Coastal Climate Control is...

Bloggin' It!

You need your head examined!

solar cabana seat victoria heath 155042.640x427My wife often tells me that I need my head examined, and that’s exactly what I was doing a few weeks ago at the dermatologist’s office. My semi-annual all-over skin check-up (all-over except the nether regions, that is) had revealed a suspect area, and a biopsy revealed it was indeed skin cancer and must be removed. It’s no big deal, but how did it get there and could I have prevented it?

The surgery is a time-consuming affair that involves removing a layer of skin and then sending you off back to the waiting room while they ‘scope it to see if they got all the bad bits. If not, back you go in to have another layer removed, and so on until you’re given the all-clear and they stitch you up. Most of the occupants of the waiting room were sporting large, blobby, ultra-white dressings somewhere above the shoulders, and many of them on their left side. That’s because we drive on the left in the USA. Yes, seriously.

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What a Week

USNA aerial 640x368
The first clue that the upcoming week was to be no normal week in Annapolis came during a trip to the local grocery store on Sunday. It seemed unusually busy, and closer inspection of the wandering shoppers showed that many were wearing clothing and hats emblazoned with emblems and logos depicting their support of or attachment to the US Naval Academy. The next clue came to light from a quick scan of my Eastport neighborhood, where unfamiliar vehicles, flags, and gently rocking porch occupants adorned a number of residences.

OK, I’ve got it! It’s Commissioning Week at the Naval Academy, and a good number of locals have rented their houses out to make way for families of graduating Midshipmen while pocketing a sizeable chunk of cash in the process. And why not indeed.

For those not familiar with Annapolis, it must be understood that the US Naval Academy is Annapolis, and Annapolis is the US Naval Academy. The two are inseparable, which will be apparent from a quick look at a map where the magnitude and proximity of the Academy relative to the town is evident. This is no distant fixture perched on a remote hill, but right there breathing down the necks of the shops on Main Street and the boats at City Dock.

Having to accommodate around 4,500 Midshipmen, plus staff and ancillary workers, it is a sizeable chunk of real estate and provides much employment and income for the surrounding area. Don’t get the impression that Annapolis is alive and crawling with marauding Mids, as they are for the most part incarcerated behind the imposing perimeter walls. The few lucky ones that are allowed out for brief sojourns into the real world are noticeable only by being impeccably dressed in crisp uniforms.

So what is Commissioning Week all about?

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What a Trucking Nightmare

cargo ship unload axel ahoi 50659 unsplash 640x318We have several house rules at Coastal Climate Control. There are the typical ones such as the sign in the warehouse toilet saying “Gentlemen please lower seat when finished”, and then there are unwritten words of wisdom like; ”If you have it, flaunt it”. Personally I’m a bit lacking in flauntable assets, but Coastal sells some of the best specialized marine equipment available, and we flaunt it whenever possible. In fact, next week we will be in very flaunty mood at the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show April 20 thru 22, so if you’re in town come on by and see what’s new.

Another unwritten house rule is: “If we don’t have it, we can’t sell it”. It seems obvious I know, but keeping adequate stock of popular items is becoming a bit of a problem these days, especially for products that we import. We strive to be good girls and boys and pay our bills on time and plan way ahead in order to anticipate shipping delays, but we still often get caught out, and increasingly so these days. There are three main areas that we have no control over:

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We Are So Terribly, Terribly Sorry!

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“We’re sorry.” “I’m sorry to hear that.” “Very sorry, but it’s out of our hands.”

We’re having to utter these sorry little phrases more and more these days, but not relating to any issues with our products. These are being made in response to reports of shipping issues, where damaged goods, lost or missing packages, inconvenience from signatures being required, and excessive shipping costs all seem to be on the increase lately. In addition, our once chirpy pick-up/delivery drivers seem to be generally disgruntled of late, and they put it down to the “Amazon Effect”.

So, what exactly is the Amazon Effect?

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Wait - There's a Bug in my Phone!

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You can’t seem to be able to get away from it these days; politicians throwing out what may or may not be real facts in response to questions. This typically involves bombarding the interviewer with staccato statements that may or may not be correct and that require research before being able to call into question.

What happened to the good old rhetorical question? You know, interviewer asks a question and gets a question back in return. That’s always been a standard stalling technique, but now seems relegated for use when factual fire isn’t working.

I had a sorta close/mildly similar instance last week, but my experience involved phone company employees, not politicians.

I was in the UK when I picked up the bug.

