Sunday, June 05, 2005


Sailing toys

It's the weekend in the summer and a GA guy's fancy turns to...sailing. The family and I had our first sail on the Urdragon last weekend (see previous post here) and had a total blast. Although it's hard to get lost going up and down the Chicago coastline, as the good obsessive compulsive that I am, I'm working on building up my collection of navigational aids and toys.

Just found an Explorist 100 GPS receiver on sale for $79.99 at that famous marine supply store Meijers. The 100 is a basic model, but the technology that is now crammed into a little box for a little price is truly amazing. Also got a VHF 100 two-way handheld marine radio from West Marine (on the way back from China the week before last, I had 8 hours to kill in LA, went to Marina del Rey, went to West Marine, got a VHF radio, rented a bicycle, rode to Santa Monica and back, had coffee, and went back to the airport). Again, the VHF 100 is a basic model, but it is submersible, has digital squelch, and is a pretty good value on sale for $129.95.

Next, we need some good old fashioned charts and charting tools, and I'm looking at Maptech, their Lake Michigan chartbook, and some single charts along with parallel rules and dividers. Maptech is one of a number of companies licensed to reproduce NOAA marine and USGS togographical charts in paper and electronic form.

Throw in a hand bearing compass, and these toys ought to help me train up my crew in the basics of coastal navigation the old fashioned way and in the GPS age. Some time later this summer, the good lab IlliGAL will be transported onto the good ship Urdragon, and we will see if the landlubbing labbies are as good cranking the winches as they are at typing up papers. Genetic algorithms are one thing, general quarters are another.

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