THANKSGIVING - HOW THE MODERN CONCEPT EVOLVED

Posted On: November 19, 2018



We owe the modern concept of Thanksgiving to a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book and author of the famous "Mary Had a Little Lamb" nursery rhyme, who spent 40 years advocating for a national, annual Thanksgiving holiday.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, she saw the holiday as a way to infuse hope and belief in the nation and the Constitution. So, when the United States was torn in half during the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln was searching for a way to bring the nation together, he discussed the matter with Hale.

Lincoln Sets Date

On October 3, 1863, Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation that declared the last Thursday in November (based on Washington's date) to be a day of "thanksgiving and praise." For the first time, Thanksgiving became a national, annual holiday with a specific date.

FDR Changes It

For 75 years after Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation, succeeding presidents honored the tradition and annually issued their own Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November as the day of Thanksgiving. However, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not.

In 1939, the last Thursday of November was going to be November 30. Retailers complained to FDR that this only left 24 shopping days to Christmas and begged him to push Thanksgiving just one week earlier. It was determined that most people do their Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving and retailers hoped that with an extra week of shopping, people would buy more.

So when FDR announced his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1939, he declared the date of Thanksgiving to be Thursday, November 23, the second-to-last Thursday of the month.

What Happened to Thanksgiving the Following Year?

In 1940, FDR again announced Thanksgiving to be the second-to-last Thursday of the month. This time, 31 states followed him with the earlier date and 17 kept the traditional date. Confusion over two Thanksgivings continued.

Congress Fixes It

Lincoln had established the Thanksgiving holiday to bring the country together, but the confusion over the date change was tearing it apart. On December 26, 1941, Congress passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

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BLACK FRIDAY EXPLAINED

Posted On: November 16, 2018


What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season. Traditionally, it is the day on which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are in the black. On Black Friday, a variety of products (electronics, apparel, toys, etc.) are available at their lowest prices of the year. Limited-quantity doorbusters draw crowds of shoppers to stores at special early hours. This year, many retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving night and online sales will begin as early as Thanksgiving morning. That means an extra day of opportunities!

Black Friday Myths  

Black Friday Sales Begin on Black Friday

Black Friday is now a full season. Sure, Black Friday proper is the main attraction, but stores have increasingly started to release deals in waves. Bargains can be found early in the week of Thanksgiving and run all the way through the weekend. The bottom line is, if you're doing all your deal-hunting exclusively on Black Friday, then you're missing out.

You're Missing Out if You Only Shop Online

Companies advertise door busters in order to attract customers to their brick-and-mortar stores. But in recent years, as competition has escalated among rival retailers, those eye-catching deals have steadily moved online as well.

The reason is simple. Traditional retailers like WALMART, TARGET and BEST BUY know that online retailers like AMAZON will match their best prices on in-store deals. Thus it only makes sense to offer the same deals online, to remain competitive. The goal is to beat Amazon, but the real winners are deal-hunters.

Black Friday Shopping is Dangerous

We've all seen the footage. Hordes of crazed holiday shoppers stampede into a store at four in the morning, trampling anyone and everyone in the way. It makes for a morbidly fascinating spectacle, a case study for shoppers as social Darwinists, played out on live TV.

But the truth is that those sorts of incidents are actually extremely rare. We just happen to see the worst on the news because it translates into great TV. While you should be aware of the potential for chaos during your in-store shopping, know that it's unlikely to reach aggressive proportions.

All Black Friday Deals Are Amazing

Shopping 101. Remember, retailers are in business to make a buck, and they can't do that if they lose money — or even make too small a profit — on every deal.

Some deals are great, but others are filler. The great ones are there to lure you into buying more stuff, ideally at a healthy markup. So do your research and uncover the truth about those "rock bottom" prices before you buy.

Online Shopping is Always Easier

As anyone who's lived through Black Friday knows, the online experience isn't always stress-free. Technology isn't perfect. Websites can crash or even fail. And when everything works properly, some deals will simply sell out before you can place your order. The latter is a common complaint for flash sales from Amazon, for example. But at least you're still shopping from home!

 

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SOME SURPRISING CLAIM STATISTICS

Posted On: November 12, 2018


Fire and explosion make up a relatively small percentage of all claims, but the average payout per claim ranks high. That's because, like theft, fire or explosion all too often results in the total loss of the boat.

