For the most part, I have not suffered major breakdowns with my vehicles. As many of you know I can pile on the miles, averaging about 45,000 miles per year. This GMC has had her share of problems, especially related to the transmission, which I have replaced twice due to poor engineering on the part of GM. Recently I have had an issue with warning lights, which sometimes also knocked out the memory of the radio. With over 275,000 miles on this vehicle things start to wear out that do not normally. I switched out the key since one of the issues was with the theft system, thinking the key was worn out. That seemed to solve the problem. Well, when I was in Portsmouth, NH doing the southern runs I left the hotel and suddenly, she was not running right. I was able to pull into the restaurant right next to the hotel, backed her into a parking space and shut her down. Now, in the past she started right up with no warning lights, but this time I had absolutely nothing, she was dead. I called the local GM dealer and they said they could not look at it for at least two weeks. I did get them to say that they could look at it in a couple of days, but I cannot be down there even that long if I can help it. Fortunately, I have a friend from Plum Island who uses a car carrier as his everyday driver. He was going to be in the area early afternoon. When he got there, I asked if he had a power pack and once, he hooked her up she started without a problem. Interesting, now what could be the real issue? He had called a dealership in Plaistow, NH and made arrangements to get her in that afternoon. Once there the mechanic came out and tried to repeat the issue, but with no luck. He looked for an error code, but there was none. However, he did notice that the battery post was hot and figured that the problem was a poor connection. He made that repair and then he said you have another problem, there is bearing in the front of the motor going. He thought maybe the water pump or the alternator and after putting a screwdriver to his ear, he said without question it is the alternator. In an hour I was back on the road and so far, no problem. The reason I thought about discussing this is the lack of service I got from the GM dealership and the instant service I got from this other auto repair facility. Yes, my friend had influence, but the local GM dealer should have said they could take a quick peek at it and would have found the initial problem was simple. How much business do they lose by not being slightly more accommodating to emergencies? I know in the marine world commercial fishermen will get quick service on their boat and that is understandable since that is their livelihood. Anyone in business realizes that some of the poor service is related to a lack of employees, but I am not sure what it is going to take to reverse this problem.
What has surprised me is that the economy within the maritime industry is doing well, while many other industries are suffering. The marine industry navigated the pandemic with only one big question, where can we find more workers so we can handle the workload. Then those elected leaders in Washington figured they had better ideas, which caused inflation that probably will be followed by a recession. When the economy takes a turn for the worse the recreational aspect of the marine industry usually feels it first. However, so far that is not the case. There is a real worry from some of the Maine boatbuilders that only a few fishermen have ordered a new boat. This is not surprising when one looks at the attack, they are under from environmentalists, NOAA, and windmills. These attacks are baseless but are the background of an agenda and that is what is driving it. Too many fail to understand that the support they give a political candidate hoping to have a positive effect on an issue fail to understand the entire impact. The issue with the whales is a perfect example. There has not been an entanglement in Maine waters for nearly two decades. Fisherman have made changes, adding huge expenses to their costs, which were mandated by NOAA, even though they would not have an effect on the whales. Then there are those that support windmills out on the water. Anyone with an economic background would know that windmills are only viable if the government subsidizes them. More importantly they will be an environmental hazard when one of those engines blows and releases all its oil into Maine waters. It is also rumoured that there is a provision in their contract that they can kill a limited number of whales. I bet what is even more interested is who is being supported by the windmill industry. Anyone taking money from any special interest group should be eliminated from any political office race. They should represent what is best for the people, not what is best for their pockets. Getting back to the boatbuilders, fortunately many also build pleasure boats or have enough repair work to fill in, if the number of commercial boats drops significantly.
In mid-September I headed for the Newport International Boat Show to represent the boatbuilders of Maine. It did seem that the numbers of people walking the streets was down, but the number attending the show was up. I had four or five people all four days asking solid questions about building a boat in Maine. You are never sure if these will come to fruition, but it was a good sign. I also did think that the show was slightly smaller, and this was likely due to a limited number of new boats being available. Many of the new boats on display were already sold, but their owners allowed them to be shown at the show. The bigger question would be the future of this show. Over the last 30 years I have seen a lot changes, but the most interesting is the loss of space. The big change came a few years ago when a hotel went up in one of the parking lots. Space in Newport is at a premium and one wonders when the space becomes more valuable for something other than the boat show.