August 29, 2008
Ive been touched.
I'm a PC guy. But on the day we departed to cross the Atlantic a trickle of rain shorted out my trusty laptop. On that precious laptop, were five years of pictures, journals of adventures, all my music, and Nautical Charts of the entire globe. At fifty bucks a chart in the store, my routine up untill that point was to print off my own charts as needed, as I went. So with my trusty printer and a reem of paper I was set for the world. Well, now chartless, we set off anyway. What the heck do yo need a chart of the open sea for? Well you dont untill you get to where your going, well that was a month away. ahhh young cruisers eh? So a month passes and we are marking our progress on a weather pilot and the GPS Satelight photographs. And it was untill we began to see Azorian light houses at night, that I began to freak out. You'd be surprised really how hard it is to see how far away a flashing light is. It can be ten miles away or fifteen feet when your eyes are tired. Anyway we made it fine as the sun rose, and my strategy became no need for maps (you cant buy maps if you wanted to where we were) just day time arivals and nightime sails. Sweet right? Well that worked for the next two months.
One day we left in the late afternoon for a random cove along the North Spanish coast. It was thirty miles away and I figured I could navigate in by lights. Ha! more often than not I find my self navigating in by lights and waking to discover a new beautifull place the next morning. Its great. Well the wind picked up as it does in the Bay of Biscay, along with the swell. So we rounded the last cape and found our selves in a confused swell, overcast dark night and the sound of breakers on both sides of the boat and no channel lights! No green and red! Or Red and Green as they do here. The depth sounding was eratic and the fun seemed to have left stage right. I remembered that my I-touch had a google maps program on it so I started to fuss around with it. Zooming in and in and in and in I found where I was heading and got a good look at the harbor. I switched on the Radar that I hate soo much and I matched up the out line of the satelite photos with the radar image. I continued to zoom in on the i-touch untill i could clearly see the channel and what appeared to be a trail of bubbles!!! I zoomed back out to see that that trail of bubbles lead to a boat, in the satelight photo that had just navigated the channel and was rounding into the harbor! HIS TRAIL WAS THERE. Again THERE WAS A BOAT in the photo and his trail of bubbles lead all the way back to where I was. Sorry for the reapeat, its for effect. There we were huddled over an glorified ipod following a bubble trail around rocks and safely into an unlit channel. I am still blown away. The photos on that itouch were in its memory and they were soo good that I could see rocks in the water and felt there was no need to get out and explore when I got there. ha!
Here is where it really gets good: We are sailing up the English channel on our way to Brighton. The English channel is littered with traffic from ferries, fisherman, pleasure cruisers to huge freightors bound for Panama, The coast gaurd is constantly on the radio warining people of weather and sea conditions. We even heard maydays as we were passing through. Well back in St. Thomas I got a huge cell phone bill. If anyone knows me really well this is a frequent occurence, but this time it wasnt my fault. Being on a sail boat my cell phone was picking up cell networks from passing cruise ships at a rediculous rate and its un beknownced to the user. Well its a flaw, but so uncommon that its not worth fixing, the cell companies just rebate the money. Anyway since my itouch is the most amaizing savior now I pull it out as I am getting passed port to port by a cheesy cruise ship. Poof I've got wi-fi in the English Channel.
Un freaking beleivable, I upload the local google maps, and write my Dad an email. One more Cruise ship bears down on us and it picks up its signal and sends my emails. If I were going the other way I would have had more time and could have downloaded all my emails.