Thursday, October 19, 2017

Evanston: an accurate barometer; a month at sea; dream or nightmare

        To the dozens of things the iPhone has replaced, we may have to add barometers.
        Ashore I use a number of weather apps, but as most of you know when I go to sea I look at the sky, I look at the sea, and I look at the barometer.
        There are two barometers on GANNET, both digital, both generally inaccurate no matter how often in port I adjust them to known values.  This actually doesn’t matter, but is the reason I do not give barometric pressure in the passage log.  What is important is direction and rate of change.
        However, I recently downloaded the Barometer and Altimeter Pro app for iPhone which I have found thus far never to vary by more than .5 millibar from the current pressure shown online.   It does not work with all iPhones and iPads.  Only the recent models that have a barometric sensor in them.
         If it continues to be this accurate, I will record barometric pressure in future logs.


        A few days ago Sailing Anarchy ran a link to a ten minute time lapse video of a month at sea on a container ship that you might enjoy as much as I did.


        I subscribe, if that is the right word, to Texture, an app that for $15 a month gives access to the digital versions of over two hundred magazines, several of which, such as NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, CRUISING WORLD, SAILING WORLD, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, I read anyway, and enough others of sufficient interests to make Texture a bargain.
        I have learned the YACHTING, where I sold one of my first two articles decades ago, is now a power boat magazine, and I have been struck by how much of the advertising in many magazines is for by my standards extremely expensive luxury items.  I am not poor, but obviously a lot of people are really rich.   
        I skim backpacking magazines, whose photographs are often spectacular and which discuss gear that may be useful on a boat.  And surfing and travel magazines as well.  I have THE ATLANTIC, NEW YORKER, SMITHSONIAN and a dozen others set to download each new issue automatically.   It may just be me, but the NEW YORKER cartoons are no longer funny.
        Of the magazines I did not know, I find NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY the most interesting.
        One paragraph in a recent article in SAILING WORLD about a J-class regatta in Newport, RI, where six of the huge boats raced one another, caught my attention: 

Masts reaching for the sky.  The grace of a bygone era expressed in bold overhangs, a delicate sheer.  A teak deck as a work of art.  Dozens of people busy on deck, where a battery of high-tech machinery hints that inner dragons wait to fly.  For the three owner-drivers—the pros too, for that manner—we hold these thrills to be self-evident.   If this isn’t living the dream, what is?
        I have seen two J-Boats under sail—and to be clear we are not talking about the current plastic boats, but the 120’+ ships that raced for the America’s Cup early last century.  They are beautiful and impressive.  
        But all those people—professional crews of 24 to 30; all those other boats around you; all that noise; all the stresses on rig and rudder; all that money; all those egos. “If this isn’t living the dream, what is?”
        You know my answer:  standing in the companionway of a small boat as you sail her alone across an ocean, hundreds of miles from any other human, moving fast toward the setting sun, a crystal glass of Laphroaig at hand, Bach or perhaps Mark Knopfler of Gurrumul playing on the Megabooms.
        One man’s dream:  another man’s nightmare.