2 Wheels To Adventure

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Alaska/Canada Trip--2006
Two "Adventure" Bikes

Ride boldly, Lad,  fear not the spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson) 
I'm not the man I used to think I was. (RBW)
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)

For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.

New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

That Sound You Hear...

That sound you hear is heads exploding all over the country at Mr. Obama's announcement of 23 proposals for some kind of mitigation of the gun problem that takes on average 30,000 lives in America annually.

The ardent gun enthusiasts (I am tempted to say "gun crazies," but demur in the interest of objectivity) who have been fed in their fury by the National Rifle Association, other pro-gun organizations, and just about every Bat-shit crazy Right Wing talk show host, congressperson or Radical Right Senator, are convinced that the Second Amendment assures the right of every citizen to possess and own any kind of weapon without restriction. Several commentators have opined that it is our right to have any kind of weapon that is possessed by our armed forces. They refer specifically to assault type rifles, but logic would then lead to citizens owning, should it be their desire (and within their financial capability), rocket launchers, guided missiles, unmanned drones, tanks, submarines, blah, blah. Surely their "right" to own weapons would stop at nuclear devices? Why not? It is only an extension of the basic claim to having "any"firearm (read: weapon).

We presently have restrictions on weapon ownership. Fully automatic weaons are illegal unless especially authorized. There is no reason to conclude that the Second precludes other kinds of regulation, but the enthusiasts claim that "infringement" as used in the Second means "any kind of restriction whatsoever." There is a great paranoia that any such restriction is but a first step in "they are coming for our guns." They claim that the Second was voted into effect as the second of the ten Bill of Rights to have citizens armed to prevent a tyrannical government: as a means to overthrow that government should it become necessary, thereby apparently negating the democratic process by which we have lived for the entire time of our republic's existence. "Government" by definition has become the evil, and citizens must be armed and prepared at all times to rise up in rebellion when it becomes necessary, and I write "when" because that seems also to be the concensus among those "true patriots." They are firmly convinced, if we believe their words, that the revolution is coming, and in fact, they are saying just that. If the government bans assault type rifles they are told that it will be time for civil war. They say that they refuse to give up their guns, law or no law, and aroun the country various officials and law enforcement leaders have stated that they will not enforce any law that bans any kind of weapon.

Reason has fled. Emotion reigns, and there is no discussion from the gun enthusiast side---only shouting and nearly incoherent invective, comparing Mr. Obama to Stalin, Hitler, Nero, or whatever tyrant strikes the chord that hits the note that resonates into the psyches of the fearful and the haters.

A streamed clip I viewed recently from a gun-guy in Tennessee had him facing the camera saying, "If this goes one inch further, I am going to start killing people." He later (after the state suspended his CCW permit) apologized, then ended that "apology" saying that he meant what he had said. 

Strother Martin, in "Cool Hand Luke" said, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." What we have here is a failure to stop and think. These gun-guys are not stupid. They are as intelligent as the next fellow, myself included. I am not so damned smart, but I think the difference sometime comes not in intelligence but in failure to put it into gear. Idling brilliance can be seduced down by raw emotions, and the gun-guys' buttons are cleverly pushed by interests that have little to do with the Second Amendment and its alleged guarantee of any weapon, any time, without any restriction. It has to do with $$. There is big money in guns, and as William Rivers Pitt wrote the other day, the problem with guns---for the manufacturers---is that they do not wear out and they do not become obsolete. The market dries up after awhile, because gun owners can only own so many, and after all, how many Glocks do you need for protection? How many AR-15s give you peace of mind over the Big Bad Government? So when everyone has all the guns they need or want, there will be no market. Hence, the gun industry needs to create a market, and the best device is to frighten people about burgeoning crime, corrupt and tyrannical government, foreign threats, and the end of the world---you are going to need an AR-15 with six thousand rounds to hunt down your evening meal. They need to cattle-prod the liberals into realizing the threat, thereby opening up another huge market.

As in all things, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

5:16 pm mst          Comments

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back in

I have been "locked out" of this site for several days, but things seem now to be back to "normal."

Recent events compel me to make another opinionated statement, and it concerns the gun situation in the United States.

We have a problem here, even though there is a significant element of our society that apparently thinks the status quo is either a) impossible to change; or b) there is no problem involving "guns" per se. But there is a problem that involves guns. We have a dismal and shameful record regarding gun deaths. In the past twenty years, our annual gun death toll is somewhere in the vicinity of 30,00 per year. A vast majority of these are hand gun deaths either accident, homicides, or suicides. No other industrialized nation has a record that comes close.

