Jim and I have a long time friend, George, who we met in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He recently retired from his job as a city electrician. Even working full time, you found him at the Coast Guard station almost every weekend, either taking long shifts at radio comms or training the new Coasties working on their comms qual.
George is not married, has no significant other, but has numerous siblings who he often visits. He seems quite happy. Having spent many years in the navy before getting his city job, he feels at home at the C.G. station. George, Jim, and I man the C.G. Aux radio comms for a week each year at the Oshkosh air show and take a day to tour the show together. Last year we discovered that we tire more easily now at the show and have to take full advantage of the trams that cover the site instead of walking all day. It is comfortable to have such friends. We are growing old together.
We are soon to have a special gift from George due to his increased free time in retirement. Last night he went over the equipment on our boat and the three of us sat down afterward in our favorite restaurant to go over his findings. It turned into a plan to completely rewire our 30 year old cabin cruiser!
"It is no good going cheap", said George.
So I held my breath while silently shouting "how much?"
Paging through the West Marine boating catalog, George answered my unstated question "about two hundred dollars".
"Oh", I let out the breath, for that is very reasonably, as far as costs of things boat wise go.
George glanced over the wiring drawing in his tattered notebook - all perfectly straight lines, in three colors. "And eight hours work to put the wires to all the electronics in tubes and install a clear plastic fuse box at the steering station with the latest in marine fuses. You will like these fuses - they have prongs and are easier to replace than the old glass cylinder ones. It will be state-of-the-art for 2008."
I laugh, "We will hand you the tools, ask dumb questions, and mop your brow during the work."
"Good. You will know your boat's electronics inside out," said George. "And they all will function more safely and efficiently."
So, two marine radios, a radar unit, LORAN unit, GPS, radio direction finder, depth sounder, spot light, and compass get a new lease on life. Not bad for an old boat supporting the public service and recreational needs of grandparents through toddlers.
"And take out those wire hangers in the hanging closet," scolds George. "The wiring in there is only for the boat stereo system which your son-in-law wants to update. But electrical contact with a wire hanger could give a nasty shock. I can work with him to do that rewiring too. We will probably have enough stuff left over to work on that."
I pour out the last of the horchata, ice cubes rattle and splash from the pitcher into the glasses as we resettle ourselves in the booth after dinner.
Yup, it is good to have a friend like George.
The hanging closet George mentioned is to the right of the steps going up out of the cabin, under the shelf with all the stuff sitting on it:
In the next photo, in the front row, George is second from the left, then me, seventeen years ago at the party for the return of the Coast Guard Reserve port security unit from Desert Storm. Jim was in the hospital with a stomach ulcer at the time. I'd show a later photo of the three of us, but in this one we look better! Seventeen years ago, sigh.