Baby Boomers '52

Born a third the way into the 18-year Boom

we 1952-ers travel just ahead of the crest of the wave . . .

. . . we're the froth.

Please drop-in and check-out

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Boat Skinner

When it has to do with 30-year old wood preserved beneath 30 annual layers of red copper and thick oil-based paints, sandblasting sounds about as wise a choice as taking a chain saw to the old keel, which is to say, the skipjack was sandblasted this week.

The sandblasting was done by a "boat skinner," agree the captain Jack Russell & builder of the Dee, Francis Goddard. Goddard finished with the chain saw work a couple weeks ago.

Robert Knott beneath minimal gear -- earplugs only after an on-site supervisor passed them out -- peeled the paint off the starboard hull of the Dee of St. Mary's in two hot days.

The restoration now moves into inch-by-inch work. Today shipwright Ben Goddard works alone beneath the boat boring and drilling, adding and replacing long screws at precise angles into particular spots into the stripped starboard hull.

The skipjack had been tilted the day before the sandblasters arrived to expose more of the starboard bottom. This requires adjustments to the array of jacks balancing the skipjack's perch on land. This particular adjustment requires a slight lowering of the port jacks then slight hoisting of starboard jacks, then lowering again of the port jacks, raising the starboard's, and on and on until your heart just can't take it anymore.

Jack roars a dismissal of my foolish question, "What if it falls?"

"That boat will almost stand on its feet," he said. "You've just got to be slow with it."

(no endorsement of any other YouTube videos are made .... just has issues with direct uploads .... this is just a disclaimer)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Arm Flaps

OK. Here is a brilliant idea just waiting for exploitation: Arm-Flap Body Purses.

As time goes on I notice the possibility that this could come about without surgery, beyond the attachment of Velcro or some other decorative clasp.

Yes, I am talking about your arm flaps. Your Nannies, if you will. In case you haven't been informed, it's too late for us Baby Boomers to retrieve elasticity along the underarm. I learned this from an Eminent Authority -- my 20-year-old daughter.

I am still dense enough as a mother to try to get one up on her now and again and reminded her of Madonna when she dropped this wisdom upon me in the non-fat yogurt section of the dairy aisle. I was buying.

"Mother," she said, dropping the $3 per carton not on sale yogurt into the cart. Ten of them. "That is my point exactly. She looks terrible."

Now it seems to me that Madonna and I are within the same decade, albeit at different ends. And it seems to me she has been considered risqué within my adult lifetime -- although i realize even using the word risqué notes my age. And I am pretty sure she was showing off a buff body just the other day in the checkout stand.

Well lo and behold in the checkout lane with my Eminent Authority she whips out a Blackberry and Googles 'disgusting underarms + Madonna' -- or something akin. Whap and there is the screen in my face, there are disgusting, sinewy arms, veins bulging out of them, hands equally strained each hold at least a 500-pound grocery bag handle. The rest of the picture was off the screen. But I felt the power.

"Pretty impressive," I said.

"Yeah," she said. "So you see what I mean."

"Hmmmmmm," I say, which became my Om of motherhood once my daughters became daughters as opposed to simply babies and children.

So I take away from this grocery store epiphany that if Madonna started too late to have decent looking arm flaps I can pack it in now. Period.

This was reverberating with me this morning as I walked the dogs, my flaps flapping in time to their dog jog. I thought how productive if I were listening to my Basic Traveling Phrases in Spanish tape.

The Eminent Authority says she can get the old tape (it gives you phrases for buying 36-print black and white film) onto my i-pod. This means I'll have to learn how to handle my i-pod -- which I've put off for three Christmases -- as well as the travel phrases -- which I've put off since high school. And where would I carry that? I already look like Gypsy Rose Lee's grandmother with my walking paraphernalia now.

Along with the two vastly different sized retractable dog leashes, a sling to carry the purse dog when she gives up the ship, my cell phone -- because three acquaintances around my age were in dumb, potentially lethal accidents a couple years ago, two had cell phones on them at the time and they survived. The third did not and he did not.

So this is what I carry and where does that leave an i-pod ... well, you can see how the epiphany arrived.

I'm thinking a combination of Origami and the stuff that keeps pasties on. Perhaps as the flaps increase in both size and porosity new styles could be incorporated. Then, instead of throwing out all of our sleeveless blouses we could show-off our Under-Arm Body Purses. There could become eminent salons where creative gay men design and install those destined to be recorded as haute couture.

I already anticipate that the Eminent Authority will call this gross. (I try to keep to myself the triumph that this particular piece of slang has survived the generations intact just as I attempt to refrain from pointing out that their generation's best songs are usually covers of ours.)

Well isn't it about time we just said 'boo-hoo' right back to them? We are the Baby Boomers, after all. And our wealth has locked them out of the economy, so it still is all about us. I say let's just go for it. I'm thinking we could get Madonna to do some pretty risqué advertising for the product.

Don't Tell Francis

Now that the keel is in place the job becomes putting the skipjack back together with a mind to never having to do another restoration. Jack spends hours cleaning everything he can from the planking throughout. Even slivers of wood fallen between planks can complicate the swelling that must happen when the skipjack returns overboard. It is the swelling that finally makes her seaworthy again.

Jack is bursting with notions -- which is not unusual -- of what can fill the chinks. The last I heard he had taken to discarded pillows.

That is all I know about that.

Here is a video about how the re-fitting of the puzzle is coming along. In the video are Carpenter James Laws, Captain Jack Russell and Shipwright Benjamin Goddard.