Faulty wiring causes most fires; most explosions result from fueling issues. Inspect your boat regularly for chafing wires that aren't properly supported, and for corrosion of AC shore-power inlets. If you can smell gas, something's really wrong. Get everyone off the boat and have it checked immediately.

Finally, make sure you have the proper number and type of working fire extinguishers aboard.

Ninety percent of stolen boats are taken while on their trailers.

The most commonly stolen boat type was a runabout, less than 26 feet, on a trailer, with one or more outboards.

Surprisingly, only about 15 percent of owners whose boats were stolen said their boat had any kind of lock installed. Many said they didn't think they needed locks because where they kept their boats seemed safe, but that thinking is often misguided.

Your best tool for foiling the bad guys is frustration.

Thieves are lazy, and anything you can do to increase the time or difficulty it takes to steal your boat will discourage theft.

The first rule of boating: Keep the water out!

When that simple rule gets violated, the boat often ends up a total loss. In many cases, the dollars paid out for sinking claims exceeded the payouts from hurricane claims, even though they generate several times more claims.

Water most often finds its way in through those pesky holes below the waterline. Many underwater holes have a way to keep them closed when they're not needed — seacocks. But seacocks must often remain open, so it falls to lesser fittings like hoses and clamps to keep the water out. Check, squeeze, and tug on all fittings below the waterline at least once a season.

Other causes for sinking include leaking stuffing boxes and clogged scuppers.


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VETERANS DAY TO AMERICANS

Posted On: November 09, 2018

On November 11, 1919, U.S. President WOODROW WILSON issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans:

ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN


The White House, November 11, 1919.

A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.

With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.

WOODROW WILSON

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SELF DOCKING BOATS CLOSE TO A REALITY

Posted On: November 05, 2018


If you thought technology couldn't make boating any easier, you probably haven't yet heard about Volvo's new self-docking boats. Yes, that's right, the ability for boats to park themselves into an assigned slip.

Called "Easy Connect," sensors on the dock and boat communicate with one another and by wirelessly controlling the boat's IPS drives, parking the boat effortlessly into the slip regardless of wind, current, or other forces acting on the boat.


Docking is one of the most challenging boat-handling maneuvers. Getting it wrong can be embarrassing, expensive, and precarious," says Björn Ingemanson, President of Volvo Penta. "Our IPS system has already taken great strides in making docking easier, and this new self-docking feature takes that process one important stage further."

Volvo notes that while the system effectively drives the boat in and out of the dock for you, the skipper should still be at the helm ready to take control of the boat if necessary.

The system was recently demonstrated to the public for the first time during the Gothenburg stopover of the Volvo Ocean race when a large yacht fitted with IPS drives docked between a couple of the round-the-world yachts

The automated docking capability partly comes from the onboard electronic vessel-control system (EVC), which computes steering and drive calculations in relation to the boat's actual position and four sensors sited on the intended berth. It's expected that boats already fitted with Volvo IPS drives will be able to be upgraded to the self-docking technology, which should please owners of older boats who are interested in having the latest technology aboard.

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PROS & CONS OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

Posted On: November 02, 2018


THE PROS AND CONS OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

This weekend we change the clocks, but the argument of the true benefits still are in question. Here's some of the arguments.


Pro: Longer Evenings

 

Changing the clocks does not create extra daylight, but it causes the Sun to rise and set at a later time by the clock. So, when we spring forward an hour in spring, we add 1 hour of natural daylight to our afternoon schedule.

 

    Proponents of DST argue that longer evenings motivate people to get out of the house. The extra hour of daylight can be used for outdoor recreation like golf, soccer, baseball, running, etc. That way, DST may counteract the sedentary lifestyle of modern living.

    The tourism industry profits from brighter evenings. Longer nights give people more time to go shopping, to restaurants, or other events, boosting the local economy.

 

Con: Doesn't Save Energy

 

A century ago, when DST was introduced, more daylight was a good thing because it meant less use of artificial light, helping to save energy. Modern society, with its computers, TV-screens, and air conditioning units uses more energy, no matter if the Sun is up or not. Today, the amount of energy saved from DST is negligible.

 

    When Indiana decided to introduce DST in 2006, a study found that the measure actually increased energy use in the state.

 

Pro: Less Artificial Light

 

One of the aims of DST is to make sure that people's active hours coincide with daylight hours so that less artificial light is needed. This makes less sense close to the equator where the amount of daylight does not vary much in a year, or near the poles where the difference between winter and summer daylight hours is very large.

