Did Boeing hide a problem?

By Erik Dolson

How is it that communist China moved more quickly to protect their flying public by grounding the Boeing 737 Max than the Federal Aviation Administration moved to protect Americans? Why did the FAA wait until world condemnation drowned out their excuses?

It could not be because Boeing has the second largest lobbying budget in America, after AT&T, right? I mean, no company would put profit ahead of safety, right? Not here in America, where the free market all but guarantees that each and every company puts the welfare of customers over the bottom line, every time.

Like drug makers. Or insurance companies. Or Goldman Sachs. Monsanto. Though they might be tempted, they just wouldn’t.

But … Boeing? Boeing wouldn’t even be tempted, even after their move out of Seattle to Chicago.

Even as Republicans are ever more successful at dismantling agencies that protect Americans from corporate greed, there are limits to what those companies would allow, right?  Lead in drinking water? If you can’t taste it, you can ignore it. Pesticides and herbicides causing cancer? Wear thicker socks. Lethal paint strippers sold in Home Depot? Hold your breath during application. Air polution? Lower standards because Big Oil profits are threatened by electric cars!

Boeing 737s falling out of the air? We’ll wait for more information, the accidents look similar but may not be, pilots had concerns some time ago and we at Boeing were listening and apologizing! We were also making LOTS of MONEY but you need to believe us when we tell you that Safety is Our Number One Concern!

There was a time when heads of Japanese companies would commit suicide over disgracing their company and nation for acts similar to this. There was a sense of honor, and consequently, a belief in dishonor. Had Boeing done the honorable thing and immediately and voluntarily grounded its own fleet and admitted it failed to adequately inform and then train pilots in new systems, and possibly had a design flaw in their money making work horse, I’d applaud the company and government oversight.

But Boeing didn’t do that, and neither did the FAA. There was so much mistrust that the watchdog had been captured by the wolf that Ethiopia, site of the second crash (just a “shithole” country according to the man standing on the desk in the oval office and sending out scream-tweets), would not send the plane’s data recorders to the U.S. for analysis, but opted for France (home of Airbus) instead. We are definitely Making America Great Again.

Who at Boeing is responsible for decisions that led to the deaths of over 300 people in two aircraft accidents? Which executive made the call on limited training, on silence, on pretending that a software kludge made up for bad engine placement? Which engineer raised his or her hand and said, “This is not right.” We need names.

What communication occurred between Boeing and the FAA after each accident? What internal communications occurred within Boeing? Who wrote what to whom? It’s time for subpoenas. It’s long past time that we held individuals responsible for corporate malfeasance, and stopped slapping a corporate wrist. We need names.

There are executives at Wells Fargo who still have jobs, long after “new accounts managers” were fired for not foisting enough fake services on unsuspecting bank customers. We never got names.

But … Boeing?

If this is as bad as it seems, without parsing words or the utterance of greasy little excuses, it will be time for heads to roll, time for some executives to fall on their swords.

Godaddy lost Jessicabooks.com

by Erik Dolson

I’ve been a loyal Godaddy customer for years. I have 21 domain names registered with them, and had two websites.

Until last month, when I was “migrated” from Linux to C-Panel by an enthusastic young salesman. Cost me $423. He touted the savings he was giving me, along with other benefits.

Except, Godaddy lost the Jessicabooks.com site. I contacted them several times. Techs (after very long waits, at times) kept telling me to wait, sit tight, chill out, it would happen. Then it was too late. All the files disappeared. This was the primary sales site for “Indecent Exposure.” The Jessica blog, etc.

Godaddy is giving me a refund for the last $112 I gave them to “migrate” my site into oblivion. Out of about $600 spent, maybe more. I told them I was unable to express all my appreciation.

So, if you have a domain hosted by Godaddy, be reluctant to make changes that they recommend until you’re very sure that it’s necessary. Back up your files, because Godaddy won’t.

I’ve lost hundreds of hours of work. Damn it all.

So, if you click on a link from my site or a facebook page or an ad and you get a “File Not Found,” that’s why. I’ll clean it up as soon as I can.

Socialism or Social Justice?

Tom Cantrell, a friend and a smart guy whom I respect immensely, wrote me an email questioning my stand on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I responded. We have different points of view. He has agreed that our discussion can go forward in this blog. I have opened it up for others to contribute, but there are rules.

Rule #1: This is my publication, these are my rules, if you don’t like the rules, that’s okay.