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Under the Cover of Darkness

dark boat dark night

By necessity, this will be a truncated blog this week as my trusty laptop is going in for a hard drive transplant tomorrow so I’ll be on edge all day hoping the surgery was successful. My current C drive is 98% full, and it’s amazing how much storage solid state hard drives have these days. This little upgrade will obviate the need to replace the whole darn machine just to gain some breathing room.

I asked my IT guy for advice on the laptop issue and he came back with some options and a recommendation, which I duly followed. We at Coastal Climate Control endeavor to advise our customers on the best way to plan, install, and troubleshoot the equipment we offer and represent, but there’s always some folk that want to ignore good advice and go their own way. Why is that?

Here’s a good example, with a less-than-good outcome. My neighbor has a beautiful and probably very expensive Porsche, a real sporty beast all shiny and jet black. His house is at the corner of an intersection in our sleepy neighborhood, and he keeps it parked on the street and nearly always covers it in a matching black cover.

One night a year or so ago I came home driving our company Sprinter van, and as I turned the corner I almost clobbered the Porsche, hiding there in the dark under its black cover, having seen it only at the very last second. I mentioned this to the neighbor and suggested he put some reflective tape on the cover to hopefully prevent any future carnage, but my suggestion was shrugged off. No reflective tape materialized.

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Turkey anyone?

turkey-cartoon-dreamstimemaximum 29507120I had the good fortune recently to be able to observe some younger colleagues who are also employed in the whacky world of marine refrigeration and air conditioning. On reflection, it could be said that these and other members of the millennial generation may have become so immersed in screens and keyboards that they've glossed over the important step of grasping a thorough understanding of the actual machines. Maybe they didn't get the memo. Maybe they don't feel they need to, as it's all there on the screen. Or is it?

Refrigeration and air conditioning machines are incredibly dynamic devices where the operating parameters and conditions are constantly changing. Much of this type of equipment now features digital displays and controls that give the operator a comprehensive view of how the machine is performing at that instant in time.

But does the modern-day operator have a good enough basic understanding of the subject to be able predict events and performance rather than simply being able to read numbers on a screen? I am mighty impressed at the way some younger fingers can flit at speed through menus, sub-menus, etc., especially as most touch-screens don't seem to be sympathetic to my hardened and calloused fingertips.

But what are these young eyes seeing?

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The Price is Right!

Do it once do it right woman shotgunI once read in a sailing magazine something like the following: “It’s boat show time, so let’s take a look at some of the products they are trying to foist on us poor unsuspecting boaters”. As a marine vendor I was incensed to read that, and vowed never to advertise in that publication. I never did, and eventually it folded. Go figure ....

There has long been a feeling that stuff sold for boats was generally overpriced simply because it has a “marine” tag. This seemed to be more prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s, so maybe back then there were indeed a plethora of cheap and tacky items labeled as marine that would have been better suited for the kiddies backyard camping or a day at the beach.

Or maybe it’s because nowadays the internet is playing devil’s advocate and unscrupulous manufacturers just can’t get away with things like they once could. Today’s efficient means of communication ensure that when even minor issues are reported, they require a good customer service oriented response.

Now that replacement parts can be easily sent to remote locations seemingly beyond the edge of beyond, a worthwhile warranty is also increasingly important. Imagine a business getting a call from a customer on a satellite phone in mid-ocean, fretting that his fridge is running longer than it used to. “We’ve got ourselves another fridge-fretting sat-phoner” is the common cry. Oh yeah, it happens.

At Coastal we see and hear many tales of woe

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The Capital

annapolis harbor
We typically look on Annapolis as being a quiet, peaceful town, where the worst thing to worry about is the increasing regularity of flooding downtown due to rising sea levels, or that the National Sailing Hall of Fame would be moving to our nemesis - Newport. That all changed on June 28, when the peace was shattered by the sickening news that five journalists at our local paper, The Capital, had been shot and killed while working at their desks by a lone gunman.

The Capital, known alternatively to locals as The Crab Wrapper or The Naptown News, is truly a local, small-town newspaper where we get updates on our sailorman mayor’s latest schemes, sailboat racing results, and who did what to whom and when. Now we have far more information than we really want on one deranged individual who had a long-standing conflict with some journalists and decided that June 28 was the day when he and his pump-action shotgun would put an end to it. This was no terrorist. This was no religious or political activist. This was simply someone who is mentally ill and who slipped through the cracks.

