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Rough sailing

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Woodworking is inherently dangerous, sometimes in ways we don’t expect. For example, while working a sheet of plywood yesterday I almost wrecked somebody’s car.

I bought a 4x8 sheet of birch ply yesterday at the local Big Box, which I had them cut into three separate sheets – one 2’ x 8’ and two 1’ x 8’ – to save me some time breaking them down at home and also helping them fit in the car. I was toting them in one of those inherently dangerous lumber carts, the kind with a single wheel on each side, plus single wheels front and back at a different level from the side wheels. Those things are a Three Stooges film just waiting to be made. I paid up and headed out the door, unaware that while shopping it had become the windiest day so far this winter.

The doors faced due north, the same direction as my parked car. The wind was from due west. When that wind broadsided me, my plywood-laden Three Stooges cart suddenly became the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Let me make this clear: At no point did I lose control of the ship in the sense that my hands were wrenched free of the rear handle, leaving plywood and cart to go sailing, literally, three sheets to the wind at 30 knots. By the same token, from the moment that gale hit I never really had control of it to lose. I was, more or less, hanging on for the ride of my life.

We lurched to starboard with me being dragged behind, struggling to bring it back to something approximating a northerly heading. That was important, because that’s where my car was. More importantly it’s where another car, pulling up in front of the store, wasn’t.

It took nearly 25 feet before I managed to swing the ship around and into the wind just in front of that car, the captain of which had wisely turned hard to port and brought his engines to all-stop. Once pointed into the wind, I sheepishly saluted my fellow seadog and managed to tack into the wind until pulling up along side my car. Arrrrrr, matey.

Fortunately that other ship’s captain thought this was all a jolly laugh, and he helped me transfer the load into the cargo hold of my own vessel. The trip home was uneventful, although the wind continued to buffet the car all the way. Of course, once home I still had to unload my cargo.

That’s when I left seafaring behind and, courtesy of the aerodynamic properties of carrying plywood in a 30-knot wind, entered the world of general aviation.

Till next time,


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