Rule #2: No cheap shots. Some will say I take cheap shots. I will change something if I think I should, but see Rule 1.

Rule #3: Stay on topic. We are not going to talk about the Meuller probe, or chem trails. Who decides what’s on topic? C’mon.

Rule #4 (as of 9:00 a.m. March 8, 2019): You’ve buried me! I am unable to respond to the sheer volume of words coming in via email, Word .docs, comments, with photos, etc.

Therefore, limit your responses to ONE point. Under 500 words. Comments MUST be posted here, below. Sign in, do the Captcha dance, and I will try to get them up asap. If you want to drop me a note (“Hey, Erik, I put a comment up, where is it?”) that’s fine.

~ Erik Dolson

On Mar 4, 2019, at 9:06 AM, Tom Cantrell wrote:
Erik, you are not really advocating Socialist governing concepts are you??

On Mon, Mar 4, 2019 1:21 pm, Erik Dolson wrote:
Tom, that’s such an open ended, loaded, and ill-defined “gotcha” question, I can’t possibly answer it.

Tell me what you mean and are referring to. Give me an example based on something I wrote or said. Disagree with the specific, and let’s talk about it. If you want to discuss something, be fair in your question.

To Erik Dolson:
I do not intend to be rude but I do intend to be direct. The reason I asked was to understand why you have so much respect and agreement for AOC’s (U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) thoughts and opinions. America is a Republic and AOC does not believe in a Republic system of Government. AOC has made it clear that she supports Socialist style of Government. There is a difference in making laws based on the support of the majority versus imposing laws that the minority believes are best for the majority. No gotcha, just curious.

To: Tom Cantrell
Tom, I have clearly stated that I disagree with some of her ideas: “I was skeptical at first and don’t agree with everything she believes, but I do think she is fast becoming the most important political voice in America.”

No support for socialism there.

Again, you do not give me a specific statement that I made or that AOC has made to discuss. Show me where I have said, or for that matter, where AOC has said, that she promotes “imposing laws that the minority believes are best for the majority.”

In any case, a minority can hope to pursuade a majority that there are other points of view. That used to be the strength of America. And there is no disagreement from me that some of her views are currently a minority opinion. That the right seeks to supress her ideas by saying they are unAmerican, as you do here, is an indication of their power.

My enthusiasm for AOC has to do with her willingness to put in the work and ask tough questions. The first post noted her questioning the way corporations can and do buy senators and representatives and how this hurts ordinary Americans. The second was about AOC asking Trump’s consiglieri Michael Cohen who knew what about possible racketeering by Trump.

Nothing to do with socialism in either case.

At 10 p.m. on March 5, Tom Cantrell wrote:
Eric, my question was: “Are you advocating socialist governing concepts” ?

 I was not implying that you suggest imposing laws that the minority think are best for the majority but you do think she is a fresh voice.  So I asked you a direct question as to your views/advocacy on Socialist governing.

As for AOC, here is what she has said:  “Yup. If you don’t like the #GreenNewDeal, then come up with your own ambitious, on-scale proposal to address the global climate crisis. Until then, we’re in charge – and you’re just shouting from the cheap seats”. 

I am sure there will be other polls that some will point to but here is the best one I have seen and not only provides the exact question that was asked but also provides the demographics. https://remingtonresearchgroup.com/green_new_deal_survey/

 As for the Green Deal being a socialist ideal here is another poll with good info. https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/432102-most-voters-view-green-new-deal-as-largely-socialist-poll-shows

 I can not agree that I am suppressing her opinions, however if the majority of Americans do not agree with her or me, it is not suppression it is free thought.  I am not agreeing with her that is clear. 

The real irony with the concern of suppression and BIG money in elections is the actions of the past to the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus.  As we all know the IRS took a very long look at these groups and all conservative groups.  The IRS denied them 501-C status, investigated conservative groups for months/years and even tried to fine them.  So little said by so many about their fight against BIG money and it’s influence at that time.  The fight is the same but the people are different, but now those fighting are a breath of fresh air.  I would call that discrimination.  To be clear I am not suggesting that you did this.

I agree that the minority can or may convince the majority to change their line of thinking but I doubt it will happen. The attitude as been broadcast by the Political Party Leaders that a Party must stand shoulder to shoulder and vote the party line, no matter how bad the legislation is or what it’s effect would be.  Sure there will be one or two defectors but not enough to make a change.  When one sees a party that has defectors in the range of 5 to 10 people one should ask them selves a few hard questions about fair and free thinking or if they are also just following the party line.. 