I have never been comfortable with guns, and I’m sure that sleeping with one under my pillow would cause a high degree of both physical and mental discomfort. I did have occasion once to fire a stainless steel boat shotgun at some flotsam while motoring down the west coast of Central America delivering a 65’ sailboat. It didn’t come naturally so I switched to a flare gun as being my weapon of choice, with that menacingly fat barrel and striking orange handle (stock?). Being a crew of just four, we were formulating a plan of action in case we encountered some bad guys as we paralleled the hostile shores of Guatemala and San Salvador. And encounter them we did …

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That "W" word... Warranty

warranty 267x200At dealer technical training sessions run by marine equipment manufacturers, typically the last item on the agenda before everyone heads off home is the matter of warranty.

The cynical among us might think that this is so timed that it can be rushed through at the last minute so the factory staff can shrink from the baying crowd and make a swift retreat, and that may not be too far from the truth. But why is it sometimes such a contentious subject?

From a new-boat owner's perspective, it is entirely reasonable for him or her to assume that if anything fails on a newly purchased vessel within the warranty period it will be replaced or repaired without too much fuss and bother.

But, unlike an automobile where the car dealership is responsible for repairs to every item on the vehicle, equipment on pleasure craft is supplied by individual manufacturers, each with their own warranty policy.

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Stop Milling Around - Go with the Flow

water mill dreamstime
I’ve just returned from a quick flit to England where I had the pleasure of being able to take several walks in the countryside in some rather splendid weather. The particular region I was in has an abundance of brooks and streams, and these were boisterous and lively following a period of lengthy rain.

Back in the good ol’ days these streams powered all sorts of mills, providing the mechanical power to crush stone, grind corn, saw logs, etc., and the area was littered with either the remains of old mills or with ones converted into other uses (i.e. holiday homes). There would have been a number of mills on one stream, one after the other as the water flowed downhill, with the same water that powered the top mill being used for successive establishments downstream.

What a wonderful early example of a renewable energy source.

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Something's Bugging Me

mosquito swarm

They're out there somewhere, but where?

Has everyone got their face-masks on out there? Have you washed your hands recently? Are you staying in place unless it’s absolutely necessary for you to go out?

What strange things to be asking, but these are strange times, and some folk just don’t seem to be getting with the program. Maryland, along with many other States, is under a Stay-at-Home order and it is recommended that if for some reason you are out of the house, then you should have something covering your mouth and nose. But judging by the actions of the people I see out on the streets in my corner of Annapolis, this advice seems largely to have fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, there seems to be an overall lack of comprehension of the gravity of the situation, with smiles and laughter in abundance, and cheery waves between dog-walking parties. I know we should all keep our chins up and keep smiling, but I suspect things will change rapidly as the situation deteriorates and some of those we know and love are smitten and succumb.

masked man with rolling stones emblemAny smiles from yours truly and his spouse are hidden behind the face masks that we’ve taken to wearing outdoors, even when in the car, and it’s hoped that my homage to the Rolling Stones will be taken as a defiant tongue-out to the virus. It’s all about being prepared and fearing for the worse, and to that end we should all imagine that, as unsociable as it may seem, everyone we encounter has the virus, and ourselves also.

All this reminds me of the level of preparedness required by boaters for a more predictable type of disaster – hurricanes.

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Smart Phone - Smart Shopping

man online shopping dreamstime m 77164280.640x283
I’ve just read a report suggesting that internet sales are really hurting the traditional chain stores. The number and frequency of retail stores that are closing in shopping malls is really quite alarming as more and more customers prefer to shop online from the comfort of their home.

In England recently I had to battle for space in a narrow country lane with a home delivery van from a supermarket. Nowadays you can order online and your weekly necessities are delivered right to your door, even to a remote shepherd’s hut in the middle of the moor.

If there are any remaining butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers left in English villages, they seem somewhat doomed. It’s enough to send you down to the pub for a pie and a pint, except they, too, are also closing in droves.

It seems social media is taking the place of traditional face-to-face social interaction.

Online shopping has become so easy, even returning stuff is a breeze. If something you bought doesn’t make you look as glam as you thought it would, or doesn’t do what you thought it would do, or if you simply don’t like it, then you can return it; no fuss, no muss. The web retailers now have really slick and well organized return systems that make this aspect of the transaction painless while not making it seem like you’re being punished for being such a dufus for ordering the wrong thing in the first place.

So, what’s not to like, and how does this relate to stuff we need for our boats?

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Phony Facts

british phone box on dock duffy brook
    We were the first house on our street to get a telephone when I was a lad in England. We didn’t pay for the installation though, that was arranged by the hospital where my mother was something important in the operating theaters, and she was often called out for emergencies. I guess they got tired of sending taxis and having the poor drivers going bonkers trying to wake our sleeping household.

