Cruising Political Action Agenda

By Tom Neale, 8/14/2008


Tom Neale's logs have a new name and home on BoatUS Magazine. We know Tom has a loyal and devoted readership, so we wanted to share his tips and insights with an even bigger audience! For the latest articles, click here for Onboard With Tom Neale.

Mandate for Tube Legislation

I think that the Democrats and the Republicans ought to get together in a bi-partisan effort to make a joint resolution to outlaw straight slot screws. If you're going to screw, there are so many safer ways, and they ought to know. For example, we have known for hundreds of years that the Phillips head screw was heads and tails above the slot technique. This guy Phillip sure knew how to do it without doing anything else that he wouldn't want to do--like making a bloody mess of his hand, or putting a hole in the exhaust hose when the screwdriver slips out of the straight slot hose clamp. I don't know who he was, but I would guess that he must have been a highly successful king somewhere, without the benefit of Democrats or Republicans.

Congress also ought to outlaw thin skinned tubes. What a burst thin skinned tube can do to an otherwise pleasurable experience is akin to finding a cockroach in the bottom of an ice cream cone. The severity of the problem is never so clearly manifested as when the tube that bursts is surrounding a hunk of LifeCaulk. I love LifeCaulk. I use it all the time. Just a tiny little bit will go on infinitely. You can cover every inch of your body with just enough to barely wet the tip of your little finger. But as you bow on bended knee before your leaking stanchion earnestly squeezing away, you don't notice that less and less is coming out of the nozzle until you discover that this is because it has been coming, in hugely expanding white gobs, out of the bottom of the tube. When I was little I used to worry about Godzilla taking over the world. Now it's LifeCaulk. And if you don’t think that’s a problem, consider a burst tube of Super Glue. One answer for this problem is to simply squeeze with care. But this is easier said than done, especially when you must give an extra hard push to squirt some of the stuff up into a newly discovered crevice which is obviously the source of at least one of those leaks over your V-berth. As a general rule, we have a rag or two around to cover whatever emergencies may occur. But the burst bottom of a tube of LifeCaulk takes more rags than any boat can carry. I don’t even think that FEMA could handle an emergency of this nature. Think of the potential savings in tax dollars if someone in Washington would just stand up and urge the makers of products contained in tubes to make their tubes as good as their products

As long as they are regulating tubes, it wouldn't seem to be too much to ask of our nation's politicians to strenuously regulate uplifting supports. They certainly have a few experts familiar with the areas covered by uplifting supports. The regulation should deal not only with frontal appendages, but rear ones as well. I am referring, of course, to topping lifts. The law should specify that these not be of stretch rope. Chez Nous came with a mizzen which was equipped with a topping lift like a rubber band. Having owned a mizzen mast back in the 70's, I was familiar with what you use them for. There's just nothing like having a sailboat with a crane. But when we tried to lift our outboard, it didn't move an inch while the boom moved down with every turn of the winch. I replaced the topping lift with non-stretch braid, but kept the old line as the thought occurred that my elastic mizzen topping lift would make an excellent sling shot. Maybe the government will do more for cruising if we do more for the government--like contribute to its defense arsenal. The capability of sailing up to an enemy while disguised as a cruiser and then hurtling my outboard motor several hundred yards through the air should be quite appealing. The missile would exact a toll on the targets even when I missed. The intended victims would assuredly rush over to recover the outboard for their own use, and commence suffering the unending agony it has caused me over the years.

Tom’s Tips About Spills

1. Joking aside, it’s very easy these days to keep your bilge free of oil and other unwanted stuff. I use oil absorbent pads by StarBrite, others are made by other companies. They come in various shapes and are easy to keep in place under the engine and in storage for those “extra” slips. Keep plenty around in strategic places. Replace pads in bilges regularly and after any spill.

2. It’s also important to use absorbent pads and/or abundant paper towels when you’re fueling. I stuff my scuppers with them, as well as put them around the nozzle (not so tightly as to stop the flow of air past the nozzle) to prevent back splashes from “hiccupping.” I also stuff them under the fuel vent, when possible. You can buy devices to catch fuel coming from the vent. If you do, learn how to use them.

Click Here for More Tips

Considering the cost effectiveness of proposals such as this, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the government to institute cruising tax credits. The first should be for anyone with a boat with oil in the bilge. A nice clean bilge holds no promise for the future. You look at a clean bilge and know that there's nothing growing down there, no secret life forms ready to spring forth, and no uncounted caches of oil to rely upon in the event of depletion of our oil reserves. Besides, a bilge without an oil slick can grow mosquitoes. We all know that mosquitoes spread insidious diseases. There is no way that Customs and Border Protection and all the other border-checker-inners can count mosquitoes in bilges. A boat returning from the tropics with an oil-free bilge could be bringing in the plague. Chez Nous should not just get a tax credit, it should get a rebate. We have hope springing eternal down there. The survival of the species is assured. (I'm not sure what species; there may be several.) When the next oil embargo comes, I'm going to be rich. But is the government helping here? Oh no.

I thought some time ago that they were getting a clue when they decreed that we all had to post signs saying that we couldn't dump bilge oil overboard. Obviously, I thought, they have finally caught on to the concepts of bilge mosquito control and of saving petroleum resources. But no, it turns out that they don't want us to have oil down there in the first place. The logic of posting signs saying that I can't pump out something that isn't there anyway escapes me entirely. Besides, why would I want to pump the oil out? That's my primordial slime. I paid for every ounce of it. I guess that if I were in Washington I would understand all this. But I'm not in Washington. I'm cruising. On the water, that is.

Which emphasizes the point that we folks out here on the water do have a lot in common with the politicos in The District. We both like to cruise. True, there is a slight difference in what we mean by cruising, but who's to argue over semantics. So perhaps the time is ripe to get the government to establish a federal agency on cruising. We could call it the "Federal Agency on Cruising Concerns United." If we define "Cruising" to include all the types so popular on the hill, we could get enough bipartisan support to put a Phillip's head on every dollar bill.


Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale