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Wednesday June 20th 2012
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First Day of Summer

Swalwell is having a damp spring, but the weather looks ideal for bees, with lots of sun, plenty of rain and nighttime temperatures well above freezing.  The dandelions and flowering trees are about finished and the canola and clovers should be taking over shortly.

Ellen went out last evening an looked to see if there is any sign of bees hanging out or skunk damage, and saw nothing amiss, so I don't need to rush back to care for the bees.

Here in Northeastern Ontario, the weather is hot and humid.  We are expecting 32 degrees C today and Toronto is expecting 40 degrees.  Muskoka is predicted to reach 32 degrees.  32 degrees C is 90 in Fahrenheit.

We have been discussing the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS, AKA Styrofoam) equipment, along with other topics like our experience with ammonium nitrate in smokers over at the honeybeeworld.com forum.

Recently, an interesting observation was made in regard to queen introduction success. From a small and limited sample, we are seeing the possibility that new plastic boxes may cause problems with queen acceptance. Older boxes, not so much.

We love EPS boxes and I have gone over to them entirely, but now we are wondering if there could be something to this chance observation.

I have been recommending airing out and weathering new boxes for some time now, but this seems to bear out my suspicions that new EPS equipment outgases a bit at first. I checked and it seems that other than polystyrene, the only other substance mentioned in manufacture is pentane gas which is odorless and only slightly toxic, but I wonder about mold releases, etc.

Are others on the list using EPS (BeeMax or Swienty) boxes and seeing any such effects?

Any plastics engineers or technicians on the list?


Whenever I have tried to make shook swarms or made splits using NEW polystyrene equipment there have always been big problems with absconding.

Best regards
Roger White, Cyprus.


> Whenever I have tried to make shook swarms or made splits using NEW polystyrene
> equipment there have always been big problems with absconding.

(EPS boxes are offered by BeeMax, Swienty, and other brands, including Beaver Plastics near Edmonton. BeeMax boxes are shipped knocked down and require assembly. Their design allows cheaper shipping, but the design is intrinsically weak due to the way the lock corners are made. EPS hives required no winter wrapping and survive well in even the coldest climates).

I first noticed a problem when I moved good hives from wood into brand new BeeMax boxes just before winter. They had arrives in fall and I wanted to use them right away. To my surprise, I lost most of those hives over winter.

In subsequent winters the EPS hives did noticeably better than wood -- once I drilled 1" holes in them and left them open all winter. They are also very easy to manage and build up fast in spring -- again, as long as they have the holes. I had assumed that the holes allow the bees to notice that spring has come, but in consideration of this discussion, there also may be a need for guaranteed air exchange, especially in newer boxes.

I also have observed that the varroa builds up more quickly in EPS hives than wood, which, I suppose is because the bees raise more brood.

My questions to those who have used EPS for a period of time are:

1.) Do you do anything special to break in the new boxes?
      Do you air them out, or just use them as-is?

2.) Have you inquired what might be used in manufacture that causes this effect?

I have found that pentane gas is used as an expander, but suspect there may be anti-bacterial or surfactant additives used in the steam boiler and also maybe some anti-bacterial or anti-fungals used in the beads, or mold release agents which affect the bees. We have begun enquiries, but will not know for a while as Joe is in Europe right now.

As it stands, I am recommending scattering new boxes out in the sun and rain for a while before using, rather than storing them stacked in a building.


The polystyrene gives off styrene monomer for a while. It is fairly reactive stuff and not good for you

http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/styrene.html


> The polystyrene gives off styrene monomer for a while.

Interesting. Below is all I could find that suggests this:

I wonder if any of the gases resemble chemical signals bees use?

