Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heading south in two days

The time is just about upon us. June arrives back from China tomorrow and I have a car rented to pick her up at JFK. On the way back we will do a major shopping expedition since it is not clear when the next opportunity might be. We could borrow a car in Jersey City but would prefer to spend the time visiting with friends. Besides, the supermarket here is much nicer.

Our schedule is to make haste to Annapolis for the "Gam" of the Seven Seas Cruising Association. If you picture a convention for cruisers you will get the right idea. They are expecting about 300 people and there will be seminars on useful topic (haven't had a PD Day in a long time!) along with a variety of social events. Chances are good that we will meet people that we will encounter in the Caribbean in the winter. After the Gam we will cruise the Chesapeake (apparently lovely in the fall) and visit the Annapolis boat show (apparently the largest sailboat show in the world). We also will visit Washington DC. This is quite doable by boat by all accounts. The last week in October we will head up to Toronto to meet friends and family, visit a couple of doctors (yea, for the Canadian health care system). Also I have a preliminary meeting about a revision of our Canadian geography textbook.

We have enjoyed our time in Noank; it is very nice place and the staff at Spicer's Marina have been terrific. It has been expensive though. Our generator (a 3 cylinder diesel producing 110V AC) needed to rebuilt and this proved to be quite expensive as the cylinders had to be replaced the valves and head redone. The problem was two-fold - lack of use (it had less than 300 hours in something like 10 years, along with fuel that was not clean enough. Both fuel tanks are clean now and do not any water (another bad no-no) and we have strict instructions to use the genset every week and to put a heavy load on it - diesels gum up at low speeds.

We also replaced the headstay and furler. This was the only requirement from the rigging survey we had to get for the insurance company. There was some damage to the top of the stay (would have been ok for coastal sailing) and the furler was very old - the bearings needed very frequent lubrication and even then were not too free. We decided to get a Schaeffer 3100 over a Harken, even though it was about $1000 more. Both have fine reputations although the the Schaeffer might be a bit better. The big advantage was that the Schaeffer is spec'd for boats from 41 to 55 so it is of ample size for our boat which is quite heavy hence has large sails and will be sailed in conditions not of our choosing. The Harken was for boats only to 46' and the next size unit did not fit (and probably would have cost something like the Schaeffer). The picture shows the new unit with the drum of the old one next to it. It is easy to see that it is much bigger and should be much easier to furl when the wind is blowing.
And as they say, time for something different. I really like Americans. They seem to be much friendlier (less reserved) than Canadians. This is one reason why I am very concerned by what I am seeing happening in this country. Not sure how attention is being paid in Canada to things like Tea Party group, the 'birthers', Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck, Joe Wilson ("You lie!"). The US is so profoundly polarized that it is quite scary. After Wilson's outburst in Congress, he received $1 million in campaign contributions in 48 hours. His Democratic opponent next year received almost as much. The head of the Tea Party group was on CNN defending his statement that Obama was an "Indonesian Muslim" - and many of the people in his group are much more extreme than he is. A black kid beat up a white kid on school bus somewhere and within hours security video was all over the internet along with much opinion that this was racial (all the black kids on the bus cheered - having been around a number of teen fights I can assure you that all of the kids will all yell!) rather than what happens with teenagers, in this case the black kid did not like the white sitting in 'his' seat and lacked the maturity and social skills to figure out a better way to handle the situation. Rush Limbaugh said that this is what will increasingly happen in Obama's America.
I think that the President has done his best to find a middle ground on health care reform but without success. The Dems have watered down their plans greatly (eg no public option) to try to get bi-partisan support but there is no suggestion that any Republican senators will vote for it. What makes this situation worse is that each side is so absolutely sure that it is right (perhaps I should say 'correct') and that the other side is/are ______________ [put the derogatory term of choice in the space provided] that no one seems interested in finding an accomodation. And this is all happening at a time when the US is facing enormous problems, an economy that is not responding very quickly, climate change policy to make, and the huge problem of health care reform.
OK, next time back to sailing.