Friday, November 22, 2013

Where Were You-50 Years Ago Today....

This time of the year the question comes up about where were you on Nov 22, 1963. That was the day that President John Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas, Texas.

I remember that day very well. I was at Chico Elementry school in 5 th grade. My teacher, Mr. Hopkins came into class and his words will always live with me. He said "I am going to tell you something and don't let anyone tell you differently, the President has been shot". Then later he came in and told us that the President was dead. The little boys joked about getting the shooter and a couple girls cried. We were allowed into the library where a TV was set up and news was being shown. I think we were sent home that afternoon..

The next several days our family was glued to the television during the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and then the funeral. I remember my dad telling my sister and I to pay attention because someday we may be asked about it.

Today, the news shows are recounting the events and interviewing people who were there when the assassination occurred. The questions always surface about how could Oswald do this and was there a conspiracy? The Warren Commission, established by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the assassination, concluded in 1964 that Oswald acted alone. And then in 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations ended it's own inquiry by finding that Kennedy "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy".  Who really knows.

So who was Oswald? He was a troubled youth and joined the US Marines in his teens. Trained as a sharpshooter, his time in the Marines was turbulent and after two court martials, he was discharged. He was impressed with Marxism and defected to the Soviet Union. After becoming disillusioned with the lack of opportunities, he returned to the United States with his Russian wife.  He protested against the Cuban blockade and was out spoken against the United States. Was his hatred enough for him to assassinate the President?

Following the assassination, Oswald fled into the residential neighborhoods of Dallas and killed a policeman before being apprehended. Two days later while being moved at the jail, he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. The reason was never fully known why Ruby killed Oswald and with Oswald dead, his reason for assassinating the president were never discovered.

Could Oswald have acted alone? I think it is very possible. He was a sharpshooter in the Marines and had been seen at a rifle range practicing his shooting in the weeks before the assassination.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pacific Marine Expo 2013

Wednesday,  I went to the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. This is a show for the marine/fishing industry to check out the latest equipment and services that vendors have to offer. Each year I receive a free ticket and attend. I like to see what is new and wish that some of it was available when I was working. It is interesting to talk to some of the vendors that are selling equipment that I used to design installations for. I had a really good discussion with a vendor who performs laser scanning of machinery rooms and develops 3D CAD models of the piping systems. This was something that was talked about when I worked, but never implemented. 
I caught the 0845 ferry from Bremerton and was at the show, picked up my ID and was on the floor shortly after the 1000 opening time.

I made a quick trip of it and was on the 1235 ferry after stopping at Ivars for lunch. YUM!
 The displays fill the floor of the Century Link Field Event Center.
 Lots of equipment to look at. Wednesday was the first day of three that the show was open. There was a good turnout early in the day.
This is a General Electric 12V250 diesel engine. This is not the largest diesel engine I have been close to or worked on, but it was impressive that this engine was on display at this show. It can produce 4690 HP. Is about 10 feet tall, 14 feet long and weighs 44,500 lbs. It was by far the largest diesel engine displayed at the Pacific Marine Expo this year..

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A New Boat, Another Project

I went to Silverdale today and while I was there I made my usual stop at Goodwill. Today they had a sailboat displayed for sale. I looked at it. It seemed to have most of the parts and a note said that the rest of the parts were in the back. I stopped a worker and she confirmed that some of the missing pieces came with it. Some of the rigging was in disarray, but I was sure that I could get it straightened out. I wandered around some and thought about it for a while and decided to buy it. I loaded it into the back seat of the Bronco and brought it home.
Now my readers are probably saying "What, you bought a sailboat and loaded it into the back seat of your car?". Yes, you see, this is a radio controlled sailboat model. What I ended up with is a Victoria class model sailboat. It is about 32" long with a 42 in mast. Most of the parts seem to be with it and the controller and manual were the parts that were in the back of the store. In some ways, it looks like it has never been sailed as some of the rigging is in disarray. Fortunately the manual has all the assembly instructions and details.
When I got home, a search on the Internet yielded lots of information on these model boats. The Victoria class are very popular and many clubs and organizations race them. One friend said that they are raced on Green Lake in Seattle. Furthermore, there are many sources of rigging upgrades and go fast hints and tips. Some people have upgraded the mast to a carbon fiber stick or a lighter aluminum mast made of lightweight arrow shafts. Hi tech film sails are available. The stock parts are available, so if the electronics are fried, I should be able to buy new.
So, now I have another project. I have always wanted one of these. 

