Page 20. MAINE COASTAL NEWS September 2013 70S MEMORIES: OUTSIDE INFLUENCES By Lee S. Wilbur
Looking backwards over time past can sometimes be a grab basket of emotions good and bad. Memory can often dull the highs and lows causing one to often remember the good times and sideline the bad. However, in my so-called retirement years coupled with my enjoyment of histo- ry and the hospitality of editor Johansen to scribble this column, I’ve had ample time to think back on the 30 years spent in the boatbulding business. One of the things I’ve come to realize, though I’m sure I knew it at the time were the outside infl uences of government, current events, and to a great extent (especially to a powerboat builder) the infl uence of the global oil cartel. Year was 1973, I’d been given the option of going back to college and pick up 8 more hours of English to continue as a teaching principal or fi nd other employment. More formal schooling didn’t work, so I left teaching and managed to learn my way through fi nishing a boat. Then, with great luck, found more customers who wanted boats and then hired someone to help just as the “Arab oil embargo” swung into full force. Dick Wogisch and I were just com- pleting a Newman 36 around Christmas- time when the curtain came down, or so I thought, on our fl edgling backyard business. Oil prices had “shot up” to $11.65 a barrel. Talk abounded that powered pleasure boats would become a relic of the past. Sailboats would be king. Fuel was rationed. I bought, through a local dealer who somehow had a stash, a 55 gal. barrel of gas for emergencies. There were no new orders. Luckily, Jock Williams needed help with some repair work on the old Islesford Ferry, hired us on and we managed to squeak through the winter. By late spring a few
workboat orders came along to get through the crisis. Oil began to loosen up. Pleasure boat sprung to life once again. From then until the late 70’s business was really good. We moved into a new and much larger shop. Built our fi rst model, were launching sometimes one or more boats a month. Jock Williams, Jarvis Newman, Tom Morris, Hinckley’s, all of us were running at top speed. Hardly be on the road but what you’d see a boat transit truck. Then 1980-81 came along and with it a new term noone had ever heard of, “Stagfl ation”. Infl ation had been climbing and the economy was in a deep recession. Interest rates start going up instead of down. The concept of supply and demand had suddenly gone out the window. Several builders in the area had taken joint space at the Miami Boat Show that winter to show off our models. Few of us again had any work on the books. Late one afternoon, voice came over the public address system there at the “Jackie Gleason” Miami Beach Convention Center: “The Federal Reserve interest rate has just been raised to 23%”. Everyone went silent with their thoughts. Almost like a moment of silence for the death of a friend or famous person. A dark cloud had settled in, and it was a few years again of scratching for work. Along comes 1990. We’d just barely managed to get through the Savings and Loan debacle and it’s attendant recession when we’re hit by Congress and our Senate led by George Mitchell with the “Total Fail- ure” (not my exact words) “Luxury Tax”, the tax on expensive cars, planes and pleasure boats. Before it was fi nally rescinded, out of some 120 sailboat builders in the United States 11 were to survive. I never heard the numbers for powerboat builders, but our shop came within days of becoming a statis-
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tic. From 35-40 employees we’d gone down to two and the three of us had gone to New York for our last job. Installing a fl ybridge on one of our 34s. Two weeks after returning and a week before closing the doors, I got a call from North Dakota and a man who said he’d buy a boat but we’d have to structure it so he didn’t have to pay the tax… In other words, We’d have to pay it somehow. I said “okay” just to stay in business and fi nally the tax, after three years and the destruction of the small plane industry in America, was voted out. Congress then, had about the same brainpower as it does now. Only difference, they don’t vote on anything now. It took the Boating Industry a long time to recover from the tax. I fact, I don’t believe we ever did fully recover before 9/11 and that recession took the country by surprise. Another prime example of one hand not knowing what the other is doing and collective Washington D.C. heads in the sand. We had to keep letting crew go and the numbers had shrunk again to somewhere around 10-15 when the BANKERS got caught playing their little tricks and took the country down, down, down into the “Great
Recession”. Another misnomer of tricked up numbers which should have been labeled “Depression of 2008”. And who knows fi ve years in, when we’ll really be up and running again. Figures are always followed by “...th
e numbers are looking better, but it’s going to take time.” As the President and Congress continue to squabble and the boat shops remain vacant.
My personal opinion, which is worth zip, is we’ve seen the best of it. Personal income is way down. The entire spectrum of the middle class is being quickly eroded. Fewer people can afford to go boating, let alone cruise any distance due to the high cost of fuel. Fewer boats are being put back into the water. A lot of marina and harbor space goes begging. Thousands of used boats are for sale, and overall new boat sales are way off. There was an editorial in “Yachting” Magazine a few months ago saying how the “dust was gathering on the tools in the boat shops on the coast of Maine”. I do hope there will always be a semblance of building new ‘Downeast Yachts’. To this child they’re still the most beautiful “upon the water”.
U.S. NAVY NEWS Continued on Page 6
all other government agencies, a distinction fueled by people across the Navy’s Science and Engineering Enterprise.
And the patent-pending advancement comes as the modern fl eet operates more and more frequently through fi ber optics streaming at the speed of light.
All new Navy ships and submarines
are outfi tted with fi ber optic backbones to handle their complex networks because older copper-wire networks can’t handle the throughput of today’s sophisticated military hardware.
Lance Doddridge, the NSWC Corona physicist and electrical engineer who in- vented the calibration system, called the Linearity Calibration Standard (LCS) 8513 - understands its value for the warfi ghter. “Fiber optics connect everything from weapons systems, control centers, and radar, to a ship’s last line of defense,” Doddridge said. “Every piece of test equipment, by [Department of Defense] mandate, has to be calibrated using standards that are traceable to a national standard.”
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Correctly calibrated equipment helps ensure military hardware functions prop- erly, accurately and safely, ranging from a ship’s propulsion plant to an F/A-18 Hor- net’s laser target designators to night vision goggles.
And accuracy is vital, especially for the submarine community.
In developing the new standard, NSWC
Corona collaborated with its sister divi- sion, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, R.I., to determine its equipment needs. Until the new system arrived, the undersea warfare center had outsourced its fi ber optic calibration respon- sibilities. “Without the ability to perform these tests in-house, these sensitive items would have to be shipped to various pre-approved and accredited vendors throughout the country, resulting in additional contracting expense and subjecting [the equipment] to delays and possible damage in shipping,” said Mark Medeiros, NUWC Newport’s calibration laboratory team lead. In addition to LCS8513, Doddridge has created another calibration standard, called ADFOCS - the Attenuation and Distance Fiber Optic Calibration Standard, which NUWC Newport now has to complement the linearity standard. He fabricated and as- sembled the instrument by hand, even using 3D printing to save costs and weight when possible.
It compares commercial, off-the-shelf
fi ber optic test equipment for accuracy against more accurate standards that are traceable to national standards - which fl ow from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to the Navy Gage and Standards Lab at NSWC Corona, the Navy and Marine Corps’ designated technical agent for mea- surement science and calibration.
Continued on Page 21. HISTORY FOR YOURWALLS
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