News From Cornville…Bits and Bobs

I was going to write my usual “oh no, Winter is coming” post where I lament the colder weather, but I’m not going to do it.  I know, it’s a shocker, so I’ll just wait for the gasping to subside.  It was such a fabulous summer weather-wise that I have nothing to complain about.  That’s not entirely true, I do have things to complain about but certainly not about the weather.  Did I mention that my county has a frost advisory tonight?  Still not complaining.  Aren’t you proud of me?

I know, you are all wondering if the boat is as great as we thought it would be.  The answer is:  “How do I know?  We haven’t gotten it, yet!”  That’s right, we ordered it 2 1/2 months ago and they say it’s made, but no boat has arrived.  No dock either.  They have made one excuse after another.  Finally, I texted the dealer and told them we’d take delivery in the spring.  No response.  So I’m not sure what’s happening, but I do know the thing isn’t going in the water this year.  So I could complain about that, but I’m still riding high on the ‘it was a beautiful summer’ thing so I won’t say a word.  Even though I could.  Even though I’d be justified.  I still won’t.  Yet.

In other news for Cornville, I just saw the cast list for an upcoming movie a friend of mine is directing.  He’s been working on this concept for ten years and I’ve been helping him with some dialog along the way.  I was amazed to see that he’s credited me as a writer for the film.  That was a total shock!  I was happy to help where I could, but never expected to it to be so publicly acknowledged.  Big revelations in the mainepaperpusher household today!

The only other big news in Cornville is that I have ordered some new devices.  I watched the Apple Event a couple of days ago and of course, I wanted all sorts of Apple-icious stuff.  Last night I drank the Kool-Aid.  I drank a lot of it.  At the end of this month, I’ll be drowning in Apple-flavored goodness.  Ask me if I’m excited!  Just ask!

And for those of you Walter fans out there, here’s a pic I posted on Instagram a couple of days ago.   I have to keep Walter’s adoring public happy, after all!



The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 3

Buying the weird-ass boat posed a few, let’s call them, challenges.  First, we had to pick all of the options.  Solar was a must because we don’t have power at camp and no power means no electric backup.  No electric backup means more pedaling for me.  Solar was a necessity!

Upon further research, it became apparent that the solar backup was not going to provide enough power to keep the boat going without charging via electricity.  Damn!  This meant I had to get creative.  Bill’s no-gas rule was really putting a crimp in my style.  I was not looking forward to hauling batteries back and forth to charge them, either.  What to do?  What to do?

Maybe I could set up a solar array on the shore and it would provide enough power to charge the batteries?  Hmmm…  I started to look into wattages and voltages and amperages.  My head was spinning.  It was time to bring in an expert.

We have a merchant marine friend who is an engineer.  Mike knows boats and electrical stuff and I was sure he would know how to make this work.  Or at the very least, come up with an alternate plan that would work.  I called him up and he was so intrigued with the weird-assedness of the boat, he came over to look at the specs and see the pics.  After he stopped laughing, we talked about options.

Mike checked everything out.  Being a guy who likes his motorized toys, he thought this was a pretty cool boat.  Once that was ascertained, it was time to ask him what he thought about my solar idea.  I couldn’t quite figure out how the voltage put out by the solar panels would work with the voltage needed by the boat.  If it could work, Mike would know how to do it.

I told him my thoughts and posed the question.  Now, let me just preface this by saying that Mike has no filter when it comes to what comes out of his mouth. Political correctness is not on his radar at all so his response to didn’t surprise me.  He listened to my idea, and with an incredulous look on his face, said: “That’s retarded!”  All I could say was:  “I KNOW!!!”

He tried to explain why it would be improbable by throwing electrical terms at me that went over my spinning head.  I finally had to tell him that he was explaining how to make a watch when I merely asked what time it was.  Hell, when it came to this, I didn’t even know what day it was.  At the end of it all, it was obvious that charging the electrical part of this boat was going to be impossible without hauling batteries back and forth to charge them.

