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by Dan and Jan Ahart
Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered. That famous dispatch was sent back to Rome by General Gaius Julius Caeser, who in 47 B.C. conquered Asia Minor. Caesar eventually became dictator of Rome but was subsequently assassinated by Marcus Junius Brutus, and other Senators, in the Roman Senate on March 15, 44 B.C. Beware the ides of March and all that stuff. That may be a bit overdone for the opening of a chapter focused on a couple of modest accomplishments, but hey, a little poetic license is ok now and then. Anyway, we feel we have stumbled upon a few good ideas after three years of cruising and maybe it is time to set one or two down on paper.
Laminating flags is a great idea. Clear vinyl of various thicknesses can be bought at most fabric stores and can be sewn on most household sewing machines. A laminated flag lasts almost indefinitely, doesn't fray and doesn't make flapping noises. It also stands out better in light winds. Just be sure to put a few small holes in the vinyl at the top and the bottom so moisture doesn't accumulate inside.
Water maker water is pure enough to use in batteries. It may be an expensive way to get a drink of pure water, but having a water maker on board is no longer a luxury as far as we are concerned. The water is so free of any minerals that it can be used in lieu of distilled water in wet cell batteries. However, if it is used as the sole source of drinking water, the crew should use supplemental minerals, which are available in most good vitamin tablets. Water purity is usually measured by a parts per million (ppm) meter. However, a volt/ohm meter available at any Radio Shack can be used in lieu of expensive ppm meters. Use a standard such as distilled water to establish an acceptable ohm (resistance) reading and periodically measure the output of the water maker to make sure that its resistance hasn't diminished. Absolutely pure water is a very poor electrical conductor. Hence, the higher resistance the ohmmeter reads, the purer the water.
Some good CD software for pharmaceuticals is a very good investment. Good software will allow you to look up a drug by its trade name, generic name or chemical description and tell you all you are ever likely to want to know about dosages, side effects etc. In most countries (the USA excluded) many medications can be purchased very economically and without a prescription, so knowing what you are buying and how to use it is advantageous. Recruiting the assistance of a physician in determining what medications should be carried and how to use them is also very beneficial.
Ziplock bags are indispensable for storage of all sorts of items that need protection from humidity, bugs and salt. We even carry our wallets in one because sometimes things get a little wet on the way from an anchorage to shore. Plastic containers with tightly fitting screw on tops are also indispensable for storing items that bugs like to get into like flour, sugar and cornmeal. Cockroaches can be eliminated by making a simple "roach cookie" out of flour, sugar and boric acid. The cookie is not poisonous, but it causes the roach to swell inside its shell, which kills it.
A digital camera and laptop computer are really handy for recording pictures and even making copies of documents. Besides, putting pictures on the Internet is much easier than mailing photographs. A laptop computer is handy also for communicating by email and downloading weather maps.
Appropriate knots can be used in lieu of any number of situations where cord or rope is used, which can eliminate the need for expensive connecting hardware. If no other knot can be remembered at least commit the bowline to memory. It is far and away the most versatile knot.
And from the sage observation department: When in dry dock a boat and its occupants will be pestered by mosquitoes, no see ums and fleas. The only sure escape is out to sea. But there is some solace in the following:
"So Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
And from the history department: The origin of the old saying, "Let the cat out of the bag" was clarified courtesy of Steve C. D'Antonio, Boatyard Manager of Zimmerman Marine in Cardinal, VA and Contributing Editor of "Ocean Navigator" magazine. In the July/August 2002 issue, Steve discusses the "Cat-o-nine tails, which was used to discipline navy seamen in the 18th and 19th centuries. The cat was kept in a bag made of leather or baize (green cloth made of wool). When the cat was brought out of the bag, it meant dire consequences for someone. Today, letting the cat out of the bag means consequences that are not quite so severe, but the expression is still used frequently. The cat was made of a wooden baton some 18 inches long, to which, nine hemp, not leather, cords were attached - each 24 inches long. There was an ordinary cat without knots and a thieve's cat which was used on men who had stolen from their shipmates. It had three knots tied in each cord about two inches from the end. After 1806 the British navy officially limited the number of lashes to 12, but it was not strictly enforced.
Also, it is said that the term POSH came from the wealthier English, who
traveling from England to America, by ship, could afford and did demand a
cabin on the Port side Outbound and the Starboard side Home, thus assuring
that their cabin had sunshine from the south during both directions of the
trip. Maybe those old ships didn't have very good heaters. Stay tuned