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It was another stay at home day with a lot of work at the desk on this site in the morning, finishing up all my Pan-Mass Challenge obligations and, in the afternoon, focusing on my MMC (captain's license) renewal. In the meantime, I was helping Debbie and walking the dog. That was about it for the day.
Part of my day was also spent dealing with getting forgiven for the two PPP loans we took out for both Barnacle Billy's, Inc. restaurants and the Bunny Clark. There is still a lot of work to do there.
Deb was a lot better today. She spent most of the day out of bed, in the kitchen but mostly taking it easy. She didn't feel great; she still can't taste/smell anything. But she was making her own lunch/dinner and trying to stay up enough so that she would be tired enough to sleep through the night. Lately, the sleeping has been a problem. But it looks like she is going to survive. And that's a good thing. We shall see what tomorrow brings. I know Deb will be happy when she is well enough that I stop posting about her on this website!
I received another donation sponsoring me in this year's Pan-Mass Challenge, a fund raising cycling event for cancer research. Dave Garriepy (ME) was the donor with a generous $100.00 donation as an "eGift" through the PMC site. Dave has donated for the last three PMC seasons. He is an excellent cyclist who I sometimes get to ride with. This didn't happen much in 2020 since he is so involved with Covid patients. Lately, he has been one of the individuals giving people the Covid vaccine jab in southern Maine. His work around patients with Covid has obligated him to stay on the "Q" and ride by himself all summer. Thank you, Dave, for all the work you do for the greater medical good but, specifically, for the donation through me to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for cancer research. I do so appreciate your support.
Another day in the office and at home. Domestic duties were diminished for me today as Deb got out of bed early and took over all but anything that had to do with leaving the house. Deb didn't feel good. But she felt considerably better. That left me concentrating on business stuff.
For my part, I had a dentist appointment that I completed before 9:00 AM. By 9:30 AM, I was meeting with our baker at the restaurant, Heather Betz, on future plans and schedules. Still at the restaurant, I fixed a POS problem we were having. From there, most of my time was spent in the home office. I was done with my working day at 5:00 PM.
One of my domestic duties, which I greatly look forward to but, in normal times, I don't do often enough, is take Gill, our border collie, for a walk. When we left for vacation, Gill was limping, one of his front paws. Many times before we left, I would have Gill sit and I would feel both paws to see if I could detect any pain by the dog's reaction and to isolate the area of concern. No dice. No matter what I did, the dog would remain placid, no reaction whatsoever except, maybe, a lick of my face. Still he would limp. I was concerned but not worried. The dog didn't seem to mind and it never got worse. So I figured that while we were gone the problem would solve itself. It didn't. When we got home from vacation, the dog was limping exactly as he had been before. Six days after getting home, Deb got sick. For the first three days I was more concerned with Deb than I was walking the dog. So I would let the dog out several times, feed him, play with him lightly, for short periods, but would not walk him. When I started to walk the dog, the first day out, I noticed no limping! So I walked him twice that day. Still no limping. The next day we went for an extended walk. Still no limping. It must have been two more days, I took him running on the beach. Two miles max. No limping. And he hasn't limped since. So I have been taking him running on a regular basis.
Today I repeated an exercise that I completed with Gill on Sunday. I took him to Ogunquit beach, walked him around the perimeter of the parking lot on the leash, came back to the beach, ran with him on the leash for a mile and a half, let him off the leash while I ran ahead until I could just see him, ran back where he was waiting (hunkered down like he was ready to herd sheep) and then ran back to the start where I would, again, put him on his leash and take him on a cool down walk around the perimeter of the parking lot. This turned out to be a total distance, for me, of 5.5 miles. Some of the increased mileage occurred when running back on the beach with Gill behind me. Today was different than Sunday because he spent more time on the run back sniffing up near the edge of the dunes. So I would run ahead until he would diminish in size behind me and then turn around and run back to him. Once near him, he was encouraged to run with me again until distracted (smells, dogs, people, sea gulls, a log, etc.). So today this went on for a while; running towards the start and then running back to Gill. He has been a remarkably happy dog afterward and at times during the whole thing. I think he's least happy when we still have a half mile to go on the initial run down the beach while on the leash. And, also, maybe when we do the cool down fast walk around the beach parking lot. Below is a shot of he and I doing that last fast walk around the parking lot. If you look at his face, I think you can see that he isn't the happiest dog in the world or the saddest either. And the reason he isn't the happiest is because I won't let him stop and smell (the roses?). To him, they are all roses.
