Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bad Things Happen - Part 3 - "Hotbox"

Transit Tragedy - "Hotbox in the desert"
First, an explanation of logistics.
When you move a boat professionally, and you need to go a long distance, often times you'll have two choices: truck or rail.

"Truck" means putting the boat in a moving van. 
This is the 18-wheeler you might hire if you were going to transport all your worldly possessions somewhere.  In most cases though, your gondola isn't travelling with a bunch of couches and such - she's all alone, secured either to a cradle, trailer, or on the floor if you weren't thinking ahead. 
This is my preferred method because it's a direct route from point A to point B with little delay.  I also prefer the "Truck" option because you can shake hands with the driver when you load the boat in, look him in the eye and say "I'll see you in (wherever the boat is going)", and know that there won't be anyone else in the mix.
If something goes wrong, you know who to blame,
and he knows that you know.

"Rail" generally refers to putting your gondola in a shipping container and having her transported using the railroads. 
I sometimes call this "truck, train, truck", because that's really what it is.  A truck, driven by a nice man, shows up at the pick-up location, you (and whoever you've hired, coerced or manipulated), load the gondola into a shipping container which is on the back of the truck.  Once the vessel is secure, the container is sealed and the driver brings it to the rail yard.
When the gondola in her container arrives at the rail yard, another nice man uses a special hoist to lift the container off of the back of the truck, and onto a train car.

The train makes it's way across the country, and when it reaches your intended destination, another one of those nice men, using another one of those special hoists, lifts the container off the train, and onto the back of a truck similar to the one that showed up at the beginning of all this.

You (or someone you've made arrangements with) meet the nice man driving that second truck, and unload the gondola.
That's "rail", and as you can see, there are just too many "nice men" with their hoists and trucks and trains involved for me to feel comfortable.

It only takes one slip-up to cause major damage.
And because there are many people handling your gondola, they each have the ability to blame the others if something bad happens.
If, by now, you haven't connected the dots on this, see the section titled "Dropping the Box" in Bad Things Happen - Part 2.

"But Greg," you say, "what about the HOTBOX part?"
Remember all those "nice men" I mentioned?
Well there's at least one more in the mix.
This guy doesn't operate a truck, or a hoist, or even a train engine.
He'll probably never even touch the container that houses your gondola.
Chances are he carries a clipboard and uses a computer.
He works at a place called the "switching yard"
His job is to decide which rail car goes on what train.

Some containers go from point A to point B with no switching,
others sit for a while, waiting for the right train.
One of those places just happens to be in the Mojave Desert.

A wooden boat expert friend of mine was involved with the repair of a classic mahogony Chris Craft some years ago.
The boat had been loaded into her container in pristine condition.
Unfortunately this perfectly beautiful boat spent three summer days in that switching yard in the Mojave desert.

A metal box becomes an oven in the desert.
According to my friend, "the boat blew apart".
Most of the pieces were still attached, but they'd expanded to the point where planks and rails had all buckled and popped.

"All the kings horses, and all the king's men", did manage to put Humpty back together again... but things were never the same.

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