Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trader Vic’s – Thursday before Dragon-Con

Friends and Crew, I have made a reservation for Trader Vic’s located at the Hilton for 12 people @ 7pm on the Thursday night before Dragon Con begins, August 28th.

Trader Vic's transports diners to the Pacific Islands with its exotic interior, Polynesian cuisine, and tropical cocktails. The Mai Tai Bar, decorated with colorful glass buoys suspended from bamboo rafters, offers fruity concoctions and tantalizing tidbits. Delectable meals are served in the dining room adorned with batik prints complimenting the Pacific Island theme.

It is still early in the game and I don’t know exactly who is interested in doing what but I will be calling for a final count on Monday, August 25th. Depending on the number who will be there and the consensus of opinion we will either have dinner in the Dining Room, just order some lighter fare in The Mai Tai Bar or just drink ½ price Mai-Tai’s and listen to the music by Tongohiti.

Check out all the links. It will give you an idea of what Trader Vic’s has to offer!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Trip to Boston

So I recently got back from a business trip to Boston. It's about my 8th trip but only the 2nd that I had the opportunity to stay downtown. Not only downtown but at the Omni-Parker Hotel. Not only does the Omni-Parker sit on the Freedom Trail but it is also the birth place of Parker House Dinner Rolls and Boston Creme Pie.

It was definitely a hotel I could get used to staying at on a regular basis. As a Select Member, I received turn-down service, free beverages delivered to my room in the mornings and free in-room Internet. It was AWESOME!!!

The hotel was in an ideal place. I was across the street from King's Chapel and the Old City Hall. Boston Commons, Cheers and Quincy Market were only blocks away. It only took 10 - 15 minutes to Long Wharf - home of the Boston Aquarium or to get to the North End for a fantastic Italian dinner and the best Cannoli's from Mike's.

So, I was able to strike a few things off my MUST-DO list in Boston:
1) Dinner & Cannoli's in the North End
2) Walk part of the Freedom Trail
3) Have a beer at Cheer's
4) Tour the USS Constitution

Here are a couple of pictures from around the hotel and on the Freedom Trail:

One of my favorite things to do was talk walks in the two historic Cemeteries that were within 2 block of the hotel; the King's Chapel Cemetery and Granary Cemetery.

During the conference, the NBA Championship game was played on Tuesday, June 17, 2008. The Boston Celtics won. The celebrating went on all night outside. There were car horns, yelling, swinging and lots of sirens. On Thursday, the 19th, Boston celebrated with a ticker tape parade. It was insanity outside and I didn't brave it but you could see the parade from my hotel room. I really take pictures of anything but the crowd. The players were in DUCK boats and I couldn't see any of them. Here are a few pictures I took from my room that day.

I didn't get go out on a schooner this visit but I did get to go out on the harbour. On Thursday, we had a scavenger hunt and a dinner cruise. Then on Friday, I took the water taxi from Long Wharf to the USS Constitution. It is the cheapest, closest and most direct way there. $3.50 for a round trip. Here are some of the picture I could from the Harbour.

On Friday the conference was over at 2pm and since my flight wasn't until 7:30pm, I stored my luggage at the hotel and headed to the USS Constitution. I spent some time in the Museum and took some pictures until I saw the sign that said "No Photography". So I just wandered thru and enjoyed the rest of the museum and bought my souvenirs; a t-shirt for me and a cap for Darrell. The security to actually get on board was exactly like it is at the airports. You have to empty your pockets and put all bags on a conveyor belt to be xrayed. Then you walk thru the metal detector. The only liquids allowed thru are baby things, medications and water. By the time I got thru security, the guided tours were full til 5:30 so I jumped in the speed line. The speed line only grants you access to the top deck but that was good enough for me! Here are just some of my pictures from the USS Constitution.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reefing a Sail


A sailing manoeuvre intended to reduce the area of a sail on a sailboat or sailing ship, which can improve the ship's stability and reduce the risk of capsizing, broaching, or damaging sails or boat hardware in a strong wind. Modern sailboats often combine reefing and furling of sails.

Three Basic Rules to Reef by:

1.Reef before you have to—in other words, as soon as it occurs to you.

2.When sailing downwind, reef as if you were going to windward in that same breeze.

