We often take a cynical view of how government agencies spend taxpayer dollars, but rarely, if ever, do we take issue with the efforts of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) or USGS (US Geological Survey). In fact, without the work of these agencies, the navigational info available to American mariners would be drastically reduced.
The video below is a very cool byproduct of survey work done by both agencies in collaboration with the California State University Monterey Bay. It’s a virtual flyover of San Francisco Bay — without the water — that reveals detailed contours of the seafloor, including actual rock pinnacles, sand waves and the influences of human activities. As you’ll see, the bird’s eye view takes you on a tour from the South Bay north to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, then southwest through Raccoon Strait, around the Central Bay, out the Golden Gate and back in again.
Beyond the gee-whiz factor, you can glean some useful insights into why currents would flow faster in some places than others, as well as the best spots to anchor — and not to anchor — during Fleet Week or while doing an inside-the-Bay overnight. Our hats are off to Peter Dartnell of the USGS, who produced the four-minute video in 2009.
Video courtesy US Geological Survey, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
In 1936, Warwick ‘Commodore’ Tompkins sailed from Gloucester, MA, to San Francisco via Cape Horn aboard his family’s 85-ft 1896 Elbe River pilot schooner, Wander Bird. He was 4 years old at the time. Now 82, the Mill Valley-based Commodore, who has often graced the pages of Latitude 38 and ‘Lectronic Latitude, is cruising his Wylie 38+ Flash Girl in New Zealand. But he took time out from his travels to narrate a film about the remarkable adventure of Wander Bird.
The captain of Wander Bird, Commodore’s father, Warwick Tompkins, Sr., filmed the voyage with the intention of showing the footage in theaters. That dream was never realized. However, 78 years later, filmmaker Oleg Harencar collaborated with Commodore to edit the original footage into a new film, which will debut this Wednesday at St. Francis Yacht Club’s Yachting Luncheon. Harencar will be on hand to answer questions.
Members of all yacht clubs are invited. The luncheon begins at 11:45, with the presentation beginning at 12:30. Expect to spend about $25, not including drinks. Click here for more info and to register, or call the club at (415) 563-6363.
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The Luci we’re referring to is an unusual 10-bulb LED solar-powered camp/boat light. What’s unusual is that the LEDs are inside a four-inch diameter cylindrical, inflatable, waterproof plastic housing.
When not in use, the lights are only about a half-inch tall. When inflated, they are about five inches tall, and thus cast a nice light on a dining table. Lucis also have ‘handles’ on the top and bottom, which means they can be hung. A great way to hang them is by using Gear Ties, which are reusable rubber twist ties that come 12 to a pack, ranging in length from three to 24 inches.
After we’d left the Luci lights in the sun all day, ours remained illuminated all night in Profligate’s cockpit. We had them on the low setting. There are also settings for high and blinking. The two we had in blinking mode didn’t make it through the night, although we’re not sure they’d gotten a full charge during the day.
We got the Luci lights from Amazon for about $15 each. Ours are white, but they come in different colors. We got the Gear Ties at Home Depot. They were cheap.
We know there are all kinds of innovations in LED lighting. Do you know of any great LED products for boats that we should know about? Shoot us an email.