Sunday, July 6, 2014

411 Walnut Street

No door-to-door postal service here

Mail can be an issue for cruisers.  Sometimes you can talk a family member into handling it for you, but usually it is a real pain for them and they are not very efficient at it.  For a while we used our son’s mailing address, but whenever he forwarded items he wanted a Chipotle burrito in return.

After a lot of burritos, we decided to go with a professional service, St. Brendan’s Isle, which many cruisers, RVers, long haul truckers, and merchant marines use.  So many cruisers use their service that in Spanish Wells, Bahamas, the dock master commented, “A lot of you live at that same address.”  We have found them to be very efficient and probably less expensive than buying burritos.

When your mail arrives at St. Brendan’s Isle, they send you notification by email and you are able to see the front of the envelope.  Simply by clicking a button, you decide whether you want them to hold the item, scan the contents, or shred it.  For example I had them scan the contents of the Verizon mail above only to learn that Verizon had mailed confirmation that I elected paperless billing.  I had St Brendan’s Isle then shred the document.

Usually we have them forward mail to a marina we know we will be visiting, but because we knew we would be in the area, we decided to visit the place many cruisers call home.

Cruisers, your home has an aquarium!
(with a very goofy looking fish)

Actually, St. Brendan’s Isle outgrew their original location at 411 Walnut Street, Green Cove Springs, FL.  They are now located in a strip mall, but managed to hold on to the original address.

What started out in 1988 as a former cruiser helping out some cruising friends with their mail has grown into an operation that services close to 6,000 clients and employees several workers.

The current owners bought the operation in 1999 and have expanded the client base as well as the services offered.

Manager Scott Loehr

Besides being convenient and dependable, St. Brendan’s Isle has always provided us with friendly service.  Our drop-in visit was no different.  Although they seemed very busy, they took the time to answer all of our questions and show us around their spotless facility.

Our mail box, number 6472, is located at the front of the facility center aisle.

Most importantly, Pollie was able to pick up her new 12 string guitar that she had been patiently waiting for.

For more information about St. Brendan’s Isle Mail Service
click on their banner ad to the left.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dinghy Davit

In my March 30, 2014 blog posting titled, A Tale of Woe, I blasted the manufacturer of Motivator’s dinghy davit, UMT Marine, for poor customer service.  To recap, when we began having problems with the davit, I contacted UMT asking for an owner’s manual and advice.  Mostly what I received was brushoffs, or bad advice and never an owner’s manual for the unit.  Eventually, this lack of customer service cost me over $1,000 for repairs and a lot of frustration that could have been prevented.

Old electric winch with gas struts with plastic ends on right

When we had the electric winch replaced in Puerto Rico, Jose Luis Martinez of Martinez Marine Services noted that the gas struts that assist lifting the arm were looking a little tired and should be replaced.  He also said that UMT had gone to a stronger replacement and I should consider contacting them for information about replacement units.

New gas strut on top, old bent unit with plastic ends broken off at bottom

As predicted, the gas struts soon failed for the third time.  Once again, I contacted UMT and once again all I got was a run-around.  So, I contacted their supplier for information about modifying the davit to accept upgraded struts.  When I did, I copied in UMT Marine which prompted an exchange of “snarky” emails between me and UMT sales staff.

John Rossi, Operations Manager, UMT Marine on left, and Boghra, UMT technician on right

At this point I considered my relationship with UMT Marine to be permanently severed.  Then John Rossi entered the picture.  John was recently hired by UMT as the Operations Manager.  He pulled my previous emails to UMT and agreed with me that the customer service I had received had been less than stellar.  John then immediately reached out to assure me that he was committed to turning around my perception of UMT’s customer service. 

With a UMT technician, tools, and spare parts, John drove from Fort Lauderdale to St. Augustine, Florida to install new gas struts and inspect the davit.  In all, they spent over 8 hours servicing my 10 year-old dinghy davit. 

 One of the questions I had previously asked when I called UMT was about the feasibility of replacing the stainless steel cable with spectra rope.  John also brought along a 40’ section of spectra with a stainless steel carbineer spliced onto the end that he installed.  We no longer have the cable pops that have a tendency to wake up the entire anchorage early in the morning and the whole unit works much smoother.


They also properly lubricated the mounting post, making pivoting the dinghy in position over the cradle much easier.  Their efforts have restored our confidence in the UMT Marine’s dinghy davit.  With John Rossi now at the UMT helm, my confidence in receiving stellar customer service from UMT Marine has also been restored.