Tagged: sailing

Two paths to online privacy

Eric Schmidt, the Google executive chairman, tells us . This is like warning us about the dangers of .

There are two paths to online privacy. Path One: Do not participate, in any way shape or form, ever. Good luck with that. I know exactly one person who has taken Path One.

I am here to tell you about Path Two

Path Two was discovered by . It involves populating the social networks’ databases with fake data. It took me a while to warm up to it.

At first I didn’t understand it. It felt childish and disingenuous. Why would anyone want to disguise their gender or home town? Don’t my friends already know my gender and where I live? Why would I post a fake phone number? Don’t my friends already know my real number?

Yes, yes, and yes! That’s exactly the point. My friends already know all they need to know about me. Why do I also have to give it to Facebook? I don’t. I can take Path Two.

If you go to , you will see that I like cycling, Coors Light, Diet Pepsi, and sailing. You will also see that I was recently at the Playboy Mansion, by the Great Beds Lighthouse, and at the Cannes Film Festival. My friends will know what’s real and what’s fake. I wonder if Eric Schmidt can figure it out.

Sailboat carnage

I frequently blog about sailing, about the great times my friends and I have on the water. Well, there’s another aspect to it. There’s loss — material, but also emotional. There’s sadness and sorrow.

Hurricane Sandy brought horrible devastation to New Jersey, to the local marinas, and to many of my friends’ boats. I can’t describe the boat carnage I saw the last couple of days, and I can’t stomach to post pictures of the wreckage. Below is the G version of what I saw today at one boat yard.

Boat yard carnage in the wake of hurricane Sandy
Boat yard carnage in the wake of hurricane Sandy

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Whose responsibility is my safety? My own.

Everybody wants to babysit me

Yesterday US Open tournament referee Brian Earley between David Ferrer from Spain and Novak Djokovic from Serbia. The skies were clear and sunny. Why not keep playing? Because there was a tornado warning, and Mr. Earley wanted to make sure everybody in the audience could get safely to their cars or to the train before the tornado hit. How nice of him. (As it turns out, the tornado never hit, and the players could have kept playing for a while before the rain came).

I have been an amateur competitive sailor for over 20 years. For every amateur sailing race there is an amateur , whose job is to set the course, start and finish the race, and announce the winner. But every once in a while the race committee would decide that the weather conditions are not safe for sailing, and cancel the race. How nice of them.

In the above examples the event coordinators exceed their mandate, seemingly “for the common good.” The tournament referee is concerned with the spectators’ safety; the race committee is concerned with the sailors’ safety. But is that a good thing? I say no. As an adult, my safety is my own responsibility. There’s a tornado warning? There’s a thunderstorm coming? Make an announcement. But let me decide. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine.

Mr. Earley: Your job is to administer a tennis match; do that. Race committee: Your job is to administer a sailing race; do that. Allow the participants and spectators to make their own decisions. It is their responsibility, not yours.

PS It is a centuries-old maritime tradition that . This has found its way into modern-day sailing instructions, which expressly declare that the decision whether to race or not is solely the skipper’s responsibility, thus exonerating the race committee from any consequences.

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Can I use an iPhone/Android phone for marine navigation?

Short answer: No

Longer answer: It depends

Full answer: Glad you asked

I spend a lot of time on the water – at least once a week from May to October. Years ago we used to navigate using paper nautical charts and analog compasses. Later handheld GPSs became ubiquitous. In the last few years, with an iPhone in every pocket, friends keep asking me: “Why can’t we ditch the altogether? I have GPS on my iPhone, and I just installed this pretty navigation app I bought from the App Store. Let’s use that instead.” Here’s why they should not.

Smart phones are not GPS devices

A “Global Navigation Satellite System” (GNSS) is a system of satellites that provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage. It allows small electronic receivers to determine their location (longitude, latitude, and altitude) to within a few metres using time signals transmitted along a line-of-sight by radio from satellites. Receivers calculate the precise time as well as position. ()

The US-government-owned-and-operated GNSS is called GPS. GPS receivers are specially-designed devices that receive and process signals from the GPS satellites. Depending on the system and the process, GPS can yield from several meters to millimeters or better.

While modern smart phones have location capabilities, their – in the order of 30 meters, or 100 feet. Navigation apps for smart phones make navigation seem game-like easy, which is both deceiving, and (in my opinion) irresponsible. Smart phones have neither the positional accuracy nor the technological robustness required for a piece of navigation equipment. At best, they may be used as backup for a dedicated GPS unit, and then only to help visually locate a navigational marker.

