Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Isn't It Stainproof Steel?

See my article in Caribbean Compass page 28

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You Know You’re a Red-neck if:

“Your lawn furniture used to be your living room furniture.”

The seventh habit from Stephen Covey’s 90’s management book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is “Sharpen the Saw.”  His premise was that just like a carpenter sharpening his saw; one has to take time out to improve your tools whether that is more training, or just refreshing your outlook.

 Head bolts torqued and valve adjustment on the 12.5 kW generator

His concept of continuous improvement transfers nicely to the cruising lifestyle and boat maintenance.

Exhaust hose replacement on the 5 kW generator

A good time to practice sharpening the saw is during hurricane season in Grenada. After a winter of cruising, we usually approach Port Louis Marina in Grenada with a long to-do list.  Last year I learned that playing and relaxing in Grenada does not get the work done, and you can end up scrambling to check items off the list as departure time approaches.

Transmission fluid and filter change

Most of the items on the to-do list are standard maintenance items that are easier accomplished while laid up in Grenada.

Replacement of a broken chain peeler

Other items are a little more complicated.  The primary windlass had a nasty habit of breaking off (expensive) chain peelers.  After talking with the windlass manufacturer and exchanging photographs, their engineer determined that the angle of the chain pipe allowed the chain to strike the chain pipe before contacting the peeler at the gypsy.  The chain pipe has been modified by a local machine shop.

New entertainment center cover

Other items on the to-do list were not as critical, but more on the aesthetic side.  The original VHS/DVD system was updated requiring some cabinetry work.

Varnishing a new fold-out computer desk

The dated and worn salon upholstery is being replaced by a local shop.  While we were at it, we had a local woodworker fabricate computer desks that will attach to the underside of the ottoman cushions.

Habit #1:  “Be Proactive.”  Now that my chores are done, I am headed to the pool.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Amplified Music

The bane of the Caribbean is amplified music.  It is not enough that most rum shops (neighborhood bars) have it blasting from every opening, but they have figured out how to go mobile.

The blue box with speakers lashed to it is a large generator.

The truck with the generator is pulling a trailer with the soundboard, more speakers and the “DJ” (the guy with the funny hat).

   Carnival in Bequia

Dancers are expected to follow the truck and trailer with the speakers pointed at them.  The volume is cranked to a level causing what the National Institute on Deafness calls “noise-induced deafness.”

Like the other bad things in the Caribbean such as saggy pants with underwear showing, amplified music is a U.S. export.  The Grateful Dead’s audio engineer, Bear Stanley, is credited with building the 75 ton “Wall of Sound” that required 4 semi-trailers and 21 crew members to haul and setup.  Prior to designing The Wall, Stanley had been in prison for possession of 350,000 doses of LSD and 1,500 doses of STP that he claimed were for his personal use.

Even out in the forest, they figure out how to get speakers going at full volume.

As visitors to the islands all we can do is grin and bear it.  Normally we can just move away from the speakers, but why do they always have to put them right next to where the beer and food is sold?

As cruisers, we feel especially assaulted by the amplified music.  Many nice anchorages are polluted with “music” from shore.  Sound, like light, normally travels in straight lines and should quickly disperse above the anchorage.  However, the sound that “should” rise up curves back down to the water.  Therefore, it sounds louder than it should and is somewhat distorted.

A sound truck for Grenada’s Carnival makes Bequia’s seem pathetic.

Grenada’s Carnival is already in full swing, with August 12th being the day requiring ear plugs.  Last year our boat was vibrating at 4:00 AM.

There is some good news, however.  A recent study published in Science Daily states, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, short-term hearing loss after sustained exposure to loud noise does not reflect damage to our hearing; instead it is the body’s way to cope.”  As sound levels rise, the cells in the cochlea release the hormone ATP, which binds to a receptor causing the temporary reduction of hearing sensitivity.  The study goes on to say chronic exposure, depending on your genes, can cause problems years later.

Question: What did the islander say after he got out of rehab?

Answer: “This music sucks!”