--- excerpts from http://www.dyplastproducts.com/EPS_MSDS_0711.htm ---

INGREDIENT A: Polystyrene Foam (Ethenylbenzene homopolymer)
INGREDIENT B: Pentane Isomers (n-pentane, isopentane, cyclopentane)
INGREDIENT C: Styrene (residual vinyl benzene)

Note 1: NFPA and HMIS ratings based on pentane hazards, which are dramatically diminished by the time the product reaches the end-user - - at which time the above ratings would be less.

ROUTES OF ENTRY: During manufacture or re-grinding, inhalation or eye exposure to dust from this product dust may cause temporary irritation. Skin exposure to the product may cause mechanical irritation. Typical consumer contact would be through breathing of off-gases (i.e. pentane isomers).

POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS

Summary:

Inhalation or eye exposure to dust from this product may cu

Acute Inhalation: Breathing dust may cause temporary mechanical irritation and coughing.

Overexposure to extremely high concentrations of pentane can cause narcotic effects. Signs and symptoms of overexposure to pentane include headache, nausea, dizziness, difficulty walking or sleepiness.

Chronic Inhalation: None identified.

Acute Skin Contact: Direct contact with rough cut foam can cause mechanical abrasion to exposed skin. Absorption through skin is unlikely.

Acute Eye Contact: Eye contact may cause mild mechanical irritation, redness, tearing and blurred vision.

Chronic Eye Contact: None identified.

Acute Ingestion: Ingestion of this material is unlikely if used as intended. However, ingestion of this product may produce gastrointestinal irritation and disturbances.

Chronic Ingestion: None identified.

Carcinogenicity: Styrene monomer

ACGIH: A4 Not Classifiable as a Human Carcinogen

IARC: 2B Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans (Vol. 60, 1994)


Styrene is becoming a common contaminant in the air inside beehives. We saw more of it than we ever expected in the 90s and early 2000s on the east coast of US. Now that boxes are being made of styrene, I'd expect to see more. Not sure that's a good thing.
Jerry


> Styrene is becoming a common contaminant in the air inside beehives. We
> saw more of it than we ever expected in the 90s and early 2000s on the east
> coast of US. Now that boxes are being made of styrene, I'd expect to see
> more.

Do you have any idea if it mimics a pheromone?

What made us wonder about this is the fact that we recently observed differing success in introducing and raising queens between hives in wood and those in newer EPS hives.

The sample is very limited, but the difference seemed striking.

I think it is probably manageable once recognized. Otherwise, the bees do very well in the EPS standard hives. As for the Tegart-style 5-frame nuc boxes made from EPS, beekeepers have been making up nucs using one or two frames with brood and a cell quite successfully for many years.

That is why I am trying to guess what is behind the recent observations. They could just be a fluke, but it does not look like it.

All insights and speculation is appreciated at this point, and perhaps an experiment is in order to verify that this is not a fluke.


Let me talk to my chemist. I remember we had a long discussion about styrene when we first saw it in the mid-90s.
Jerry

In the morning, I measured up the boat and trailer and decided that the boat is 2" off to one side -- the side on which I changed the spring.  A couple of inches can make a big difference in weight distribution.   The guides on the trailer which are designed to centre the boat when loading are a bit bent, so I'll have to get them straigtened.

Ron D. welded them for me, but they are still a bit bent from grazing trees etc..  I'm thinking for now, that if the boat is off-centre maybe that is why the new spring is not seeming to give the increased lift I expected.   Maybe it is just more heavily loaded than the other one.

After lunch, I went windsurfing at the canoe club.  I chose 6.5 m2 race sail and a wide, floaty board, the Tiga I sailed the other day.  The ride went well until the wind picked up.  At that point, I was overpowered with the race sail and spent quite some time in the water, water starting, then getting slammed and starting again.  That is hard work, but fun.  I'm aware, though, that I'm over 65 and out of shape, and should probably watch I don't kill myself with overexertion, so I took it easy and went back in to shore.  It was a good 55 minutes.

After that, I was ready for a nap and slept an hour.  After supper, I tidied up and started getting ready to go back to Pine Hill tomorrow afternoon.

