Friday, June 17, 2011

The Definition of Cruising

For those of you that are not cruising sailors, you might be unaware that the definition of "cruising" is "doing maintenance in exotic places."

So, given that, it should come as no surprise that when I arrived in Tahiti (exotic place) there were a couple of maintenance tasks waiting for me. One was to reinstall the autopilot on Far Fetched, the Beneteau, of my friend Bruce Albert, for whom I am crewing from Tahiti (exotic place) to American Samoa (not quite so exotic). The autopilot had come down with some kind of inner ear infection and had lost its balance, so we had to give it a new gizmo so that it could literally get its bearings back. The gizmo in this case is a fluxgate compass, no, not a flux capacitor. This is a Beneteau, not a DeLorean.

Wielding a cordless drill and considerable sweat due to the humidity hearabouts, I managed to get the fluxgate installed, and a subsequent test seemed to indicate that it is...fluxing. We won't know for sure until we go to sea to see (hominyms are interesting) if it's really fluxing or just futzing.

The other maintenance item was the installation of a part for the diesel engine that normally is just a simple copper tube attached to a flange that conducts cooling salt water from the engine to the exhaust where it ultimately returns from whence it came; i.e., the sea. Typical of the engine manufacturer, Volvo, the price for this simple little piece of plumbing was outrageous--$119--for something you could make relatively easily for probably $10, not including labor. And to make matters worse we only needed half the part (long story) so we had to cut it in half. Actually, I didn't have much to do with this task other than "stupidvise". Bruce did all the work and it seems to have stemmed the leak that was the original problem we were out to eliminate.

So, here we are in Tahiti, synonymous with paradise, just now getting ready to go check it out. For me it is a stroll down memory lane, having been here with Kay in Kavenga twenty years ago. From first indications, not much has changed, but perhaps, more on that later.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

How Not to Get Plastic Explosives Through The Airport

So as not to keep you in suspense and to save the anti-terrorist guys some time in having to read my blog to find out whether or not I'm serious, I'll simply say, don't try to smuggle it through TSA inside a brick of Tillamook Cheddar Cheese. Colby or Swiss w on't work either.

I'm on my way to Tahiti to help my friend Bruce sail is boat, Far Fetched, from there to Western Samoa. Bruce asked me to bring several hard to get things as well as some boat parts he needed. I decided to throw in a few things I thought might be hard to get.

So there I was, going through TSA security at SeaTac with almost nine pounds of cheese in three bricks in my backpack. In my carry-on I had cardboard box and inside it was a black box full of electronic gizmos, a fluxgate compass and another metal box with knobs and dials. You would think TSA would be interested in that stuff. They couldn't have cared less. All they wanted was to sniff the cheese. They took the cheese out of my backpack and rubbed it with some kind of pads that apparently will absorb traces of any kind of explosive. Happily the cheese turned to be...cheese. Just think, if the folks at Tillamook had been clever enough to play a little joke on me I might not be sending this from the boat.

So, the cheese made it through. But then they wanted to screen my backpack again. They asked me if it had any hidden compartments. Not that I knew of. Finally, they came up with the culprit. A 12 oz. plastic squeeze bottle of Heinz sweet pickle relish. Sorry, gonna have to take yer relish. "Enjoy the hot dogs," I said. The agent smiled and said, "Wish we could, but we can't."

So, would-be terrorists, don't try sneaking the cheese through security. Won't work. In fact I had to go through the same thing again when I got to LAX. They are not lax at LAX.

On the other hand if you have a bunch of funny looking electronic boxes, you might get those through. Oh, guys, if you're still reading, they were autopilot parts for the boat.

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