I worked all morning in the office today. In the afternoon, I became domestically challenged at the grocery store. I guess I waited too long to go shopping as one cart didn't seem enough to get everything to the payout station. Plus, it took much longer than I expected to finish. And there were way too many calls to Deb about item identification, where I could find certain things and quantity desired. Although Debbie is doing much better and actually feels good, she tells me, staying at home is a better idea than, maybe, getting someone infected on the outside. We just don't know how this virus spreads. So it looks like my domestic duties are going be required for a little bit longer. On a year where most license renewals need to be completed, I'm behind on most things because of having to delay my normal routine and the extra work I'm going to need to do to remain secure financially with two businesses during Covid time, I'm just hoping I can get everything completed before the season starts. It's going to be a challenge. I'm not worried about it because I am working as hard and as long as I can. But it is challenging.
I received a generous donation sponsoring me in this year's Pan-Mass Challenge, an event that will probably go off as expected but without the normal amenities I've come to know and love over the years - like being able to take a room at Mass. Maritime Academy and providing a bus from Boston to Strubridge, to name two. I will be signing up for the event but I probably won't be actually riding in it. Of course, as I have said many times, the fund raising for cancer research is the thing I like most about the PMC. Today's donation was from David Bassett (MD), the donation $100.00. Thank you so much, David. I know you warned me that you were going to donate :). But I was very happy to see your check come in. I very much appreciate your help and support!
Today I felt like I was multi-tasking from the time I got out of bed a 2:45 AM until I stopped working at 5:00 PM. I was much less the domestic that I have been of late. In fact, Deb was working around the house all day and on the Bunny Clark books but only went out to get another Covid test that her doctor had ordered. She drove herself to the clinic to do so. She will be quarantining, as will I, for the next week or so.
I spent time on my Merchant Mariner Certificate (captain's license) renewal. There is a lot to getting everything ready to present to the U. S. Coast Guard, including a big physical I have to complete on Tuesday. During that time I was also working on getting set up for the new PPP loan application for both the restaurants and the Bunny Clark. The application is due out this weekend at some point. That will be my primary focus on Monday. Restaurants have been given a higher priority than they were with the first loan. This will be very important for Barnacle Billy's going forward, if approved. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I was also getting bombarded by, what seemed like, a million phone calls on various things that increased the work load for January. The calendar is filling up.
Registering for the this year's Pan-Mass Challenge was a big part of my day. The cycling event is going to go off, unlike last year when it was run as a virtual event that I didn't take part in. But it won't be like normal. There will be no bus transportation from Boston, Massachusetts, the Mass Maratime Academy won't be used to house riders, there will be no tent there with food like there was before Covid, there will be no meeting under a big tent in Provincetown, the ferry to Boston will only be allowed to take half the passenger count and you will be responsible for bringing your bike on the ferry itself. To me, it seems like a lot of extra steps that will be too much from a logistical standpoint for me coming from Maine and working all that I do with the boats and the restaurants. So I signed up as if I am going to ride in the event but I probably won't do it. But it took me almost two hours to figure out all the ins and outs, find someone I could talk to and coordinate with my riding partner, Paul "Hez" Haseltine, how all this was going down. So I did sign up but I will be waiting in the wings to see how the ride will all pan out before I make a decision on actually riding in it. I'm about 80% sure that I won't be taking part in the cycling event itself. The fund raising is, by far, the thing I am most interested in. That I will be putting as much time into as I did before.