The number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes.
Denis Diderot

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Thursday June 21st 2012
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In the morning, I picked up the bandsaw and boat parts at Bill's while Mom had her hair done.  Then we went by the library.  I went to a nearby vacuum cleaner shop while she got her books and found some white tubing for the guides and then we picked up a new toilet for the cottage at Costco.  Costco has a really good dual-flush high toilet for $159.  I have bought three now, two for home and one for the cottage.   We're planning to head for Pine Hill this afternoon.

We arrived around six, having driven down with a cold front.  the rain followed us all the way down and ended as we arrived.  It had cooled to 20 outside, but the cottage was still hot inside.

The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice.
Abbe' D'Allanival

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Friday June 22nd 2012
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I see we continue to have very favourable bee weather at home.   Here in Muskoka, the weather is ideal, with sun and moderate temperatures.

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.
Ben Stein

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Saturday June 23rd 2012
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Another day at Pine Hill.  At ten, I'll be driving to Port Perry to attend a memorial for my cousin who died earlier this week.

Ron and I attended the memorial, then drove to Port Severn, where John picked us up at Gord's marina and whisked us off to Neptune Island.  We had supper, then Ron returned to Pine Hill and I stayed over.

Our choices add up; each one influences others, and cumulatively a series of delightful short-term choices can leave us much worse off in the long run.
Daniel Akst,

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Sunday June 24th 2012
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In the morning, John ran me over to the landing in the Four Winns in the rain and I drove back to to Port Carling.  I slept away the afternoon.  I'm still burnt out from a winter in Swalwell.

A person has three choices in life.
You can swim against the tide and get exhausted,
or you can tread water and let the tide sweep you away,
or you can swim with the tide, and let it take you where it wants you to go.
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

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Monday June 25th 2012
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Six months until Christmas

I slept 9 hours and awoke at 7.  Ron is off to get the a leaf blower to clear the driveways and paths.  Mom is cleaning out drawers and I am doing not much.  I'll be starting on Cloud 9 once it warms up.

The discussion about EPS boxes continues in the forum.

The day continued cool and breezy and although I did drive down and unloaded the parts, I did not begin the work on the boat.  Mom came down with me to read on the dock for a while.

We have condemned the chimney, having decided that it has deteriorated to the point where it is dangerous, so we won't be lighting the fireplace until it is repaired.  I spent time this afternoon chasing down contractors and looking at flights home.

We must give lengthy deliberation to what has to be decided once and for all.
Publilius Syrus

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Tuesday June 26th 2012
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It is still cool and breezy.  We'll be here two more days and I'd like to get a good start on the work, but I have been tired and not encouraged by the weather.  Sitting and lying in the boathouse can be unpleasant if the weather is cool.

One of the Carrs came by this morning to look at the fireplace job.  Carr Brothers have been our cottage caretakers for decades. 

In the afternoon, I went down and looked at Cloud 9.  It was October when I last looked at it and memory fades.  The job is looking quite doable, but it is one of those things that should be completed once it is started.  Interruptions cause huge delays because I have to get my mind back to where it was when I was interrupted and that is not always easy.  It looks as if everything I need is there.

Two more fireplace guys came by later in the day, then Mom and I went out to Rebecca's for supper.  We even had dessert.  I bought.

I've decided to leave moderating BEE-L to Aaron.  I have standards and, basically, he IMO doesn't.   He's the list owner, so I'll leave it to him.  I've rescued BEE-L from a number of problems in the past and brought it up to high standards lately, so we'll see how things go.

One thing that has bothered me for some time is the BEE-L archives.  They contain excellent material, but at one point Aaron broke them up to weekly chunks, and that made following any long thread difficult or impossible since each thread breaks at the end of each log.  Some time back I did a pilot project, cleaning and splicing he chunks into quarterly logs and it was not too difficult, but Aaron was reluctant  to upload the quarterly logs, so the time was wasted.  At present, he is afraid to offend anyone, so I can guess what will happen shortly.  You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, so the idiots will be back and the quality posters will throw up their hands and fade away or become rude again.