 

However, at latitudes between these extremes, adjusting daily routines to the shifting day length during summer may indeed help to save energy. A German analysis of 44 studies on energy use and DST found a positive relationship between latitude and energy savings.

Con: Can Make People Sick

 

Changing the time, even if it is only by 1 hour, disrupts our body clocks or circadian rhythm. For most people, the resulting tiredness is simply an inconvenience. For some, however, the time change can have more serious consequences.

 

    Studies link the lack of sleep at the start of DST to car accidents, workplace injuries, suicide, and miscarriages.

    The early evening darkness after the end of the DST period is linked to depression.

    The risk of suffering a heart attack is also increased when DST begins. However, the extra hour of sleep we get at the end of DST has in turn been linked to fewer heart attacks.

 

How DST affects your health

Pro: Lighter = Safer

 

Safety is a good argument for keeping the lighter evenings of DST.

 

    Studies have found that DST contributes to improved road safety by reducing pedestrian fatalities by 13% during dawn and dusk hours.

    Another study found an 7% decrease in robberies following the spring shift to DST.

 

Con: Costs Money

 

It is hard to determine the economic cost of the collective tiredness caused by DST, but studies have found that there is a decrease in productivity after the spring transition.

 

    The City of New York invested 1.5 million US dollars in a dusk and darkness safety campaign for the DST change for the fall of 2016.

    There is an extra cost in building DST support into computer systems and keeping them maintained, as well as manually changing clocks.

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ANCHORING ETIQUETTE

Posted On: October 29, 2018


Few boat topics are as likely to generate strong opinions — and colorful language — as anchoring. Volumes have been written on how to anchor and which anchor works best. But to hear some of the comments at the dock, there's precious little written about the etiquette of anchoring.

Come In Slowly

Anchoring is kind of like moving into a new neighborhood. You want to make a good first impression so your new neighbors will invite you over for a drink and not call the local water police. Wakes are a no-no in any anchorage, so you want to come in very slowly and stately (plus it gives you more time to scope out the place and decide who you want for your temporary neighbor). If you come in fast enough to overturn somebody's lunch, you'll likely end up an outcast and probably get an earful.

When you're weaving your way through an anchorage, pass behind anchored boats; it's nerve-wracking to see someone passing right over where you know your anchor line is. Also, if you come in at night, try not to blind your fellow boaters with a million-watt spotlight, ruining their night vision. Keep the light aimed low, have all your own deck lights on, and keep your voices low and clear.

The First Boat Sets The Precedent

While there are no laws addressing priority, anchoring is traditionally on a first-come, first-served basis. If there are lots of boats already there, your position is low man on the totem pole. Really, all that means is that boats that come in later need to respect the space needs and the 360-degree swinging room (with rode stretched out) of all the other boats there. If you were the first one in, congratulations, you're king for the day. If you arrive later, don't anchor too close to other boats, or in their swing radius.

It's perfectly OK — in fact it's preferred — to talk to your potential neighbors, whether a new boat coming in or already anchored. If you're gliding by looking to anchor near a boat and the owner is in the cockpit, compliment their boat and ask if they're OK with where you plan to anchor. Ask them where their anchor is and how much scope they have out. Perhaps ask about the bottom. Some are good and some are bad for holding. Don't be surprised (or offended) if they're not OK with your plan for whatever reason. Everyone has his or her own social limits. Plus, there may be important issues at play: they might have multiple anchors out; there may be shallows or obstructions nearby; they could have engine trouble, meaning they may appreciate a little extra room "just in case;" or maybe your neighbor is waiting for another boat to raft up with them. So just say thanks, let it go, and move on to the next potential spot.

Once The Hook Is Down, Don't Just Hop In The Dinghy

Nothing screams newbie louder than tossing an anchor over and leaving before your boat has settled back with the wind and really "set" its hook. An anchor has to grab the bottom, dig in, and set to really hold, which usually entails letting out enough scope (5-to-1 rode to depth, measured from your anchor roller to the bottom), backing down on it slowly until it hooks the bottom, and then more strongly to dig its flukes in until it's clear the boat will remain in place. Even after whatever tactic you use to set it, you should still see how it does before you leave.

