In the words of Eric Burdon, "We gotta get out of this place if its the last thing we ever do." The marina where Fir sits has been in some state of legal trouble for years. San Joaquin County, California has cited the marina operator for a variety of infractions. Eventually, this led to the lender foreclosing on the property. This plus a host of lesser disputes and accusations have been advancing slowly through the local courts.
Along the way, San Joaquin County decided that the "large ships" (Fir, Aurora, etc) are not permitted in the marina because they are not "pleasure crafts" This despite the fact that not only was the County notified in 2013 of the ship's arrival but, there are valid leases in place. Nobody seemed to care until years after the ships arrived.
Over the course of the last year, marina services have been curtailed while the docks were left to decay. Potable water, electricity, and waste removal services were stopped. The docks and piers are simply falling apart and drifting into the water as trash. #shiprestoration, #sanjoaquinmarina
Our current mooring is not all bad. We are 7 miles from a Lowes, Walmart, and mediocre restaurants where we shop and enjoy air conditioning. We are 12 miles from the Flying J Truck Stop where we can take a hot shower, laundry, and use the restroom (yes, we drive 30 minutes to use the restroom).
Lack of basic utilities has complicated our work. The inconveniences have forced us to extend the date we intended for Fir to travel to a shipyard. All in all, being here has been a net cost to our effort.
The issue reached a head over the past couple of weeks when the County and the lender reached an agreement that includes getting rid of the large ships. Unfortunately, those involved in the agreement do not appreciate what is required to responsibly, and legally, move ships around the delta.
The first problem is that our mooring system, designed by the previous marina operator, only works for ships on static display. Since Fir and Aurora are attached to the same mooring, one ship cannot leave the marina without causing problems for the other ships. This has prevented Fir from conducting a full test of the drive system. We have turned the screws over at idle, but are afraid that anymore revolutions may pull the piers from the mud. This also means that Fir must coordinate its departure with Aurora. There are solutions. However, it is unclear who should bear the cost and liability.
The second problem, is that two years of unusually heavy rain caused silt to accumulate at the mouth opening onto the Stockton shipping lane (less than a mile from our mooring). So, we may have problems reaching the shipping lane. Fir is designed to draw 11.5 feet but, we have been emptying her tanks and removing tons of unnecessary gear. We hope to get her closer to 9 feet before leaving. On the next trip we will start making more precise measurements. Additionally, we will need to remap the channel. This should help us navigate a path to the shipping lane.