Blessings on the little man, horses few, but yes they can! With thy merry humming make, and so much abuse thou can take. With thy black tipped rudder still, pass the miles without much thrill. With LCD bright on thy face, you light the way and mark our pace. From the heart I give thee joy, for I was once a carefree, barefoot, boy…..
My great apologies to John Greenleaf Whittier, but I could not help thinking of the analogy, for I was once a carefree lad, bereft of concerns about how AP, CP and YP worked, and their general health. Who are these characters you ask? They are the devices that make our present life…well…possible, and give me so much time to think up bad poetry. Let me start last in the alphabet (still mad about always going/doing/getting last in school). YP, our trusty Yanmar Powerplant. All of 50 hp and can still move a 14 ton object though the water at 6 knots against a 20 knot wind. I marvel at the reliability of the modern marine diesel engine; it hums along merrily, mile after mile, just sipping fuel, relative to the job it does. And none of our current activity would be possible without it. You see, the big ditch, the Inter-Coastal Waterway has no room to sail. In the 600 miles we have traveled so far, only about 20 have been sailing (and most of that motor sailing). The ICW is far too narrow and winding to allow for much sailing. And CP? Our Chart Plotter. I once thought paper charts and a compass were all that a sailor needed…but that was before navigating the big ditch. I sailed for 35 years as an ancient mariner, before giving in to the electronic wizardry of a GPS. Now, 15 years later, I marvel at the utility of a GPS tied to electronic charts…the modern Chart Plotter. We have only been “hard on” once in 600 miles, and I must admit, only though the benefit of CP. Without our Chart Plotter, its zooming capability, its ability to show the chicanes and sweeping turns necessary to avoid shallows from navigation aid to navigation aid, well let’s just say that we would have gotten all of our BoatUS towing insurance back (30 years of premiums) all in the past month! Although I look at them frequently to double check the marks (still not entirely trusting my life to those electrons), my old eyes have difficulty seeing the detail on the paper charts, and things happen way too fast to calculate bearings to the next mark, to look up and visualize it, and execute it…all before running into a shallow bit. And finally AP. Well, AP has relieved us of the tedium of “driving down the ditch.” Because, let’s face it, following the long “magenta line” is really no different than driving down a long country road…1,000 plus miles of it from Norfolk, VA to Stuart FL. where we hope to jump off for the islands. Though the scenery is beautiful and interesting, steering a 40 ft sailboat along a magenta line can become quite tedious…after 100’s of hours. So AP, our Auto-Pilot allows us to leave the wheel, relax, look up from the CP, enjoy the scenery, and think up bad poetry. Without AP, CP and YP, we would not think of doing this!
And “this” has finally reached Georgia…supposed to be the “deep” south, home of beautiful, warm winter weather…not this year (surely you have heard about Atlanta’s winter troubles). We are waiting out yet another winter storm (but this time just 40 degree rain), in Isle of Hope, just outside Savannah. Looking forward to a few days of sightseeing (perhaps seeing more of these”deep south” characters (pictured) like we saw on Hilton Head Island last weekend), sleeping in, not caring about tides and fetch. We took all that the Carolina’s could throw at us, snow, ice, the trials of Lockwood’s Folly, Shallote’s Inlet, the “Rock Pile, Field’s cut….only to enter the supposed “most troublesome” portion of the ICW with the likes of “Hell Gate” and “Little Mud River”…with those names, sometimes, you just have to question a sailor’s sanity; but we have gone too far to give up now. Onward and southward!