Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New playground

Google helpfully stitched together some of the photos I took on my mobile of the estuary from alongside the breakwater on Saturday (the "Low tide" post of a day or two ago being one of them). Although the resolution has suffered a little, zoomed in full-size 1:1 I can see the starboard lateral "Firefly" and the south cardinal "Denny Shoal" in an approximate line with the end of the pier-head and Denny Island.

The new playground is less brown when there's water in it. Actually, who am I kidding? I suspect it's pretty much always tea-hued in these parts. It doesn't leave a dirty brown stain on the decks when it splashes over them however, which is an improvement on the water further upstream above the bridges.

All that muddy brown stuff aside though, the thing that really caught me on Saturday was the angry sky. Lots of weather came through over the weekend and into the beginning of the week. Saturday was the first hint of its arrival. We really caught a lucky break with the weather bringing Calstar up from Swansea last Wednesday.

There is a race scheduled for this coming Sunday, starting off the end of the pier (more detail than that I don't know at this point). We were hoping to join in, but at the moement the forecast is looking a bit on the brutal side for the weekend. Fast streaming, unfamiliar estuary waters and a boat new to me that I've not yet even checked I can successfully reef (I've worked out where the lines are and checked they're all set, but haven't yet inspected them closely or had a chance to try reefing in anger), if there's any doubt as to the conditions then we're going to wimp out and watch from shore.

I'd really like to take her out though, so I'm holding out hope that the weather will blow through early.

Racing aside, our next "proper" adventure (barring simply taking her out of the marina for a trot around the estuary first chance we get) is an overnighter to Cardiff and back planned for the weekend of March 14th in company with some new friends from Portishead Cruising Club.

I've been thinking about upgrading my current 8" tablet for a 10" Sony Xperia Z. I almost brought a Samsung Tab Pro over the weekend for the same price; newer, faster processor, better resolution, support for the latest Android and equal GPS capabilities, but not waterproof. However, after wasting half an hour of my life in the store prevaricating over the decision before deciding it was a yet and asking the shop assistant to give me one, he then checked and told me, regrettably, they were out of stock and he couldn't help me.

How hard can stock control be? If you've sold the last of something, take it off display or just mark it as out of stock. Or offer to honour the price, arrange for new stock and promise to let me know when I can come back and collect it. I went home and brought what I really wanted off Amazon. Stores like that don't deserve to compete with the Internet and are only reaping their just deserts when online shopping finally puts them out of business.

So I have a new tablet on its way to me today courtesy of Amazon. A 10.1" Sony Xperia Z which I'm intending to use as a plotter. I picked it because it's splash-proof, has good GPS (for a tablet) and I like Sony kit. And because Currys (the above mentioned store) has lousy stock control and equally debatable customer service.

Naturally, there's only one reason for wanting a tablet. Budget chart plotter. Setting it up will be tonight's job. Need to decide whether to stick with the raster charts from visitmyharbour.co.uk or go vector with Navionics, though the latter will cost me an extra £50 from the looks of things.

The chart-work exam for our RYA Day Skipper Theory ticket is coming up this Thursday evening, with a second exam the following week. The subject of the second exam is passage planning? Not sure actually, which is a little worrying, as the overall course has covered an awful lot of material other than basic chart work, and I guess any of that could get condensed into the hour and a half long second paper. Anyway, after this, Thursday evenings will be our own again. Can't say I won't welcome that.

I should be feeling confident, but I'm actually not sure at all what my chances are. I'm pretty certain if you give me a boat, a chart and a clue to the tides I could probably find my way to just about anywhere now, but what the pass mark is for this damned exam, or the phrasing or nature of the questions I can expect, I'm really not altogether sure at all.

We shall see. In any case, all those long cold hours spent in Thursday evening classes at the Club over the winter have done their job. I'm an awful lot more confident with the subject matter now that I was at the start.

And they've set me dreaming of all the different places Dad and I could take a certain Westerly Griffon.

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