    Ours was a line that we shared with another unknown party, and I soon learned that if the phone tinkled when you walked past, you could carefully put your hand over the microphone and lift the receiver and hear the other parties’ conversation. We never knew who the others were, and their conversations were quite unexciting and boring, so it was more like eavesdripping than eavesdropping. I heard tales that in the US there were sometimes up to ten households on one party line, which I imagined to be far more interesting.

Our first phone had no dial. You had to pick up the receiver and wait for an operator to come on the line and say “number please”. Our number was 1968, which was quite a novelty when the year 1968 rolled around.

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Opps My Mistake!

Mistakes Happen Homer

Recently we witnessed scenes of euphoria in mission control for the Mars 2020 mission as it gently lowered its Perseverance rover on to the surface of Mars. A fantastic achievement indeed, and the subsequent celebrations were thoroughly justified.

But spare a thought for what must have been a very different scenario for a similar occasion 22 years previously.

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On the Road Again

BoatShow RVShowWhat's the difference between a Boat Show and an RV Show?

The ride home into Annapolis at the end of the day usually means navigating heavy traffic on the highway. Three lanes is usually enough to keep everyone rolling along smoothly, but often the left hand lane, the “fast” lane if you will, is seen to be slower than the other two. After much observation, I have come to the conclusion that some drivers must think they are fast and so have a right to occupy a slot in the left lane conga line. Unfortunately, these fast thinkers seem to have a disconnect between their head and their right foot when going uphill, and so slow down the pace and frustrate those bunched up behind.

I had the chance to test the theory this past week on Coastal Climate Control’s road trip to exhibit at America’s Largest RV Show. No, really, that is the actual name of the show, and to those of you wondering, “RV” is for Recreational Vehicle. It was in chocolate land, Hershey Pennsylvania, and was indeed very big to my eyes, but then this is the only RV show I’ve ever been to.

Coastal was there dipping our toes in the RV market to see what the industry is about, and where we might find some sales opportunities. Our main focus was on solar products, and we had some examples of some glass panels that Coastal is now offering from Solarland USA, plus our usual marine items from Solara and Solbian.

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Off to the Moon? Don’t forget the Sextant!

apollo 11 command module interior
“It is good to know what our species is capable of when it gets out of its own way”.

That was a comment I read recently, referring to the moon landings 50 years ago. But there’s a fascinating back story to the Apollo 11 adventure that is worthy of note for its pioneering spirit and sense of bravado and derring-do.

Neil Armstrong could not have said it better than “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”. The amount of innovation and inventiveness required to overcome the technical challenges of getting man to the moon was astronomical in itself. Even so, some of the methods they employed have their roots in ancient navigation practices, and were not what one would expect to find in a spacecraft.

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Now There's a Thought ...

starling spreading wings

When bad ideas take flight.

Some folk say they hear voices in their heads. Others report ringing in their ears, and yet others seem to have ear-buds permanently glued in place. My head seems to be always full of a mish-mash of ideas, thoughts, and technical tidbits with a little music trickling through from the background for good measure. Some of those ideas turn out be good ideas, whereas some, OK most, are best left unreported and forgotten.

Here’s a wacky idea from a couple of economists, as reported recently by Tim Harford in the Financial Times.

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My Mate Chris

Music to mend fridges by

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I was introduced to Chris by a girlfriend back in the late 80’s. She and I were working on boats, and she would pop in a cassette of one of his albums whenever she got the chance. Yes, Chris Rea is first and foremost an accomplished musician, seemingly better known in Europe or his native England than in the USA, and for us two boat bums he quickly became our “Buffett buffer”.

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Mangoes for Life

mango seller     Walking through the gaudy and gay Miami Bayside entertainment area during the Miami Strictly Sail show last week, whilst dodging obstacles such as parrot-wielding hawkers and perfume swatch pushers, I spotted a sign promoting a bar/restaurant called “Mangoes”.
     This, reinforced recently by the sight of them on a supermarket shelf, reminded me that if I ever go back to St. Lucia, I have been promised free mangoes there for life.

How that all came about makes for quite a tale.

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Phone: (301) 352-5738
Email: info@CoastalClimateControl.com
Office | Warehouse:
4831 Tesla Dr., Suite H
Bowie, Maryland 20715
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Office | Warehouse:
Coastal Climate Control
4831 Tesla Drive
Suite H
Bowie, Maryland 20715
Phone: (301) 352-5738

Request Information
Click here for directions.