Saturday, July 21, 2007


You may have wondered just how we find our way. Well it is due for the most part to the single efforts of Russ Turk our navigator. With the aid of some marvelous state of the art technologies he is able to plot a true Hawaii course. This includes redundant GPS navigation systems, Signet marine wind instrumentation which measures among other things speed, angle, apparent wind angle, heading, etc. Utilizing these on board tools with a lap top computer and satellite phone he is able to down load current and predicted weather, which all ends up plotted on mapping software. Now its not all just science and spread sheets. Once he has gathered all of the information including the status of the fleet and specifically our division around us he must than determine the best course to follow. You see its not “just go west young men” it is after all a race. So with all the information at hand he will make his best determination as to which course to sail taking into account, the shortest distance to travel, the best weather (potential for wind) and the positions of our competitors. With this course in hand he will offer it up to Steve and crew who are all given the opportunity to concur, discuss or add input. With the choice of best course to follow in hand the on duty crew is than responsible to ensure proper sail trim, sail choice and for actually sailing as close to that suggested line as possible as fast as possible. Than, of course, changes are made to our current path given the immediate conditions around us.

In recent years the Trans Pac organizers, apparently wishing to maintain some nautical roots began requiring that each participant fix their relative positions down the race course using sun shots via a Sextant. Yet again this responsibility fell too Russ. A man for all seasons he utilizes a mix of old and new technologies. Now in the case of our sturdy little vessel we have yet another fully redundant method of navigating. This totally human oriented manual system is used as a back up giving team Brown Sugar a fully integrated totally redundant navigation system. For this process we call on the seamanship skills of Linus. After years of blue water sailing he has acquired a marvelous sense of dead reckoning combined with some ancient mariner ju ju. For instance he was able to confirm that we had in fact crossed over the half way line simply by recalling that 2 sleeps ago we had the half way party. To confirm our path down course with every watch when he comes on he is immediately aware that in the a.m. the sun is rising behind us and in the p.m. it is setting just off our starboard bow, and at those times he is heard to say “Hey there it is or Wow there it goes again”. As for weather again today he made the observation that there were apparent “wind generating cloud cells all around us” and “there were sheep on both sides of us” this is in reference to whitecaps, we think. As well using a skill past on to him in some far past voyage he was able, using simple items found on board, in this case, a paper towel roll and plotting dividers, construct a sextant like tool and support Russ’s efforts in taking sun shots.

“We” Brian Samuel Allott

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