Monday, January 21, 2013

Update and SPOT

We took out Saturday at the Rt. 50 bridge near Titusville.  I took a couple days R&R with Jean and did laundry.  Another task was to streamline what I was carrying to lighten Ibi's load.  Gus was headed home to watch football playoffs.  Other issues were at play that develop naturally over a few days of paddling, and the winds were against us and promised to stay that way for awhile.  We were at a good place for a shuttle, so I was the one that pulled the pin.  I was going back tomorrow, but the wind is still gusting to 25 mph on the nose, so I'm out for one more lay day.

Maryellen asked about SPOT.  I don't know the exact issue she is raising, so a little tutorial is in order.  To access the SPOT share page for Ibi, go to the right margin of the blog under "Favorite Links" and click "Follow Ibi's SPOT Track."  This will pull up the spot page.  The plot map is on the right side of the screen, and the reported positions and times are on the left side.  The first thing to do is go to the 'satellite' button on the top right of the map and click it to switch from map to Google Earth.  This will give a more realistic representation of the area.  Once the SPOT is turned on, a position will be reported about every ten minutes.  It will record up to a maximum of 50 positions, and these will fall off or expire after seven days.

The flags will appear as a jumbled blob, so the second thing to do is zoom in until the flags are enlarged and separated enough to view them individually.  The icon flags with footprints are the tracking positions.  The one with something like a fan is the last position given for the day, is a 'check-in' position, and is used to show that Ibi is in safely for the day.  The check-in icon can be clicked on, and it will give the exact position of the end of the day in latitude and longitude to with an accuracy of about 30 feet.  By zooming in and out with the + and - signs, I've been able to see the picnic table the SPOT was sitting on when the message was transmitted.  You can also pass the cursor over the recorded received positions, and that will cause the corresponding icon flag to flash so you can relate the received message to the corresponding exact position at the time shown.  You can navigate about on the map by either using the four arrows on the left side of the map, or clicking and dragging the map to the area you desire.

Note that the track seems to cross land and leap tall buildings in a single bound.  The track joins each recorded position, but has no way of showing where Ibi has been in the intervening ten minutes.  You have to kind of follow the course of the channel between.

There are a number of advantages of SPOT.  For example, if you want to make a similar trip, you can record the person's nightly check-in positions.  When you make your own trip, you will already have points for camping locations that served a previous paddler.  Be aware that things look different from space.  For this trip, areas that appeared like neatly mowed grass were in fact twelve-foot high inpenetrable marsh grass.  Areas that appear like nicely shoaling beaches may indeed be nearly vertical cliffs.  While it's a fantastic tool, what you see has to be taken with caution. 

Then, if you get into trouble, like a medical issue, it's invaluable to be able to send rescue personnel directly to your exact location, cutting recovery time from days to hours.  This precision, however, is a double-edged sword.  There are times you want your position known, and times when you don't.  If you are paddling alone, you may want to send a check-in a couple hundred yards away from where you are actually camping.  I've had people following my SPOT walk right up to my tent out of nowhere, enabling me the chance to meet great folks.  If you are in an area where security and personal safety is an issue, you may not want people having that kind of access. 

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