The Judge and Alex hit the road…

Friday was a day to remember. Alex says he will remember parts of it but wants to forget most of it. I think in the long run we made some adventure memories that will be with him long after we are gone.

The day started with a negotiation session that Alex was allowed to sit in on but not to comment upon. The fellow that runs the marina is a real nice guy but cannot give a straight answer on price. He just kept saying he was going to take care of us. Well I had already been taken care of at the last two stops and I wanted an agreed price for the week. He was saying $4.5 which translates to $4.50 per foot plus a $20 per day power charge! I was having none of this. So I told him I wanted to meet this morning on our boat to finalize this. We put him in the big chair and Alex and I sat on the sofa. Jan disappeared down below as she hates this sort of thing.

It took nearly an hour to pin this guy down. Remember, he took a tape measure and measured our boat when we arrived but said it was not for the purpose of charging us. He said then he was trying to see if another boat could fit on the dock with us. I would think measuring the empty space would tell him that. So now he started off by saying the boat was nearly 50 feet with the dinghy but he was only charging for 46 feet of boat. I let him ramble and when he took out his calculator and quoted a figure I told him I would leave first thing in the morning. This shook him. It was an interesting give and take as Alex sat wide eyed taking it all in. I finally told him that I would make an offer that he could refuse but I would only make one offer and it was a final offer. I told him my figure and he almost choked. He started working his calculator and began to make a counter. I told him not to waste his time that we would go back to NYC where Seabiscuit was waiting. He was flustered and I stepped across the room to the shelf beside him and picked up my checkbook. I sat back down and began to fill out a check. He asked what I was doing. I said I believe you are going to accept my offer so I am writing the check and if you do not accept we will just tear it up. It is always difficult for someone to leave real money on the table. So I handed him the check and after much consternation he took it and wrote a receipt. If he only knew how many times I have negotiated with bigger boys for bigger money. It is as Donald Trump says, the art of the deal.

So with this chore out of the way we are set until Thursday morning and Alex and I were prepared to set out on an adventure. Meanwhile Jan was going to catch a cab to go do laundry.

Alex wanted to wear one of our safari caps which considering his complexion is a great idea. He thinks he looks like a Naboo Guard from Star Wars.

We walked a mile to the Wells Fargo Bank and picked up a little cash for the rest of the journey. A number of places up here do not take plastic. Sign of the times and an underground economy. Then we went to the bus stop with proper change. Unfortunately we are not regular bus riders so with a 50/50 chance of getting on the right bus we naturally got on the wrong one. Instead of heading to the shopping center we were on a bus to White Plains! I learned this by speaking to some nice ladies who were going there. I tried speaking to the driver and was never really sure he understood. He just said you cannot get a transfer to another bus on the same route and kept going toward White Plains. I sat back down and said in a voice intended to be loud enough for him to hear, “Alex, I don’t know what we are going to do. Judge has messed up big time and we could be stuck on this bus for hours and I am not sure we have enough money to get back.” Well, bless Pat, he pulled over at the next stop, gave me two transfers and showed us where to go and catch the bus going in the other direction. Mission accomplished.

Finally after 20 minutes our bus came and we were off and running. Our goal was to get to Walmart, Office Max and Home Depot. Then we had a grocery list to fill when we returned to Croton.

The little towns we traversed were interesting, Peekskill being the largest. We stopped at a VA hospital and eventually got to our shopping area. We were intent on purchasing a cheap printer because we had no way to print our Ground Zero tickets or our Air Tran tickets. Walmart had an HP 1000 Deskjet for $29. Perfect and what a nice job it does.

Then on to Home Depot for a tube of a very special glue. More on this later. A ream of paper at Office Max and did I mention a six pack of Raspberry Snapple Tea for Jan. Oh how I would regret that weight as the day went on.

It had to be 90 outside as we trekked from store to store making purchases. Oh, and Alex wanted a Star Wars Lego kit and I caved. So by the time we were finished we had a shopping cart full. So we rolled the cart down the hill to another shopping center and checked the return bus schedule and double checked it this time. Alex was most concerned about taking the shopping cart. I pointed out that there were at least two others behind the bus stop and it seemed a common practice. Anyway we had nearly 40 minutes to wait and it was hot. But across the four lane was a Wendy’s. So we just walked over there and sat in air conditioned comfort to wait and have a refreshing drink. Alex said that was the best giant cherry Coke he had ever tasted. When I went to get a refill I discovered that in NY they do not refill the same cup. They give you a completely new cup. I said in Georgia we are more economical and that is why we are not in such bad economic shape. The guy behind me said they are broke up here. And truthfully when you look around everything looks more care worn and dingy up here. But the drinks were ice cold.

Back to the bus stop and we were headed for home. I told Alex he had the first watch and I would sleep. He lasted about five minutes.

When we arrived back in Croton we rushed to the market and began placing our order at the deli counter. Jan phoned to say a bad storm was on the way and we should hurry. We did but to no avail. It was beginning to rain but we opted for making a run. Now running with a printer, a six pack of Snapple in glass bottles, a grocery order, a ream of paper, and Lord knows what else was easier said than done. So we ended up being trapped beneath a bridge in the worst thunder and lightening storm I have seen in years. As the water cascaded over the bridge and filled the storm sewer Alex wanted to know what we would do if there was a flash flood. I told him we would climb higher up under the bridge and we might have to spend the night.

So our simple two hour bus ride had stretched out to a 7 hour odyssey. No wonder Alex wanted to forget most of it but still I thought it was a great bonding experience and we met and talked to many nice folks.

On Saturday I spent the morning trying to put the fix on those water pump impellers that keep failing at high speed. For those who are not technically oriented STOP HERE. For those who really want to know and for my sister Cathy, READ ON.

It seems these Sherwood pumps had a defect which was a keyway that was cut too large. So a 5/16 key is too loose in there and a 3/8 will not fit. There is no in between size. So when the engine is spinning at high rpm’s the key “walks” toward the rear of the pump and grinds against the cover plate which is a stronger metal. Thus the 2 1/2 inch key is slowly ground away until a small piece about 3/8 inch is left and then it moves up and falls into a space between the impeller hub and the cover plate. Then the impeller stops turning and the engine overheats resulting in automatic shutdown to save the engine. A nice safety feature.

So how to fix it. My father had an expression when I would ask him how he knew certain tricks to fix unusual things. He would say, “That’s an old country trick, brought over from the old country.” Well our good friend Tommy Gray told me an old country trick to try and fix this problem.

When Alex and I went to the Home Depot we picked up a tube of Locktite. Not the old Locktite that permanently binds metal to metal but a new formula that binds them but can be broken loose with tools. So Tommy suggested binding the key to the pump shaft to prevent it from moving forward. I decided to instead bind it to the inside of the impeller. I did this because if it cannot be removed I would rather have it on an impeller I can pull out than on a shaft I cannot easily get to with tools. Also it made installation easier. So far so good but the test will be out on the river. I include a picture of what was left of a key that failed, one of a partially ground off key that was on the way to failure when I pulled it out and a full size key. The middle one was put on at Solomons Island.

I took a test walk over to the train station to pick up our tickets for Sunday and our tickets for Wednesday. It was a 40 minute walk one way. I was exhausted when I got back. I could have ridden a bike but needed to know how long it took since we had to walk on Sunday and Wednesday and Alex could not miss his flight.

In the late afternoon we finally took Alex swimming. We went by dinghy to a nearby park beach and had a good time.