It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…(For Buying a Boat!)

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Are you eagerly compiling your Christmas letter to get it to the North Pole in time for the elves to get cracking on making your wishes come true? If a new boat is at the top of your wish list, why not make it a bit easier on the little guys and buy it yourself?

A Buyer’s Market…
During the boating off-season, boat dealers, just like car dealers, are trying to clear out last year’s inventory to make room for the incoming new models—creating the perfect situation for you to score a great deal on a new vessel. Plus, while new boat sales have been steadily increasing over the past couple years since the recession (up almost 10% in 2012), they’re still considerably below what the industry would deem “strong”—meaning dealers have an extra incentive to give you a favorable deal. As the weather grows colder, survey your local dealers—keeping your eyes peeled for mark-downs and keeping in mind that they’re likely willing to negotiate soon-to-be outdated models.

Opportunities Abound…
Winter is jam-packed with boat shows and exhibitions, which are great opportunities to meet and talk with the manufacturers and industry experts. Decide what kind of boat type and features you’re looking for before you attend one of these events and then take advantage of these experts’ knowledge to find the perfect fit for you. Boat dealers attend these events for one reason: to meet customers in person to try and earn their business. Tell them what you’re in the market for and the chances are good you can get a great deal right on the spot if you play your cards right.

Save, But Don’t Compromise…
Many first-time boat-buyers make the regrettable error of buying a boat ill-suited for their specific needs—if you’re planning on spending 99% of your time on the water fishing, why would you buy a ski boat just because you found a great deal on one? Sure, saving money is a great feeling, but even better is being ultimately happy with your purchase. A boat is an investment for the future—it’s worth potentially spending a little more to make sure you’re getting a boat that will allow you to enjoy your individual aquatic activities for years to come.

Deck the HULLS

Dreaming of a white nautical Christmas? The Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights is the can’t-miss seasonal event for every boating enthusiast. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, we’ve got an early Christmas present just for you: everything you need to know to kick off your holiday festivities the right way—on the water!

The display consists of over forty boats of all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common—they’re decked out from bow to stern with a dazzling array of lights! The twinkling procession circles the waterfront in two fleets: one circling in front of Eastport, the City Dock and the Naval Academy seawall, the other following the length of Spa Creek, going under the Eastport Bridge.

This year, the Lights Parade will be held on Saturday, December 12th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.  The parade is a time-honored Annapolis tradition, now in its 33rd consecutive year, and regularly draws over 30,000 spectators to share in the holiday cheer. While the impressive attendance numbers are truly a testament to the event’s quality, that many people, no matter how jolly they may indeed be, naturally presents some logistical problems—particularly when it comes to parking, transportation and getting a great view.

Lucky for you, we’ve got the details so you can get to and from the Lights Parade and see the dazzling display clearer than Rudolph’s vibrant red nose. Although parking will be restricted in the immediate vicinity of the Annapolis Harbor, adequate space will be available at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium off Rowe Boulevard. A free shuttle will run between the Stadium and downtown between 3 and 10 PM. Once you’re downtown, make your merry way to one of our suggested viewing sites to take it all in at either the Eastport Bridge, Fawcett Boat Supplies Parking Lot located at 110 Compromise St., the Naval Academy Annapolis City Dock, or Ego Alley. After the Parade of Lights, the main loading area for the shuttle buses will be at Lawyer’s Mall on College Avenue in front of the State Capitol Building to take you back to your vehicle.

Can’t make it this year? No need to worry, cozy up next to the fireplace with some eggnog and watch the EYC Lights Parade on your iPad, iPhone, Android, PC or TV via the live internet stream on LiveStream.com.

Tips For Maximizing Winterizing

Prep for the winter months like a pro

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It may sound counterintuitive, but extended periods of inactivity, like winter, can be harder on your boat than using it every day—neglect can significantly accelerate general wear-and-tear and cause serious complications in the spring. Without adequate preparation, often referred to as ‘winterization’ in the boating community, you’re just asking for trouble ranging from excessive corrosion to congealed lubricants. In other words, failure to properly winterize your vessel will come back to haunt you when the warm weather rolls around and you’re ready to hit the water again. Follow these winterization pointers to make sure all your bases are covered to protect your boat from the deep freeze.