It was then that Mike asked why we didn’t just get a generator.  When Bill realized that he meant a gas-powered generator, he didn’t want anything to do with it.  Mike went on to explain how easy it would be.  Bill was unmoved.  His vision of a gas-less lifestyle at camp was going up in smoke.

By the end of the evening, Mike had me looking up generators online and had Bill convinced that it would be insanely simple to run.  Then he sweetened the pot by telling us that we could use it as a backup in case we lost power at the house.  After a lot of hemming and hawing, Bill agreed.

So that is how we ended up buying a gas-less boat that will be partially powered by a generator that takes gas.  Poor Bill just bought a new gas can.  He just can’t win.





The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 2

Here’s Part 1 in case you want to get up to speed.  Weird-Ass Boat Saga Part 1

Just for fun, I mentioned the boat to Bill and got the questions I expected.  I really didn’t think this would be more than an exercise we often engage in. One of us will come up with some crazy idea (usually me) and the other will pose very logical questions (usually not me) trying to show how ridiculous the idea is.  The person who is being questioned (ok, it’s always me) has to come up with very logical answers to support the idea.  It’s almost always theoretical and rarely ends in shouting.  It didn’t end in shouting this time, either.  There’s really no sport in the thing if I just get the questions I expect, but this really was an odd topic so it could go in any direction…probably around in circles.

The conversation went something like this (his part is in red):

“How big is this boat?”  15 feet long.   “Are you crazy!?”  As if he didn’t know the answer to that already.

“Does it take gasoline?”  No, it’s powered by pedaling, along with electricity…and maybe even solar if we want to get that package.

“No gas?”  No gas.

“I can pedal it?”  Yes, you can pedal alone or we can both pedal together.

At this point, his face lit up.  Not only would he get his exercise, but I might get a little, too!  For some reason, he thinks it’s healthy for me to get exercise.

“You’d really go boat-pedaling with me?”  Yes, I would go boat-pedaling with you…with electrical back up and an optional solar package.  I might have left that last bit out, but in the spirit of full disclosure here,  I figured I’d mention what I was truly thinking at the time.

“Where would we store it?”  We have two acres of land at camp, store it anywhere you want.  We can just cover it and let it winter over.

“How would we get it there?”  I’m sure they deliver, and if they don’t, we could always buy a trailer.

“A trailer!?  I don’t want to drive a trailer with a huge boat on it!”  Then we will offer them some money and they will deliver it, I’m sure.

“How will we moor it?”  We’ll get a dock.  “A dock!?  We’ll need a dock!?”  Yes, that’s generally how it’s done.

“I really won’t have to deal with a combustion engine and gas?”  Not even once.

“And I really won’t have to haul gasoline to camp?”  Not a drop.  I think we were repeating ourselves quite a bit here, but if that sort of emphasis gave weight to my arguments, I was willing to endure it.

“Ok”  OK!?

“Where do they sell them?”  Uhh…let me look.  I told him where it was.

“That’s on the way to your appointment tomorrow, let’s stop and look at them.”  HUH!?  Here I was, winning the purely theoretical argument (go me!) and suddenly things got real.  I had to tell him that no one in Maine had one of these in stock because they are so weird, but he wanted to check the place out anyway.  I couldn’t believe it.

And that’s how we bought a boat while on our way to my appointment*

*Dock to follow.  🙂


The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 1

A week or three ago, we were on our way to an appointment and we bought a boat.  Now it may seem like an odd thing to just pick up along the way, but that’s what happened. You probably think this was an impulse purchase, but I assure you that we talked about it for TWO whole days before pulling the trigger.  It was one of those “hey, you know a boat would make our time at camp more fun” sort of conversations.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, but I knew there would be hurdles.  You see, Bill is allergic to gasoline.  Not really allergic to the stuff itself, really.  It’s more like an allergy to things that are gasoline adjacent.  He has a very strong dislike for internal combustion engines.  This feeling runs deep.  He won’t have any more to do with them than necessary.  The post lawnmowing cursing is usually quite colorful.  Crayola doesn’t have enough colors to give it justice.  Gasoline and the motors that require it are his nemeses.