I have been working with GPS since 1992, and I am well aware of the misconceptions surrounding the technology. The ubiquity of “GPS-enabled” smart phones has only widened and exacerbated the problem. Hardware and software vendors happily ride the wave of consumer ignorance, and do not do enough to alert consumers to the potential for misuse of the technology and the serious consequences thereof. Let’s hope it won’t take someone getting hurt for this issue to get more attention.


  1. Smart phones are good for listening to music and taking pictures, NOT for navigation.
  2. GPS is universally misunderstood. Here’s .
  3. Smart phones DO NOT have GPS
  4. Smart phones use location technology (“assisted GPS”) whose positional accuracy is 30 meters, or 100 feet.
  5. Smart phones should NEVER be used to “navigate by instruments”.

The illustration below shows a hypothetical situation over a real NOAA nautical chart. The water depth goes from 40’ to 3’ over a distance of 50’. Using an iPhone for navigation, the skipper can think they are safely in the channel and run aground.

Navigation chart iPhone GPS
Hypothetical situation over a real NOAA nautical chart. The water depth goes from 40’ to 3’ over a distance of 50’. Using an iPhone for navigation, the skipper can think they are safely in the channel and run aground.

Many thanks to the numerous Twitter friends who provided input and feedback for this entry.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a bunch of idiots

The International Olympic Committee has no sense of humo(u)r

[UPDATE 08/08/2012] As expected, the video has resurfaced. This time hosted on a Dutch website (and probably elsewhere). Congrats to the author Proinnseas Ó hUiginn ( on Twitter). I hope this debacle gives him a ton of exposure, which he rightly deserves.

I am embedding the video for your viewing pleasure. International Olympic Committee (IOC) PR gaffe description below the video.

[ORIGINAL POST] Yesterday one of the funniest videos I have ever seen went viral. It was a mock commentary over video footage of an Olympic sailing event. It was mocking the TV commentators, not the event. It was funny, it was witty, it was sharp. It made the rounds among my sailing and non-sailing friends alike, it got posted all over social media. It went viral, which is what every event organizer loves, and what marketing teams strive for, often in vain.

So what does the International Olympic Committee (IOC) do? Does it thank the author? Do they offer him free tickets to an event? Do they invite him to a cocktail party to meet some of the athletes? No! They order the video removed on copyright infringement grounds. You can see the notice (screenshot below).

What a bunch of humo(u)rless idiots! They wouldn’t recognize good publicity if it bit them in the ass. Apparently, they haven’t heard of the , either.

International Olympic Committee boats video removed Vimeo
A screenshot of the International Olympic Committee takedown notice on Vimeo, where the “Boats” video used to be

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2012 YRALIS Championship Regatta recap

A great weekend at the 2012 YRALIS Championship Regatta

Team Project Mayhem won a division first with 1-2-1-1 finishes. We did not win the overall trophy, like we did in 2010. That trophy went to a boat in another division with 1-1-1-1. Fair is fair.

In both races on Sunday we were also first in fleet, meaning we beat on corrected time all PHRF boats in all divisions, including a . That felt good.

A fierce tornado-like storm tore through Riverside from 8 to 9 pm, leaving behind some minor damage. No damage to our boat. We left for NJ at 10 pm, and motored all the way with moderate winds on the nose during the entire trip.

Three of us just finished delivering the boat from Riverside, CT to Perth Amboy, NJ. It was an all-night affair, because we had to leave Riverside no earlier than 10 pm so as to hit favorable current at . I’m tired.

This is it. I’m typing this on my BlackBerry while I am waiting for my ride. Posting from mobile works well, and I will be doing more of it. Voice-to-text blogging, on the other hand, turned out not so well, so no more of that I’ll use that sparingly.

I leave you with a photo from this weekend.

Sailboat finishing in the 2012 YRALIS Championship Regatta
The sailboat Katie G returns to port after racing in the 2012 YRALIS Championship Regatta on Long Island Sound

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Team Project Mayhem

Team Project Mayhem wins a division first at the 2012 YRALIS Championship Regatta

After two days of sailing on Long Island Sound, Team Project Mayhem won a division first with 1-2-1-1 at the YRALIS Championship Regatta August 4 and 5, 2012, , Riverside, Connecticut. Our main competitor, LOKI 3, took second place. Pictured below is the winning team returning to port on day two.

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Team Project Mayhem
Team Project Mayhem, L-R: Jay Morgenstern, Jim Schlott, Doug Stryker (owner/skipper), Nancy Scheraga, Matt Loughlin, Brett Straten, Armando Tamargo. Not pictured (taking the picture): Atanas Entchev