1. Start Clean, End Clean: A clean boat is a happy boat—and will likewise weather winter downtime better and reduce the work you have to do in the spring. Thoroughly wash the topsides, bottom and deck and apply a fresh coat of wax on the topsides as well to protect from moisture damage. If you have a fiberglass boat, ensure there’s no blistering and treat/repair as needed. If possible, remove all canvas material from the boat and store in a dry, climate-controlled area.

2. Flush the Cooling Before the Cold: For inboard and stern drive boats featuring raw water-cooling systems, be sure to flush the engine with fresh water to remove any excess salt accumulation and consider adding anti-freeze into the cooling system if you’re in an area with extremely cold winters. Alternatively, flush outboard motors with freshwater before thoroughly draining all water from the engine before storage.

3. Top It Off: Make sure your fuel tank is topped off to prevent condensation and replace the fuel filter before storing your boat. Consider adding a marine fuel stabilizer to the tank to protect against varnish accumulation.

4. Toil on the Oil: Oil’s the lifeblood of your boat’s powerhouse—so treat it accordingly: change the engine oil and filter on stern drive, inboard engines and four-stroke outboards. During the oil change, be on the lookout for signs of water intrusion, such as the gear oil appearing ‘milky’ and discolored. This could indicate leaky seals that need to be tightened or repaired.

winter dock5. Smooth Running: Proper lubrication of all systems—large and small—is key at all times and especially before periods of extended inactivity. Apply adequate marine grease to all hinges, latches, switches, ratchet mounts and the like. It’s also a good idea to remove the propeller and inspect it for fishing line and structural damage and then apply water-resistant grease before reattaching it.

6. Get Visual: It may seem simple, but you can catch most minor problems before they become major headaches just by giving your boat a thorough visual inspection. Get up close and personal—look for signs of worn cables and corrosion, check the hydraulic steering fluid levels, and keep an eye out for signs of leakage around seals and fittings from bow to stern.

7. Moisture: Public Enemy #1: Moisture means mold and mildew. Double-check the bilges, fish holds and storage areas and remove any standing water, dirt or oil. Place commercial moisture absorbers in all areas of the cabin. Remove all cushions and fabrics and prop them up to allow air to circulate during storage.

8. Remove Clutter: If you don’t have to subject your belongings to the extreme temperatures and elements of winter, why would you? This is especially important for all safety gear, think about your lifejackets, dock lines, fire extinguishers, flares and survival gear—if worst comes to worst, you want them to be fully operational in an emergency and carefully storing them is a hassle-free way to ensure they function properly.

While this advice will get you well on your way to tucking your boat in for her winter’s nap, there will be variations depending on the make and model of boat you own and the particular climate you live in. But why take the chance you’ll forget something? To ensure all your maintenance needs are met year-round, the ABYC certified yacht service technicians here at Port Annapolis have earned a reputation as a regional leader for exceptional stern-to-stern quality care. Visit us for all your maintenance and repair needs at 7074 Bembe Beach Road, Annapolis, MD 21403 or give us a call at 410-269-1944 for friendly, reliable service.

Shrink Wrap vs. Boat Cover

Which Option’s Right For You?

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With winter around the corner, boat owners near and far are struggling with the plethora of choices associated with the winterization process. Perhaps one of the most important decisions for sailors to make when it comes to off-season care for their most prized assets is whether to go with shrink wrap or a boat cover. While both options offer adequate protection from the elements, here’s a brief rundown of both products to help you pick the one that’s right for your specific situation.