Our Fore Fathers provided us with the best solutions for prosperity and Governance which can be proven by comparing America to any other country in history for success and freedom for period of 242 years.  Our Fore Fathers warned us time and time again thru the Federalist papers, Bill of Rights, Constitution and multiple speeches regarding other systems of Government yet we seem to try to flirt with the very things they warned us about.  We are acting as rebellious teenagers and trying to do what has already been done but expecting different results. Looking at the political landscape, I do not think the” tyranny of the majority” has fueled that length of success and prosperity of America for over 200 years, in fact I think the opposite.

At 10:30 March 5, Erik Dolson replied:

Tom, this is a bit of a moving target, but I’ll do my best.

Your first emails to me clearly indicate that since I expressed appreciation for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that I was advocating “socialist governing concepts.” Your phrasing noted. Which is still not true, see argument above.

It’s as if I’d said that since you’re a capitalist who favors deregulation, you want more people to have lung cancer, more lead in drinking water, tornados or wildfires to kill hundreds of people. I know that you are not in favor of poisoning children with lead in their drinking water. That’s the danger of labels, right?

None the less, you did say that AOC favors minority rule, if you will pardon the short hand. Which I don’t think is true and you don’t really offer much evidence.

The right wing has stuffed the media with mischaracterizations of what AOC said about the Green New Deal (which I do NOT support in total). It took 6 Google pages to get to an actual quote and that was from a British newspaper, once you get through “Glocknews” and the “Washington Examiner,” “Pig-in-the-Poke Daily,” etc. Six pages, that is not an exageration.

Here is what AOC said: “So people are like ‘Oh it’s unrealistic, oh it’s vague, oh it doesn’t address this little minute thing’ and I’m like ‘You try! You do it!’ Because you’re not, so until you do it, I’m the boss, How about that?”

See the words, “You try! You do it!” and “…until you do it?” She is putting ideas out there. Boy, does that have the right wing riled up. The first six pages of a Google search full of fear and loathing that a 29 year-old freshman congresswoman said  the planet is in danger and Americans need a future!

Damn straight I think she’s becoming one of the more important voices in American politics. AOC is trying to start a discussion about what is possibly the greatest threat to mankind since the last comet hit the earth. She is trying to put Americans to work (albeit poorly, in my opinion). She is trying to address the corrosive influence of Senators for Sale.

About damn time we had these dicussions in ways that Americans can understand.

Your comments about the majority of people being opposed to her concepts or her words? A majority of people think we need a better health care system. A majority of people think Trump’s unfit for office. If you want to credit opinion polls, then let’s go with those, too, okay?

Tea Party and Freedom Caucus? I will admit to disparaging both. And some were targeted by the IRS for abusing the system, possibly some which had not. But they had a pretty good run until they got swallowed by Mitch McConnel and Trump Republicans who rammed through a non-conservative, hyopocritical, budget busting give-away to huge corporations which are not hiring more workers but using their tax break windfall to buy their own stock and prop up share prices, further enriching the top 1 percent.

And when it’s time to cut the budgets, it will be the poor and middle class who will bear the burden because “America can’t afford these dangerous deficits.” The rich will scream “class warfare, class warfare” when they were the ones who started it.

Remember how Main Street bailed out Wall Street? Wall Street took the money and gave themselves a raise.

Slavishly following the party line? You’re talking about Republicans, right? Lockstep for years, now? Right? Okay, agreed.

As to your comments about our form of govenment, our forefathers, other forms of government, etc.? Non arguments, more of that “she opposes DEMOCRACY!” fear mongering, kinda like saying that since the sky is blue and chocolate tastes good, you’re on the side of right.

The biggest threat to what our forefathers envisioned is sitting in the White House, tweeting Fox News releases to undermine the very principles you say are important.

Inexperienced?

by Erik Dolson

Amid all the grandstanding, all the buffoonery, all the showy “Look at me!” from both parties at the hearing featuring Trump consigliere Michael Cohen on Thursday, one individual stood out for professionalism, attention to detail, and productive questioning: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Among all those lawyers pumped up by their own hot air, the bartender / waitress from Queens, New York was there to do business. AOC put them all to shame. Democrats are upset she beat one of their old guard? They should be weeping their thanks to heaven. Republicans are right to be afraid.

