Monday, October 27, 2014

Opua: from readers, including Christmas Gannet Pye

        From Bill in the UK came questions after my entry about a serious mistake.

        Do you consider GANNET insentient? Logically she is, but does the fact that we habitually imbue vessels with a gender suggest a different emotional relationship? 
        To me the two man-made objects that seem most alive are boats and musical instruments made of wood.  
        Some of my boats seem to have had definite personalties.  EGREGIOUS was like an outrageously beautiful and homicidal woman who would make love to you and then might at any moment murder you in your sleep.  Life with her was exciting.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE I thought of as a small fiercely indestructible dog, if not the terror, then the terrier of the sea.  GANNET has her own personality, too, though I'm not certain yet how to define it. Certainly it has something to do with quickness of acceleration and motion.  
        However, having said all that, and intentionally always using the feminine pronoun even for a a boat named after a man as with CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, I don't think of them as truly alive.  
        In Neiafu two other solo sailors said to me at different times, "I love my boat."   I said, "I refuse to love anything or anyone who can't love me back."  So although I almost think of her as being alive, the 'almost' is key.  I don't love her or any other boat.  I do have great respect for the men who designed and built her.
        Many sailors give names to their self-steering vanes.  I never did that either.

        How do you navigate across the Pacific? I appreciate that's a bit of a broad subject. I'm guessing these days GPS and the iNavX does a large part of the work. Do you still have a sextant aboard, and do you still keep paper charts of where you expect to find yourself?

        I almost entirely navigated with my iPad mini and iNavX.  The almost is that at times I checked position as well as COG and SOG on the Garmin Quatix watch.  And because I have a waterproof case for my full size iPad I use it in the cockpit when I enter harbors.  I also have a different set of electronic charts in my laptop for which I use a Garmin eTrex as the GPS input, and I turned it on from time to time to be sure it worked.  But I could have done it all with the iPad mini alone.  One great thing about the mini is that I can put it in the bin at the head of the pipe berth, wake up at night, reach back, pull out the mini and in a few seconds see our speed, course, and position without even getting up.
        I do have a sextant aboard, but I haven't taken a sight on this voyage.  I don't have paper charts, which are expensive and bulky.  I do have a paper map of the world stowed away in one of the waterproof boxes, so that if everything fails I can still find my way roughly. 
        GANNET is the first boat on which I don't have dividers or a parallel ruler, standard navigation tools.  I also don't have the Air Sight Reduction Tables or the Nautical Almanac.  They are in an app on the iPads.
        If the GPS system goes down completely and both my iPads fail--both live in waterproof boxes--then I'm going to have to do it the old fashioned and keep a good lookout.


        Gary in the hills that call themselves mountains in Arkansas wrote that he bought the same LED light at Walmart that I bought here and for the same price, $8 US.  He also points out that there is a magnet on the back that can be used to secure the light to appropriate surfaces.  I didn’t realize that is what the metal disc is.
        I now have two and they are my cabin lights.  I don’t have them on much, but the standard AAA batteries included have not yet needed to be replaced.


        Recently two readers—Brent in the U.S. and J in Australia—have written about the virtues of butyl tape.  It seems to me that someone else did a while ago too, but I can’t find the reference.
        Here are a couple of links:

        While this man is selling a product, I am sufficiently convinced so that I will buy a roll or two while I’m back in the U.S. and in the terrible prospect that I have to rebed the forward hatch again, I’ll give it a try.  
        This is something I really hope I waste my money on and never have to use.


        From James in the Adirondacks came a link to a new NOAA site, Earth is Blue, about U.S. marine sanctuaries.  Click on the Photo of the Day and you get another page.  The site has only be operational for a few days.  Whether it is worth a daily or weekly visit I do not yet know.
        Also from James came a great deal of information about gannets, most of which I did know, but not this:

Gannets make tasty eating, and have not always been protected by law. Māori used to harvest the young, and at Christmas in 1769 the naturalist Joseph Banks, on board the Endeavour with Captain James Cook, made these entries in his diary:

‘24. myself in a boat shooting … killing cheifly several Gannets or Solan Geese … As it was the humour of the ship to keep Christmas in the old fashiond way it was resolvd of them to make a Goose pye for tomorrows dinner.

25.  Christmas Day: Our Goose pye was eat with great approbation.