No, thank God, it didn’t strike the boat … AND I was prepared for it!
For the past few months, I have been cursing General Motors engineering every time I want to put something large into El Caballero’s trunk. Because I drive in places that are too rough for the wimpy compact spare tire, I got myself a full-service spare. The well under the trunk is large enough for a full-size spare, with one little overlooked detail. It’s large enough for the standard tire on the base model Cavalier, but not for the high-performance tires on the top-of-the-line Cavalier, which are one inch bigger. One measly inch! So that tire has been hogging valuable trunk space and preventing me from hauling around quite so much boat gear.
Anyhow … today started out dead calm, so I didn’t need to feel so bad about not being able to sail Black Magic
yet. Instead, I had plans to meet Ben, a member of the sailing club who is also a State Parks boating safety officer who is certified to do HIN inspections for the Motor Vehicle Division, and later Larry was supposed to show up. Gerald and I went down to the boat, where we put up the boom and put a few other things together, and then we spent some time examining all of the gazillion lines, many of which Larry is still in the process of rigging. There are one heck of a lot of strings to pull on an Etchells.
Ben eventually arrived, and his first remark upon seeing Black Magic
was, “Man, that’s one kick-ass boat!” I have noticed that particularly among men, that’s a typical first reaction – yesterday, the first word out of Clarence’s mouth was “Wicked!”. I wonder what having a boat like that does for the social life of single women … I’ll have to check with someone who might know about that.
Then Ben, Gerald, and I spent a good deal of time looking for the HIN. We looked in all of the usual places, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. According to Ben, all boats had to have HINs starting in 1972, and according to the California title, this boat was a ’73, so it should have had one. But the California title also didn’t have an HIN – it just had the Etchells hull number, 125, in that blank. So that’s what Ben eventually put down on the form to take to the MVD.
By this time, it was getting late, and Larry still hadn’t shown up, and I was going to have to head for Albuquerque soon in order to get to work on time. I also wanted to go to the MVD office in T or C rather than Albuquerque, since the Albuquerque offices tend to be rather bureaucratic, and I didn’t want any trouble over the missing HIN. So Gerald and I got into the car and headed into town. On our way in, I noticed that the left front tire was making a tapping noise as it rolled, and it was causing an unpleasant vibration in the steering. So I stopped the car to check the tire, but it seemed OK, slightly low on pressure but otherwise, it looked fine. I figured there was probably a rock stuck in the tread – I’d been doing a lot of driving on gravel.
We continued to the MVD office, where there was no line, so the woman at the counter was able to help us right away. She commented about the lack of an HIN, and I said, “It’s an old boat, doesn’t have one.”
“No engine number?” she asked.
“Doesn’t have one.”
“Doesn’t have one?”
“It’s a sailboat.”
“Oh, yes, I see. Sailboat.” She took the forms to the back for about thirty seconds, but apparently the manager gave approval, as she immediately started entering data in the computer to register the boat – with 125 in the space on the title for the hull number. Within minutes, we had a new title, registration card, registration sticker, and a cheerful “Happy sailing!” from the clerk.
I toyed with the idea of going back to the boat to put on the sticker and the new registration number – Pat had already gotten a set of stick-on numbers and letters so I could do that – but I realized we were really running short on time, so I headed out for the freeway northward. As we got up to freeway speed, I heard a loud clack
from the left-front wheel well, and I said to Gerald, “Ah, good, it was just a rock stuck in the tread. It just had to get up to freeway speed to spin off.”
A few miles later, the tire went ka-whock ka-whock ka-whock
, and I pulled over to the side of the road with a very flat tire. My guess is that it had a nail in it, and as long as the nail was there, the tire stayed reasonably inflated, but when we got onto the freeway, the nail went bye-bye, and the tire then had a substantial hole in it. Fortunately, we had that big, full-size spare. In 20 minutes, we had the tire changed – but those were 20 valuable minutes. Where’s a NASCAR pit crew when you need one?
Having a full-size spare was nice, although there was a slight problem: It was a wee bit out of balance. It wasn’t bad at low speeds, but at higher speeds, it did cause vibration in the front end of the car and in the steering. I had to keep the speed down around 70. Still, that’s way better than the compact spare, which has a maximum speed of 45.
We got home about 20 minutes later than I’d originally hoped when we left T or C. I had a lot of stuff I needed to do at work (At least I did have all the papers graded!). We made a fast turn-around, unloading the car quickly. Pat just happened to have perfect timing, so he showed up at home at the right moment for a quick hello-goodbye, and then I was off to the office.
I had a bunch of copying to do – alas, one of the copiers was misbehaving, so I had to wait for the other one to become available. I also had to make Reality Checks. Every so often during the term, I create a slip of paper for each student, about the size of a bank check, that sums up where that student is academically: scores for homework and attendance, essay or writing project grades, and some brief comments about what I recommend the student do (for example, “You’re doing well; keep up the good work,” “You’re falling behind in homework; you need to work a little harder,” or the one I really hate writing, “You may want to consider dropping the class and trying again another term when you have more time to meet course obligations.”). Since this is the last week that students can drop a class, this round of Reality Checks is especially important.
I got the Reality Checks done for my Tuesday-Thursday classes, but I still have to do them for the Wednesday class. Maybe I can do them on the laptop in the waiting room at Costco tomorrow while I get my left front tire repaired or replaced (it’s under a warranty that includes road hazards) and the spare balanced.