News from the Helm: February 2020

Saildrone

“You knew it was coming…” is the message Good Old Boat contributing editor Allen Penticoff sent me with a link to saildrone.com. Maybe we should have, seems to be the era of the drone, from robot vacuum cleaners to unmanned aerial warfare. Apparently, a Bay Area tech company is endeavoring to launch fleets of autonomous sea-going drones such as the one pictured above, onto the oceans of the world to collect empirical data in the service of science, specifically meteorologists and oceanographers. This data could be a boon to our ability to forecast weather with better precision, according to scientists.

We think it’s great, but these aren’t little toys, they’re significant craft. The one pictured above is over 21 feet long and weighs about 1,500 pounds. They sail autonomously for up to a year and can hit 9 knots. Hate to have so many out there that we someday read about a collision that disables or sinks a manned craft. Though, assuming these are transmitting, or could transmit, an AIS signal, probably not a big concern.

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Nautical Trivia

This one is relatively common knowledge, but it’s not universal, so let’s spread the word…or the letters, specifically the P’s and Q’s. When we tell our kids to mind their P’s and Q’s, we’re telling them to be polite and to behave. But if the etymology is correct, we may as well be asking them to settle their bar bills. Back in the day, sailors were responsible for minding their P’s and Q’s, that is, come payday, to pay for the pints and quarts they’d ordered and consumed on credit at the local pub.

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