Between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, I took Gill, our border collie, for a five mile walk run on Ogunquit Beach, in the same manner I have been doing as I described on the January 6th entry. Everything went well until I started the .4 mile cool down around the Beach parking lot after the run/walk. Two days ago, something I didn't mention in the previously mentioned entry, I ran across a lady who was walking three different dogs on leashes in the parking lot. From across the parking lot she yelled at me to walk the other way with my dog. We were far enough away at the time where, if I was asked to recall her face, I would not be able to. Yet she's yelling at the top of her lungs to move. Seeing that she was headed to her vehicle and I was, essentially, cutting her off, I took a dog leg left (no pun intended) and let her go. But not before I received several derogatory expletives from her. I made a couple of comments about being able to control her animals. And that was that. Until today, when I met her again. This time, she's telling me I had to move to the other side of the parking lot because I was bothering her dogs. This time I said, no, this is our path, something we have been doing for two weeks and this is where I was going. Keep in mind, I am not close to this woman and she's not being polite or asking me. I'm close enough to see her and have her yell at me but not close enough to hit her with a rock if I so desired. I certainly couldn't hit her with a feather. It wasn't long before the profane expletives burst forth from her and the insults increased. "You aren't from Maine or you wouldn't act like this. I'm a resident. Etc. etc." As she's yelling at me I'm thinking to myself that she has a thick south Boston accent. So I asked her; "Are you from Boston?" "Yes", she said, "But I own property here. Everyone knows me." I told her that I didn't know her and I have lived in Ogunquit all my life. I mentioned controlling her animals again. She then proceeded to tell me that she would let them go. "Whatever", I said. "Do what you want to do. I don't give a rat's ass." At which point she let them go. The bigger dog came over and jumped on Gill, growling and snapping but not actually biting Gill. And Gill must have known it because his reaction was much like his master's; "Whatever" And this confrontation didn't last very long. The two smaller dogs were just excited to see Gill and jumping all around him. Why it was important that she was from Maine and why she felt like she owned the parking lot, I don't know. But I ended up walking away from her to my truck as she yelled at me the whole way. One of her small dogs, leash trailing, followed me almost to the truck and well away from her until I intercepted a town employee who took the dog on leash back to the owner. She was still swearing at me from a distance. I had long since stopped paying attention to her. I guess at some point I will find out who this woman is since, as she told me, she knows everyone. I will be interested only because of this encounter.
I received another donation, this time of $30.00, from Bob "SOB" Mayer (ME), sponsoring me in the Pan-Mass Challenge for this season. Bob has been donating to my cancer cause every year. He is a very good regular angler on the Bunny Clark and lost the largest halibut we have had on a line in recent memory. He has also landed a couple of legal halibut as well and many great fish including a pile of haddock. I never did get to see the big halibut he lost. But it was massive, in the fight, and snapped 80 pound test line like it was nothing. The acronym SOB stands for "Sweet Ole Bob", probably a family thing. Thanks so much, Bob. Your donations are much appreciated. But I really like the fact that you have such good luck fishing with me. All the best!
I completed about three hours of work at the desk and then took some time off and completed a few domestic chores before dinner. It was a very low key day. I'm getting ready for all the work that will have to be completed during the coming week.
I did only a small amount of work at the desk at home, stopping at 8:00 AM and taking the rest of the work day off.
Things are getting back to normal at the Tower household. Although, I'm still doing all the go-foring outside our domain. Tomorrow will be the start of a busy week.
After a short time working on this site, I worked on hosting a Zoom meeting that is taking place tomorrow, with my managers at Barnacle Billy's, at 9:30 AM. That took most of the morning. I have participated in Zoom meetings before but not as a host. For what I wanted, I had to get involved in a paid subscription. All this took time. Lastly, I had to test it on my sister, Meg, to make sure I had everything the way I wanted it.
After 11:30 AM, I took Deb to Portsmouth to see her doctor. Not only did he want to see her but he wanted to run some tests. She had a slight temperature but not enough of one turn her away. I went shopping in the meantime as I needed some boat supplies, some office supplies and I needed to fill the truck with gas. We were back home later in the afternoon. I will be glad when all this Covid stuff is behind us, if indeed it ever is! It seems like it's been going on forever. And it's delaying so many other medical treatments.
Once we got home, I worked in the office for a bit and then took Gill for a much needed walk. He was a very happy dog.
This was heavy mental Tuesday for me. Most of the day was spent working out the new Paycheck Protection Program as it applied to Barnacle Billy's. Although I spent all my free time working on it today, we never came to a conclusion or anything to give to the bank. I was either with or had communication with our book keeper, Sarah Yorke, all day. I certainly don't want to have to defend what I did if we do get the loan and have to fill out the application for forgiveness in the future. I want it to be right the first time. I also don't want it to be perceived that I tried to get away with something. I had promised the bank something by the afternoon that I, eventually, couldn't produce. Frustrating.
At 9:30 AM, I hosted my first Zoom meeting with all the principles in management at Barnacle Billy's restaurants. The meeting went ok as far as the Zoom mechanics is concerned. I still had the feeling that I didn't have command over the Zoom medium but I guess that will come with time. I left it very open. There were only nine of us. Everyone was respectful of others talking. So there really wasn't much I had to do as host. I was talking for most of it anyway. But I have a very wonderful crew who I work with.
