>Jessica Watson and Abby Sunderland, the tortoise and the hare. Pandora launches soon, promise!

>I neglected to mention that Jessica Watson’s blog has been moved to her site and away from Blogger.  All of her postings have been moved as well. Her site also shows a nice graphic of where she is (now crossing the Indian Ocean and about 1,500km from Australia.  To fully appreciate the graphics you need to have Google Earth on your computer.  Check it out as it’s a great program.  She’s not that close to home yet as she has to go around to the other side of the continent before she is back home. However she continues to make progress and the weather remains a big part of her life and recently, very interesting, I would say.  Her most recent post today makes the conditions sound really rough with seas over 20′ tall.  The progress that she has made, in spite of all that she has faced, speaks to the wonderful boat she has, , n older sea kindly design that is easy on her and tough as nails.

It’s a very interesting contrast to see how Abby Sunderland, who’s make the trip from California on a very different boat, an Open 40, is doing.  This is a state of the art yacht design that’s a lot faster and very high tech.  However, the biggest problem that she has, in my opinion, is that her reliance on electronic gear is total.  Jessica’s steering is a low tech wind vane, a very tough piece of equipment that is not likely to give up the ghost.  Jessica’s most recent post states that the wind vane on her steering system broke and was very simple for her to bolt on a new one in a few minutes.  On the other hand, Abby’s electronic pilot broke down the other day and she ended up hand steering the boat all night while being drenched by near freezing water until she was able to fix it the next morning when she called her shore side team for advice.

The ability to steer a boat and get some rest is very fundamental to a successful voyage and you have to wonder if it’s possible for someone as young as Abby to have a successful voyage in a boat that is so technology dependent.   It makes me wonder if this will end up being a “tortoise and the hare”.  Time will tell.

Interestingly, with all the talk about the “youngest around” both Guinness and the World Speed Council have dropped their “youngest” records.   This isn’t surprising given all the talk about who’s too young to sail a boat on their own long distances.

Closer to home, Pandora was nearly ready to launch as planned yesterday but I decided to leave her in the marina for a few more weeks to finish up on some last minute rigging and electronics details.  A year ago, when I was checking out all the systems, I discovered that the Raymarine plotter/radar wasn’t working properly.  It turned on but the system wouldn’t recognize the charts so the screen didn’t have any detail on it.  Getting this fixed was a real pain and required getting the unit off of the boat and back to the factory for repair.  The folks at Raymarine told me that the problem was a rare one and fixed it.   Now, a year later, same problem.  This “rare” problem is not so rare it seems.

This is really very aggravating as I had to scramble, get a special tool, remove the unit AGAIN and now I have to send it back to the factory for repair, AGAIN.

I mention this as one example of what tech can do if it doesn’t work as advertised.  I love all of the new equipment but Jessica Watson’s experiences are a good example of why some systems have to be low tech to be safe.   Pandora has an electronic autopilot and I have to wonder what would happen if we suffered a breakdown on a long trip.

Our next visit to Annapolis, and the real start to the sailing season, won’t happen till the end of the month.  I can’t wait.

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