November 20, 2010
I believe most boaters generally feel as though they are at the mercy of yacht yards and marinas, and that they always overpay for most goods and services associated with boat ownership and operations. It is not unusual to read of such dissatisfaction in boat related magazines and web sites. Every now and then however, someone in the marine industry goes above and beyond that which is reasonably expected of someone in any business. When that happens I believe we should make that known as well.
In my recent case, that someone was one Peter Sabo, President and owner of the Camanchee Yacht Yard located at 3070 Harbor Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32084. The yacht yard is associated with the full service Camanchee Yacht Harbor Marina. Both are just off the ICW and just 2 miles from down town St. Augustine.
Our story began on the evening of Saturday, October 30, 2010 at around 1800 hrs. Cheryl, the admiral, and wife of the captain, was below preparing dinner. I was lounging in the cockpit with an adult beverage. That is when I heard “Why won’t the stove stay lit?” Well, in the interest of brevity, it was determined rather quickly that the electric solenoid controlling the propane was defunct.
That was certainly an inconvenience, but did not seem to be a big problem as we would simply delay our departure one day and go to the local West Marine to pick up a solenoid in the morning. I called West Marine first thing Sunday morning to ensure they had the item in stock. Well, “no, we don’t have that item in stock, but I can get one from the warehouse in California and have it here on Wednesday” was the reply.
We had been underway, from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts toward home, in Burnt Store Marina, Punta Gorda, Florida, since July. By now we had very itchy feet, and did not relish a delay of three or four days. Based on the advice of another cruiser, I placed a call to the Camanchee Yacht Yard in hopes they might have a solenoid in stock. I heard the fully expected voice recording to “leave a message and we will return your call ASAP”. I was not the least bit surprised, after all, it was Sunday. I didn’t bother to leave a message, as I needed this part today.
I decided I could by-pass the solenoid with a simple pipe coupling then turn the gas bottle on and off the old fashion way. While I was on the phone, locating a hardware store, another incoming call went to voice mail. Cheryl retrieved the voice mail and told me it was from a fellow named Peter Sabo, from Comanche Yacht Yard and Marina, and that he was apologizing for not getting to the phone in time and missing the call. Huh? It’s Sunday.
I called Mr. Sabo right back. He again apologized for missing the call. I explained I just took a chance and really hadn’t expected anyone to be in the office on a Sunday. He explained he was not in the office, but at home doing yard work, and, that he has the calls forwarded to his cell phone. I apologized for disturbing him on a Sunday, at home. He assured me it was no problem, explaining he owns the Comanche Yacht Yard, and “how can I help you”? My, oh my. I apologized again further explaining, with some embarrassment, that I was not even staying at his marina. He said cheerfully “that’s OK, how can I help you”?
I explained my dilemma. He was certain he did not have a solenoid in stock. He agreed that my idea to bypass the solenoid would work as a temporary fix. He thought he might have just what I needed. He then explained he was just on his way to Home Depot, would stop by his shop on the way, and then swing by the city marina to deliver the part. If he did not have the part I needed in the shop, he would pick one up at Home Depot. He just asked for some time as he had been working in the garden. I was in total disbelief, but very grateful, for his most generous offer. We agreed to meet ashore in an hour or so.
As promised Peter Sabo arrived at the city marina with the piece I needed. The price marked on the piece was $4.95. As I pulled some cash from my pocket, he apologized for not having any change for my five-dollar bill. Obviously, I said that’s no problem. He then refused, very much to my disappointment, to accept any further monetary expressions of my gratitude for his extraordinary customer service to a non-customer.
Needless to say both Cheryl and I thanked him profusely. He appeared genuinely happy just to have been able to help us out. Needless to say, the next time I pass through St. Augustine, I will stay at the Comanche Yacht Yard and Marina. Simply based on our experience with Mr. Sabo, the Camanchee Yacht Yard and Marina must be a top-notch operation and I would highly recommend it to anyone else.
Gordon & Cheryl Fogg aboard S/V Foggy Notion
Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor
Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor