The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














From The Boatshop
by Ron Magen

“. . . the usual suspects. ”

A 40's era black Mercedes open touring car tearing around a corner creating a following cloud of yellowish dust. It skids to a stop and about 6 guys pile out as a whistle sounds.

. . . or . . .

That same car comes rolling out of the night and fog, across the wet tarmac, and squeals to a stop in the entrance to a small hanger. About 6 guys jump out and report to a stocky man with a jauntily angled hat.

I have a feeling that we all conjure up similar mental scenes when we hear that phrase. The part that we may glaze over is that it is the local gendarmes chasing the citizenry. The difference today is that now it has become a call that goes out in many organizations . . .when help is needed.

The ‘Dragon had it’s new officers installed at the January meeting. It’s now been a couple of months and a few ‘events’ and the spring ‘All Hands’ days have been held. Unfortunately, a couple of funerals as well. Due to changes in the health of spouses, a few have had to curtail their Club involvement. Others are making plans to leave the area for a ‘gentler’ climate, or somewhere they can spend their time actually sailing rather than worrying about 30 other moorings, 6 floating docks, and a yard full of oddball trailered boats. Joanne & I have been members for only a few years. Not only do we live ‘across the River’ from the club facilities, but additionally on the other side of a ‘major metropolitan area’. Thanks to a Turnpike, it ‘only’ takes about 40 minutes to get there - it’s about 20 miles with Turnpike & bridge tolls. Ditto for the return trip. On the other hand there are members who live as close as walking distance. All this is background. The thread tying everyone - ‘active Sail’, ‘Social’, ‘Paddling’ - together is the enjoyment of nearness to water and the camaraderie. This is all well & good. However, like any organization, things don’t happen in a vacuum.

There are a number of associated groups in this area of the Delaware River. Some of them range as far as the ‘Jersey shore’. While most of these have established facilities, a few are either ‘Organizational/Representative’ or are more Social and ‘borrow’ the use of a building for their meetings. Whether it is discussions involving committees, or an ‘ALL HANDS DAY’ to place moorings, it is the members who have to actually DO it. A ‘truism’ for most Clubs is that a relatively small number of people tend to do most of the work . . . often regardless of the distance they have to travel. It is how the problem of ‘warm bodies’ is addressed, where they differ.

At the last members meeting someone from another of the local ‘yachtman’s league’ clubs was in attendance. They are ‘downriver’ from us and have a 30 hour commitment in their by-laws. Plus they back it up with a $30 per hour assessment for hours ‘missed’. {Just as a side note, they also require a 250-pound mooring anchor for ALL boats . . . even the smaller ones !!}. And it is enforced. When I heard this I was surprised . . . and amazed at the minimal reaction of our people. But then again, those present were a great many of ‘the usual suspects’.

Last weekend we had our second ‘All Hands’ day. A relatively critical one . . . to set the moorings for the ‘fleet’. Out of a ‘field’ of 30+ we have about 28 that have been paid for. One would expect that an individual {or family} in a ‘self-help’ organization would be there to at least assist with their OWN mooring. While we have done the job before in a chill drizzle, the day was fairly nice. A little cloudy, occasionally breezy, but overall dry and cool. And the ‘usual suspects’ doing the actual labor. From kitchen help {Thanks for the chilli, Georgie !!} to hoisting the heavy mushroom anchors, to setting them from the ‘A’ frame float. Bear in mind that about 4 of these people are the Club Officers, with a ‘vested interest’ in being there. But there was a surprising amount of, “Who’s anchor is this?”, “Is it inspected & ready?”, with no one to answer. Or calls for me to ‘safety wire’ the shackles on a rig at the last minute.

It’s nice being wanted & needed. However, it would be nice if there were a mix of ‘Gentleman Volunteers’ to go with the ‘Pressed Men’.