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Inverkip 21st August
21st August, 2005
It was a nice morning, high clouds and a light westerly, and the harbour at Rothesay was so comfortable in the gentle sunlight. So not a lot got done this morning.
We got up late, having spent a little too long in the Black Bull the night before. We dawdled over breakfast which seems to have become a bit of a habit which we will have to get out of when life is once again ruled by the tides. We made some phone calls and confirmed that there is now a usable canal link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, that the cost will be £50.00 including lifting the mast out at this end and that we could be accommodated within the next few days. Then it was lunchtime.
Before we knew it 3.00o'clock was approaching and we still hadn't left. We had made the decision to go to Lochgoilhead which, surprisingly, can be found at the head of Loch Goil! It looked beautiful in the almanac and would be sheltered, we hope, from any direction. So off we went.
Having been in port for a couple of days, we decided to motor sail for an hour or so to bring batteries up to power. We finally stopped engine just before 4.00 by which time the mist was closing in and rain which had been a minor annoyance, was becoming a major irritation. Before long the wind was up, requiring a reef, and rain was sheeting down. The Inverkip chimney disappeared from sight and it all became a bit miserable.
It must have been about then that I reported to Clive that we were more or less on course for Inverkip Marina, less than a mile away. Clive was already thinking that Lochgoilhead, at more than fifteen miles away, seemed a long way to go in the rain to sit at anchor looking through the pouring rain at a grey mist which would probably look very similar to the grey mist we were looking at through the pouring rain already. Clive said 'We're going to Inverkip.' I didn't even think of disagreeing.
We had to tack away from the shore to miss the power station pier. A motor cruiser was coming downriver fast and we were on a collision course. I assumed he would turn a few degrees to port and go behind us but he kept going, and very fast too. In the end we tacked back to avoid him and, as he passed, we read 'Pilot' emblazoned on his side. We don't think that we like Clyde Pilots!
We contacted Inverkip and were allocated a berth. Once inside the marina it was obvious that the berth was already occupied so we chose the next vacant one along. It was so good to get out of wet oilies.
Then I got down to bringing the web log up to date. I was three days behind, with text to write and photographs to edit and paste. And then there's the painful process of connecting through GPRS, a service which, to say the least, is less than reliable and certainly doesn't like long messages.
I have often been asked, well sometimes asked, someone once asked me in passing, 'What tools are you using to generate this 'rubbish'?'
The central tool is an Apple Powerbook G4 running Mac OS X version 10.3.9. It has 512 Mb of memory and a 1.5 GHz processor. Any laptop would do, but I have always wanted to own an Apple and see the difference. Certainly the case and accessories are tougher than most laptops I have used. And the software, once it becomes familiar, is probably a little more intuitive than Windows. An Apple is so expensive though, and I am not sure it is worth the premium. But I do like mine and I may well have become an AppleMac convert.
I use two cameras both from Fujifilm. I bought them both from Pixmania at a pretty fair discount on the recommended retail price. Extra memory cards were bought from www.mymemory.co.uk
The first camera is a Finepix S5000 with 128 Mb memory card. This camera has a x10 optical zoom coupled with a x2.2 digital zoom giving a combined magnification of x22. This camera is set at maximum resolution of 6mpx so that small parts of the shot can cropped out and adjusted whilst maintaining sufficient quality. This camera is robust and fairly light on battery usage. I have three spare memory cards but haven't used them yet as I download pictures to the laptop every two or three days.
I generally use rechargeable AA batteries in this camera, keeping a spare set ready in case they fail at a critical moment. Of course I forgot to take them to the Rothesay Games and had both cameras die at the same time, necessitating a trek back to the boat.
The second camera is a pocket-sized Finepix F401 with 128 Mb memory card. This is the camera which is usually with me when I go to the pub. Sadly I forgot to take it when we visited the yacht club at Lowestoft so I never did get a shot of the wonderful cistern in the gents.
This camera has a x3 optical zoom. This camera is also set at maximum resolution of 4mpx for the ability to use small parts of the image without losing quality. This camera is no longer available, having been superceded, I believe, by the F410.
This camera battery is recharged in the camera and I don't have a spare battery. I also don't have a 12 volt charger but we do have an inverter wired into the boat so the mains charger has worked fine.
Text editing is done using Word X for Mac. The differences between Word for Mac and standard Word are insignificant. Word for Mac also crashes out unexpectedly for no apparent reason but the main difference is that one rarely has to reboot and one rarely loses information in the process.
Photographs are loaded from camera using standard Apple iPhoto 5 version 5.0.3. They are then adjusted for skew, size, crop, light, etc. using Adobe Photoshop elements 3.0.
The wit, words and wisdom are all mine, except for those I have misappropriated, borrowed, paraphrased or otherwise plagiarised.
Connection to the internet is usually through the GPRS service provided by Orange. The PC is connected to the mobile phone using a BlueTooth connection, which seems to work most of the time.
GPRS is the weak link in the process. Everything else seems to work ok but the internet connection frequently requires three or four attempts and often drops out after a few seconds. What is really annoying is the message 'The modem has unexpectedly hungup. Please verify your settings and try again.' I am planning to change the message to read 'The modem has hung up again as you knew it would. Isn't GPRS crap?'.
As these web pages are often a megabyte or more before Dave Williamson has done his magic with them, getting the pages to Dave can take as long as the composition. I have therefore taken to chopping them into pieces, about 400kb each. This way the link stands a better chance of staying up and if it does drop out, there is less to retransmit.
But basically you can take my word that GPRS is not a robust and mature service as yet and I don't actually expect it ever will be. It will be superceded by something much faster but probably equally as fragile before it ever gets to a workable state of robustness.
If anybody wants to know what's happening at the website end, drop us a note and we'll get Dave Williamson to tell us.