3.When in doubt, take in a double reef instead of a single.

Note that dropping the main is still the best way of dealing with a sudden squall, when there isn't time to reef and when the winds may go above 40 knots, when reefed main, jib, and mizzen are too much canvas. Dropping the main is also great for maneuvering slowly under good control in a tight harbor or when picking up a mooring.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bells & Watches

Sounding of ship's bells is well rooted in the history and tradition of the maritime industry.
Onboard timekeeping has been an integral part of shipboard life since the earliest days of long distance navigation.

The bells used to mark shipboard time are organized into a schedule that reflect the four-hour watch served by the crew. Each watch is identified by its time of day and one watch, called the Dog Watch, was split into two parts to allow taking of an evening meal. The resulting number of uneven watches insured both crews shared the graveyard shift of 0000-0400 equally.
These are watches observed by ship's crew:
Middle Watch - (0000 - 0400)
Morning Watch - (0400 - 0800)
Forenoon Watch - (0800 - 1200)
Afternoon Watch - (1200 - 1600)
First Dog Watch - (1600 - 1800)
Second Dog Watch - (1800 - 2000)
First Watch - (2000 - 2400)

Bells are sounded in a pattern every thirty minutes. The maximum number of bells that can be struck is eight, hence the saying "eight bells and all is well." This is the common schedule of ship's bells that is repeated every four hours:
00:30 - 1 bell
01:00 - 2 bells
01:30 - 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
02:00 - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells
02:30 - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
03:00 - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells
03:30 - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
04:00 - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells

With the end of the watch, eight bells are sounded and the sailor was relieved. All watches follow the routine schedule except for the two Dog Watches. The first Dog Watch sees only four bells sounded at its end and the Second Dog Watch is finished with eight.

Bells are sounded for other purposes. At New Year's Eve, 16 bells are sounds with 8 given for the old year and 8 sounded to bring in the new year. Bells are sounded rapidly for five seconds during periods of low visibility and fog. Bells ringing for a longer period signals a general ship alarm. Ultimately the passing of a sailor is marked with the ringing of eight bells. Sounding of the ship's bell is a powerful reminder of the traditions rooted in long held maritime tradition.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wind & Points of Sail

Wind Direction

The direction and speed of wind is always graphically displayed on visual weather forecasts. The wind blows along the isobars, keeping low pressure to the left and high pressure to the right. The most reliable way to check wind direction and speed is to consult an anemometer (wind speed indicator).

The first thing you have to understand about the wind is its direction - the wind is named after the direction from which it blows - so a wind blowing from south to north is a south wind. However, the wind direction is only in very rare cases steady (for example the trade winds in the Atlantic are steady) - so you need to be on the alert and always watch what the wind is doing. You should know what to watch, and you'd better don't neglect the signs the wind gives you. For example - waves are created by it, but only the white ripples on the surface show the wind direction. Other boats at anchor or on mooring can give you clues - they float to point into the wind (unless in a case when there is a very strong current). Light and shallow boats prove to be the most reliable indicators. Beware - the sky is a trap! Do not look at it, because the movement of the high clouds have very little to do with the winds that determine what happens where you are. What you can do in advance is prepare the boat with your own indicators: you can adjust a flag or specially made windvane at the top of the mast. The so called the telltales are simple threads - you should put them on the shrouds as high as possible. People who use cloth sails sew very flashy-coloured threads (like magenta, or red) to the sail.

You will become good at that if you practise offboard - always when you are in the open, think about what is going on in the atmosphere around, and particularly what the behaviour of the wind is.

Points of Sail

Points of sail is a term describing different angles from the wind, on which a boat may sail. Depending on where you are going, and where the wind is blowing from, you will choose the direction. Some points of sail are easier to manage than others, and depending on the boat, they will also work differently for you than the others. Therefore, never assume that if someones boat sails fastest when close-hauled, this will be also the case with your boat.

Before we go to the specifics, remember the following:

  • port tack occurs when you have the wind on your port side (left).
  • starboard tack occurs when you have the wind on your starboard side (right).
Close-Hauled - Sailing as close toward the wind as possible without luffing (letting the sails flap); usually boats can sail up to 45 degrees to the wind, although even up to 38 degrees is not unusual.