Shrink Wrap

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When it comes to shrink wrapping, there are a couple of possible scenarios to consider. Most owners pay professional shrink wrapping companies to apply the treatment every year, with the cost varying depending on the length and type of vessel. Although the one-time cost of shrink wrapping your boat might seem preferable to the significantly greater cost of a quality custom-fit cover, keep in mind that this is an annual cost that, compounded over several years, may not be as cost-effective as it appears at first glance. While there are a variety of cheaper, do-it-yourself kits on the market, applying the shrink wrap on your own poses fire-hazard concerns and can be significantly time-consuming. Incorrect application may also damage your boat’s exterior and result in costly repairs.

When applied correctly, shrink wrap provides a waterproof protective seal that prevents corrosion and protects wear and tear from the elements. However, it’s also non-breathable, so if any moisture is under the cover upon application, it’s stuck there—and that means mold and mildew that can cause severe damage over the winter months. If you choose to shrink wrap your boat, ensure that vents are installed to allow adequate airflow.

Boat Cover

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The obvious benefit of opting for a boat cover is that it’s a one-time expense that you can use year after year to protect your vessel. True, it may be a hefty price when compared to the cost of a single shrink wrap, but if you’re thinking in the long-term, it may be well worth it if you plan on keeping the same boat for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the installation process is fairly straightforward when compared to shrink wrapping, providing you with the added convenience of completing the task yourself without having to hire someone else or mess with potentially dangerous equipment.

As long as the cover is secured and supported correctly, it can extend the life of your boat by allowing moisture from rain and snow to run off and protect from any potential sun-damage that could cause blistering. Additionally, most high-end covers are made from a breathable fabric that allows any residual moisture escape, preventing the threat of mold or mildew.

The Best Places to Sail on the Bay

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With its reach extending from Virginia in the south to Maryland in the north, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. Its interior coastline of 11,600 miles provides more sightseeing opportunities than the rest of America’s coastline combined. A year-round draw for tourists and vacationers, the bay offers a particularly enchanting allure during the fall with the changing colors of the autumn leaves and the crisp freshness of the seaborne air. Such qualities, coupled with off-season hospitality prices, lend the bay a certain measure of popularity – particularly among sailing and other ocean-going enthusiasts. The bay accommodates with numerous available destinations, ranging from the popular and suburban to the positively isolated.

One could easily spend months exploring any given portion of the Chesapeake and its tributaries, and still leave various sights and experiences un-sampled. What follows is a compilation of a few noteworthy travel destinations, popular among sailing enthusiasts and “landlubbers” alike… but perhaps uniquely enjoyable from the perspective of a waterways approach.

PAM_mapSolomons Island is a smooth 49 nautical miles (nm) from Port Annapolis. It lies just within the mouth of the Patuxent, along the western side of the bay, which leads in turn to a variety of other pleasant destinations. Further up the Patuxent, about 8 nm in, one comes to Broomes Island. Broomes is a small, pleasantly rural community, known to many for the mouth-watering fare available at Stoney’s Seafood House – a popular destination for over 20 years.

The Pearl of the Chesapeake, Rock Hall is a waterfront town located directly on the bay’s eastern shoreline, 19 nm from Port Annapolis. The local Fall Festival is not to be missed, and rural Rock Hall offers a variety of annual festivals and celebrations deeply rooted in long-standing tradition – among them, the “Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend” festival in August. The town also offers a wide variety of restaurants, marinas and marine-related activities, kayak and sailboat rentals, wildlife refuges, and rustic bed-and-breakfasts.

The Chesapeake Bay’s largest island, Kent Island is located almost directly across the bay from Annapolis. The town’s modest suburban population is quite proud of their heritage – boasting locations and individuals of note going back to the late 18th century. Among the many surviving historical locations are the Cray House, the old Stevensville Post Office, and the Stevensville Train Depot; some of these locations offer rare insights into early post and plank construction methods. The island additionally offers a wide variety of scenic hiking trails, and the usual array of suburban shopping and fine dining experiences.