I guess I sound a bit cranky, and I am.  There are plenty of soft-headed bee discussion venues on the web without BEE-L becoming one too.

If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.
Robert Fritz

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Wednesday June 27th 2012
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This is the last day here at Pine Hill before we return to Sudbury. Last night the raccoons got into the garbage around four AM and woke us up with their fighting.  I went out and cleaned it up, but did not get back to sleep.  When I can't sleep, I get up for a while and read.

An hour and a half after the raccoon caper, I went back to sleep and slept until 9.  Lately, I try to get all the quality sleep I can.  I really did not realise until I got here and began to unwind, how burnt-out I had become, staying in Swalwell over winter and taking care of Ellen.

Nothing seems very interesting right now.  The winter's plans were entirely screwed up and the summer's plans are not what I had hoped.  I'm not really looking forward to company from mid-July through the middle of August.  I'm a creature of habit and like to have the family at the cottage.  That does not appear to be in the cards and it looks as if I'll be hosting strangers for 10 days.  I seem to be running on other people's agendas this year and it is tiresome.

Mom is cleaning out her room at Pine Hill.  A lot has accumulated in the many decades she has been coming here.  With limited mobility, she is not enjoying the place as much as her home, so she is planning on coming less in future.  Linda is unable to come any more, so that just leaves Ron and me and our families and Linda's kids.

Linda had a heavy hospital bed here at the cottage and since we don't need it anymore, I phoned around to see who can use it.  I discovered that the service clubs no longer dare to help with handicapped equipment any more due to 'liability issues'.  What is that?  You can now be sued for being helpful?  This morning, I took it to the dump.  Pity.

We took out a perfectly good toilet the other day to replace it with a more handicapped-accessible one.   I could not find anyone to take it either -- just the dump.  While at the dump, I saw a perfectly good 'bounder' sitting there (a small exercise trampoline).  I jumped on it a few times.  It was fine.  The sign said "Absolutely No Scavenging".  If I had a use for a Bounder, the sign would not have stopped me, but I did not have a use for a small tramp.  I left it there along with many other items which may well have been useful, but unwanted.

All in all, I am not in a good mood.  After lunch, I suggested again that we go home early and leave today.  We have an appointment with the Carrs tonight, but it can be cancelled.  Mom has been insisting on staying another day as planned, although, with the dull, cool weather and raccoon racket at night we are not enjoying it.  She thought I wanted to stay.  I said not.  I called and cancelled the meeting by leaving a phone message and we began packing.  I had at least two hours to do.

While we were packing up, I heard voices and looked out back.  Keith had decided to come early and he and the welder were looking at the chimney.  We examined the fireplace and chimney together and came to the conclusion that the firebox could be salvaged quite easily and that a new chimney could be built this fall.  Perfect.  The cost is reasonable, too.  I took some pictures of the fireplace, the flue and the heatalator with my camera to send Keith, but I should have used my phone.  For some reason, these pictures are poor.

At five, Mom and I left for Sudbury and had supper at the Haven in Point au Baril along the way.  Now we are back in Sudbury..  Just as we reached Sudbury, my odometer turned 300,000 km.

I still have no flight reserved for home and although I had hoped to see prices fall, they have not and the flights seem to be filling up, so I had better decide.  I don't have enough time after the weekend to finish the Cloud 9 job even if I extend my stay to the max.  I could take Carpe Diem south and spend a few days sailing in Muskoka, though.  Decisions, decisions...

Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices.
Laurence J. Peter

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Thursday June 28th 2012
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I notice I've been whining a bit the past few days.  I try not to do that too much.  I don't really have much to whine about.  Just existential angst?  Sorry about that.  I'll get back to bees soon.