(no endorsement of any other YouTube videos are made .... just has issues with direct uploads .... this is just a disclaimer)

A half-inch must be OK. U.S. Coast Guard visited again yesterday to keep tabs and again approved of the work done.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A New Keel

This is what the shipwrights found beneath the flooring of the aft cabin -- photos by Jim Laws, 1st Carpenter, Restoration of the Dee of St. Mary's.

This is the new keel -- completed by Francis Goddard, Benjamin Goddard & James Laws.

The keel was the central concern regarding the 30-year-old skipjack. Its successful repair has passed U.S. Coast Guard muster. While a tremendous amount of work remains -- in the hull alone bulkheads must be replaced and pieces of braces and structural ribs made clean and whole -- the successful replacement of the keel is a huge accomplishment. This was the first and primary goal of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant as well as the supporting grant from Preservation Maryland.

To orient the keel within the hull and in conjunction with the decking the standard 6' ladder pictured in most of the following photos has not moved:

The forward legs of the ladder rest on the new cap that runs from the aft bulkhead through the midsection of the hull. The midsection is where the diesel motor will return to a reconstructed cradle.

Stabilizing members are replaced if necessary. Except for a few staves in the bow the hull is intact.

Rot, say the shipwrights, from the keel to the deck comes from fresh water gathering and seeping into the wood. Salt water acts as a wood preservative.

The gaping hole in the foreground is where the fore cabin was removed to replace rotten decking around it and rot in the cabin itself.

Facing forward from the wheel housing the ladder is obscured by the aft cabin , but the flashlight and broom are visible in both deck shots.

The wheelhouse aft of the aft cabin.

The Chesapeake Bay Field Lab is seeking venues to apply for additional grants and for donations to extend the restoration to the decking and exterior hull. They can be located at

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Island Is Sinking

Not only is St. George Island sinking, the water all around us is rising.

This is old news. So old that the Maryland state government, through its Department of Natural Resources, has an agency now that tracks by how much. There's a website where you can make the calculations yourself, if you have the time and inclination to fiddle.
If you really delve you can discover how quickly your very piece of the rock -- probably not a rock anymore -- will disappear from view. My piece disappears somewhere between two and five feet -- that could be two feet sinking, three feet water rising or any combination thereof. Or maybe, actually, four feet will do it for me. It seems this isn't an exact science yet, the future and weather still having something to do with it.

It almost seemed at a meeting last month that we St. George Islanders were slow to the draw. News of the disappearing Chesapeake Bay islands is nearly passe'. "Saving an island in the Chesapeake Bay," Alex Roy of the Maryland Department of the Environment said glibly last month to a gathering of St. George Islanders, "everyone is trying to do it."

Indeed, it seemed everyone and their brother was around last month to help St. George Island start. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (three people from there), the Maryland State Highway Administration (two people from there), St. Mary's County Department of Public Works, a state delegate, a county commissioner and the president of the St. George Island Improvement Association met with about a dozen islanders to start the ball rolling to save St. George Island.

The meeting began with a lot of talk about how much more water sits on the land than has in past years, how much longer water stays around and how deep on the road and lawns the water reaches. Both rain water and tidal water.

The island includes 6.8 miles of shoreline -- not all of it eroding -- and is losing about 1.2 acres of land a year. The maps make this obvious to people who don't even live here. A lot of handouts were passed around confirming that indeed there is higher water, sinking land and less than perfectly maintained roads, waterways, ditches and bridges.

There was some more talk about why all of this has occurred. There were suggestions about which departments of government performing in different ways have caused or might be able to alleviate some of the problems. But as to the larger problem -- the island is sinking and the water is rising -- there were two immediate (so-called) proposals:

The state road people are going to make sure their roads aren't being undermined by the sinking and rising. If their roads are impacted they'll look for some money to make as quick of a fix as possible. Long term fixes weren't seen as particularly likely at this juncture. County road fixes consist of more asphalt and money is running low for even this.

Secondly, the Department of Natural Resources is poised -- if requested and when formal application is made -- to send planning and consulting type folks into the St. George Island community to facilitate and help St. George Islanders' "build a plan," explained Zoe Johnson with the climate change agency. The coming together to form a collective remedy to stave off tidal inundation has already begun in some Eastern Shore communities, she said. As Roy of MDE made clear, there are growing numbers of Chesapeake Bay communities facing erosion, rising tides, sinking land, evacuation and relocation.

So regardless of the proposals, there isn't exactly a solution to the problem. The goal of the planning effort is for citizens to agree on a fix and find a way to pay for it.

The Department of Natural Resources which coordinates both the climate agency and the citizen planning events is already involved with a number of other tidally-impacted communities around the Bay. Smith Island seems the most immediate. Apparently that plan has now moved into the Relocation Planning stage. The sinking and rising calculation for those folks is that they won't have any land left above water in 25 to 30 years.

Once a reporter it's hard to give up the cynicism. So forgive me, but if I were giving odds on these proposals resulting in action I'd start hoping there's something undermining the state road -- roads get funded. Plans, for the most part, just lead to arguments which lead to more plans.

But if I were an optimistic islander I might look again at the maps and note that my tiny hunk of the rock is colored in dark blue which suggests it will take two to five feet of sinking/rising to put my lot underwater. And the good news here -- the road to my house will go before two feet.

Maybe instead of meeting as a community to build a plan that looks destined to ultimately result in evacuation and relocation strategies we could just jump ahead of the game and start learning how to build boats.