Close Reach - Any sailing direction between the beam reach, and the close-hauled; the wind is still blowing from ahead (forward of abeam).

Beam Reach -
Sailing at a 90 degree angle from the wind; the wind is blowing from abeam.

Broad Reach - Any sailing direction (heading) between the beam reach and the run; the wind is blowing more from astern (behind).

Run (sometimes called 'Quartering Run", and "Running by the lee") -
Sailing with the wind pushing from astern (behind)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Points of the Compass

A 32 point compass has as its points the directions:

North northeast
North east
East northeast

East southeast
South southeast

South southwest
South west
West southwest

West northwest
North west
North northwest

(then back to North)

Reciting this list is known as boxing the compass. It was considered to be one of the basic skills of an aprentice sailor to be able to recite these directions.

The smaller points such as that between North and NNE were known only in association with their larger neighboring point. For instance:

The point between North and NNE was N by E.

The point between NNE and Northeast was NE by N.

The point between Northeast and ENE was NE by E.

The point between ENE and E was E by N.

This followed in like fashion around the compass.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Latitude & Longitude

Any location on Earth is described by two numbers--its latitude and its longitude.

If a pilot or a ship's captain wants to specify position on a map, these are the "coordinates" they would use. Actually, these are two angles, measured in degrees with minutes of arc and seconds of arc. These are denoted by the symbols ( °, ', " ) e.g. 35° 43' 9" means an angle of 35 degrees, 43 minutes and 9 seconds (do not confuse this with the notation (', ") for feet and inches!). A degree contains 60 minutes of arc and a minute contains 60 seconds of arc--and you may omit the words "of arc" where the context makes it absolutely clear that these are not units of time. Calculations often represent angles by small letters of the Greek alphabet, and that way latitude will be represented by λ (lambda, Greek L), and longitude by φ (phi, Greek F).

Imagine the Earth was a transparent sphere (actually the shape is slightly oval; because of the Earth's rotation, its equator bulges out a little). Through the transparent Earth (drawing) we can see its equatorial plane, and its middle the point is O, the center of the Earth. To specify the latitude of some point P on the surface, draw the radius OP to that point. Then the elevation angle of that point above the equator is its latitude λ--northern latitude if north of the equator, southern (or negative) latitude if south of it. [How can one define the angle between a line and a plane, you may well ask? Good question. We must use the angle which completes it to 90 degrees, the one between the given line and one perpendicular to the plane. Here that would be the angle (90°-λ) between OP and the Earth's axis, known as the co-latitude of P.]

On a globe of the Earth, lines of latitude are circles of different size. The longest is the equator, whose latitude is zero, while at the poles--at latitudes 90° north and 90° south (or -90°) the circles shrink to a point. Lines of constant longitude ("meridians") extend from pole to pole, like the segment boundaries on a peeled orange.

Every meridian must cross the equator. Since the equator is a circle, we can divide it--like any circle--into 360 degrees, and the longitude φ of a point is then the marked value of that division where its meridian meets the equator. What that value is depends of course on where we begin to count--on where zero longitude is located. For historical reasons, the meridian passing the old Royal Astronomical Observatory in Greenwich England, is the one chosen as zero longitude. Located at the eastern edge of London, the British capital, the observatory is now a public museum and a brass band stretching across its yard marks the "prime meridian." Tourists often get photographed as they straddle it--one foot in the eastern hemisphere of the Earth, the other in the western hemisphere.

A line of longitude is also called a meridian, derived from the Latin, from meri, a variation of "medius" which denotes "middle", and diem, meaning "day." The word once meant "noon", and times of the day before noon were known as "ante meridian", while times after it were "post meridian." Today's abbreviations a.m.and p.m.come from these terms, and the Sun at noon was said to be "passing meridian". All points on the same line of longitude experienced noon (and any other hour) at the same time and were therefore said to be on the same "meridian line", which became "meridian" for short.

About time--Local and Universal
Two important concepts, related to latitude and (especially) longitude are Local time (LT) and Universal time (UT).

