Monday, July 13, 2009

Starry Starry Night

The sun has set, and the moon has not yet risen. 


After a week of sailing across the Pacific Ocean we, finally, have a cloudless night.  The stars are just about as clear and numerous as any of us have ever seen.  It’s a great night to be out on the ocean.


I’ve spent quite a bit of time staring into the sky today.  Part of the TransPac requirement, for Navigators, is to resolve 4 lines of position based upon celestial navigation.  It’s been about 10 years since me and my college buddies Ben, Eric, Hans, and Shannon sat in on a ROTC Navy Navigation course at the University of Michigan.  I only remember one thing about the celestial navigation part of that course; always remember to pack a hand held GPS and a bunch of extra batteries, just in case the boat’s GPS goes on the fritz…


In the spirit and tradition of the race I spent a couple hours today, relearning the details of how to plot position fixes using a sextant, a watch, the sun, and a computer based set of sight reduction tables….oh, there was also the text book that Brad Avery brought along that served as my crutch throughout the whole process.  Without its guidance I, definitely, would not have gotten very far.  My first fix took about an hour and a half to resolve. The fix was 124 miles off from our actual position (as compared to our GPS which gives position accurate to less than 2 meters, updated 5 times per second).  With the process now streamlined and my work flow sorted out, I was able to resolve my next position in about 40 minutes and was about 55 miles off from our actual position. 


We have 231.81 miles left to go in our journey across the Pacific.  We are in a parade now. Our goal of finishing in the winning position is an impossibility.  Fortunately, tonight, we have great conversation, an endless supply of jokes, a sky full of stars, an upcoming moon rise, warm winds and perfect sailing conditions to keep our spirits high….Sammy’s freshly baked brownies, paired with a glass of cold milk, add quite a nice touch to the evening too…


-Matt out


22 50.940 N

153 14.134 W


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