A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

10.4- Slow Solos

A number of sailboats in today's annual Neuse Solo Race were "wing-and-wing" in what passed for the "down-wind" leg of the race between the Garbacon Shoal marker and the Adam's Creek marker on the Neuse River.

(Click on picture or here for full size)

Solo sailors in today's Neuse Solo Race might've wished they had someone else on board to complain to about the lack of wind during most of the race.

I overheard a number of gripes from the fleet over the VHF while I too was attempting to sail on the Neuse.

One complainant broadcast that he was cruising at all of 0.3 knots... another captain responded he wished he had that kind of speed.

A number of captains repeatedly complained about the wakes from one chase boat interfering with what little momentum their sailboats achieved.

As the race time ran down with no boats nearing the finish, an increasing stream of captains well back in the pack called in to report they were abandoning the race... no doubt interested in getting back to the Tiki-Bar for post-race festivities.

The Committee Boat let it be known that the race would be called at 5:00 pm and finishing order would be based on the boats' positions at that time. No word yet on the winners.

The boats in today's photo are headed roughly towards the camera position, and appear "hull-down"... their hulls are not visible. The boats are about 3 to 4 miles away, the camera is only about one foot above the surface of the river, and the hulls of the boats probably stick up about four or five feet above the water... so the earth's curvature can account for some of the invisibility

... The BIG factor, however, is the REFRACTION OF LIGHT, creating an INFERIOR MIRAGE (the same thing that creates apparent "water" or "oil slick" near the horizon on highways or deserts).

The refraction caused as the light travels from cooler air to warmer air near the surface causes the light to curve away from the earth. Result is that you can't see what is actually in front of you, but you can see two of what is above you... the top "right-side-up" image of the tops of the sails is light traveling directly from the sails into the camera (or eye) while the bottom "upside-down" images are caused by light from the same objects traveling in a concave curve, first down toward the earth then back up and again into the camera (or eye). The light from the lower masts, trees and sails never reaches the camera, since it is also curving down towards the earth and then away from the earth and above the camera.

Click on the full size photo and you can really see the effect of refraction on the boats on the right side of the picture... You can see where the upright sails and trees of the shoreline meet what appears to be their reflection extending upside down from the bottom. This is a common optical illusion on the water: it makes distant shorelines, boats and other objects on the surface appear closer than they actually are (contrary to side-view mirrors on cars) because the refracted image makes it appear about twice as large.

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