Local time is actually a measure of the position of the Sun relative to a locality. At 12 noon local time the Sun passes to the south and is furthest from the horizon (northern hemisphere). Somewhere around 6 am it rises, and around 6 pm it sets. Local time is what you and I use to regulate our lives locally, our work times, meals and sleep-times. But suppose we wanted to time an astronomical event--e.g. the time when the 1987 supernova was first detected. For that we need a single agreed-on clock, marking time world-wide, not tied to our locality. That is universal time (UT), which can be defined (with some slight imprecision, no concern here) as the local time in Greenwich, England, at the zero meridian.

Longitudes are measured from zero to 180° east and 180° west (or -180°), and both 180-degree longitudes share the same line, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As the Earth rotates around its axis, at any moment one line of longitude--the noon meridian--faces the Sun, and at that moment, it will be noon everywhere on it. After 24 hours the Earth has undergone a full rotation with respect to the Sun, and the same meridian again faces noon. Thus each hour the Earth rotates by 360/24 = 15 degrees. When at your location the time is 12 noon, 15° to the east the time is 1 p.m., for that is the meridian which faced the Sun an hour ago. On the other hand, 15° to the west the time is 11 a.m., for in an hour's time, that meridian will face the Sun and experience noon.

In the middle of the 19th century, each community across the US defined in this manner its own local time, by which the Sun, on the average, reached the farthest point from the horizon (for that day) at 12 oclock. However, travelers crossing the US by train had to re-adjust their watches at every city, and long distance telegraph operators had to coordinate their times. This confusion led railroad companies to adopt time zones, broad strips (about 15° wide) which observed the same local time, differing by 1 hour from neighboring zones, and the system was adopted by the nation as a whole. The continental US has 4 main time zones--eastern, central, mountain and western, plus several more for Alaska, the Aleut islands and Hawaii. Canadian provinces east of Maine observe Atlantic time; you may find those zones outlined in your telephone book, on the map giving area codes. Other countries of the world have their own time zones; only Saudi Arabia uses local times, because of religious considerations. In addition, the clock is generally shifted one hour forward between April and October. This daylight saving time allowed people to take advantage of earlier sunrises, without shifting their working hours. By rising earlier and retiring sooner, you make better use of the sunlight of the early morning, and you can enjoy sunlight one hour longer in late afternoon.

The Date Line and Universal Time (UT)
Suppose it is noon where you are and you proceed west--and suppose you could travel instantly to wherever you wanted. Fifteen degrees to the west the time is 11 a.m., 30 degrees to the west, 10 a.m., 45 degrees--9 a.m. and so on. Keeping this up, 180 degrees away one should reach midnight, and still further west, it is the previous day. This way, by the time we have covered 360 degrees and have come back to where we are, the time should be noon again--yesterday noon.

Hey--wait a minute! You cannot travel from today to the same time yesterday! We got into trouble because longitude determines only the hour of the day--not the date, which is determined separately. To avoid the sort of problem encountered above, the international date line has been established--most of it following the 180th meridian--where by common agreement, whenever we cross it the date advances one day (going west) or goes back one day (going east). That line passes the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia, which thus have different dates, but for most of its course it runs in mid-ocean and does not inconvenience any local time keeping.

Astronomers, astronauts and people dealing with satellite data may need a time schedule which is the same everywhere, not tied to a locality or time zone. The Greenwich mean time, the astronomical time at Greenwich (averaged over the year) is generally used here. It is sometimes called Universal Time (UT).

Right Ascension and Declination
The globe of the heavens resembles the globe of the Earth, and positions on it are marked in a similar way, by a network of meridians stretching from pole to pole and of lines of latitude perpendicular to them, circling the sky. To study some particular galaxy, an astronomer directs the telescope to its coordinates. On Earth, the equator is divided into 360 degrees, with the zero meridian passing Greenwich and with the longitude angle φ measured east or west of Greenwich, depending on where the corresponding meridian meets the equator.

In the sky, the equator is also divided into 360 degrees, but the count begins at one of the two points where the equator cuts the ecliptic--the one which the Sun reaches around March 21. It is called the vernal equinox ("vernal" means related to spring) or sometimes the first point in Aries, because in ancient times, when first observed by the Greeks, it was in the zodiac constellation of Aries, the ram. It has since then moved.

