Saturday, August 10, 2013

the south, for better or worse

The river was alive with color and the heavy bass of techno music today the Hampton Roads Pridefest and boat parade at Town Point Park.  There were probably a dozen or more boats in the parade, including the Norfolk Rover, below.  A lot of people having a lot of fun.

The wind did not show up as forecast today, but neither did the mid-day rain, so I will not complain.  There was a steady enough breeze for me to get around.  The captain of the Rover, which had sails up but was motoring, said to me only a boat like Spartina could sail in today's winds as we crossed paths.

My main goal for today to was to test drive the new Goal Zero Nomad 13 Solar Panel and the Sherpa 50 Power Pack plus 110 inverter.  I spent more money than I like to think on all that, but I earned the money doing some nights and weekend pick up work early this summer so I don't feel too guilty about it.  My goal is to be able to maintain camera batteries throughout the two week trip this fall and this is the only practical way I could find to do it.  The equipment, while not cheap, is small, lightweight and well-built. I hope it works as advertised.

Above you see the solar panel on the foredeck.  The instructions say the panel should be pointed directly at the sun.  I am not interested in spending my sailing time messing with the positioning and angle of the panel.  On the foredeck I suspect it will get plenty of sun.  Sometimes the jib may block the sun sometimes the jib may reflect the sun on to the panel.  I figure it will all average out.

The power pack, inverter and battery charger fit up underneath the foredeck which is probably the driest spot on the boat, plus there is plenty of ventilation for the pack and charger, both which build up heat as they operate.  I put a 1/2 charged camera battery in the charger and forgot about it for a few hours.

"Always be charging downhill" was some advice I received on solar panels and battery packs from an Annapolis boat dealer I met on the waterfront last June.  The trick is to keep the battery pack - in my case the Sherpa 50, close to fully charged.  The solar panel charging a nearly full battery pack charging a camera battery is what he described as charging downhill.  Running down the Sherpa 50 to the same or less than the camera battery level, and trying to charge both with the solar panel, is what he called charging up hill, and that won't work.  Sounds like good advice to me.

The wind failed early afternoon and I headed back to the dock.  With no wind I knew it would be brutally hot and humid breaking down Spartina's rig at the ramp.  Hot and humid, what else do you expect for August in the South.  And this is the South - something I was to be reminded of shortly.

There was a jet ski at the ramp, tied next to the ramp itself with no owner in sight.  A car with a trailer and another jet ski was about to back down the ramp.  A big guy, red hair cut in a flat top, shows up as the owner of the jet ski already in the water.  His wife was off getting their car and empty trailer to haul the jet ski out of the water.  He sees the guy ready to back down the ramp with the other ski and says "Go ahead, I'll wait," clearly not happy about having to wait.

"That guy's not from the South" Flat Top says as the guy backs slowly down the ramp, trailer angling to one side then the other, "definitely from the North."  "GOT to be Pennsylvania" he continued in a booming voice that questioned both the trailer handling skills and manhood of every male in that state.  "GOT to be from Pennsylvania, he just can't be from the South" he says in my direction, trying to drag me into the conversation.  "You go ask him, I betcha he says Pennsylvania."  I ignore Flat Top, relieved that he will be gone before he could see, and question, my trailer skills (not to mention the manhood thing too).

So the first guy gets his ski in the water, clears the ramp and heads out on the river.  Flat Top backs down the ramp, hops out and gets on his jet ski and runs it onto the trailer.  Straddling the jet ski, he yells to his wife to drive forward, not telling her how far to go.  I think he meant for her to drive only a few feet as the ski - with him sitting on it - was only halfway on the trailer and not connected to the winch - it was just sort of hanging off the back of the trailer.

"STOP, STOP, STOP" Flat Top is yelling as his wife drives slowly up the ramp into the parking lot.  With doors closed and AC on she can't hear him.  He's yelling and gesturing with his arms and his fists, trying to come up with some sign language she could interpret through the rear view mirror.  "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" he screams as she continues up the ramp, the ski barely on the trailer.  He looks at me, clearly embarrassed about the trailering skills.  He throws up his hands and shouts (shouting being his favorite way of communicating) "SHE'S RETARDED.'  The ski did not fall off the trailer.  The wife stops, Flat Top hops off the ski, connects the winch to the ski and pulls it forward on the trailer, grumbling while avoiding eye contact with me.

I did not ask him ask him from which Northern state he had come.  And I didn't question his manhood, though he might not make use of it for awhile as his first words to his wife when she opened the car door were a screamed "HOW STUPID ARE YOU?"  As they drove away he was still yelling.

I was able to get Spartina on the trailer and out of the water with no problem.

In the parking lot I checked the battery charging system - both the camera battery and the Sherpa power pack were at 100%.  If I can do that - charge a camera battery and maintain a full charge on the Sherpa -  at least every other day on a trip, then it will be a success.



Bill said...

See, it's guys like that who make `murica GREAT!

Anonymous said...

I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where people are sophisticated, witty and wonderful. At a recent cocktail party I was introduced to some stylish folk and when they heard my original Southern accent one snickered, "Look out, we have one of those proud 'muricans in our midst." We all laughed so hard. The reason it was funny is because they weren't jerks like that guy on the jet ski.

Anonymous said...

There are jerks in ALL parts of the country.

Steve said...

Sad, but true. But I'm also finding out that there are some really great people everywhere, particularly around the water. steve

Anonymous said...

Chip, my point exactly--but my Philly friends would say you're sounding a bit too 'murican-centric. So in their honor I'd venture to add there are jerks in all parts of the world (except, oddly, Pisgah, Iowa). I also agree with Steve that water people universally seem to rise above the rest--not counting jet skiers?!