Baltimore is a leisurely 29 nm from Port Annapolis. Along the way, you can enjoy some of the most scenic landscapes that the northwestern portions of the Chesapeake have to offer. Baltimore offers a rich local culture, and the full range of amenities of modern city life. It’s also a city with a rich historical tradition, going back to the days of America’s founding and prior colonial life. Fort McHenry, birthplace of the national anthem of the United States, sits in the mouth of the Baltimore Harbor. It’s an excellent addition to anybody’s itinerary for a weekend excursion.

If you’re up for a longer cruise along the Chesapeake’s calm waters, you’ll find Chesapeake City, 52 nm northeast of Port Annapolis. Chesapeake City is actually split in half by the C&D Canal, which was built in 1839. The town hosts numerous old homes from that era of US history, which exist today as quaint, thoroughly enjoyable bed & breakfasts. There is a local historical museum, and several places on the national register of historic places – including the canal’s Old Luck Pump House.

Queenstown lies along the eastern coastline of the Chesapeake, almost directly east of Port Annapolis, and well worth the visit. Queenstown offers beautiful scenery and particularly rich history. Though its present population numbers only a few hundred, Queenstown was once the seat of Queen Anne’s County, and it was a major hub for trade in the 1700s. Several buildings from the town’s early history sit on the historic register, including Bloomingdale, Bowlingly, and the local St. Peter’s Church. If history isn’t your thing, the Queenstown Premium Outlets offers dozens of major name-brand shopping options. There are also several local golf courses of repute, including two 18-hole options with scenic views of the harbor: The Lakes and The River.

ThFall Leaves on the Baye episcopal parish established in Talbot County in 1677 led eventually to the founding of the town of St. Michaels in the mid-18th century, as well as being the direct inspiration for its name. 27 nm from Port Annapolis, the town’s major industries once included shipbuilding and tobacco farming. The town is an early example of urban planning in the New World, and features concepts in urban development that were innovative at the time – such as the presence of a large central square, or “town commons.” St. Michaels’ attractions include the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, well worth the visit, along with several historical civilian and naval vessels.

Sharps Light is a lighthouse set nearly 3 miles south of Tilghman Island, on a concrete foundation set into the bay itself. Its located 22 nm southeast of Port Annapolis, making it a worthy landmark for anyone’s weekend excursion in the Chesapeake’s southeastern quarter. A 1977 ice flow caused the lighthouse to tilt dramatically, evoking an effect similar to that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The third lighthouse to be built on that location, the Sharps Island Light – a sparkplug lighthouse dating to 1882 – was deactivated in 2010. Under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the location has been up for sale since 2006.

The three-mile-long Rhode River is found 11 nm south and slightly west of Port Annapolis. One of the earliest points of Maryland settlement, having been originally surveyed in the mid-17th century, Rhode River offers seven named tributaries and coves. Each of these is beautifully scenic and very welcoming for short individual trips – or perhaps a weekend-long adventure. Among the river’s attractions is the recently opened Franklin Point State Park, just off of Dent Road (which is available for daytime use, per individual agreement with the Maryland Park Service).

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other viable destinations lining the nearly twelve thousand miles of coastline along the edges of the Chesapeake Bay; it is almost a certainty that there will always be something new to see and experience. With careful planning, even a day cruise along the Chesapeake Bay can become a series of exciting adventures!

 

“Sea” Your Dream Come True: Top 5 Tips for First-Time Boat Buyers

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Ahoy there, and congratulations on making the decision to become a boat owner! With over 200,000 registered boats in the state of Maryland, you’re about to join a diverse and welcoming community full of exciting opportunities to enjoy your love of the water. Make sure it’s all smooth sailing by following these tips when purchasing your first boat.

