Trailer Lights' Reality

Reality here is trailer lights bug me. And these days reality can be slippery, too, past working lights, water depth, or the wretched jaws of no-see-'ems.

Why do I have a trailer? This is the "Cartop Cruising" column. Maybe it should be, "Boats light enough for others to cartop"?

Cartopping I love because trailers can be a pain fifty ways, needing attention and discipline. Forgetting either can be ruinous. In the movie, Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye often grunted in his gruff baritone, "On the one hand; on the other... ." The "other hand" for us is Clam Girl's trailer, essential for quick winter daysails to catch Cedar Keys' skimpy daytime, mixed semi-diurnal tides.

Hugh arguing with trailer lights. Fuzzknuckle the cat leaving in disgust from his attitude. After I hitched up Clam Girl January 26th 2021, I was surprised by flickering trailer lights. Then zip. They'd been perfect since Simon had installed the hitch and wiring on the Focus in 2018. LED jewels had sparkled till today. The connector seemed the problem, but lights were forgotten when we shoved off into a 9 knot, pleasantly increasing southerly. Long tacks, then we fell off into Dennis Creek.

Three times, going up Dennis, Clam Girl lurched and stopped, pushed onto oyster bars by the mild flood. But, I relished it, stepping out to drag and bounce CG and Karen over the bars, although it certainly would've been idyllic taking time, twisting slowly upstream, pivoting on oysters. But, we didn't want to run out of water at the ramp later.

Yin & Yang boots Upstream we jammed her into the marsh for lunch. Coming down on the slow ebb we were oyster prey again. It was a splendid day for us, but a rough day for my clamboots,'yin' and 'yang.' At the ramp, when Karen backed the trailer down, the trailer's brake lights were brilliant!?

By the 30th, although I'd checked and wiggled wires, the lights were nada. Off to the Shell Mound anyway. Before McClamory Key, a dolphin family with calves played around us.

For months I'd wanted to change the car-to-trailer connection to the round style, easier for me to grip. So, I wired in a set of round connectors. Flashers, brakes, and right and left turns worked each step, but, when I was done, no running lights.

Reality hit again when tracing the wiring. I saw fiberglass worn nearly through to the plywood at the center of her transom.

My neighbors are working watermen and women. Clammers launch more at the Town's ramps into the Cedar Keys NWR, while oystering people launch more from the Shell Mound in the Lower Suwannee NWR. Their trailers and trucks drip and rust away their days.

Hugh arguing with trailer lights. Fuzzknuckle the cat leaving in disgust from his attitude. Clam Girl launches dry. Her trailer's wheels stay ten feet from the water, but, when sliding off her trailer she comes fast, too often bashing onto the gravel and shells. A score of dry launches had ground off a half dozen layers of glass.

I propped her up enough to work from a stool. A few minutes with a light duty grinder, then a couple sequences of goo, harden, and grind, standing and holding the smaller belt sander upside down, should do it. Even had new 36 grit belts.

But, the work dragged on. Rains came. Two weeks of stiff back between waiting for rain to stop, angered me. 'With down-hand work it would've been done! An hour or two of setup for gravity aided work versus a half hour prep to battle gravity for days. Where's the reality in that, you blinkin' moron?'

The repair is a four inch wide Kevlar ramp toughened with silica, 5/16" thick at the center, faired to nothing at the corners. Rather than gone glass, it should wear to a bit of Kevlar frizzle.

In mid February Karen and I were tested for covid; we got our second vaccination; our tests came back negative. By late February, I'd put days into the trailer lights and thought they were about ready. Reality or fantasy? A dozen combinations worked partially, but none were 100%.

How to coax wizardly Simon into two, three hour drives? A teak board, a pound of coffee beans, and a dinner of unmatched chile relleno pie-casserole? A night in the airy guest trailer with freshly ground, pressed coffee in the morning?

He rescued us, solved computer puzzlements, brought exquisite Mazzaros cookies, plus a big bag of books from Kristi. Real cookies, real books, real help.

Do you sometimes wish sailing small boats was required for everyone? For reality lessons? Could acceptance of reality be improved? Though we touch it with our boats, I know I'm not immune to unreal daydreams, alternative facts I slip into from time to time.

But, think about Captain James Cook's reliance on science. While superstition was rife, seafarers were exposed to, and often recognized, truth. We still should.


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