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Hail, high winds and Natural Navigation

Natural NavigatorI have just been on a 1:1 course with Tristan Gooley aka the Natural Navigator. This was an inspiring and highly practical introduction on how to use your senses and natural clues to navigate – with no electronics in sight. Natural navigation is the art of being able to find your way solely by using nature. It encompasses using the sun, moon, stars, weather, water, land, plants and animals.

Tristan is an accomplished and well respected navigator. He has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa and Asia, sailed across oceans and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He is the only living person to have both flown and sailed solo across the Atlantic. He has a deep and passionate interest in navigation and also the ancient practices now all but lost to the modern world. Skills shown by the Tuaregs of North Africa and the Polynesian sailors of the Pacific Islands …insights from which he wove into the walk across the rather bleak South Downs in November!

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Navigating the Ocean Floor with Google Earth...

GoogleOceanI have a lote of respect for Google – even though some may characterise them as the Evil Empire2 (you all know who EE1 are:-)

But I think they are jumping the gun a little with the claim being made with Google Earth version 5.1 that you can “You can navigate under the surface of the ocean just as you can anywhere else in Google Earth. This means that you can explore sea floor terrain, such as deep ocean trenches….”

Ahem, I dont think so.

According to the help files here … “You can hide or display the surface of the ocean. To do this, click View > Water Surface. You can view this visual effect from above or below this surface. Note that you can navigate under the ocean surface when it is displayed. ….Tip – To view exciting content related to oceans, in the Layers panel, click Ocean.”

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Will Love & War surprise the big shots again?

love 146x206On 26 December the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race race will begin. Over the past 64 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has become an icon of yacht racing. The 628 nautical mile course is often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world. But the nice thing is that it attracts professionals and amateurs alike. Some entrants are as big as 100′ this year but also some as small as 30′.

A few years back I was so impressed by the S&S classic yacht Love & War when it won the Sydney Hobart race – for the third time! Of course this shouldn’t happen – the gruelling race favours the 100 footers – five of them have entered this year. They are remarkable yachts in themsleves and I would love to be on one of them – but how much more thrilling to be on the 37′ classic S&S launched in 1973, pictured here.

This classic timber sloop is one of the oldest boats in the fleet. She is a two-time overall (1974 and 1978) and multiple divisional winner, including top placing in the 20 Year Veteran Division of the 1994 50th anniversary race. Peter Kurts, one of the oldest skippers at 79, and son Simon will campaign the magnificent Love and War.

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Candy coloured solar panels!

GreenSun Energy LTD based in Har Hotzvim, Jerusalem has developed some prototype solar panels that will significantly reduce costs and also be capable of creating energy from candy-coloured solar panels that capture different parts of the sun’s light spectrum and don’t need direct sunlight to work. Green_Sun_Solar

The jewel tones of the panels allow them to capture different parts of the sun’s light spectrum, conventional solar panels require direct sunlight to produce electricity. In contrast, the coloured panels don’t need to face the sun and can absorb dispersed light, allowing for energy collection on a cloudy day, albeit with less efficiency. The company says the coloured panels are less expensive than conventional solar panels because they require less silicon to manufacture.

So how do they work? When light hits one of the coloured panels, it is diffused to the edges, which are covered with silicon solar receptors that, in turn, produce electricity. The company says the coloured panels are more practical because they can replace everyday building surfaces, such as windows and walls, rather than requiring a full roof or field panel array to be effective.

Candy coloured solar panels! → Click here to continue reading →

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Powerfilm F15 - 60 watts

PowerFilmF15I have followed the development of portable, and affordable, solar panels with interest – even haute couture. There are good panels available from Brunton (who also have good guides to power usage); Sunware (27 watts); Sunsei (2,6 and 18Watts); and of course for small devices like mobile phones and true portability there is Power Monkey and Freeloader.

As a matter of interest I have been using Power Monkey both in the car and on the boat since 2007 without a hitch.

I see there are even more powerful – portable – offerings now on the market. Such as the PowerFilm F15 – which packs a tremendous 60watts.

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