Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rock On!

Tonight's twilight beer can race was the first occasion for my recently installed RockBox GPS. Mounted on the port bulkhead to the side of the companion way (with industrial Velcro), it was extremely visible and legible from the helm whenever I found myself on port side. When I was on the starboard side, I had to remind Mainsheet Trimmer to lean/crouch forward so I can see my latest birthday present in action. That's a negative, but unavoidable.

Another negative for the RockBox is its complex menu which requires navigating through a labyrinth of options. This can only be done with a remote device, presumably hung around one's neck. It works. But....

All this country boy (thinks he) needs is a split screen display of Speed and Velocity Made Good (VMG). I didn't think that was too much to ask for the price. I didn't need time to start line. But I have it. I didn't need a count down. I've had that on my $20 watch for the past two decades. All I wanted was the capacity to store a dozen waypoints and the functionality of being able to dial any waypoint up for the real-time computation of evolving VMG's. What would have been even better would have been the storage of even half a dozen routes around waypoints. What I got was seven intermediary menu stops along the way to selecting waypoints, each of which is capable of inadvertently erasing any default waypoint.

All of which goes to the point as to why it was a prudent decision to mount the RockBox on the bulkhead instead of the skipper's tabernacle. It doesn't seem possible for the helmsman to manipulate the RockBox's remote device while sailing, once the race committee announces the course. I need all my attention on the time remaining, the water around me, and the feel of boat and wind.

At this point I feel the real raison d'etre for the RockBox is crew information. When disagreement rears its ugly head on deck, it's usually over a perceived lack of speed over the water. I want Crew to become more aware of speed over the ground. I need to get one or two members of the Team to buy into VMG as relevant information and to become proficient with its remote. Once that happens, RockBox will have proven worthy of its price.

Wednesday night, we finished 8th out of 25 in elapsed time. (That's a decent-sized fleet!) In 13 to 17 knots steady, I loved every minute of it except for the five minutes it took the lads to sort out the spinnaker. Time to bring back the turtle? Maybe.....

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