Bill’s dislike of anything associated with engines stopped my boat fantasy dead in the water.  Then I remembered that my Dad used to tinker around with outboard motors and he had this fleeting electric trolling motor phase.  This was years ago but I still remember him hauling the car battery into the boat and hanging that tiny motor on the back.  It wasn’t fast, but it sure was quiet.  All the better to sneak up on those wary trout!

Hmmm…electric…hmmm…no gas…hmmm.  Yeah, my thought process went on like that for a while.  I really am not exaggerating the number of ‘hmmms’ going on in my head, either.  I was hmmm-ing a lot.  You see, Bill wasn’t the only one with a set of must-haves.  His was really a list of must-have-nots, but I won’t belabor that point.

What I needed was a  pontoon boat.  I know, they have this reputation of being party-barges and I am certainly not a person easily found on a party-anything.  However, I needed the stability so I wouldn’t drown.  It’s not that I don’t know how to swim, I just can’t be trusted to stay alive if an epileptic seizure comes along.  That sort of scenario in a typical boat might be the end of me.  Being in a canoe would…well, let’s just not think about the canoe scenario. I could become smallmouth bass food.  The Pumpkinseeds could actually eat me rather than just nibble my toes as they usually do.  We won’t even talk about the snapping turtles!

A pontoon boat wouldn’t normally be my first choice of craft if my mortality wasn’t an issue, but on further consideration, it made some sense.  I love wildlife and a pontoon boat wouldn’t be so scary for them.  We could toodle around the pond to see what’s going on without actually visiting people.  Did I mention that I’m an introvert?  I guess a wave toward someone on the shore would be ok, but let’s not go overboard.  😉

Keep in mind that none of this was real.  It was all fantasy and I was just thinking about boat types, and motors, and gas-avoidance as a sort of mental exercise.  How could one propel a party-less barge without gas?  It really didn’t matter because it would never happen. But just for fun, I looked at a couple of the boats online and they were overwhelmingly huge…with correspondingly huge gas motors.  That made sense.  What electric trolling motor could move one of those behemoths?  I remember thinking “ok, that query was fun…what’s the next topic I should explore?”  Deck planking was on my list of research subjects, but my heart wasn’t in it.  Your heart really has to be in it to research deck planking.  I’m not sure when my heart will be in it, but it wasn’t going to be right then, that’s for sure.  Maybe they make tiny pontoon boats?

During one of my fantasy pontoon/electric trolling motor searches, a number of sites popped up with the typical gas-powered boats. Surprisingly a couple of them were smaller than usual.   I aimlessly poked around and then I noticed a site that specifically mentioned a pontoon boat with electric backup.  Well now, let’s look at this!

When I opened the page, I was astounded.  It was like the manufacturer had read our often disparate minds and cobbled together the most weird-ass hybrid the boating world has ever seen.  As I read down through the specs, it was becoming clear that this was a craft that even Bill would like.  It wasn’t an electric pontoon boat, it was a pedal-powered pontoon boat with electric backup!  Oh, I knew he would be all over this one.  He’s an exercise freak and he is always on his bicycle.  This way, he could pedal his little heart out and I could wave as we passed gape-mouthed onlookers wondering what the hell that weird boat was!

The idea was amusing.  I might have even chuckled to myself.  But as I continued to read the specs and look at the picture, I was the one who was gape-mouthed.  How in the hell did they ever think of putting pedals in a pontoon boat with electric backup AND a solar option!?  Since there is no power at camp, the idea of hauling a battery home to charge it was daunting, but if solar could help… Hmmmm….

The picture of it sent me into gales of laughter.  Look at that thing with the solar panel on the back and what the hell is that?  The thing doesn’t have a proper propeller, it has a paddle wheel like the boats on the Mississippi of Mark Twain’s era!  I was beginning to think I was having one of those Alice in Wonderland kind of trips.  Nothing about that boat made sense, and yet it made all the sense in the world.