Looking at the calendar, I see that I've been east only a little over two weeks.  That is longer than many people have for annual holidays, I realise, but for me, it takes longer than that to unwind, and I am now -- maybe -- unwound.  I awoke at 6 AM, fresh and energetic, and that is something new for me lately.

I'm in Sudbury and I'm on the lakeshore and can swim anytime, and have my boat to work on.  Stores are handy, and supplies are easy to get compared to Swalwell or Muskoka.  Maybe I'll get some things done today and maybe I'll launch my boat.  Sitting here at the keyboard won't do it, though.

I spent the day sorting through my stuff.  I have tools, parts, supplies, etc. for 1207, Cloud 9, Carpe Diem (the boats), and Pine Hill, plus my van, all in totes.  I sorted and labeled the totes so that I can find things and vacuumed the van. 

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.
J. K. Rowling

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Friday June 29th 2012
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Good bee weather continues in Swalwell, according to the reports.  I'm here in Ontario until some time next week, though, waiting for the fireplace inspection at Pine Hill.  I'd be at Pine Hill now, except that Sarah and her friends are having their annual girl's weekend.

I was up early again today and have my boat to clean and set up.  Maybe I'll even launch it.  With the long weekend at hand, the boat ramps will be busy, though, and the Lake will be covered with boats.  There is a 400-boat regatta planned for Sunday, Canada Day, I hear.

I've been thinking about my dissatisfaction with BEE-L and the conflict in philosophies between Aaron and myself.

My philosophy is that a 890+ person list (not counting readers on the RSS feed and the web) should emphasize the reader's experience over the demands of the relatively few who post.  If people want their own forum and to have things their own way, they need a website of their own.  I do.  Here, I write for myself and only secondarily for the readers (if there are any.  I know there must be a few since I see posts in the forum).  When I write for BEE-L or a magazine, I write for the readers.

Aaron is concerned about the delicate sensibilities of the writers and 'fairness' to them above all and some idea of 'free speech'.  IMO, fairness is a goal, but not a god.  Seldom can fairness be achieved in the eyes of all persons involved and I think the enjoyment 900 or so readers trumps the egos of a few abusers, be they senile, misinformed, agenda-driven, evangelistic or simply rude and overcome with their own importance. As for free speech, there are limits in even the most liberal venues as to place and time -- and volume, and as for writers. if one gets upset and leaves due to an article being rejected for some violation of policy, another will emerge soon enough.

IMO, the job of a moderator is to make sure that the content is relevant, balanced, informed and well-composed -- and to enforce standards designed to accomplish that end.  Shared moderation makes enforcement difficult and the result is a drop to the lowest standard of the moderation group and eventual breakup.

I decided that lately I am too focused on getting projects done, and went for a walk around Minnow Lake around ten.  Then I went for a swim.  Mom came home and we had lunch.  So far today, I have accomplished nothing except walk about 3.5 km, and it is a good feeling.  (For the observant reader: these are old images from a previous hike in 2011).

> I tend to agree and hate the thought of Bee-L breaking up.

Actually, I meant the moderator group. I doubt Aaron would let BEE-L drop even though he puts minimum effort into doing some things that desperately need doing like fixing the archives so they actually work. I spent a few hours and sent him spliced logs, but he is afraid to upload them. Only he can do that and he won't. The guidelines also need updating and that has never happened.

> Interesting since Aaron is not really a big contributor to the forum and he was the one who censored my posts early on when I joined. I hope you two work it out. I do note that when I post, if you are the moderator my posts go through very fast. If he is there is a delay.

Can't really comment on that as I am a lot tougher than him, but usually send rejections when I refuse a post unless it falls below the threshold for content in which case it is usually just rejected without comment unless I can see that a note to the writer would help.

> I enjoy your posts and particularly enjoy the disagreements on Bee-L. I learn a lot from the give and take.

Yeah. The disagreements are important. I learn a lot from being wrong.

