Friday, September 11, 2009

Unlease Your Inner Navigator

Ever since I meandered down the dock to meet Dan, the owner of Whiskyjack, my journey onboard is changing. I now have a mini netbook, loaded full of navigational charts, free from NOAA and have downloaded another free program called SeaClearII. He has been patiently explaining, emailing and encouraging me to incorporate available free items that can make my navigational experience an ecstatic one. You might ask, "Can you become ecstatic doing navigation"? Well, of course. I remember how excited I became when I hooked up my GPS to my radar unit and they spoke to each other for the first time. It was love at first sight! I can't imagine what I will feel when my GPS sends out a signal and my Seaclear reads it on my NOAA chart and responds by blinking back at me telling me where I am, all on my HP mini netbook. People used to think I was strange by going to India to study Yoga and Meditation. Now, all of that is mainstream. I'm venturing out on the razor's edge of insanity with SeaClear/NOAA and a Mini.

Half the time I am "clueless on the columbia" when I get his esoteric emails. But, I am slowly and surely catching the fever and moving closer to the objective of having free charts and a navigational plotting system. I almost gave up one afternoon trying to link seaclear to the NOAA charts. I sent out a desparate email expressing my frustration. It wasn't long before a very detailed response came. I calmed down and thought, after re-reading the email 100 times, that perhaps I could make this whole thing happen. It ended up successfully after a phone call and several slow hours of me hunting and pecking through the program options. After I got SeaClear to read the NOAA Charts I felt impowered beyond belief. I was high 5-ing myself and shouting, "yes"!
Then one day, Dan comes to visit me and see Shatoosh for the first time. He has his mini in hand as though it is some sacred text. I instinctly knew another lesson was soon to be learned. He pulled up the chart where I had anchored behind Sand Island. Then he transfers it to the paint program and starts spray painting where to anchor in green and where not to anchor in red paint. I was amazed; he saved it as a jpeg. I said, "you mean, I can then upload it into the blog"? "Yes", he says. I am really totally excited. All of this is new to me, so I have to have time for it all to sink in. I never knew you could copy something into the paint program and then add information to it, save it as a jpeg and then send it as an attachement or upload it to a blog, for instance. Where have I been?

After my last voyage over labor day weekend, I tried to replicate this task, but couldn't make the paint speak to my NOAA chart. After another email and reply from Dan I was ecstatic when I succeeded in painting in where Collene and I had anchored behind Cottonwood island. I still need to practice on the technique, but adding this feature makes my blogging better and hopefully more fun for you to read. I'm totally excited, but so far no one has commented on the picture of the chart. It has taken me months to get where I am finally understanding what this guy, Dan, is saying and implementing it with success.
Here is another chart for you to view. I'm getting the hang of this now.
Remember if you double click the picture it will be enlarged.
There is one major step left to do. Attach the GPS/Radar connection to the computer via a USB-serial port adapter. Then the GPS/ Radar/SeaClear/NOAA charts will all be communicating with each other and I will be in navigation nirvana watching it all happen on my HP MINI NETBOOK. How fantastic is this? Thanks Dan. My trip to see Whiskyjack was an important one.
I have asked Dan to write an article for the FreshWater News or to contribute something to the blog about all of this so others can be informed about the free programs that will unlease your inner navigator and send you into a state of navigational ecstacy.