1. A Great Sale Sail? Find the Perfect Boat for YOU

Your first step is figuring out what type and size of boat you want. This is a highly individualized choice based on what you’re planning to use your new boat for. A helpful analogy is to compare your boat search to car shopping: you wouldn’t buy a tiny hybrid if you were looking for something to tow your horse trailer would you? The same principle applies to choosing the right boat—consider your purpose.  Generally speaking, there are three main boat categories that are briefly outlined below to jumpstart your search:

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  • CRUISING BOATS: If you’re searching for an ideal balance between entertaining guests and optimal mobility, then cruising style boats might fit the bill. Some are day-only boats, such as bowriders, while others, like express cruisers and motor-yachts, feature cabins, galleys, and other amenities suited for more extended-stay overnight trips. Furthermore, you could opt for a cruising sailboat if you enjoy contemporary sailing without a motor—indeed, many boating enthusiasts are in the market for sailboats that feature guest cabins and other cruising boat amenities in order to relax and enjoy the water on extended trips in a more traditional way.
  • FISHING BOATS: Fishing boats are typically designed with open cockpits in the aft portion of the boat to maximize the available deck space required for fishing activities, which means less seating and smaller accommodations than on cruising boats. While you can use sailboats to fish, most boaters choose motorized boats because it is a less-involved sailing and steering process—allowing them to focus their attention on catching fish.
  • WATERSPORT BOATS: These boats typically boast high-power engines and sleek profiles for those looking to waterski, wakeboard and parasail. Some of these boats are highly sophisticated and require additional training to operate safely and can be extra-costly to fuel—aspects to keep in mind when considering this class of vessel. Alternatively, sailboat racing is an extremely popular watersport (especially in the Annapolis area) for those looking for engine-free watersport boat options that combines mastery of mast-based sailing, speed and healthy competition all in one.

2. Tried & True or Brand New? Pros & Cons

After choosing the specific type of boat that best suits your needs, the next major decision is whether to go the new or used route. There’s no ‘right’ answer here—the choice will ultimately come down to a multitude of factors including budget, preferred amenities and your future plans. Here are a few pros and cons to weigh as you weigh your options.

  • BUYING NEW: Purchasing a new boat is a smart move for soon-to-be owners who know exactly what they want and are planning to invest in a single boat for the foreseeable future. Perhaps you already have years of sailing experience during which you’ve compiled a “wish list” of features and amenities you prefer but just haven’t taken the “plunge” yet of buying your own boat. New vessels typically feature the latest and greatest when it comes to design and technology—making them more economical, reliable and customizable. Another plus are the warranty options to recover repair costs and maintenance fees from experienced professionals. However, these benefits come at a cost: new boats are significantly more expensive. Additionally, as is common with new boaters, you decide you prefer a different type/size of boat after logging some hours on the water, you won’t be able to recoup a large portion of your expenditure—the value of new boats depreciates significantly even after a short period of ownership.
  • BUYING USED: According to a 2014 poll conducted by the National Marine Manufactures Association (NMMA), 60% of first-time boat buyers purchase a used boat—they can’t all be wrong can they? Far from it. There are a number of reasons why buying a used boat is a smart choice for the novice deckhand. From a financial perspective, used options are sensible choices if budget is a determining factor. Market data shows that the average buyer saves approximately 50% when buying a 5-year old model compared with the brand-new equivalent—which means more boat for the same money. Especially for new buyers, it might be a good idea to be conservative in your first boat purchase until you learn from experience what options you prefer and plan on upgrading after a few years “learning the ropes” with your first boat. Unfortunately, most dealers offer limited finance terms and warranties when it comes to covering used purchases, leaving you solely responsible for repair costs and maintenance if something goes wrong.

3. “Batten Down the Hatches”: Seal the Deal

073Now comes the hard part: actually finding and buying your ideal boat. New boats are generally marketed through dealers—many of which carry a specific line, brand or model. This makes it easier to start your search: begin with finding out what dealers in your location offer the type of boat you want and then start narrowing down your options based on which offers the best price, warranty and financing options. Buying a boat is a significant investment, so do your homework before showing up at the dealership. Consult online consumer review sites and reviews as well as determining the actual value of the boat you’re looking to buy—a great resource is the NADA Guides Boat Price Guide.