I've made up my mind and I'm flying home Sunday at six.  I decided that I need to deal with my bees.  I'll have been gone three weeks come Monday.  Three weeks is one brood cycle and also the time it takes for queens to be raised, mated, and start laying so I need to get back to work on the hives soon.  About now the honeyflow is getting underway -- I spoke to Oene this morning -- so that is an added pressure to get boxes onto the hives that need them.  The added cost of the short-notice flight is justified by the value of being there when I need to be.  Once I am home, I need to go and get the boxes from Meijers.  I figure I can get 100 onto my little trailer.  It is 5x7 inside and can carry 1750 lbs.

I also concluded that even if I stay east until Friday that I will get little done except  a quick trip to Muskoka to see the contractor, start on the Cloud 9 job, then leave in the middle of it.  I'm better to save the effort until I am here a bit longer.

I ran out to get Mom's library books and a package at the post office, then had supper.  After, I sat outside a while, thinking, then hooked up my boat and washed it, finishing around 9:45, just at dusk.  There were a few mosquitoes, but nothing like what I would have expected at this time of year.

Carpe Diem looks good.  The inside needs cleaning yet, there are some stains to remove on the exterior and the hatches need their grooves cleaned.  The boat needs a wax job, too but that can wait.  As it stands now, I can launch her tomorrow with some reasonable pride and have a good sail.  I'll have to haul her Sunday, though, mid-day to be sure to have time to do so before we leave for the airport at 4:30, and leave her on the trailer for the two weeks I'm planning to be gone.  Last time I planned to be gone two weeks, I was gone six months, so I won't tie her up at Linda's or the yacht club.  Christmas is less than six months from today.

I have yet to take out the sails and verify the motor will start.  I may need it.  I'm wondering how busy the boat launch will be.

Saturday:
Increasing cloudiness in the morning. Wind becoming west 30 km/h late in the morning.
High 26. UV index 7 or high.
Saturday night:

Partly cloudy. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light in the evening. Low 15.
Sunday
:
Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. High 23.

When you don't know what to do, get still.
Get very still until you do know what to do.
Oprah Winfrey

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Saturday June 30th 2012
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I'm up at six and planning to go sailing today.

I was at the ramp by nine and by ten was ready to launch.  At ten-thirty, I was motoring away from the dock.  I sailed back to Mom's, anchored off-shore, swam in and had lunch.  I had a nap, then she drove me over to retrieve the van and trailer.  I have some work to do on the trailer and I also don't like to leave the van and trailer at the launch ramp overnight, and my plan is to anchor overnight and load the boat tomorrow.  Tomorrow, being Canada Day is going to be a hugely busy day there, but I was surprised to find I was almost the only one using the ramp this morning.

I launched the boat partly to get it off the trailer since I wanted to align the guides that Ron D. had welded for me.  I checked them and got them straight, then went sailing.   The afternoon winds were typically gusty and shifty, but I had an enjoyable sail around the lake shore and was back for supper at 6.  At supper, I decided that I have had a good sail and since tomorrow is big holiday that I might be smart to load the boat tonight instead of waiting hours for a turn at the ramp tomorrow, so Mom drove over with me to the ramp to drop off the van and trailer again and bring me home to get the boat.

I swam back out to the boat and noticed that the wind had settled somewhat so and I had a good reach over to the ramp and found was second in line.  By the time I was ready to load, it was my turn on the ramp.   It took me about two hours from home to home again.  Launching and set up takes about an hour and loading and packing up, tying down, etc. takes about the same.

When I arrived at the ramp and looked at the trailer carefully I discovered both the new welds had broken and neither had been stressed.  Just a bad job I guess.  They looked good.  I'll have to do it myself next time, I guess.

This was a long day, but it is amazing how much can pack into one day.  I have been underestimating myself and my boat.  The day was not all that exhausting.  I'm not tired, but I did get a lot of sun.  I used lots of lotion, but forgot my face.  Mom says it is red. 

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