If you have a chance, find a replay of the hearing. It’s eye-opening.  One person there was focused on doing the job she was elected to do, and that’s the 29 year-old freshman congresswoman who has been called too inexperienced to be effective.

Sometimes, “experience” is just a lot of practice at doing a lousy job. She’s raised the bar, fellas. It’s time to get to work and quit playacting like you matter just because you had enough money to buy a chair in Congress.

Ack! I’m conservative!

By Erik Dolson
I received a text from the Bernie Sanders people yesterday, asking if I was on board with his new campaign to become president. I told them “No.”

No, because Bernie is stepping on his necktie. Elizabeth is scaring people. Too many others are saying “YES!” to fringe ideas. Bill Clinton and Obama know what the message has to be. Is anyone listening? 

Message: “America is facing challenges and is under attack. We need to face these challenges and attacks with policies that benefit ALL Americans, not just the top one percent (Republicans) or one-issue groups (Democrats).

Owners of capital are investing in automation, not in people. We are losing jobs to Asia, and to robots that build cars or pick crops. Our economy will founder if Americans don’t have work: social security, medicare, infrastructure, military, all depend on America working — and buying. To work, Americans need health, education, and infrastructure, not tarrifs, monopolies, and corrupt politics.

America’s health care system is a relic left over from WWII. We have the most expensive medical care in the world, but our health is just average in terms of outcomes. Why? Because special interests take advantage of their power in Congress to line their pockets with our tax dollars.

For solutions, Conservatives and Democrats can together look to the free market, but not the hoax we have today. Government should not get into the business of making medicine, Ms. Warren, but Americans should be able to buy the least expensive high quality medicine from any place in the world, Mr. Romney.

We need to lower “barriers of entry” so new companies with new solutions can enter the market. Reduce patent periods. Enact policies that favor investment. And ultimately, either break up or restrict oligopolies that are killing Americans with their profiteering by jacking up prices by 200 percent, 500 percent, 1000 percent on drugs that have been around for decades.

Medicine should be tested by our government for quality and purity. It is not “bureaucratic” to ensure health and safety. How does it happen that blood pressure meds sold to millions of Americans were made with chemicals from China contaminated with carcinogens? How does it happen that insurers or pharmacy benefits managers did not tell patients these drugs were contaminated?

We need to accept that robots have arrived and are taking what used to be high paying, middle class jobs. We can not prevent this, because other countries will outcompete us if we do. But we do need to guarantee that the information age does not lead to an age of American impoverishment, even more divided between those who own robots and those without jobs, which is where we’re headed now under Republican management. This will involve hard redefinitions, but if Americans don’t have income, businesses don’t have market.

If we pull apart, we will fail. If we pull together, we are unbeatable. Everyone in America, Democrat and Republican, libertarian and socialist, has a stake in the outcome.

Sadly, the Republican party has decided to lie to America by claiming that tax cuts were evenly distributed, that we can’t afford decent health care for all, that a rigged economy  represents a fair and honest playing field. These arguments are the result of money buying power to rewrite laws in their favor.

Democrats have tough disagreements. Gay rights versus a baker’s liberty to choose for whom to bake a cake. The difficult line between abortion and a woman’s right to choose. Individual freedom to achieve versus the right of an individual to fail, and expose all of us to the reality of being human.

Everything can’t be done, and Democrats should not try to do everything, or promise everything. But generally, the Democratic party offers the best chance of success for farmers in the midwest, for displaced factory workers in the northern states, for coal miners left out in the southeast, and for coastal cities facing massive disruption as the world grows hotter as the result of unfettered greed. 

But to develop a winning strategy, Democrats HAVE to listen to people outside their own tiny circles. So, no, Bernie, you are not the right candidate for the job.

Ideas are what Democrats have to sell. ALL of America is the market.

AOC needs protecting NOW.

by Erik Dolson

Listen and watch this short video. It’s just a few minutes long.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of most remarkable people to appear on the American political scene in recent memory. Her perspective is honest and fresh. Her courage is astounding. She does truly represent the American people, and not special interests or the 1 percent who bought Mitch McConnell and others in Congress.

I was skeptical at first and don’t agree with everything she believes, but I do think she is fast becoming the most important political voice in America.