We have somewhere in the range of 300 million guns in our country, and guns clearly are a major factor in our culture and our heritage. We are fiercely protective of our constitutional right to have firearms, and few reasonable people are in favor of the concept of total gun ban.

I have owned guns all of my life. I got my first "gun" when I was about eight years old. It was a BB bun, and I was taught the basic principles of responstible gun possession and use: 

1) EVERY gun is loaded.

2) NEVER point any gun at anything or anyone you do not wish to harm.

3) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

4) Always clear your field of fire (make sure there is nothing beyond your target that could be hit).

If these simple rules were more frequently taught and observed, a good many "accidental" shootings would be avoided.

The fact that anyone who is not otherwise prevented, can purchase a hand gun (after due process background check if it is a gun dealer), and walk out of the store without any instruction in the four basic rules cited above is in itself negligent and irresponsible. We do not allow anyone to operate a motor vehicle without demonstrating basic knowledge, not to mention proficient operation, so how is it that we allow people to own and use weapons, especially hand guns without some kind of demonstrated proficiency?

This of course doe not address the gigantic loophole that allows persons to purchase guns without any background checks if done online, at a gun show or from a private seller.

If people are so ignorant of the ramifications of gun ownership/possession that they will not avail themselves of proper training, then it is the function of government to impose requirements that will promulgate safe and proper usage. That should be incontrovertible. It is not. Many gun enthusiasts have come to the belief that they have the right to possess firearms of any kind without any kind of oversight, regulation, or other attempt to constrain them in any way.

The Second Amendment has recently been interpreted by our SCOTUS as guarantee that ownership is a right. That this is a new ruling is now a fact, and cannot be denied, but there is nothing in the Second that obviates regulation.  The third word in that amendment is "regulated." It is there in reference to a militia, a concept that is no longer clear. Nevertheless, regulation of firearms is not precluded by the amendment.

It is reasonable to expect hand gun use, possession or ownership to be licensed by proper authority, evidence of gun safety training and proper employment of said instrument.

To be continued...

11:07 am mst          Comments

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! 2013!

Twenty-twelve just seemed to slip by unnoticed by this site. My excuse(s) 1) Indolence (just plain lazy) 2) Nothing to say.

Well, both of the above. It was a year, and I cannot say a very good year, because the country seems to be going to pot around us. Obama was re-elected, which pleased some, infuriated others, and seems at this point to have made no real difference in our world. As I write this, our House of Representatives continues to dither and do nothing. Nothing new here. We continue downward, and I see no signs of change.

As to personally, it was a good year. She and I continue to be healthy---as far as is known---and life has been good to us. No complaints.

OH MISS was moved in June. My daughter and her husband came aboard at Port Hadlock, where she had been berthed for several months---since November 2011---and we sailed her to Berkeley, California without incident. We had a pleasant trip, with no foul weather other than a bit of fog leaving and again arriving. The seas were kind to us, and a good time was had by all aboard.

The trip took eight days. We paused overly long in Neah Bay, Washington to enjoy a Sunday in sun and balmy temperatures. I say overly long, but really it was a nice stopover, and not too long, as we were ahead of schedule and not in a hurry (it's a sailboat!).

We saw plenty of whales at a distance, and on two separate occasions, up very close. We also saw considerable flotsam from what we were pretty sure was the Japanese tsunami. One was a dory, upside down, covered with barnacles. It clearly had been floating for a considerable period. There were also lots of glass floats, used in fishing in Japan, and we briefly considered gathering in one, but decided there might have been some radiation hazard involved, so let them go, a decision I later regretted.

We sailed straight away from Neah Bay, crossing into the Pacific and heading to a modified offshore route, about fifty to sixty miles out, so as to avoid the crab pots as well as shipping lanes.

The seas were very mild, with gentle swells that never exceeded four feet at about 8 seconds, but the bad news there is that there was damned little wind. This is a sailboat after all, and we spent a good seventy-five percent of the trip under power, sometime motor sailing, sometimes bare poles. For the uninformed, motor sailing is done with the mainsail out. You strive to get the sail "inflated," that is, full of what breeze there is, thereby stabilizing the roll tendency with swells that are coming from port or, in our case the starboard quarter. She steadies out nicely if you can keep enough wind to fill the sail, and then you only have fore and aft pitching. In the case of OH MISS, she rides the seas nicely, and the pitching is not bad in a four foot swell.

So we motored on, making between six and seven knots as an average. I did not want to go into any port in Washington or Oregon if I could help it, because most of the ports on those coasts can be tricky what with the bar crossings most of them involve. It can be a piece of cake, but in adverse conditions, very dicey.

