That's a lot of weekends and evenings. While the fish have enjoyed their vacation, our house has been a hive of activity: preparing, building and rebuilding, plotting routes, and thinking about what might go wrong when pointing a small boat away from shore.
We are not the first to ponder and worry. The organizers of the Everglades Challenge have an extensive list of required safety gear -- and it includes a cell phone. (Those who know TwoBeers can take a moment to nod wisely and chuckle at the irony.) So like it or not, my favorite captain has been venturing into the 21st Century.
After decades spent dodging the camera, he often remembers to fire up the GoPro nowadays. He's got a firm grip on the line-of-sight needs of cellular data transmission. Practice has given him speed at wringing the available data from his GPS. He's got the SPOT set up the way he wants. The EPIRBs are located. He's even been observed using a tablet -- and yeah, a tablet not hewn from stone -- with surprising dexterity.
Racing one-design boats for the past decade or so has meant that we leave the dock, sail around brightly-colored buoys all day, and then come back to shore in time for dinner. It doesn't require a lot of sophisticated navigation.
Luckily, his crew, Moresailesed (aka Jahn "Wild Card" Tihansky), coaches the Navy off-shore team. He's also an amateur pilot. This means he practices navigation, preaches navigation, and has a keen appreciation for the value of safety gear.
So while TwoBeers has been focused on boat-speed and design, Moresailesed has been leading the charge on navigation, with EnsignRumDown (Mark Taylor) as expert IT director. On the advice of a cruising friend R, we are trying out Navionics electronic charts. We even found a folding solar charger with a pair of USB ports for charging the hand-held electronics. Frankenscot's progress will be tracked closely by satellite.
At the other end of the technology spectrum, I bring you...FIRE.
The Campmor catalog has provided a lot of cool gear (cozy sleeping bags, mylar survival blankets, water purification tablets, a snake-bite kit, and waterproof stuff-sacks), but the coolest of them all? The sheath-knife with a magnesium fire-starter stick built right into the handle.
Strike the steel blade along the magnesium and you get (kettle-drums sound off here: Dun-Dun! Dun-Dun!) fire!
Well, not quite fire: more exactly, sparks of molten magnesium at around 1200 degrees that -- after a number of practice attempts as you get the hang of it -- will create flame in a bit of tinder.
Stone Age high technology. It's our hope that Frankenscot will carry the crew safe to the finish, but they'll have a hand-line (Hey, fish, wake up!) and the means for fire, just in case.