Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The divided nation.

There has been much talk in the last few years about our divided nation and equally as much assigning of blame for the divisions or failure to heal them.

I think the division is not the responsibility of Obama, or Trump, or any other politician, but technology.

Not very long ago, our sources of information were somewhat limited.  There were three major networks to choose from and one or two newspapers depending on where you lived.  For the most part, the majority of people in the U.S. got their news from the same sources and these sources usually reported the same facts in varying amounts of detail.

Generally, major news outlets broadcast news and very little opinion on the 5 o'clock news.  Newspapers also printed mostly news, except for one page clearly labeled "Opinion."

Then came a cable news network.  It takes a lot of news to fill 24 hours and really, not that much is going on of national importance.  Why not fill that extra time with opinions?

Next came other cable news networks and the quest for ratings and advertising revenue.

With more than one news network, each network could be tailored to target a particular audience, an important element of marketing and advertising, creating entire news networks that focus on one target audience and as such give the appearance of being politically biased (Don't believe me? Compare commercials on Fox News and MSNBC.)

Opinion is always more entertaining than news.  People like someone giving an opinion that they share.  They don't like opinions that they don't share.  People like opinions more than facts, even opinions that aren't based on facts.  It's much easier to form an opinion by listening to someone else's opinion than compiling facts and forming your own.  That begins the rise of Bill O'Reilly and Rachel Maddow.

Enter the Internet.  More and more people get their news from the Internet.  Now there are not only two or three sides to choose from, but thousands.  You can find sources of "news" and opinion that fit exactly with your way of thinking, facts be damned.

In fact, you can can find sources of information that support your opinion and tell you why all other opinions are wrong.

We are no longer all getting the same set of facts and forming reasonable opinions based on those facts.  Instead, we are fed custom streams of information that support our beliefs and shun competing beliefs, creating huge divisions.

If that's the case, what's the fix?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lists, lists, lists...

I was planning on visiting the new boat today to take care of some things, but alas the weather was uncooperative this weekend.

I'll try again next week, but in the meantime, here is a list of things I need to get done on the boat before it is launched in the Spring.


  • Sort out a place to mount the new Garmin Plotter/Fishfinder I bought.  Also need to figure out how I'm going to mount the transducer.
  • Replace rubber foot on the swim ladder.  It is missing one so I bought a pack of replacements the other day.
  • Torque the keel bolts.  Still thinking about this one.  Some people say it's better to do this when the boat is in the water, others say out of the water.  Either way, removing and inspecting the bolts followed by torquing sounds like a good idea.
  • Measure lockers and storage spaces for future purchase of boxes/baskets to store things.
  • Look at light fixtures and consider upgrading to LED lights.
  • Measure sink to make a cutting board that sits on the sink.  Also bring the cutting board on the alcohol stove home to refinish.
  • Measure shroud distances for possible pin rail.  I'm considering making one or two belaying pin rails because I like the look of them and I could easily turn that on the lathe.
  • Inventory all of the maintenance items on the boat (spare parts, oils, greases, etc.) to see what I need to buy.


It looks like the weather next weekend will be much improved.  Expect to see another blog post soon afterward!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

One year later...

Sad!  Every time I get on here and tell myself I'm going to write more... I don't!  I'm sure I've said it before (and I bet there's a post here to prove it), but this year I'm going to write more.  The best thing I could think of to write about was my boat.  So, I looked at this blog and the last thing I posted was a boat story, almost one year ago!
C22 "Poliwhirl" on the trailer, ready to be sold.
Well, that boat is gone.  It was a Catalina 22 I purchased in the Summer of 2015 and sailed throughout the 2016 season.  I kept it in a marina off the Chesapeake Bay in Middle River.  I got quite a lot of use out of it and spent up to a solid week at one time staying on the boat.  Spending a solid week on a 22' boat makes you realize some things.  First thing being, you need a bigger boat.

And thus it happened.  The plan was to buy a "bigger boat," something in the 30' range.  I pulled the C22 out of the water in November 2016 and put it on the trailer.  I planned to start seriously looking in Spring 2017.  But since I had the time, I figured I'd check out a nearby boat dealer that specialized in used boats in the 30' range and within my budget.

The "new" boat, P28-2.
First trip to the dealer in November, I came across a very good condition, 1985 Pearson 28-2 at an OK price.  It was slightly more expensive than I wanted but worth every penny and the perfect boat for what I needed.  I couldn't wait until the spring so I went ahead and bought it right then.

This P28-2 had newer sails, solid fiberglass all around, well-maintained engine and all systems in great condition.  At 28', it was slightly smaller than I wanted but the cabin layout more than made up for the length.  It has a non-traditional v-berth/head layout.  Boats of this size usually have the v-berth as a compartment at the fore part of the boat, separated from the main cabin or saloon area by the head and hanging locker.