Conversely, don't put out more than 5-to-1 scope unless it's really needed; otherwise you will swing over on top of another boat if the wind should shift. If everyone uses this same 5-to-1 ratio, an anchorage of boats should swing around together if they have similar bottom and windage characteristics. Always drop your hook behind the stern of a neighbor's boat, never alongside it; this ensures that you'll both swing in your own circles.

The wind may be nothing now, but when that little dark cloud on the horizon starts growing and getting closer, not only the strength, but the direction of the wind will probably change. If you're ashore with a poorly set anchor, you may be the one responsible for the slow-motion boat-sized pinball game that ensues. Not cool, and you're sure to create damage to your boat and others.

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STERN DRIVE MAINTENANCE PART 2

Posted On: October 26, 2018

STERN DRIVE MAINTENANCE

Beyond Bellows

While you are inspecting your bellows, take a little time to look over your prop as well.

Any visible damage?

Any signs of fishing line down there?

Fishing line can damage the seals that hold the gear oil in the sterndrive housing. Monofilament line can even reach the melting point when wrapped around a revolving propeller shaft.

Photo of fishing line

Fishing line wrapped around the propshaft can cause the lower unit seal to fail, allowing water to contaminate the oil, which can destroy the unit. (Photo: Doug Alling)

If line is discovered, removal of the prop may be necessary to disentangle it. Take a look at the seal that is just forward of the prop and look for any signs of leaking oil. Then, take a look at the gear oil itself.

Is the level OK? If the oil has a milky white appearance, water has entered the sterndrive and the oil will have to be replaced.

Remember, refilling your sterndrive oil is counterintuitive.

New oil must be pumped UP into the sterndrive. Never refill from the top oil port or vent hole.

If you are concerned about the integrity of your oil seals, your mechanic has a simple method of checking them by vacuum or pressure.

As you run down the list of recommendations your sterndrive manufacturer has outlined for annual maintenance, you'll note that you should be lubricating some important moving parts. Don't overlook the prop shaft, U-joint shaft splines, and steering system cables. One grease gun may not cover the needs of these different applications. Check your owner's manual for recommendations.

If your boat spends much of its time in saltwater, corrosion of the sterndrive becomes a concern. Manufacturers install sacrificial anodes that are designed for your boat's sterndrive and protect the aluminum housing from corrosion. Monitor them closely and replace them when they become half wasted. How often that is depends on the amount of time the boat spends in the water. Check your motor's manual for the location of all of the anodes because some are cleverly hidden, such as under the cavitation plate just above your propeller.

Photo of anode that needs replacement

This anode is past due for replacement. Without proper anodes, an outdrive will quickly corrode. (Photo: Doug Alling)

Replacement with aluminum anodes is recommended. Magnesium anodes should only be used if your boat lives in clean fresh water all of the time. Remember that anodes should never be painted. Mercury Marine has gone the extra yard and in some sterndrives has installed the MerCathode system. This is an active or "impressed" system that actually delivers a small electric current to the sterndrive to counteract corrosion on the unit. The MerCathode derives its power from your boat's battery so, to be effective, your battery has to be charged, and all wires and connections have to be sound. Again, your mechanic should have a simple test to ensure that your Mercathode system is working properly.

Not only should you keep the paint brush away from your sterndrive's anodes, you should steer clear of getting too close to the sterndrive itself. Most bottom paints contain copper and most sterndrives are constructed of aluminum. These two dissimilar metals do not cohabitate well and underwater can turn into a battery of sorts that can lead to corrosion issues. It's important to keep the copper in your bottom paint away from the aluminum in your sterndrive. So, when painting the boat's transom, keep an unpainted area around your sterndrive. Most recommendations are for about one-and-a -half inches of unpainted surface. Use a copper-free, drive-specific paint, such as West Marine's Antifouling Outdrive Spray paint, if the boat is kept in the water full time.

Photo of cracked lower unit housing

This lower unit cracked over winter when trapped water froze and expanded.
Check for milky oil in the unit before laying up for winter. (Photo: Doug Alling)

And finally, when it comes to storing your sterndrive, it's important to prevent water from entering the exhaust hub of the propeller. Openings that are designed to let the exhaust out can also allow rainwater and snowmelt in. Water will accumulate in the unit's housing if the drive is stored in the "up" position. In cold weather, any accumulated water in the sterndrive can freeze and, under the right conditions, ice may expand and crack the housing. When putting your boat away for the season, store the sterndrive in the "down" position or use a sturdy, waterproof cover over the prop to prevent water accumulation in the housing.

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