So we stayed offshore most of the way, and only headed in when in California. We went in to Crescent City for fuel, although I am sure we could have made it with what tankage we had. I prefer not to run on the bottom half of the tank if not absolutely necessary, so we made a forty-five minute stop there for diesel before proceeding down coast. Lots of fog on that final leg of several hundred miles. We used radar and the very utile AIS to great advantage and to very great relief. AIS is Automatic Identification System. It is VHF radio coupled with GPS. All large vessels are required to have AIS transmitter and tranceiver, which broadcasts over VHF fequencies their namd, tonnage, beam, length, course, speed, and in some cases their destination. Boats equipped with receivers will get the message and AIS computers will give the receiving vessel the information including point of closest approach and time to closest approach. It is better than radar as long as both vessels are transmitting. It is not required of all vessels, so those without can still be a factor to avoid, hence radar is a great backup. In gentle seas such as we had, radar pickup was excellent. Choppy water or rough seas can make radar pickup of all but the larger vessels spotty, and in fog it can get very tense indeed.

Our experience was pretty laid back. One of my crew was more tense than the other two, but we got along without any traumatic incidents.

We finally got some nice westerly wind after we rounded Point Reyes, not far from SFO Bay. We got the sails out, shut down the diesel, and sailed nicely toward the Golden Gate with clear conditions. But, it was not to last, and after we came past the last point, the name of which escapes me at the moment, we could see that the fog had descended, and the Gate was behind a wall of gray. We discussed furling sail and motoring, but I prevailed, saying that since we still had good wind (West at fifteen to twenty knots), that it would be a shame not to sail through the Gate. And we did. Making six-and-a-half to seven knots, on a broad reach we breezed under the orange gate, barely able to make it out as we passed. It was quite a thrill for this old man!

Not long after the bridge, we broke out into the open once again, and there was The City off on the starboard side, lit by late afternoon alpenglow, and framed by the dark water of the bay below and a band of remaining fog (low cloud) above, just kissing the top of the TransAmerica Pyramid Building. It was a gorgeous sight!

Approaching Alcatraz, we turned dead downwind, and, wing-and-wing, fairly flew toward Berkeley, making eight knots for a time. It was the end to a perfect trip! We had a gas, and my crew said they couldn't wait to go again, something I hope to do this year, perhaps to San Diego, Mexico, or even Hawaii.

We spent the night in Berkeley, then loaded our gear into my pickup, which I had left previously there for the trip back to Port Hadlock. As my crew had appointments in just a few days, we drove nonstop, arriving Port H. at 0330. They left immediately for home in Idaho, and I caught a couple of hours sleep before retrieving my motorcycle from a boat yard in Port Townsend where I had left it prior to sailing---logistics on these boat repositionings are complex. 

There were some problems before, a couple of minor ones during, and again after the trip. I had had the boat hauled in late April for work to be done, telling the yard that I had to have it for the trip south in late June. To make a long story not so long, they were very slow in the work, and there were some quality issues. For example, they serviced the engine, but three days out we discovered a fuel leak. Two or more gallons of diesel had leaked from an improperly seated fuel filter that the yard had installed. No big deal, but an annoyance.

I had had the mainsail worked on by UK Sails, Sidney (BC) in the previous fall, and had had no chance to sea trial the sail since beause of the too slow boatyard work. UK Sails had replaced the battens. This in-mast furler has horizontal battens, and I have since found that they are very touchy, and need to be administered by someone who knows in mast furlers in general and horizontal battens in particular. So, we had problems with the sail. It jammed several times, and I was faced with climbing the mast to help un-jam it. This is not always a lot of fun when you are in four foot seas, fifty miles out, but we got it unjammed, me thirty feet up the mast and my son-in-law on the winches, back and forth until we got past the bunched and folded sailcloth.

After returning to OH MISS, I had the sail removed and the battens taken out. Pineapple Sails of Alameda did the job, and I have to say that Kame Richards, the proprietor of said firm is a good guy, and does good work. No trouble with the sail since. She furls and unfurls nicely, without hangups. I also had to have a survey done on the new diesel generator that had not been properly documented by the Port Townsend boatyard. This was another minor aggravation.

And that is the entry for this first day of a new year. More to say later--- 


4:10 pm mst          Comments

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For future use

Our New Best Friend, TRES

My Hero, Uncle Pete, two days short of his 90th birthday.

Meet Mort--- Mortem "mors me cum equitat"
The view from 50 feet up the mast
The Old Guy At The Helm Of "OH MISS"
Adventure Bound
The Old Guy, Back Home Unscathed
2005 BMW K1200LT, long gone to bike heaven
"Der Klunkenschiffter" at age 4, 102,000 miles