the bow and throw the dock hand a line. He secures it to a post at the END of the dock. Hmmm…
Well, at least our gel coat isn’t in good shape, so it didn’t leave a mark when we crashed into the dock.
Now it’s time to fill the gas tank. This kid is really struggling. Every gallon or so, he spills gas onto our boat. No sign of a harbor master. We tell him to stop at 10 gallons. That’s enough to get us to Presque Isle, where we can fill up.
Here’s the kicker. I went into the dock house and handed over $195. Yup. We had to leave for the weekend, so that meant that they got 5 nights worth of slip fees from us. And if they had told us about the gas earlier, that wouldn’t have happened. Hmmm….
So, my parents are on their way to pick us up. I’m heading out to the parking lot, so I can find them. There is this “Brown Trout Festival” going on, just past the marina’s parking lot. I get stopped by a security guard, who inquires about the iced tea I’m drinking. No, I’m not wandering around town drinking wine…
I ask her about parking. She points to a far away lot, near the yacht club. There’s no way my parents will find that. I direct them to Save a Lot, which is about 2 blocks away. Remember, the amount of money I paid two paragraphs ago. Grrrr.
One more security guard stops me before I get to the parking lot. Yeah, we boaters are nothing but hoodlums. I meet my parents, and we return to the boat. Luckily, the security guards decide not to stop us when we haul a marina cart 2 blocks, to Save a Lot. Rob probably would have bitten their heads off. My arms were a little sore from carrying our unhappy cat.
When we returned yesterday, we were dismayed to see that the Festival was still going on. We decided we were going to the marina parking lot, no matter what. When the security guard stopped us, Rob–in true Obi Wan Kanobe fashion–said, “We are going to our boat.” And she let us through! Ok…
So this is a marina that clearly caters to fishers more than pleasure boaters. Which is fine. But it might be a good place for a pleasure boater to skip.