Starting up for the day

For the non-technical side of living with Steamboats, videos and general pictures.
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Lopez Mike
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Starting up for the day

Post by Lopez Mike » Thu May 23, 2019 5:19 pm

Last year I took a group out for a spin. Several of them were members of a writers support group. They had a great time I guess and expressed that someone should, of course, write about it.

I told then about The African Queen and some other things. I then, out of foolish vanity, tried my hand at telling them about the part of the day that they had missed. Trailer to splash.

Here it is. Be kind.

======================================

First I have to build a fire. Not a large one. And very trapped and enclosed. In fact almost completely surrounded by steel and water.

Until we began to understand the boundary between life and non-life in terms of chemistry, the first thing that seemed to have crossed that line must have been fire. Flickering, hungry, apt to get out of control. Those who could create and control fire must have felt like Dr. Frankenstein. And sometimes had regrets. But it was worth it.

This little fire, which will be a focus of my life for a few hours, is fed by wood, the most natural of fuels. My boat is wood. I hope that my boat won’t be devoured by fire and that I’ll stay in control of this flickering, animate force.

To explain, I’m sitting in a small steam powered boat, on its trailer near water. The fire is in a boiler that will, after a few minutes of growing force and murmurings, provide the energy to move the boat about and entertain me.

A steam boat? In the twenty first century? There is no real justification. By almost any standard it is troublesome and inefficient and prone to spreading it’s dirt and smell about. But I and my passengers find it fascinating. Almost a spiritual thing.

Like it or not, almost everything progressive and modern seems to be technology. Fire. Sailboats. Gunpowder. Steam. Electricity. Each has come along, amazed everyone and then become part of the existential hum of our lives.

Some of these things have faded away. They are out there but hidden away like old gods that do their jobs without an altar in every home. Steam is one of them.

Every power plant that allows us to sit up all night and stare at computers is run by steam. The hum of dynamos is hidden away in large buildings that we seldom notice. Unlike Azuma-zi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Dynamos, few worship these things. At least not overtly. And fewer sacrifice to them or are martyred as he was.

In this reincarnation of an old spirit, there is no “Man Behind the Curtain”. Everything is out in the open. Moving about and clearly purposeful.

But I’m distracted from my task which is to worship this small fire, see that it is controlled and grows and spreads its life to the rest of my boat.

At first there’s only some promising crackling that reminds me of warmth and marshmallows and friends in a circle with their backs to the darkness. Then a rumbling as my fire discovers that it is confined. I nurture the friendship by feeding it like a favorite pet that will soon go bounding through the fields chasing sticks and seeking my approval.

Now begins a singing. My fire is surrounded by steel and water. The water feels the presence of the fire and begins to stir and sing. It, too, wishes to escape and live free but, by artifice, I contain it within steel walls and it’s energy builds.

Soon the  a gauge tells me that the water is fully awake and wanting to spread it’s life to the rest of the world. This must be carefully controlled. The steam, for that is what it has become, is hot and excited but as soon as I let it spread the gospel to pipes and cylinders it looses its fervor to the cold of unconverted metal and reverts to hot water. Useful for baths and cooking but not what I want. So I allow a steady trickle of missionaries to go forth and be eaten by the heathen gods of entropy.

Enough of religion. I am dealing with hard, hot machinery. No room for spiritual concerns. But in the back of my mind at all times is a well placed fear that the steam, if not watched closely, will burst forth like some new belief and try to convert me and anyone nearby into bits of cooked meat. Not!

It’s time to let this almost alive creature to go and snort and run and allow me and my friends to ride on its back. Time to back the trailer down a ramp to the sea and move my friend peacefully to the dock. And there’s yet time to give it a symbolic wipe down and treat it to some oil.

I let it voice its enthusiasm for the coming adventure by sounding the whistle and ringing the bell. The happy guests arrive. We’re off!
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
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SL Ethel
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Re: Starting up for the day

Post by SL Ethel » Tue May 28, 2019 2:06 pm

I like it. Firing up on wood is an experience that deserves a good literary treatment.
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PeteThePen1
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Re: Starting up for the day

Post by PeteThePen1 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:57 am

Now that is a wonderful description:

" I allow a steady trickle of missionaries to go forth and be eaten by the heathen gods of entropy."

And some of thought of you as an engineer not a 'Word Smith"!
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Starting up for the day

Post by Lopez Mike » Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:36 am

I have no credentials as either an engineer or a wordsmith but, to quote some British song writers, "I get by with a little help from my friends."
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
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Re: Starting up for the day

Post by TahoeSteam » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:59 pm

I love it...
~Wesley Harcourt~
Check out the steamboat videos on my YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/wesleyharcourtsteamandmore
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