Which puts her in danger. Her words are so on point and her bravery so obvious  that many of those who voted for Trump can identify with this bartender from New York. Corporate, political and individual special interests will do anything to shut her down, shut her up,  because she is willing to expose their corruption. They. Will. Do. Anything.  They have in the past and will do so again. Perhaps the Koch Brothers and the CEO of Marathon Oil should be put under surveillance.

They have too much to lose if Ocasio-Cortez continues to highlight how they and others like them have stolen our country, and the future of our children. America needs AOC, and AOC needs protection now, before it’s too late.

 

Our health care is sick

By Erik Dolson

When I had a small business, I provided health care for my employees and their families. The reason was simple: I did not know how to look them in the eye while turning them away if they had no insurance and they or one of their children faced death from accident or disease. My business was also better off if they were healthy.

Unsurprisingly, I am a believer in universal health care for America. I think that’s one way we Make America Great Again … by recognizing that we share some burdens together. I also believe that a healthy country is a more productive country, and that wonderful talent might contribute to all if we relieved the strain and uncertainty that poor health puts on individuals and families.

“Obamacare” was not a health care system, but a form of insurance. There were many problems with it, mostly the fault of Republican-demanded compromises, but it succeeded in delivering better health to millions who would have othewise suffered.

At this point, I am not advocating for one system or another. My bottom line is simply that adequate health care is a right for every American, and my belief is that in the long run, we will all be better off if that comes to pass.

Many ask “why would we sacrifice the best health care system in the world for an experiment?” Because it is not true that the U.S. health care system is the best in the world. It is best in some limited areas, and not very good in others.

 

What it is especially good at is handing over outrageous $billion$ to drug companies that profit from ownership of politicians.

What it is especially good at is overworking nurses and aides in hospitals and home health centers so more money flows to the bottom line.

What it is especially good at is pushing doctors to limit office visits to 12 minutes or so with staff coding care to maximize insurance and government reembursement.

What it is especialy good at is siphoning off billions to Pharmacy Benefit Managers, allowing pharmaceutical companies to pay kickbacks to PBMs, and allowing pharmaceutical companies to create artifical shortages to jack up prices.

There are many questions on what might work and how. But the fact is that America does not have the best health care system in the world, just the most expensive. We pay about double the average of the rest of the developed world for a system not as good. And we’re not getting our money’s worth.

First thing this mourning

By Erik Dolson

Who knows why it was today?  Because I wasn’t adequately sad, what with a firm, final goodbye from someone I loved but hurt badly enough they’d finally had enough? Because the sun was out? Because it was today, it just was?

This was always going to be one of the places where I’d leave some ashes. It was a crisp lovely day long ago when Leslee and Jim and I leaned up against the tall stone wall that retained heat from a sun that would not set.

We marveled how it just hung there barely moving as crowds flowed by and musicians played for change dropped into guitar cases, the sun perpetuating the afternoon like the singer held on to a refrain of a song we really liked.

On that day we were on the island looking at a boat I thought I might buy. I needed their opinion, we shared values and they had far more experience. After thoroughly going over the boat in a marina 45 minutes to the north, we came downtown to bask against the wall in this exquisite city, then find some Indian food.

I didn’t know on that afternoon, what, five years ago? Six? how little time was left. So much has happened since, and it’s hard to think that Jimmy died coming up on two years ago. Hell, I think I’ve been boating around the San Juan Islands for well over a year with the box Leslee sent with Jimmy in a baggie. Maybe that horrifies some, I think he’d smile, hell, he might have just given me those words.

The time wasn’t right, until today.

God, I miss him. Not like Leslee, of course, or his sons or his grandchildren. But he was my older brother, I trusted him to be him, and I loved him as if we’d spent our whole lives together and not just part of the last half, and even though I always knew he was smarter than me, more compassionate, had higher standards, had achieved more, showed higher honor.

It was hard at times knowing I wasn’t his best friend even though he was mine, that I may not have even been in his top five. He was that loved by those kinds of people. Of course he was. He had an impact, he was, it was frequently said, “larger than life.” Many wanted to bask in that glow.

He could tell stories that would make him laugh so hard he could barely speak, about things he’d done that most would want no one to know. Like the time he ate a bad taco or whatever from a street vendor in some South American or Central American town, then had to get on an airplane for a long flight back to the U.S. About how, when he got off the plane, men in hazmat suits came on board.

I helped him at times, I think, I hope, when he would worry about things. He didn’t know why he procrastinated when a legal brief was due, usually getting it done at the last minute. “Because your subconscious works on it the whole time, until you’re ready to transcribe the ‘story,’ ” I told him. That seemed to give him some relief from self recrimination.

