Saturday, December 01, 2012

Rowing and Rocket Science

As I mentioned in Harbor Learning a couple of weeks ago, I have been learning a lot since joining Whaling City Rowing this fall. I have enjoyed the exercise, the company, and the exploration of coastal geography. One of my fellow rowers just purchased an app for his iPhone that (after taking the precaution of buying a water-proof cover) he was able to use to track our progress this morning.

As we expected from the detailed forecast on US Harbors, we had a light snow this morning, and lower tempertures than we experienced on our Thursday-night row around New Bedford Harbor. We had considerably less wind, so the overall experience was less demanding. Still, we stayed close to the dock, and stayed out of the main shipping channel.

View Larger Map

The MotionX GPS software answered questions I have had in mind since beginning this hobby. We covered almost three miles, with a top speed of 3.9 miles per hour; I had had no idea what either number might be. It will be interesting to compare with more favorable conditions, when we go a bit farther and do a few drills at somewhat higher speed.

Name:Row test
Date:Dec 1, 2012 7:57 am
(valid until May 30, 2013)
View on Map
Distance:2.94 miles
Elapsed Time:1:07:25
Avg Speed:2.6 mph
Max Speed:3.9 mph
Avg Pace:22' 58" per mile
Min Altitude:0 ft
Max Altitude:0 ft
Start Time:2012-12-01T12:57:32Z
Start Location:
Latitude:41º 38' 24" N
Longitude:70º 54' 48" W
End Location:
Latitude:41º 38' 22" N
Longitude:70º 54' 48" W

The min/max altitude relfect the fact that my friend's iPhone was in his pocket, inches above the waterline. When he steers (which involves standing), he might gain a foot or two!

All of this is a perfect fusion of old and new, outdoor and indoor. The beauty of whaleboating has been getting outside in varied weather and connecting to the historic legacy of my adopted home region.  But to describe it, we are taking modern geotechnology outside with us. What we blithely describe as an "app" is really the fusion of several incredible technologies, all of which fits in a pocket because of the miniaturization predicted by Moore's Law. The technologies include cellular telephony and the internet, along with geographic information systems, satellite image processing, and global positioning systems. These last three are geotechnologies, which are partly responsible for the growing career opportunities for geographers

Two of the last three also technologies mentioned also require rockets and satellites moving at blistering speeds, all to record our hand-powered progress around a small harbor island!

Photo: Ann Hart on Topix Brockton
December 6 UPDATE: The Time and Date web site provides additional information that is useful for mariners -- even low-tech, near-shore mariners such as our whaleboat crews. Its New Bedford lunar page details the rising and setting of the moon, as well as its illumination. This gives us some idea of what to expect on our night-time rows, and of course has influence on the tides. The US Harbors New Bedford tides page indicates the timing and magnitude of tides, along with sunrise and sunset times. This is quite helpful, especially in combination with the hour-by-hour forecasts of temperature, wind, and weather in the harbor. Taken all together, I know that my rowing this evening will be cold, clear, dark, and with low water so that we have to "pick" carefully as we depart the slip area. We will have nothing like the beautiful full moon we had last week. We will have neither the fading sun nor the rising moon that was required for Ann Hart's lovely harbor image shown here.

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