Saturday, May 24, 2008

Meridian Sees the Sun . . . and Starts to Shine

The day finally arrived! No, not that day. We haven't left for the North Channel yet.

But last week, after a long cold winter that never seemed to end, we finally removed the shrink wrap from Meridian. Here's a photo of Meridian happily basking in the sun at Canal Street Marina and Yacht Yard.

If you've been a long-time reader of our blog, you may recognize the structure in the right of the photograph. That's part of the infamous South Branch Amtrak Bridge. We've had a number of encounters with her, the "best" one being this one, where we waited well over an hour for it to raise - only to learn our radio wasn't working. Another time last year as we were putting Meridian away for the winter, upon reaching the bridge we were informed by the bridge tender that it was broken. We had to turn around, go back to our slip, then return five hours later.

We've had such trouble with that one bridge that we thought it would be a good idea to store Meridian within sight of it. Hopefully, they became friends over the winter and the bridge will cooperate more readily with us in the future!

Today we washed Meridian and put a coat of wax on her starboard side. Weather permitting, we'll finish the wax job over the next several days. Then it's on to the bottom paint and, finally, launch.

Why will it take several days to put a coat of wax on her?

Well, here's one of those little secrets that boat owners don't tend to share, preferring that the rest of the world look on enviously as they live a life of glamor and luxury. Every spring, when it's time to polish and wax the boat, she magically GROWS! And not just a little bit. This year I think she made it up to 60 feet. Once all the work is done, though, she'll shrink right back down to her former size.

But now that we're finally preparing Meridian for launch, we're starting to get excited about leaving. The days are moving quickly now and it won't be long . . .

Friday, May 2, 2008

FCC License Required for Marine VHF Radio

We recently learned during our US Power Squadron boating course that when boating in Canada (or any foreign port for that matter), you need an FCC License for your marine VHF radio. Technically, you need a Ship Station License and you need an Operator's Permit.

This wasn't welcome news because we still remember the FCC license process from purchasing a set of GMRS walkie-talkies several years ago. Sort of a combination of the worst features of IRS tax forms, Windows Vista "stability" and wireless router "documentation".

"Frustrating" doesn't begin to describe that experience.

I was really hoping the application process had improved over the years. A quick internet search didn't yield much hope though. I found that there are third party sites that will submit the application for you - for a fee. If people are willing to pay someone else, well, it can't be easy, right?

Luckily, I also found a really useful blog entry that described one person's experience with the license process and gave some clear and easily understood directions. As it turns out, this is very simple. Somewhere along the way the FCC put together an incredibly easy process for applying for these licenses online.

I submitted the application last Saturday using the FCC's simple on-line forms. The costs were $160 for the Ship License and $60 for the operator permit (I think).

Would you believe they came in the mail yesterday? Just like that.

Kudos to the FCC for making it so easy! And thank you All About Boats . . . So it Goes . . . for the easy-to-understand directions.