The more you know, the better position you’ll be in when it comes to getting a fair deal from a trustworthy dealer. On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a used boat, your options can range from dealers, brokers or private listings. Brokers are individuals who don’t actually own the boats they’re selling and instead operate on a commission-based scheme operating as a middleman between you and the owner. Be sure to ask around your local marina or boatyard to get recommendations from others. If this isn’t an option, look for a Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB) that are members of the Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA)—these titles indicate they’ve taken a comprehensive exam and pledged to abide by a code of ethical guidelines. Also, make sure your broker maintains a separate bank account for holding deposits and that your sales contract specifies all stages of the deal and how/when your investment will be returned if the sale doesn’t go through.

4. Avoid the “Rip (Off) Tide”: Hire a Marine Surveyor

If you pursue a used option, you’re taking a greater risk since you don’t know the history of the boat, its previous maintenance, prior accidents or structural damages. Consequently, if you’re planning to invest a few thousand dollars or more on a boat, you’ll want to hire an expert marine surveyor whose job it is to ensure the condition and value of your prospective boat. Although marine surveyors aren’t centrally regulated or licensed, a professional affiliation with the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC), National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) is generally a reliable indicator of their competency. Additionally, marine surveyors tend to specialize—choose a surveyor who commonly assesses the type of boat you’re planning to buy. Find a surveyor that operates independently, meaning they have no affiliations with boat brokers, dealers, and boat-repair shops—especially if that third party is the one selling you the boat!

 5. Get Your Sea Legs (And Smarts!)

Before weighing anchor, first make sure you are familiar with all equipment and have proper first aid and emergency supplies. Additionally, Maryland law requires that anyone under the age of 16, operating a motorized vessel 11 feet in length or greater without a valid boating safety certificate, must be under the supervision of an individual 18 years of age or older who possesses a valid boating safety certificate or an individual born before July 1, 1972. Boating safety courses are offered throughout the State with a wide selection of prices, times and formats.

Regardless of what type of boat you purchase, be sure to visit Port Annapolis to enhance your boating experience. Port Annapolis caters to all types of boaters and all types of boats. From the blue water sailor to the weekend motor boater, we offer the marina services you need. Enjoy the beauty of our wooded, waterfront location with easy access to downtown Annapolis and Eastport while taking advantage of the areas best full-service marina.

Visit us at the 2015 Annapolis Boat Show, we’ll be in Tent C, Space 39!
October 8 – 12: United States Sailboat Show
October 15 – 18: United States Powerboat Show

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Trek Across Maryland

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When Justin Berk, Meteorologist, was 14 years old he almost lost one of his legs to a diagnosis of bone cancer in his left tibia. He got a second opinion and discovered that he actually had a staph infection in his bone. Justin was in the hospital for nearly two months trying to regain his health. After years of therapy and treatment, he eventually recovered and was physically where he wanted to be.
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Last year, Justin explained that the numbers just seemed to align: He was 41-years-old and his hospitalization happened when he was 14 – a reflection of digits and time; it had been 27 years since his hospitalization (2 x 7 = 14); it was 2014; and the length of his career on TV in Baltimore had been 14 years.

Justin decided to plan a 7-day trek across the state of Maryland between Maryland’s two largest playgrounds for the kids who just want to be kids again and play (Summit of Wisp to the Inlet in Ocean City). Each day he started with a 27-mile fast paced hike (for the years since he was ill), plus 14 or more miles of biking (for the age he was when sick). Justin did this trek for Cool Kids Campaign, which is a nonprofit devoted to improving the quality of life for pediatric oncology patients and their families by focusing on the academic, social and emotional needs brought on by a cancer diagnosis.

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This year, Justin tackled the 321-mile trek again, from August 9th – 15th. On the fifth day of his trek, Port Annapolis helped Justin travel across the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Salty Miss, captained by Port Annapolis’ Mike Montgomery and slip tenant, Linda Mann, owner of Shades of the Bay.

So far, Justin has raised over $25,000 for Cool Kids Campaign. For more information about Justin’s Trek, click HERE, or to make a donation, click HERE!

 

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