June 25, 2003
You’d have thought something big was getting ready to happen by all the activity and excitement this week. Monday, of course, is the Big Day, as the approximately three-day launch process starts. Julian Brown is like Mad Max on steroids with his exotic vehicles preparing for the launch trajectory. Timbers will be placed on the ground, and the Huckins will be slowly pushed out on log rollers. Meanwhile, Cherokee’s bottom has been painted a pretty blue, and the stainless steel rub rail is getting attached to the wooden bumpers of the boat.
Norm Applying Bottom Coat
Kerry Starts, Paul Finishes Up
Smaller hands were called for to take care of the finer details. Below Aren paints around the bow thrusters.
Two Views of Aren and the Bow Thrusters
Bryan and Chris began installing the stainless steel rub rail, cutting the sections and bending the corner piece. The pieces had to be formed to fit the corners of the rub strake shown below. Shown here is Bryan cutting the first full-length piece of bumper metal.
Bryan and Chris Cutting Rub Rail Piece
Bruce Lends a Hand in Rail Installation
Meanwhile, that rowdy bunch of painters from the Ernul area (where’s that??) wrapped all stainless steel and pretty varnish pieces so they could spray yet another coat of paint to the flybridge. Once again this task was assisted by a fire chief and a red truck, as water was applied all around to minimize the dust that the Road Warrior operation kicked up!
Paint Crew Ready to Rumble
Have you ever picked up one of those saltwater blob creatures and aimed it at someone? “What is that?” the unsuspecting victim asks, and then you squeeze and squirt them in the face. Well, who would guess that the lowly sea squirt, clown flower of the sea, is now revered as a respected distant cousin of ours, helping in medical research? Sea squirts might look un-animal like, but they start life as swimming larvae with tails and notochords (precursors to backbones). The young squirts find something to attach to, and presto! there they stay for life. They absorb their tails, and blob out, pumping water in one hole and out another. Other similarities to humans include the possession of a heart, nervous system, immune system, and a thyroid-type gland. Their embryos are so similar to ours that sea squirts are being used in human fertility research. They are also being tested for use as an anti-tumor cancer drug called phthalascidin, which may be on the market within a couple of years. 95,000 pounds of sea squirts make 3 ounces of the drug, but it’s so powerful that 11 pounds of the drug would satisfy world demand for a year! Another fun sea squirt fact – researchers at the University of London and Kyoto just figured out that sea squirts respond to cannabis in the same way as humans. The “cannabinoid receptor gene” has never been found in an invertebrate until now, suggesting that the ability to respond to cannabis evolved before animals with backbones ever ambled on the scene. Who likes to eat our cannabis-enjoying, cancer-treating, and eye-squirting cousins of the sea? The Japanese (twenty tons a year) and French (raw with lemon, s’il vous plait). Now there’s grist for the next edition of Fish House Opera! Signing off for now, Barbara “Fish Doctor” Blake