September 19, 2020
I have returned to Home Free to check up on the boat and begin preparations for a move South later in the year. Having missed all of summer aboard, those projects are looking a bit more daunting given various restrictions on travel and other real and imagined COVID impacts.
Upon arrival I was relieved, but not surprised, that Home Free is floating appropriately in her berth, under a roof, in the shed at Atlanta Yacht Basin. On closer examination, it was clear that the boat had been well taken care of by the multitude of spiders that had taken up residence. I am attempting humour here.
Spiders are a bane to boats. If you could rate various poop for its ability to damage a boat, spider poop is at least a 9. Along with bird poop (a lowly 7 or 8 on the damage scale) the droppings from these critters leave marks on a boat that are very hard to remove. In the case of spiders, their droppings apparently contain whatever acid they use to dissolve their prey, and as you might guess this is not good for the things that are underneath them when it gets dropped.
After trying six different solutions to eliminate the various droppings on the boat, I have found the closest thing to a sure thing (Starbrite Spider and Bird Stain Remover). This still doesn’t get rid of the minor damage to the gelcoat (it will likely require a cleaning compound to rub that out), but it made quick work of the rest!
While working through some of those items, Hurricane Sally’s remnants passed over dropping a LOT of rain. The water level here, a dozen miles from the ocean, was up at least a few inches, although it has retreated quite a bit again by this morning.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was that my data connection for the boat has ceased operation. Apparently a contractual disagreement between my supplier and AT&T is the problem, but they recommend moving to other suppliers since they don’t know when things will be up and running again. It was a sweet deal, but like all unbelievable things, reality has come home to roost. Cellular data here is super expensive compared to Europe, but I guess I will be biting that bullet.
Here in the US, there is remarkably little social distancing and still only modest mask usage in the (very few) places I have been. That said, there is MORE caution now than the last time I was here, but far LESS than in Canada and so some of this is optics and biases.
Of course the airports, airplanes, and cabs are using masks; nearly 100% (except for some airport staff in LaGuardia whose masks came down when the departure check in area was virtually empty, and the lounge, half full, and half not wearing a mask). The boat yard has few masks, while the office workers put a mask on anytime someone comes into the office. There are signs everywhere saying they social distance, but the employees are not (and since they work together daily, perhaps that’s a small risk), but that may also be why there are 1000 cases a day in Virginia right now.
While it is impossible to convince some people that isolation is the only way to stop this virus, it can be seen pretty clearly in the statistics. Lockdowns stopped the virus in its tracks in places like China, Vietnam, Italy. In the places where free movement, particularly across borders was increased dramatically, case levels spiked higher. Spain for example is now far worse off than it was in April because it re-opened to tourism. France is seeing an uptick as well. There may be other factors involved, but caution, despite how anxious we all are to get back to our lives, remains the wisest course of action.
I will endeavour to stay, pretty much, on my own here. Boat, grocery store, bike – That’s the plan – while I work on my projects. That way I can return home, go through my 14 day quarantine, and then enjoy Thanksgiving with little risk. After that, I will come back down to move the boat out of the USA.
There isn’t much else to share right now. The boat is floating and looking much cleaner. The project list should start to get shorter (although there are a few new items of course!!) and I will remain fully engaged until departure.
Now if I can just keep the spiders off of the boat this time . . .
(FWIW, it is probable that, for the first time in a few decades at least, that data coming out of the USA can’t be trusted, and this is particularly true for COVID information. Since the White House ordered Health and Human Services (HHS) to take over the counts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), they have been experiencing volatility and a bumpy decline that seem odd both in scope and in timing. This is happening with increased movement and no change in mask policies, etc. While it is impossible to prove that these numbers are inaccurate, the number of professionals calling the data into question should lead to a healthy skepticism.)