He was a master at story. When writing a brief, he could put the facts into a story that was so persuasive, he had a reputation. He wrote simply but beautifully, better than me, and I was suposedly a “writer.” He’d clerked for one of the top legal minds in Oregon. He was qualified to present arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court. He wrote passages that were incorporated into U.S. law. He fended for the downtrodden, literally saved family farms, shook hands with Willie Nelson.

No, he wasn’t perfect but I loved him as much for his flaws as all that, for his occasional self-doubt, his deep need to know where Leslee was at all times and his dependence on her, his propensity to forget on occasion that he’d told a story before.

Like all of us, he had a warped mirror, at times. Others called him arrogant, not recognizing the difference between arrogance and brilliance and a willingness to express what he knew to be true.

Those attitudes didn’t bother me. I’ve been called arrogant as often as he was, and I have a whole lot less to show for it. It was confidence in some situations, managing not to show insecurities in others.

We’d hang out, sometimes talking deep shit because that was my personality refuge, until he tired of that then would change the subject or go do something else. In Panama once they’d broken the glass on a solar panel. I suggested we cover the shards with epoxy, and we filled the frame with a gelatinous goo that hardened into a glazing that worked well for a while. He thought that was pretty cool.

He loved his own kludges, too, like the time he rewired the automatic control of the water maker on their boat so it operated manually. That fix got them by for a long time, and took some ingenuity to figure out. I think he talked about that more than fighting off banks who wanted to take family farms in the 1980 recession that nobody remembers any more.

I think I’ll leave some ashes in Blind Bay, where he and Leslee watched me bring the boat he helped me buy and drop anchor for the first time, where he called my daughter the “crab whisperer” and made her proud that she could coax claw waving crabs to let go of the cage so they could be dropped back into the bay or into the pot for dinner.

Maybe I’ll make a small boat of folded paper with a candle for a sail and send some ashes off. Maybe I’ll send some down in a crab pot to lure the beasties in. I think he’d think that was fun.

This is the second time I’ve taken ashes to special places. The first time was for my other older brother from a separate mother, Jeff, another brilliant man but one so haunted by the demons we shared that … well, never mind. Some of his ashes were spread in a large Montana Lake, left there as the first snow of the season settled in and roads were about to be closed, so that Jeff could join creeks feeding Flathead Lake and eventually the Columbia River and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Which is where Jimmy’s ashes will wash, the next rain, off the huge stones that make up the wall where the sun sets only with reluctance. Off the bow of my boat, too, where I spread some so that Jimmy could continue to guide me, from a place ahead of the mast.

I’m getting old, but I often think of myself as Jimmy’s little brother. I refuse, as Clint Eastwood says, “to let the old man in.” The day will come when I can’t drive fast cars and sail this boat and maybe I’m already incapable of falling in love. I had to face that again, yesterday, when I read the word, “goodbye.”

Maybe today was the day I spread a bit of ashes because it was a way of not saying goodbye. I put ashes in a place important that I’d shared with him, with them, so that every day for however long I spend here, when I walk past that wall for whatever reason, I will be able to say, “Hi, Jimmy.”

Even if no one hears me.

For Gear Heads.

By Erik Dolson

When I bought the 25 year old boat, I was completely ignorant of electrical systems and the boat had three battery monitors: One in the charger /inverter (charges the main or “house batteries when connected to “shore” power, or takes direct current from the batteries and turns it into alternating current for appliances), one in the master switch panel, and a small round monitor labeled “Balmar” that only retired Balmar Inc. techs remembered and for which Balmar has no information anywhere. I asume it was sourced from another OEM.

None of the three ever agreed with either of the other two as to voltage or current. And, I wasn’t sure if the little round guage wasn’t actually connected to the battery that was used to start the engine, given that unlabeled wires run everywhere.

Let’s not get into the two huge alternators that hung off the main engine and were driven by two too small V-belts impossible to adjust, and a dumb regulator. Boy, did they eat belts. Even a Blalmar smart regulator didn’t cure that (a serpentine belt, did, with one larger alternator. Sometimes you have to KISS a problem away).