Some say that these are a replica of a 12 meter. I would say that it looks more like an AC72 with more beam.

All the major parts seem to be here. The hatch is missing, but I should be able to easily build a new one.

Gig Harbor LeMans Race-Nov 9

What is a LeMans Race? In motorsports, it usually refers to a race with a LeMans Start. This is a start where the drivers run to their cars, jump in, start the motor and then race onto the track. This type of start is rarely used anymore. Safety issues such as drivers not buckling in properly and cars colliding during the mass start lead to it being phased out and replaced by more structured starting procedures.

But, a race utilizing a LeMans Start is alive and well in Gig Harbor and has been raced for nearly 50 years. But the Gig Harbor race is raced with sailboats. The competing boats anchor in a "box" encompassed by four buoys. The crew hides below decks and at the starting signal run up on deck, raise the sails, weigh anchor and sail down the course.

For this race, I was invited to race onboard "Dulcinea" a J105 in my club. I like sailing on other boats sometimes. It is a great chance to learn how other boats sail. Since I have my own boat, I don't get invited aboard many other boats.

The day started cold and clear with light winds predicted. The drive to Gig Harbor was in very dense fog. We hoped that it would clear. Sure enough, by the time we arrived at Gig Harbor, the fog had lifted but the wind was non existent.

After the 0900 meeting, we motored out to the starting box near the starting line for our 1040 start. The wind was light out of the north and if it held, the start would be downwind. So we anchored with a single anchor and our bow pointed toward the line. After we established our spot, other boats anchored close and the "box" became crowded.

At the starting gun, our crew of five ran topside and pandemonium ensued. I raised the anchor while the others set the spinnaker and raised the main. The wind was light out of the north as we ran down Gig Harbor towards the narrow entrance. We sailed hot angles and sailed close to the other boats in our class. At the harbor entrance, the fleet compressed and it was crowded with all the boats trying to sail through the narrow entrance together. As we sailed out of the bay and headed north, we set the jib and dropped the spinnaker for the beat north up Colvos Pass. The beat became an exercise in trying to follow light bands of wind while still staying in favorable current. We saw winds as high as 5-6 knots a couple of times, but mostly it was very light with bands of winds just out of reach and dead spots to try to avoid. We rounded the mark at Olalla and started running against the current back toward Gig Harbor.

We reached across Colvos Pass only to find better winds on the west side. So we reached back toward the west side while still trying to maintain target speeds. The race committee announced that the race would be shortened at Pt Richmond. Now as the wind got lighter we wondered if we could even make it to the shortened course finish line within the 4-1/2 hour time limit. We passed a few boats and closed with the finish line, got flushed back by the current and with only a few feet to go ran out of time. It was very intense racing right to the end! When the results were presented, the race was scored at the Olalla mark. Setting a finish line at Pt Richmond was not an option in the rules. It was still fun working so hard to try to get to where we thought the finish would be.

We motored back to Gig Harbor and went to the post race party at the Gig Harbor BoatShop. This was a fun party. The boat shop is a real working shop that was originally the Eddon Boat Shop where the original Thunderbird was built in 1958. We ate pizza in a shop with old  unfinished wood walls, heavy work benches and woodworking tools scattered everywhere. This shop was saved from being razed for a condominium project by the taxpayers of Gig Harbor a few years ago.

At the post race party, the race chairman said that when the 50th anniversary of the race occurs in a few years, he plans to revive the original start of the race. The way the race was run in its beginning was the skippers rowing a dinghy to their boats and then tow the dinghy throughout the race. That would be more of a "true" LeMans start!

Thanks to Matthew, Mike, Mellisa and Tessa for inviting me along on this race, I had a good time.
 Looking down Gig Harbor before the start. There was not much wind!
Boats in our class anchored waiting for the start.