May 31, 2011

Barnacles and retirement plans

SOMETIMES I REALLY REGRET that I find myself writing books and articles and columns about boats. The market for this kind of stuff is so small. I mean, if I had concentrated on writing about gardening or the bad habits of movie stars, things that fascinate almost everybody, I’d be rich and famous by now. I’d be lolling on the beach outside one of those $1,000-a-night cabins at the Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands. Sigh.

It’s hard to underestimate the intelligence of average Americans, which makes them prefer gardening and wicked movie stars to sailing, but it’s a fact of life that I have to live with.

And talking about gardening, it has not escaped my attention that I would be far better off if I were selling stuff instead of writing stuff, and in particular selling stuff to stop the goddam deer eating my one and only rose bush. I don’t believe deer should be roaming the gardens of this busy city of 80,000 people, eating the rose bushes of honest citizens and acting with all the impunity of royal game. I am not in favor of it. I believe deer who act badly should be turned into jerky, and I have a good recipe for that. But our city fathers are a wimpish lot and have kowtowed to the loud and troublesome anti-jerky faction, so that it is now illegal to kill a deer in cold blood, even if you catch him in flagrante delicto with your only rose bush halfway down his greedy gizzard.

Anyway, the best stuff I know for stopping deer eating your roses is cougar urine. If I had any business sense I would be selling bottles of cougar urine for all those millions of keen rose gardeners to spray on their bushes now and then. Not real cougar urine, of course, because it’s tricky to get a cougar to pee into a bottle. Just ordinary tap water with a dash of yellow food coloring. Enough to fool most of the people most of the time, until you can catch the plane to the Virgin Islands.

However, because I’m stuck in the boating niche, and therefore by definition don’t have much sense, perhaps I should stick to the boating equivalent of pestiferous deer, i.e., barnacles — particularly those barnacles that infest propellers. There’s a fortune to be made for somebody who discovers a way to discourage barnacles from making themselves at home on props.

Surely there must be some sort of creepy-crawly crustacean whose presence turns your average barnacle white with fright and sends him scuttling off in a panic. There must be something, the mere smell of which would discourage a barnacle from adhering himself to your prop. All we have to do is find this creature and make him pee in a bottle so we can sell the spray and retire to the Bitter End Yacht Club. It’s not too much to ask, surely?

Today’s Thought
An idea can turn into dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.
— William Bernbach.

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #206
In general, two engines are not twice as good as one, whether they’re inboards or outboards. Added weight, added friction in drive trains, and added underwater drag are formidable prices to pay. Thus, the rule of thumb is that a twin-screw installation wastes about 20 percent of the power available, compared with a single engine of comparable horsepower.

Milestone 400
WE REACHED another little milestone today. This is the 400th Mainly about Boats column. You’ll find every one of them over there on the right if you click on the little arrows. Go right ahead. Explore this fascinating little treasure trove of nautical knowledge before a new Judgment Day comes along and whisks them all off for burning in the fires of Hell. Read ’em quick while you still have a chance. No advertisements, you’ll notice, no begging for money, no misspelled words, no hanging participles or split infinitives. Only good pure grammar, and every one guaranteed to bring you rapture.

A young woman went to the doctor complaining of aches and pains. “I think I’ve got the swine flu,” she said.
“Swine flu nothing,” the doctor said. “That’s not swine flu. That’s Egyptian flu — you’re going to be a mummy.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Micky-T said...

Maybe deer poop would do it. Boil it down to a liquid and mix it in with your anti-fouling paint.

Could be worth a try. You just never know!

Aaron Headly said...

People like the idea of redundancy in the engine department because they figure that an engine failure is less likely to strand them at sea. What they fail to appreciate is that with two engines, they double their chances of having an engine failure strand them in the slip.

Think about it. Who, when going down to the marina for a nice weekend on the lake, discovers that one of their auxiliaries won't start but goes boating anyway? Doesn't happen. One engine down means nobody goes sailing. Having two engines can just mean having an extra chance that an engine will fail to start.

Many catamarans boast about having two engines; offers 'peace of mind', they say. Me? I figure that driving a modern wide cat on one ama's prop would be less than peaceful. The captain's cursing alone would ruin that day for everyone else.

Oded Kishony said...

why is it that you never publish my comments? what am I doing wrong?

Oded Kishony