Oh, the generator regulator was installed such that the “dripless” shaft seal could toss salt water right at it. Talk about random issues! Burnt wires! The generator exhaust was plumbed into a cockpit drain, which allowed engine noise and diesel smoke unimpeded access to the cockpit during evenings at anchor. The tachometer didn”t need to be replaced despite the insistence of a tech who aparently didn’t grasp open circuit vs volatage under load, and the main engine would not start for a while in Alaska until, again, contacts were sanded and tightened.

So, if three guages don’t tell the same story, get a 4th! Bought a Balmar Smart Guage and wired it myself to one battery of the house bank so that I would absolutley know where and how. This battery monitor agreed with the voltage of the round Balmar guage which also gives amps draw. They were consistetly .2 volts higher than the old panel monitor, which also seems to report amps randomly between 2 and 200, which I put down to age/shunt issues, and a refrigeration system that does not go through the main panel at all but is wired up somewhere in the engine room. I’ll find the connections eventually.

But as long as things were working and somewhat consistent, I wasn’t worried. I was ignorant, almost as good!

That left the charger / inverter, which agreed in volts with the two Balmar guages when it was not charging, but was way off when it was. It also was not fully charging the batteries from shore power, I realized later, though my main engine and generator did, once new regulators were installed. The charger / inverter started to behave once a loose ground was tightened up during the process of sanding engine room electrical bus bar connections.

Then came solar, and the panels, and solar controllers, and a battery sensor that doesn’t broadcast beyond it’s own low profile shadow, and hence even more discovery.

It’s amazing to me how frustrating this can be, but at the same time, how much I love this stuff! I really mean that. What an education!

Like discovering after almost threeee yeeears and uncountable episodes of wiping up diesel while chasing the perfect flame that my Dickenson Diesel Heater doesn’t just want good draft, it really prefers positive cabin pressure! What a hoot!

The best of intentions

by Erik Dolson

Now THAT was a success. Planning the tides, the currents, time of departure, time of arrival … I’ll tell you, I have talent. A special talent, in fact …

Somehow, I got it all exactly wrong.

Not a little bit wrong, not off on the shoulder wrong, but current dead on the bow wrong, full flood, maximum flow.

I’d planned to do 9 knots in my calculations the night before. At first I told myself it was the wind. Not really supposed to be any wind, according to two different forecasts I consulted, but there it was, about 10 degrees off the bow of the boat and blowing 18 mph. So I wasn’t making 9 knots, I was making 7.2.

But, I told myself, when I turn to the west the wind will be just off the starboard stern, and I’ll make it up then!

Sure enough, I turned the corner by Roche Harbor and the wind, now going more my direction, was much less fierce. So the speed of the boat picked up to … huh? Now the speed was down to 6.8 knots, over the ground, as current sped against me through the narrow gap.

Okay, okay, we still have the longest leg, down Haro Strait. That should go much, much better. It’s a long run, wind from the port side rear quarter, I bet I’ll do … ah c’mon! 7.3 knots!?!

This time I looked again at the currents on my iPad, at the same program I looked at last night. They must have changed it while I slept! Because it clearly showed exactly what I was seeing on the water. Flood at 10:30 a.m. Maximum flow at this time. Against my direction of travel.

So instead of 3 1/2 hours to Victoria, it took over four. No big deal, nothing to do when I arrived, anyway. I was there at 12:30ish, only because of having made my 8 a.m. sunrise departure which, honestly, was a bit of a miracle by itself though it would have been a faster trip if I’d overslept an hour or two.

I pulled into customs exactly as I wanted, it all felt good as I backed into the wind, tossed a line over the new cleat on the dock, realized I was still going aftward because I’d not shifted into neutral, jumped to put the shifter into forward to stop the backward momentum, regathered the line and again threw it over the cleat on the dock … then tried to hold the boat for a second before realizing it wasn’t the current that was pulling me forward but the slowly chugging Yanmar I again had not taken out of gear … banged my head on the corner of the new house getting to the gear shift …

Okay, stop. Just stop. This is not that hard. Be deliberate, my mentor once said.

Stop the boat. Throw and secure spring line. Position boat against the line. Tie the stern line, then the bow. Now you can call customs. Whew!

Leaving customs, I left all the fenders down and lines ready to deploy at the marina two minutes away. When I saw the slip I’d been assigned, in the easiest possible location, I spun Foxy about in the harbor full of boats with holiday crowds at the wall, backed smartly up alongside the dock, stopped the boat and had her tied securely in about a minute.

Oh, yeah, done this before, not a big deal. (Sshhh.)