Our meeting was based on how we were going to open Barnacle Billy's under future guidelines and future regulations. At this time, there is no way to know what the state of Maine is going to require and how we will maximize our business potential while minimizing the health risk of being open. We also need to find a way that will make it more enjoyable for employees who work there. For many of them, last summer, it was hard work. There were financial conflicts between employees that never existed before under previously normal circumstances. It was a challenge in many ways, too many ways to mention here. At worst, we may have to open as we did last year, with the original restaurant open, Barnacle Billy's, Etc. closed, except for the kitchen, with food runners from both restaurants, a larger takeout business and wait service at our original restaurant. To start, we will be well ahead of what we did last year if we have to duplicate what we did last year. But it certainly won't be a viable business for the future. It may be too premature to expect a relaxing of regulations by spring. We do need to expand the business to actually make money instead of just hanging on, as we did last year. So there were many questions that were passed back and forth. Another Zoom meeting was set up for the end of January. At that time, we will have the potential employee list and some ideas of how we can improve the way we do business in a limited capacity under the Covid rules.
All of the managers at Barnacle Billy's have to renew our ServSafe certificates. This is a license required to monitor food safety in the restaurant. The renewal of this certificate comes due every five years. By the end of the morning we had all established how each of us was going to accomplish this goal. This is a national license, the certificate good for any restaurant in the United States.
The late afternoon was scheduled to complete the physical exam for the renewal of my U.S. Coast Guard captain's license (MMC). I worry about every facet of the exam; eyes, blood pressure, etc., etc. My wife, Deb, laughs at this. But I would hate something happening that would tell them this candidate has to come back to do this over again. In order to work on the ocean with the Bunny Clark, I have to stay in shape. As most know, I spend many hours a week exercising. I may not eat as well as I should but I do exercise. I sprained my elbow gaffing a cusk when I first started hiring captains to take my place at the wheel, many years ago. Ever since I have worked my upper body and core as well as maintaining disciplines in running, swimming and cycling (over 10,000 miles a year on a bike). This is why Deb laughs. I will say that the Doc was impressed that I could stand and touch my palms to the floor at 69 years old. I didn't pass with flying colors, my eyes were listed as 40/40 without glasses. But this is well within the scope of being healthy enough to safely captain the Bunny Clark. So that's done and that worry is over.
It also looks like I have a guardian angel somewhere above. As I was driving down Route 1, heading to Portsmouth for the exam, I got a call from my kitchen manager at Barnacle Billy's, Etc., Eric Littlefield. I had just seen him through the Zoom platform this morning. He told me that there was a horrific accident on Route 95 and that traffic was stopped for miles. Unknowing to me, he had passed me on Route 1 coming from Route 95. Thanks to him, I avoided Route 95 and decided to go Route 1. Not! After I went past the York exit off 95 I found myself in a line of traffic on Route 1 that was essentially being used as a detour off 95. Trailer truck after trailer truck was ahead of me, stopped. It took me fifteen minutes to go a mile. I did not want to miss my physical exam! So, when I got to the turn-off to Route 91, I took a right there and went all the back roads to Kittery just before the Piscataqua River bridge, making it to my destination with three minutes to spare. I know all the back roads thanks to my years of cycling in southern Maine. Thank you so much, Eric Littlefield! I don't know what angel whispered in your ear but tell her, from me, that I love her!
Aside from some future planning for tomorrow, I was done by 6:00 PM.
I received a $25.00 donation from Bill & Kathy Devon (VT) sponsoring me in this season's Pan-Mass Challenge, for cancer research. Bill & Kathy gave at the tail end of last year and wanted to make sure they didn't forget this year. They have supported me since I started, almost fifteen years ago. Thank you so very much, Bill & Kathy. I do so appreciate all your help in this venture.
My day seemed like I was on roller skates all day. After working at the desk at home, I made a couple of trips to the office at Barnacle Billy's. I had a meeting via phone conference with accountants and, afterward, our book keeper, as I drove to the Bunny Clark. I arrived at the Bunny Clark at 9:45 AM where I met Captain Ian Keniston and, later, David Pease. At 10:00 AM, Chief Warrant Officer Matthew White, U. S. Coast Guard, showed up at the boat to do the Bunny Clark's hull inspection. This is required of small inspected vessels every two years. CWO Matt White is new to our area, arriving during the summer last year. So he didn't know the Bunny Clark and I had never met him. His inspection took about two hours, during which time, many questions were asked as he familiarized himself with the Bunny Clark. He seemed very thorough and good. He would be the first one I would call if I needed the Coast Guard for a problem. And, like most inspectors with the Coast Guard, he was knowledgable to talk to. I was glad I met him. I took a picture of CWO White inspecting the lazarette on the Bunny Clark. This digital image appears below.