Pearson 28-2 Interior, looking forward.
The P28-2 has a different layout that uses a more open v-berth, separated by curtains from the saloon, and the head is in the starboard aft quarter of the boat.  This leaves the port aft area as a quarter berth that is fully enclosed from the saloon with a door.  It seemed to give the shorter boat more space below but still with enough separation to provide some privacy.

Buying the P28-2 left me the owner of two boats at the same time.  I quickly threw the C22 up on Craigslist and after a couple of bites, a nice couple from Pennsylvania came down to buy her.
P28-2 interior, looking aft, slightly messy from cleaning.

The P28-2 is now on the hard at the marina where I purchased her.  I plan to launch her in late February/early March and sail her up to my marina in Middle River where I am still maintaining a slip.  The boat is in sail-away condition but there a few things I want to do before launch.  My wife wants to change the name.  I bought a small chartplotter that I need to mount.  I want to do some maintenance things like greasing the seacocks and changing the prop shaft zinc, and as anyone who has ever owned a boat knows, the list goes on.

I am really excited to have the new boat and can't wait until it's warm enough to get it in the water.  As I always say, but rarely do, I'll be back here for frequent updates!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Boat Updates!

The picture to the left is the view from my new home away from home.  It's been awhile since my last post so here's a summary.

We took the boat out into Deep Creek Lake a couple of times.  DCL has a size limit of 25' for boats.  Ours is 22', so it was one of the bigger boats out there, definitely the biggest sailboat.

We sailed it around for a bit and that was fun, but there were a few things that were pains in the butt.  Stepping the mast is chore, but one I was able to simplify over time and with some research on the Internet.  Trailering the boat is a chore.  It's heavy, at the upper range of my vehicle, and it's wide.  Getting back to the DCL ramp requires travel on some small, hilly roads.  You can't really spend the night on the boat at DCL unless you get a slip somewhere.  That means putting in and taking it out on the same day.  DCL is not that big, especially the part accessible from the ramp on a boat with a mast (i.e. getting under bridges).  It was OK to learn how the boat works, but you can only sail up and down the lake so many times.

Given all of that, we decided to find a bigger stomping ground, that of the Chesapeake Bay.  We shopped around several marinas down there.  We were looking for something affordable and with some amenities.  We also wanted something within a couple hours drive from us (Western Maryland).  That left Middle River, Patapsco River, and Magothy River.  We looked at a dozen marinas in each place and finally settled on Cutter Marina on Middle River.  The picture above is the view from our slip there.

They are usually booked solid but we lucked into a slip with uncanny timing.  Our slip contract starts in March.  I'm planning on trailering the boat down to Cutter as close to March 1 as possible.  Cutter looks to be a great place.  It's well protected, very clean, 24-hour lounge, nice showers and bathrooms.

Right now I have all of the teak trim from the outside removed and I'm sanding and refinishing it.  I'm just about done and I'll be putting everything back together between now and March.  Once I get it together I'll post pictures.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Salesman of the Year!

I may have posted it on here somewhere, maybe not, but I'm in the market for a sailboat.  I've been looking at several on Craigslist and I came across one the other day.  It's one of the worst ads I've ever seen.

First, the title says "Sailboar - $990," and yes, that's his typo, not mine.  Then the ad goes on to explain that it's a 25 foot boat, eight foot beam, draws 2.5 feet of water, etc.  But it never actually says what kind of boat it is.

There are three pictures of the boat on a trailer, taken at night, from below and close up, so you really can't make that much out.  So I email the guy, hoping to get a little more information, like the make and model and whether or not it comes with a trailer.  The ad mentions that he can trailer it to the new owner but that's it.

Here's what I said:

_________________

Hi,
What kind of boat is this?  Are you including the trailer with the boat?
Thanks,
Matt
_________________

And here's his response:
_________________

It is a $1000 boat. does it matter beyond that. I will throw in the trailer for an extra $32,000.
Thanks
_________________

OK then. From the pictures it doesn't look like much more than a free boat you see on Craigslist, so yes, I think the make and model might matter a little bit.  That's like someone trying to sell a car and saying "Car -$990, 4 wheels, steering wheel, seats."

Looking back at the pictures, the trailer that the boat is on is obviously a nicer trailer for transporting boats and not one that would come with a boat, but seriously?  Can't you just say, no, it doesn't come with a trailer?

How would you ever think that you could make a sale being a total jerk like that?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cookie Tin Banjo!

A while back I built a cookie tin banjo out of a big cookie tin and some wood.  I just sold it today on eBay for far less than I wanted, but oh well, it's gotta go.  Here are some pictures of it below.  It's on its way to Finland now, hopefully to a good home.