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Ocean Planet Report
Friday, November 15, 2002 1230gmt
Pos: 26 11S, 30 49W Heading 190T @ 10-11kts
Wind ENE @ 9-10kts


Still very nice sailing, although the wind is slowly lightening. There is a bit of wave slop, not much, but it includes a sometimes ominous swell from the deep South. Seems there is always something brewing down there in the weather. Our time will come before long to test ourselves there…

A refrigerator freighter came by rather close yesterday, but no worries as we talked on the VHF radio. They were apparently pretty much empty except for ballast as they were heading for Brazil to dry-dock and fix something on the propellers. Now those are big propellers! See attached pic for a shot of them going by

I am still having a rash of flying fish suicides, including a really big one I found on the aft solar panels, big enough to eat but I found it too late after it had begun to roast on the hot panel. Phew! When unreefing the main, I found another (see pic, just behind the patch in the sail):

To all of our classroom followers, including Mrs. Thomas’s 5th graders, Bain School in Rhode Island, and Eden Park School in Brixhan, and on http://www.education.hsbc.com/, I want to talk a little bit about navigating and charts: 

Take a look at a big, flat map of the world, then look at a regular round globe. The globe is more accurate since the world is round. Now look at the flat map again. Have you ever wondered why Greenland is so huge on the flat one, so much bigger than on the globe? Look again and you’ll notice that ALL of the stuff far north of Greenland, and even the stuff down south (see how Antarctica is way bigger than it’s supposed to be) is way too big. The reason for this is that in order to get the ROUND earth to lay out flat for viewing on a map, they do what is called a “Mercator Projection,” where the top and bottom of what you are viewing (in this case the Ocean Planet, Earth) is spread out or stretched to lie flat. 

If you are looking at a map of a smaller area, like one of your town, they also use a Mercator Projection, but it is not visibly distorted since the earth is nearly flat in small sections anyway.

Now here’s a weird thing about Mercator charts: Let’s say I’m heading straight south (well, actually that’s what I’m doing). If you look at a flat map, it looks like I’m not getting any closer to South Africa as I go, but really I am! Notice how the Meridians (the lines on the Earth that go up and down on both maps and the globe) are straight on the flat map. But look at the globe: ALL the Meridians meet at the north and south poles, so they get closer together as you go north or south. So if you look at the globe and see that I’m heading south, in reality the distance to Cape Town, South Africa is getting smaller. It would better of course if I headed straight there, but the wind will be MUCH stronger to the south so we go down there to get going really fast. If I went straight I’d get stuck in a big area of light winds and it would take forever…Sometimes you can’t go straight where you want, but if you’re smart you can get there faster anyway.

That’s it for today!


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