Making the Video
September 3, 2013


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It is the day after Labor Day. I am still smarting from the blow of not sailing on Labor Day. Part of the disappointment was that I'd been playing with taking videos with my little waterproof camera. I'd managed to take a nice video of cycling on the river trails at the Point and successfully uploaded it to YouTube.

(Or here.) I wanted to try making a video of sailing. I'd even bought a mounting clamp just for that purpose.

Today, the conditions for sailing are even better than yesterday, Labor Day. Flows on all the rivers are still much higher than normal. But they are staying at levels I can beat. The Ohio is just over the 20,000 cubic feet per second that I've decided is my maximum.

Here is the plot for the Ohio:

Ohio flow

The Allegheny flow was down to around 10,000 cubic feet pers second (plot) and the Mon was around 7,000 cubic feet per second (plot). The Yough was down to a trickle. (plot) These flows are still high, but they will permit sailing, if there is wind.

That is the better news. There is wind. Northwesterly winds of 9-10 mph are forecast for the mid afternoon. That is perfect. It will blow straight up the Ohio river towards the Point, letting me sail there on a run. The temperatures are around 70F. That is comfortable and a relief after the heat of yesterday.

Here were the forecasts, as I found them early in the afternoon.

forecast nws


As I watched these forecasts and conditions stabilize, I knew I had to sail today. It was a busy day at the office. By 2:30 pm, I had managed to get enough done and was heading for the door and home. By 3:15pm, I had my sailing bag packed and was wheeling my bicycle out the door onto the streets downtown.

The ride over to the marina, past the Point, was much quieter than the day before. The Labor Day crowds were gone. However, I found gentle, roughly Westerly winds on the Allegheny and even stronger winds blowing upstream on the Ohio.

By 4:10pm, after a hasty rigging, I had the boat in the water and the camera mounted. I clamped it firmly to the rudder so that it had a nice view over the deck. It also meant, however, that the camera would turn every time I turned the rudder. I wasn't really sure how that would turn out. The little Hobie offers few places to clamp a camera. This one seemed the best.

I was ready to cast off and put into the river, when I noticed it was covered with whitecaps. They need more than winds of 9-10 mph. They start to form at 15 mph, which is a little more wind than I like. I delayed a few minutes in case it was a temporary gust. When the water and waves had settled a little, I put into the water at 4:15 pm.

Because the winds are strong, I reefed the sail, That is, I did not unroll it fully. With strong winds behind me, a full sail can be hard to manage. (For experts, my version of the Bravo has no boom, so there's nothing to stop the sail fold back on itself.) Off I went on a good run to the Point.

The camera can take roughly 20 minutes at a time. So I had to beach briefly to reset it. That was something I did roughly every 20 minutes of this sail. I used those moments to try different settings, "WVGA" and "VGA", pointing the camera slightly differently and relocating it on the boat.

It proved to be a great day sailing and a perfect day to make a video. There was lots of good wind, and some quieter sailing up the Allegheny, and then a fast bumpy ride home. Then I sailed straight into freshening winds that were blowing past 15 mph and raising a small chop.

Here are the weather records. They show winds stronger than forecast during the time of the sail:

actual weather

weather actual NWS

By 6:20 pm, weary from the work, I docked and began the familiar exercise of unrigging the boat. Once I was home, I downloaded the GPS tracks. They also told a story of a great day sailing.

street track
click for larger

satellite track
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speed track
click for larger

I was eager to look at the videos I'd taken. Will they capture the feeling of sailing these waters in a way that words and photos cannot? The answer is in the next report.

John D. Norton