Monday, October 19, 2009

And Here We Go!

Today is Monday, October 19th. This is the day before I leave for a winter of cruising down the east coast and to the Bahamas. Everyone here at the marina and all my landbound friends have been so incredibly wonderful and supportive of this trip.

This, of course, causes some conflicting feelings - How could I leave my incredible friends? How could I not, knowing how they support the journey?

I'll be leaving around 8:00 am tomorrow morning to catch high tide at Hell Gate, East River, New York. The last couple of days have been cold, miserable, rainy, and windy. This morning there was a layer of ice on the dock! I'm getting out of here not a moment too soon!

My first stop is Staten Island, NY where I'll be staying at the Great Kills Yacht Club in Great Kills Harbor on the south east side of the island. Although the entire trip will only be about eight or nine hours it will be, I hope, a bit of a shakedown of the new stuff like the shaft driven generator (if it works, there will be a post about it next) and the Monitor Windvane steering system that has been rigged for the trip.

The other day while I was stocking up at BJ's, I found a Panasonic SDR digital camcorder that's just a bit thicker than an iPhone and uses SDHC memory cards for about $199. There are higher definition units like the Flip Mino or Mino Ultra. They are small, easily downloaded but limited in how much video they store before you have to download them or erase things.

The Panasonic SDR-SW20, with standard NTSC video, has several great advantages - one, it's water resistant to 1.5 meters (almost 4 feet), it is dust resistant, it is shock resistant to drops up to 1.5 meters and finally, it uses SDHC cards that can carry up to 16GB of storage for about three hours of the highest quality video. For 8GB cards, about an hour and 40 minutes. At standard quality, it's much longer.

The fact that it's waterproof is a real plus because I can use it while sailing (expect some videos tomorrow - not great ones, but some nonetheless). Also, since it's hard to get a picture of rough weather that really looks like it feels, I hope to use it in situations where you shouldn't take a regular camera.

The other attribute that is important to me is the fact that I can change a card when full and continue recording without downloading. Although it may never happen that I need to, it is certainly a nice option.

This afternoon I'll be hosting a quiet wine and cheese party for friends at the marina - nothing terrific, just a little get-together. They won't be awake when I leave tomorrow so I'll just be slipping away into the morning...

Today is a wonderfully sunny day - with winds from the north at 10 to 20kts. If the boat isn't ready by now, it will never be. So today is pretty much a waiting day - I'll nap and straighten up things and so forth. After the little party I'll be heading off to bed. I'm so excited about leaving that I'm fairly shaking to get away!

In the grand scheme of sailing, this is a fairly calm adventure. I'm not rounding Cape Horn or even Cape of Good Hope. It's just that I'm going for a long distance (to me) and to new (to me) places and seeing new (to me) friends and visiting old friends.

If you'd like to follow me on Google Maps, I have a SPOT Personal Tracker. This little device has several functions that allow friends to see where you are. You can follow me by using this link - kindly set up by my 424 buddy Pat. The real URL is ugly.

About the SPOT device: it is meant to be a personal safety device - not to replace an EPIRB that an oceangoing boat needs, but since it's based on the Globalstar satellite system, the coverage is pretty good everywhere except near the poles. I don't plan on going to either pole as I've heard they're really cold. Maybe in a few years after global warming takes effect. (I'm joking here - don't go all postal!)

Operating SPOT once set up and services purchased on the site is really simple - you can see from the picture that there are four buttons. The On/Off button is self-explanatory. We've all seen and used them. Of the other three, one is 'Ok' which if pressed for two seconds sends an email with a message that I'm Ok, and you can see where I am using a link to Google Maps. Holding the button for 4 or more seconds starts tracking so that every 10 minutes a position is marked on the map and you can follow it at the link above.

The next button is a personal 'help' button. This one sends a customized message that I'll follow up with later - essentially it's for when I'm stuck but don't really need the Coast Guard or Marines to get me. It will actually ask for lawyers, guns, and money - facetiously, perhaps, but I'm in a bind.

The last button is '911'. When you purchase the service, this bad boy will get the Globalstar monitoring station to call the authorities to help you - obviously, on the water, it will be the Coast Guard or the Navy or the Marines. On land, the police or rescue people. You press this button, you'd better need serious help or you'll be paying for the efforts. Fortunately, the button is recessed and you need to hold it for 10 seconds or so. There is no 'test' function. You press it, you're going to be visited by some highly trained and very serious people. Perhaps they'll even be heavily armed.

I'm also maintaining a maillist that I'll post to (and my 'Ok' and 'Help' messages go to). All you have to do is send an email from your account to - you don't need a subject or message as they're ignored. Then you'll join the 10's of people following me!

Well, that's about it for today. I hope to see you on the water!

1 comment:

Graziella said...

Good luck! I'll be tracking you :)