I worked at the desk in the office here at home until 8:00 AM. Except for a couple of breaks, I worked on the securing a loan for the restaurants and finishing up the renewal package for my captain's (MMC) license. Most of the time was spent documenting my sea time. The way it's set up, you have to figure out how many days you were on a boat for each month during the last five years. Since I needed the time from both my boats, the Petrel and the Bunny Clark, I had to fill out two applications of at sea reports. That took quite a lot of time. For past license renewals, I drove down to Boston, talked to someone at the regional exam center there to make sure all my paperwork was filled out correctly and then it was sent off to Virgina and my MMC was mailed to me. For the time it took to drive to Boston it was still a much quicker process. Now, because of Covid-19, you can't have someone make sure you did everything correctly in person. Now you have to make a PDF of all the documents and send them via email to the closest exam center, Boston in my case, and wait for two weeks to find out if you made a mistake or not. If your PDF is over 8 megabytes, you have to break it down so it isn't as heavy and send two emails because the email itself can't be over 8 megabytes. I was able to make two PDF files of just under 8 megabytes each and send two emails. I asked for a return email to make sure it went to the appropriate place but that probably won't happen. My MMC expires in mid February. I finished my working day at 5:30 PM.
At 8:00 AM, I took a break and grabbed our dog, Gill, for a run/jog/walk on the beach. It was a good day for both dog and master. There were very few people (distractions) walking on the beach, the tide was low enough to give us a lot of room, the beach was even and no one yelled at us in the parking lot. With no distractions, the run back together, sans leash, went very well with Gill trotting behind in a straight line the whole way. And, on the leash for the run up the beach lasted much longer than before with Gill putting the brakes on at the fifteenth house, where he refused to go any further. So I only ran a shorter distance up the beach alone than I normally do. When I turned around to pick up Gill for the run back, he was waiting in ambush. See the picture below.
My early morning routine continued like it has just about every morning this winter. By 8:30 AM, I took part in a Zoom meeting with our accounting firm and our book keeper from Barnacle Billy's, Sarah Yorke. The discussion centered on the second PPP loan, pros and cons and application submission.
Once the meeting was over, I focused on the Guestletter. I don't think I have ever waited this long to start writing it. But, of course, this is, without a doubt, the most challenging winter that I have ever faced. It's come to the point that when I hear of another thing going wrong, I think to myself; "Oh, well. What the hell." And I deal with it. It's not like I'm the only one being the recipient of hard times. There are many much worse off than I. And I do feel lucky about this for the time being. So we shall see.
Deb is feeling better, not perfect, but better. She an Gill walked today while I did my thing.
After the early part of the morning was over, Captain Ian Keniston, Deb and I met in the kitchen to go over the upcoming season's schedule and rates. The meeting started at 8:00 AM and ended at 9:30 AM. I worked on setting up the schedule and rates section of this website for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. I was able to post the new schedule on this website by 1:00 PM. Afterward, I worked on the Guestletter. I felt good about what I accomplished. But there is a bit of anxiety not knowing exactly where the state will be with the Covid crisis by the time we start fishing. I suspect that we will be able to open the season as planned but you can't really anticipate what is going to happen with an uncertain future. It's all well and good to plan. But when some things are out of your control, you are left wondering. Unfortunately, these questions don't help in finding another deck hand for the summer either. I stopped work at 3:00 PM.
Except for working on this page and discussions with our bank today, I took the day off, rode seventy-five miles on my road bike and watched one Premier League football game. I did watch the Tampa Bay/New Orleans game for, maybe, forty-five minutes. But, lately, I haven't been able to stay awake past 8:00 PM. Nor do I want to. It just makes me get up later. And much of the next day is lost, or I feel that it is, if I don't get up early.
In the coming months I will be looking to employ a regular deck hand for the Bunny Clark this season. As most know, we weren't fully staffed with deck hands last year or the year before. Thankfully, some of our previous deck hands (including me for two trips) got us through the season last year. So if anyone is interested, I will be looking for at least one person as a mate for the Bunny Clark. The number to call is 207-646-2214.
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