The celestial globe, however, uses terms and notations which differ somewhat from those of the globe of the Earth. Meridians are marked by the angle α (alpha, Greek A), called right ascension, not longitude. It is measured from the vernal equinox, but only eastward, and instead of going from 0 to 360 degrees, it is specified in hours and other divisions of time, each hour equal to 15 degrees. Similarly, where on Earth latitude goes from 90° north to 90° south (or -90°), astronomers prefer the co-latitude, the angle from the polar axis, equal to 0° at the north pole, 90° on the equator, and 180° at the south pole. It is called declination and is denoted by the letter δ (delta, Greek small D). The two angles (α, δ), used in specifying (for instance) the position of a star are jointly called its celestial coordinates.

CREW ANNOUNCEMENT: Tybee Island Pirate Festival 2008

Some of the Black Bunny crew will be heading down to Tybee Island to participate in their Pirate Festival on October 10 & 11. We will be staying until Sunday, October 12th. After researching places to stay, I have discovered the best bet it to get a beach house rental near the festival area that sleeps enough for the crew that will be there. It comes out to a reasonable $$ per night.

If you want to go down to Tybee, pirate a little, drink a little, enjoy fresh seafood and some beautiful sunrises, let me know ASAP so I can get a good count of crew members and can reserve an appropriate sized house. I need to make the reservation by July / August.

Capt'n Annabella

Oct. 10-11, 2008 – AHOY MATES!
Swashbucklers of all ages will be converging on Tybee Island to participate in the 4th Annual Tybee Island Pirate Fest! Don your most colorful pirate’s costume, and gather your Krewe of marauding buccaneers, because Tybee will be overrun and invaded by pirates. That’s right the 4th Annual Pirate Fest weekend is coming October 10th - 11th and that means lots of pirates, merriment, parade and much more.

The Pirate Fest Invasion will be on Friday, October 10th, festivities begin at 6pm in the shadow of the Tybee Pier & Pavilion. The pirates and their buccaneers will invade Tybee with cannons blazing, in search of Tybee’s Mayor Jason Buelterman and the “key to the city.” Once the key has been surrendered the pirates will party Friday and Saturday with live entertainment. The Thieves Market will be filled with treasures from different Ports of Call along with grog & grub to feed the Scurvy Dogs!

Don’t miss the Pirate Parade on Saturday October 11th at 3pm. Following a successful invasion of the City of Tybee, the pirates and their buccaneer’s will gather for a victory parade down Butler Avenue in which the pirates share their wealth of trinkets and doubloons with the crowd along the parade route. Rumor has it that the parade will stop in front of city hall where the pirates will shoot their cannons at city hall, capture the mayor, and force him to ride out their victory parade on their float. There will be a pirate trophy for the best pirate float!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

CREW - Roll Call

Who is out there??

Your captain wants to hear from you!


I am hoping to see most of the crew and my other fellow pirates at Dragon Con this year.

As Captain, I have just a few announcements.

(1) I am planning a gathering for dinner on Thursday night at Trader Vic's located in the Hilton. I am looking at a 7'ish pm dinner time. After dinner, we can walk over to the Hyatt to get our badges. The will be handing out the Pre-Reg badges until 11pm. I think (I hope) this will eliminate any real line wait.

(2) I will be hosting Black Bunny Tea on Friday night around 6pm. This will be a chance for everyone to get together and coordinate weekend events without cutting into the serious Friday night party time.

(3) I need crew to walk in the parade Saturday morning. For some, this is not an option, especially if they are tired of being a powder monkey. The parade starts at 10am and the line up is at 9am. The more crew, the better. Bob, are you carrying my flag? Again, I will have Bunny Beads to throw. I am hoping to have: Darrell, Kindra, Jesse, Ila, Josh, Kristen, Bob, Emily, Thi, D-Tag, Deneen and any one else interested in walking with the BB Crew.

(4) If anyone needs 'pirate' garb for the parade or for wandering around the con, let me know ASAP and will make sure I have something for you.

(5) We will be watching the Costume Contest in my room on Saturday night, so bring on the drinks. Depending on how I feel about the world and how well I am walking, I might make an appearance at the official Pirate Party at the Hyatt later that evening.

I think that is all for the moment. I will check back in with everyone closer to the Con.