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re: nick, nick, nick
14 jun 1996
harry h conover  praises cape dorys :-)

hello again harry,

surprised and pleased to see you pop up in

>:>right... a friend of mine has a beautiful, seaworthy deep keel 28' cape dory
>:>sailboat, with a small inboard diesel engine, federally-registered with the
>:>merchant marine as an "oil screw," to reduce taxes and let him clear customs
>:>more easily :-) would you hang an outboard motor on your america's cup boat?
>"federally-registered with the merchant marine as an oil screw?"
>huh?   :-)

yes. perhaps i used the wrong phrase here, but that's the idea.
ridge has this little brass plaque glued to the top of his 4000 pound
keel that says "oil screw," with an official number :-)

>you perhaps mean coast guard documented?

i do recall the word "documented." the idea is, my friend's little
sailboat is an official vessel of the us merchant marine :-)

>if so, how does this help him reduce taxes

as such, it's immune to state taxes and boat license fees, i think. this
was about 15 years ago. and unlike other boats, when he returns to us waters
he has 24 hours to check in with customs, or something like that, and he 
doesn't need to report to the nearest customs station on entering us waters,
unlike undocumented boats.

>(does this effectively avoid state collection of sales tax????)

i'm not sure about sales taxes. i think it was something more related
to yearly taxes or use fees. it's moored in the chesapeake.

>still, since both mooring taxes and sales taxes are based on
>selling price and or current valuation, how does the power plant enter
>the tax equation?

it doesn't, directly. i was just pointing out that altho his boat is
99.9% wind powered, when it came to the gov't, they looked and saw he
had a small diesel, and declared his boat an "oil screw" :-) i guess
there's an order of precedence, or something. i suppose they mighta called
it a sailboat, if it had had no motor. or maybe told him he couldn't be
part of the merchant marine, because real boats have motors...

>i assume the tax benefit to him must be significant, since federal
>documentation of a 28' boat is so pretentious as likely to get you laughed 
>right out of your local boat or yacht club  --

i think he said it cost $1k or so, but he figured it was worth it as a
one-time fee to avoid all kinds of future nuisance taxes. ridge is remarkably 
far-sighted and tolerant of paperwork. determined, too. i think he's the only
human being on earth to have argued a technical matter all the way up to the
full fcc board of commissioners, and won.

>but if there is a significant tax advantage (which i am unaware of),
>i'll put up with a few chuckles on my way to the bank.  

check it out. the laws may have changed.
>all things considered, nobody laughs at a cape dory.  they is one
>fine piece o' sailboat!!! 

it's a lovely boat. he got the biggest one that still had a tiller. years ago,
the two of us took it out for a 6 week sail from the chesapeake, up the nj
coast, across ny harbor to block island, newport, new bedford, cuttyhunk,
mystic, etc, and back down around long island to the chesapeake. we were
60 miles offshore at one point, sailing 24 hours a day, standing alternate
5 hour watches, italian-style, for 5 days, one of us clipped to the lifelines
with lanyards while the other slept below. we blew out a jib at one point.
becalmed in fog for hours some nights, with tankers sailing around us and
our radar reflector, but ridge hated to use the motor. around sandy hook,
on the way back, we ran into 60 knot winds and rain, and sparrowhawk was
happily heeling 60 degrees and making good headway under bare poles...
we may sail to europe in this little boat sometime, via the azores...

i think real solar houses can become this kind of hobby, with panache, and
justifiable pride on the part of a few people who are able to to use powerful
natural forces and smart low-power controls, to make beautiful solar houses
that require no other form of heat. here's an ideal solar house customer:

