The Deep Blue Sea: Technology in the Service of Safety

My friends Jamie and Lori left Sunday on their annual month-long sailing trip from Boston to the Canadian maritime provinces. As usual, the trip begins with an open ocean sail across the Gulf of Maine directly from Boston to Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.

This year they are carrying a Spot satellite messenger on board. This neat little device can report its location every ten minutes, allowing others to track their progress over the course of the trip. It can also transmit a 911 emergency message, if needed. It is quite a nifty device and surprisingly inexpensive given its capabilities. Jim Gray should have had one of these on his boat last year when he went missing. Of course, boating is only one application--I can imagine this would be useful in any number of situations in which people may need to be rescued.

Here is a screenshot I took this morning of their progress towards Nova Scotia:


You can also view the live interface here.


Comments:

The amazing thing to me is how straight that line is! I guess if pressed I would have assumed that open ocean navigation was by some kind of absolute reckoning (figure out which direction you're going, point the boat that way, and away you go) but I guess I assumed that there would be slight twists and turns in the course, especially if you're truly going by wind power.

Posted by jfruh on July 28, 2008 at 05:50 AM EDT #

jfruh,

Thanks for your comment. Their boat is fully tricked out with electronics, including an auto-pilot which is what accounts for the
straight line path you see.

I expect you will mostly see the trip as a set of straight line
segments, except when they are navigating in harbors, etc.

Check the live view occasionally---you'll see more interesting paths over the coming weeks.

Josh

Posted by Josh Simons on July 28, 2008 at 06:35 AM EDT #

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