Wednesday, December 15, 2021

the new chart book / conspiracy theories

I did a test sail with SPARTINA's new chart book yesterday, the chart book being an Apple iPad mini 6 with the Garmin Navionics app installed.  Over a year ago when prepping for a sail on Chesapeake Bay I thought I would buy a new ADC waterproof Chesapeake Bay Chart Book.  Good luck with that.  I found that the ten year old copy I had, now so faded some charts are illegible, was possibly the last edition ever printed.  The only copy I could find was on eBay.  And I found the same thing when getting ready for the winter sail down south.  Plenty of waterway "guides" but no actual chart books.  Everything is now digital.

For the winter sail in South Carolina and Georgia I did install Navionics on my phone.  It worked ok but I found with the small screen I had trouble understanding the scale and could not easily translate what I was seeing on the screen into actual distances.  Is the next mark two miles away, or 20?  Hard to tell on the small screen.  

The solution is an iPad.  I did have a full size iPad which I quickly saw would be too big and clunky for a small boat.  The new iPad mini 6 is the perfect size.  For a waterproof case I bought the only one available on Amazon at the time.  It is an ok case and will do the job.  In fact I now see it is marketed on Amazon under multiple names but appears to be the exact same case.  I keep hoping Otter Box or someone will come up with a better waterproof case in time for next year's winter trip.  

Just so I don't ever forget my iPad mini is a chart book Apple was kind enough to etch a label on the back for me.  As for the specs, I got the largest memory possible on the cell version of the iPad mini.  I don't need a cellular connection for the iPad but I do need the GPS chip which is installed only on the cell versions, not the wifi versions (my thanks to Webb for that info).  The unknown will be power consumption but after doing some tests at the house I think it should work out fine.


As of late I have been struggling with some conspiracy theories involving boat designs.  There have been rumors and accusations, challenges made and arguments left unresolved.

I will be the first to admit I have never met John Welsford, I cannot say for sure that he exists.  I have received emails from a John Welsford, but anyone could create an account with that name.  I once saw a video interview with a man claiming to be John Welsford, but that may have been an actor and it looked like it was possibly filmed on a movie set near where they staged the lunar landing years ago.  Does John Welsford, and by extension his boat designs, actually exist?  

 It all began years ago when I would be out sailing and people would tell me I was sailing a Drascombe-wannabe.  I would say no, it's a Welsford Pathfinder.  They would shake their heads, say never heard that name before.  As with all good conspiracies the story evolved over the years.  At some point it crossed from being a wannabe to a true Drascombe.  In fact a Drascombe Lugger.

Exhibit A, from SPARTINA's log, 2013:  I drop by the dock masters office, finding the Old Salt from the laundromat there.  The dock master tells him about Spartina, the Old Salt tells me it is a Drascombe.  I say no, it's a design from New Zealand.  It might be marketed under a different name, he tells me as he gears up for an argument, but it is really a Drascombe and I just don't know it.    

Exhibit B, from my UK friend Steve, builder/owner of what he claims to be a Welsford Navigator:  Last year I had a woman who swore blind Arwen was a drascombe. I patiently explained I had built her from plans and she was indeed a welsford navigator. She listened attentively and when I finished, she admonished me, pointing out she'd been sailing all her life and that she knew lots about dinghies and what I had was a drascombe and I should read my plans more carefully. 

Exhibit C, a mysterious email from a man who claims to have sailed a Drascombe Lugger most of the way around the world (yeah right, like I'm gonna believe that one!): " it is time that you so-called Welsford owners realize that there is no Welsford.  He is a myth probably invented by conspiracy theorists. There are only Drascombes."

So we are talking a conspiracy that exhibited itself over many years and around the world.  I confess I was starting to buy into it.  Until yesterday.  A fine mid-December sail and I pass by the stern of a cruising sailboat out of Vancouver, BC.  A nice young couple on board and the man waves, says my boat reminds him of a boat he had always wanted to build.  So I ask "What kind of boat is that?" (all the time dreading it would be a Drascombe).  "It is a boat," he says, "called......a Pathfinder!"

I push the tiller over, watch the breeze fill the loose footed gaff-rigged main and feel the boat heel as it slides gracefully across the water.  And I smile because John Welsford did in fact design a fine boat called a Pathfinder.  And the Pathfinder sails pretty damn well.

1 comment:

Clark said...

I suppose we should follow you around in our Lugger so you can point at it and say "That's a Lugger." I don't think SPARTINA would mind.

Kent and Audrey