Altered Reality

Camera phones are impressive machines. I came to the realization that my smart phone is the “do it all gadget” from older sci-fi movies. It has a flashlight, location information, maps, camera, voice recorder, video recorder, encyclopedia, and it can make phone calls too! 

The panoramic feature is fun to play with. It will compile a series of photographs into one long and wide photograph. Much like a multiple exposure photograph from the days of film cameras, the digital camera in the phone will stitch together multiple photos to create a panoramic image. But what if the image changes while the panoramic image is being taken? 

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It gives a pretty cool effect! Maddie started taking the panoramic image with me standing on the left, and as she panned right, I moved along for the show. It gives a pretty cool rendering of the future that we once invisioned we would be living. We don’t have flying cars or immortality, but we do have Batman’s utility belt in the palm of our hands.

Twin Lakes

These two lakes are actually the remnants of two volcanic craters that were responsible for forming this part of the island a few million years ago. The lake on the right is actually used as the water reservoir for the entire island.  

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During the rainy season, the lake will fill up and carry the entire water needs of the whole island through the dry season, when little rain falls to replenish the supply.  

These two lakes are considered a prime hiking destination, and listed on travel sites as a priority to see when visiting Flores. Then they go on to say that the only way to access the two lakes is via a 7km hike (one way, then you have to turn around and walk home)! I had heard that one of the lakes was a water reservoir, and knew there was no way that a government worker was going to hike 14 kilometers just to check on the lake. There had to be a road somewhere! 

So, we looked at the map and found that the lakes are located right next to a major highway on the island (which is a two way street with a dashed line down the middle of it) and that there was a small “service road” that forked off of the highway and led straight to the lakes. 

We went for a little drive and figured that we would at least be a lot closer to the lakes if we drove than if we started from miles away!  

Well, the service road ends in a parking lot that has some steps next to it. Maddie and I walked up the steps, maybe 100 meters, and this was the view! We could not believe that the trail ends at a parking lot, so we went exploring a little.

We found where the trail ends and began hiking it a little to see where the trail would go, and what the trail looked like. We snaked our way through a field and along the edge of the lake on the right, only to come out to the highway. Yes, the trail flanks the highway and at many points the trail “is” the highway. 

By driving to the lakes and skipping the 3 hour hike (one way), we were able to visit many more beautiful attractions and sights that this island has to offer. We did hike a little that day, but no where near the 14 kilometers that would have been required to get to these lakes, only to see a parking lot right next to the view we had worked so hard to see. 

Dry Crater

Most of the islands in the Azores were formed as a result of volcanic activity. Most all the volcanoes have gone dormant since then, but their impact on the topography can not be ignored. 

This crater, known as the Dry Crater, is massive! The sides of this creation look like cliffs, and the bottom of it is flat as a pancake. What was once a fiery pit of inferno has now become a lush hole in the ground. 

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While this is called the “Dry” Crater, we did notice a lake that formed in the right side of it, though this was right after a massive downpour the day before.

Red Right Returning

The old phrase to help you remember how to work with buoy navigation lights doesn’t always work! 

The concept is simple, red buoys on your right as you return to port, Red Right Returning

The problem is, not all countries work this way, and the opposite setup can also be found.  

Portugal is one such country we have found to use the opposite method. Here, the idea is that the lights to aid navigation are to match your own running lights as you return to port. So your starboard light which is green will match up to the green light on your starboard. Red light on your port. 

It pays to look at the charts before you get into new waters so that you don’t get confused and run aground, misled by the very lights that were intended to keep you safe.  

If you are cruising only in the United States, enjoy the mnemonic of Red Right Returning to keep your aids to navigation in order! 

Judging Water Depth from a Distance

Land is something we search for when out at sea, but also something that can destroy our yachts if we bump into it. How close can you get to land? 

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An easy way to think of land is to ignore the water you see. Now, you will be looking at topography without the water obscuring your view. The land you see is actually just taller points of the ocean floor that managed to perforate the surface of the water. 

Since the water is out of the picture, simply visualize the land extending off into the distance. You know how deep the water you are floating in is, so you know how far down the island needs to reach to make it all the way to the oceans floor. If the edge of the land comes in steep, then it is safe to interpret that the topography will continue on its steep path all the way down into the water. If the land comes in nice and gradually, then you can assume that it will also continue to proceed at a slight slope under the water.  

Steep land means that it will probably be very deep right up to the waters edge, while slow and gradual land will be shallow far from shore.  

With these ideas in mind, you can figure out how safest to navigate around land masses. Steep cliffs will be deep but the landmass can destroy your hull, while gradual shores will be shallow (and provide a bottom that your anchor could possibly reach).