Boat Stove

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MLB hot stove: Each team's ideal free-agent signing, other than Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -

Major League Baseball's free agency period won't officially start until Nov. 3. Yet it's understandable if some fans are already tired of hearing about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado . As such, let's take a different approach to the winter. Rather than wondering who Harper and Machado will sign with, let's identify a non-Harper/Machado target that each team could realistically land this winter. Note that we tried to shy away from the top of the market, with precious few exceptions. We also used players just once apiece throughout this exercise.

Whether or not the Diamondbacks rebuild, they could use another veteran starter. Pomeranz ought to come cheap after a horrible season that saw him post a 6.08 ERA in 26 appearances. He has past success as a starter and has a shared history with general manager Mike Hazen, dating back to their time together in Boston. Think of Pomeranz, then, as Arizona's next Clay Buchholz .

We don't know who the Orioles will have as their GM. We do know they're in the early stages of what could be a long-term rebuild. Lyles is one of the youngest free agents available. The bulk of his track record is uninspiring, but he leaned into his whiff-heavy curveball late in the season and it might behoove the Orioles to see what a full season of that approach would look like.

Last winter, the Cubs signed Drew Smyly , an erstwhile Mariner recovering from Tommy John surgery, with an eye on him contributing down the road. Phelps is in the same boat -- except he's likely to be back around or before the All-Star Game. Keep in mind he had a 2.72 ERA (146 ERA+) and strikeout rate over 11 in roughly two full seasons as a reliever. Factor in his ability to go multiple innings, and he'd be a nice get for the Cubs bullpen.

One way rebuilding teams spend their winters is stocking up on relievers who could become attractive to contenders at the deadline. Diekman has a big arm and has shown flashes of being a quality late-inning reliever. If Don Cooper can help him find the strike zone more often -- and that's a big if -- he could return something shiny at the deadline.

The Reds are halfway to being a competitive team -- they just need to improve their pitching. Let's swing for the fences with Keuchel, who could slip through the cracks due to his low-heat, low-spin approach. Keuchel would bring some legitimacy to the front of Cincinnati's rotation and could prove to be a relative bargain, depending on how other teams view him. The Reds, for their part, have hinted that they're going to be aggressive in their pursuit of pitching this winter. Here you go.


Chris Johnson's life afloat: No mortgage, no rent, endless water views -

"Being able to do this makes me very happy."

That's what Chris Johnson told me about his somewhat eccentric approach to life, living for the last six years, year-round, on a succession of different boats, in different places, working a variety of different jobs and rejecting land-based shackles such as mortgage payments, rent, careers you can't walk away from and other conventional responsibilities.

"I'm trying to build a life I don't have to take vacations from," Johnson told me.

We were chatting on the aft deck of Johnson's Togetherness, a 47-foot wooden cabin cruiser built in 1965 by the Matthews Boat Company, known in its day for manufacturing quality yachts. Johnson, who admits Togetherness needs a little love and carpentry, acquired it this year from a Craigslist posting, paying $1,000.

The setting, a glorious sunny afternoon in November at the end of a pier at Burr's Marina in New London, looking out across the sparkling blue water of the Thames River, was a perfect exclamation point on Johnson's assertions about the joys of a floating life.

I sought out Johnson after a picture by The Day's Dana Jensen, showing Johnson and his dog, Honey, making their way out from a water-covered pier at Burr's during the late October nor'easter, was published. I was curious to learn about city life on the water.

It turns out Johnson, 30, whose parents live in South Killingly, where he grew up, has only been at Burr's a few months. He took a job there as a mechanic and service manager after seeing a posting on Craigslist. Togetherness and another boat Johnson owns, a 40-foot fiberglass sailboat, are moored next to each other there.

Johnson's winter liveaboard arrangements change from year to year. He has spent some winters on a mooring in a cove on the river where a friend has a house. This year he may move the sailboat to a mooring and move Togetherness to a city marina that has showers and running water at the docks all year.

He usually heats his boats with a wood stove, which keeps them toasty warm, sometimes too hot, he says.

He stays on board during storms, even hurricanes, because that's what you do to protect things, he said. He spent Hurricane Irene on the sailboat he owned at the time in Great Salt Pond on Block Island, an especially memorable endurance test.

"It tests you as a human being," he said. "The challenges become a part of your life and who you are as a person."

Johnson spent parts of the last six years on various boats on Block Island, where he often works for a marina. He has a lot of friends on the island, and even since living in New London often sails out to the island for weekend visits. (It's cheaper to take the sailboat because the engines in Togetherness burn a lot of diesel fuel.)

If he keeps the boat, Johnson says he has in mind some restoration projects, including the frames around the big picture windows in the salon, which are rotted from leaks. On the other hand, he has it listed for sale, and he was planning to show it to someone later in the afternoon I met with him.

The sailboat, too, is listed for sale, and he has some cosmetic projects on that planned, before he can flip it at a profit.

Meanwhile, Johnson said he is happy not to be living in the kind of rented apartment he could afford for what he pays to live aboard a boat. He always has a view, and, when the spirit moves him, he can get underway and move somewhere else, or just anchor someplace where a waterfront house with a comparable perspective would go for millions.

He has an eye now on a 65-foot ketch. He saw it on Craigslist. It might work, if he finds a new owner for Togetherness.

"I don't ever want to own a house," he said, "just a bigger boat."

This is the opinion of David Collins.


Water searches, kitchen fires and fall victims. Busy time for first responders in Hunterdon -

First responders were called out several times in northern Hunterdon County in recent weeks.

A water search took place in Clinton on Saturday after a caller reported seeing an empty kayak floating on the South Branch of the Raritan River near Halstead Street.

Clinton First Aid and Rescue Squad's water rescue team put a boat in the water after being called out at 11:21 a.m. and searched from the waterfall by the Red Mill to the waters on the east side of the Halstead Street bridge, but nothing was found, according to those at the scene. The search was called off at 12:05 p.m.

Firefighters extinguished a stove fire at the Clinton Garden Apartments on School Street in Clinton on Oct. 20.

The fire was reported just after 4 p.m. and turned out to be a stove fire in a ground floor apartment that spread to the wall and cabinets above the stove, according to those at the scene. A resident was injured and treated at the scene by the Clinton Rescue Squad.

Also responding to the fire call were Clinton police, Clinton Fire Department, Annandale Hose Company, High Bridge Fire Department, Lebanon Borough Fire Department, Quakertown Fire Company, Station 51 and Califon Fire Department RIC Team.

A hunter who had fallen out of a tree stand near High Bridge was airlifted to Morristown Medical Center on Oct. 20.

According to those at the scene, the hunter apparently had been driven to the High Bridge Fire Department firehouse, where he was then taken by the High Bridge Rescue Squad and paramedics from Hunterdon Medical Center to Union Forge Park on Washington Ave where the fire company had set up a landing zone for a New Jersey State Police Northstar helicopter.



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