Saturday, June 28, 2008

Widow's Walk

A Widow's Walk
From PJ:
I had a suggestion from the ether that I might need a widow’s walk. For those of you that may find this term rather morbid, I will assure you that it doesn’t bother me at all. I grew up going down to the coast and a few houses along the beach have them and they are pretty cool. It’s more a feature of a building like a veranda or “gingerbread” in the peak than anything else to me. By the way, a widow’s walk is a small deck perched as high on a roof as possible like a crow’s nest. It got its name because sailor’s wives would go up and check to see if they could see their sailor’s inbound ships. Of course, the widows of sailors lost at sea would keep checking and so they were the one’s who were always gazing out to sea in hopes of seeing their lost loves.

This comment from my friend, Tiff, got me to thinking that this tracking thing is pretty much a modern day widow’s walk. I check it to see how close my sailor is to coming home. In my opinion, it has big advantages over the old-fashioned version in that, day by day we all can see the progress of Capaz’s voyage and just seeing a new check in coordinate can be re-assuring that things are going well out there in one of the last great unknowns (to most of us).
I was on the site this morning and I clicked on the little box on the right hand side that says “Looking for more detail?” It is a pretty cool little program. It is a very quick download and I found it pretty straightforward to use, if you read the directions in the middle of the download page. It shows the wind directions at each position report, so you can tell what point of sail Capaz was probably on, how the wind has changed over the course of the trip, etc. If you try it, my one helpful hint is that the buttons on the world chart are defined as you mouse over them in the lower left corner of the window. This is how I found the zoom in function. The red line is course direction and blue line is wind direction. The identifier is SVCapaz and the boat left on June 21st.

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