someone for whom a part of a deep eco/environmental commitment involves
understanding that the way we use energy in this country is related to the
quality of the natural and human environment. someone who wants to get
familiar with easy high school physics and math, or, lacking that desire or
knowledge or ability, someone who realizes that science is basic to using
renewable energy successfully with natural forces and smart controls.
someone who wants a natural, automatic, efficient, cost-effective,
low-maintenance, low-lifestyle-impact system to heat their house and hot
water with the sun. someone who realizes that solutions to ill-thought out,
non-cost-effective systems of the past involve better and deeper thinking,
not government subsidies, ie taking money out of other peoples' pockets.
someone who is willing to learn, not ignorant or arrogant, who has few rigid
ideas about what a house should look like or how it should heat itself.
someone with no help from an architect, maybe.
someone who is frugal, yet has sufficient means and vision to afford to
experiment with a new house heating system, for whom the yearly house
heating bill matters. or someone wealthier, a sailor perhaps, who might
find solar house heating an interesting hobby. 
here's some ad text from the magazine sailing, the beauty of sail:
 you're hit by a squall and you're sailing in big, breaking seas. you       
 don't want to round up to reef or lower your full batten mainsail. you     
 just want it down. now! with 100% reliability and no hassles. is that      
 possible? yes, and only yes if you have a ball bearing batten car system. 
 the problem with long battens is that they apply load on their cars from
 all directions. they push and pull and above all, they torque and twist.
 slide systems, no matter how slippery, won't do the job. recirculating     
 ball bearings sliding in a "v" groove will roll...
 harken battcar systems use only recirculating ball bearing batten cars
 and feature all new batten receptacles and headboards which are lighter,
 easy to remove and cost less.
 insist on the system that is designed to keep your mainsail under your
 control. under all conditions. on all points of sail. not just on a
 sunny day at the dock. the choice is yours.
sailors have fun, but a lot of them are quite serious about it... 
there's a story later in this magazine about a couple and their 9-year old
son and 7-year-old daughter who finally took their dream sailing vacation,
a 5 year cruise around the world on a compass 47 cutter, a 30,000 pound,
long-fin-keel, performance cruiser, which was torn open by a freighter at 3
am on november 24 "as a vicious northeast gale roared through the rigging,"
30 miles at sea, northeast of new zealand. "only the wife [an engineer]
survived, washed ashore 40 hours later. when she was found, suffering from
exposure and severe back injuries, she gave the exact coordinates of where
their boat was plowed under by the ship that had come suddenly out of the
black night. co-skipper judy sleavin was that kind of meticulous sailor."
they practiced by going from san diego to the caribbean and back, through
the panama canal, twice. in her last communication home, faxed from tonga,
_before_ they hit the 50 knot gale with 20' seas, judy sleavin told friends
 this life is by no means stressless. at times i'm more stressed than
 i ever thought i was capable of enduring. you guys probably laugh at       
 this, but just think of taking your home through a small pass in the       
 coral with a strong current and once you start the approach, there is no   
 turning around to ditch out and meanwhile the kids are fighting over a     
 stupid little insignificant plastic toy so loudly that you can't hear      
 the other person calling out directions.
that part of the world is known for fierce storms, "howlers and screamers,"
that circle the world with few land interruptions. i heard another sailor
talk about sailing around the world without a compass. he had a 60' steel
boat, and talked of a storm in the tasman sea, that _pitchpoled_ the boat
end for end, lengthwise, leaving it upside down with the mast sticking down
in the water. he said "the boat was well buttoned-up," and went on calmly,
"after a few minutes, she righted herself." 
i'd like to see more of that kind of spirit among solar house owners :-)
but without the stress and fatalities. sailors are more interested in
performance than how a boat looks, altho many find sailboats beautiful.
sailors don't worry if their boats look different from neighbors'boats, or
look like they weren't built 100 years ago.
they have courage, and they care about cost and performance.
another courageous sailor stands on his sailboat in annapolis. it is all
built of recycled aluminum, donated by alcoa. a single-handed ocean racing
yacht, built for a round-the-world race, strong and sleek and hi-tech and
simple, built without any wood or fiberglass. no curtains or cushions
below, just thick diamondplate decking, with heavy cross-bracing pipes and
struts for strength, and a fishing chair welded to the deck in front of a
thick window looking forward, with a racing car seat belt, and a composting
toilet welded to the deck a few feet away. with a generator to run the
computers and loran and radar, and powerful pumps, but this boat has no
propellor, just beautiful sails... the pumps are to move water fast through
large pipes from one side of the boat to the other, transferring water
between two large 60' pipes on each side. the pipes are also the outside
hull, making the boat very strong. that is how he plans to balance the boat
against the wind. he says he will hardly sleep for two weeks on the longest
passage. he is a licensed captain, like the exxon valdiz driver. his wife
is too, but she won't be along on this trip. some people call solar houses
solar machines. are they beautiful? chacun a sa machine...
third-world fishermen dream of outboard motors, but for many americans,
sailing is something they do because they want to do it, not because they
have to do it. sailors like harnessing natural forces to do something that
can be done far more easily with fossil fuels. they enjoy the feelings of
power and competence and getting something for nothing, in this old art, a
difficult and mysterious one, even without race competitions.
sailors do not like to use motors, but they almost always do when entering
crowded harbors, because sailing into a crowded harbor is dangerous and
difficult. a couple of years ago, a group of us sunday sailors on vacation
in the british virgin islands watched a breathtaking sailing performance as
a captain and crew sailed into a crowded harbor in a moderate wind on a 60'
boat. they were on their toes, skillfully and economically tacking and
veering around many other expensive anchored boats, missing some by inches,
until they dropped the sails at just the right time to allow their boat to
drift in to a slip as the wind gently pushed it the dock. they were
nonchalant about this tour-de-force, as they tied up the boat in front of
the open-mouthed people standing nearby...
making a 100% solar house that uses no backup heat is a interesting game.
there are many "solar houses" in this country, but very few that have no
other form of heat, outside the southwest. there is a dollar compromise
between the yearly backup energy required for a house and the cost of
building the house, but as they say, a boat is a hole in the water. what
matters to sailors is often performance and fun, not cost. america's cup
boats do not have propellors...
our new solar house design has a low-thermal-mass sunspace to provide heat
for the house on a day with some sun, and a small insulated room filled
with some sealed containers of water, with some south glazing that covers
one insulated side of the room. this "solar closet" heats the house on a
cloudy day, and makes hot water, simply. 
paul bashus and i have had this outdoor instrumented experiment going since
november 4, and we will be giving a paper about it next week at the world
renewable energy congress in denver, but our little house is only 2' x 4' x 8'
tall, and it has no a water heater. it uses motorized dampers, vs fans,
because we want to beat the current world record, ie increase the coefficient
of performance and lower the cost of the 50:1 system ("98% solar power,
2% fan power") that john christopher achieved in his csi building in walpole,
nh, in 1981, using doe money.
we would like to write another article in home power or solar today or
mother earth news or perhaps even house beautiful, as soon as somebody
builds something bigger :-) 

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