Boating & Cruising

Photos, ramblings and the occasional bit of useful information from our voyages aboard the runabout Sunset Chaser and other small boats.

Locking through the Rideau

Not much has changed in the last 180 years or so. Not on the Rideau Canal, at least. Sure, there are shorepower ports these days, and electric lighting, and the lock staff have even started carrying short-range radios. But the lock gates are still winched open by hand, the water flow is still controlled by hand-cranked valves, and boats are still coaxed into position with rope, muscle and a bit of shouting. Even in the chaos of the August long weekend, it's a tranquil throwback to a simpler age.

Well, most of the time.

Boats of the Rideau

The August long weekend is one of the busiest times of the year on the Rideau Canal. If you're the patient type, it's a great time to go through a few locks, camp out for a few nights, and check out the local scenery, wildlife and boats, as Katy and I did this weekend. We'll start off with the boats....

World robotic sailing championship 2010

Take an eclectic fleet of experimental radio-controlled model yachts. Add a mix of engineering and computing students from around the world. Add coffee, shake, and let the engineers work for a year. Then turn the boats loose on the race course- and leave them entirely to their own devices. That is the essence of the World Robotic Sailing Championship.

Situational awareness and electronics overload

It's hard not to be impressed by the latest round of navigation electronics. This is 2010, after all, an era in which the average desktop computer has the computing power to calculate the airflow around a Space Shuttle during re-entry, and we can't tell the difference between live and CGI actors on the cinema screen. I'm not convinced, though, that all this computing power is a good thing to be throwing at navigation systems- at least, not in the ways we see in some of the current crop of nav systems.