Tag Archives: Blue Duck

Oracle Rubber Duck Says: Winter of Our Discontent is Over!

It’s March! What’s so awesome about March Rubber Duck? It’s followed by April! And April is when we start making “Seasonal Openings 2015!” From Top Dog usually the last day of March to The Rudder right around Tax Day with Lobsta Land, Capt Carlos, Dairy Train, sprinkled in between. What tastes like spring more than a Fish and Cheese sandwich at The Cupboard? And the snow will melt soon! Look at WeatherSpark for next week:

This next week spends most of the time above that nasty freezing line.

This next week spends most of the time above that nasty freezing line.

So here is my lineup starting today for things to do to get you in the mood.
Friday March 6: Stones Pub for a Blue Duck Spring Burger. (Blue Cheese Portabella mushrooms, bacon, hold the sprouts between your knees.
Saturday March 7: Wash the car at Maplewood Carwash. It’s not for the car, it’s for you. You will feel better! Drive home slowly. Do not splash.
Saturday March 7: There is something else big today, what is it?
Sunday March 8: Spring Forward! That’s right, drive home from work and the sun is still shining!
Monday March 9: Big Apple announcement. Buy a watch? A retina MacBook Air?
Tuesday March 10: If you are going to grow tomatoes from seeds, sow them now!
Wed March 11: Run around in shorts! It’s 44 degrees out! After this winter that will feel like 85!

Thurs March 12: Have you ever seen Uranus? I have never seen Uranus! But you can this week. As Mars and Venus set in the evening if you scope them out with binoculars they will be very easy to find. Venus is wicked bright. Very close by will be an unblinking tiny blue dot. That is Uranus! Now you can say Rubber Duck showed you Uranus!

Saturday March 14: Pi Day! Biggest Pi Day ever because it is 2015 which means 3/14/15 9:26AM and 53 seconds all nerds head’s will explode with nerdiness!
Sunday March 15: Ides of March: Greg Bover posts an awesome quote from Caesar or Brutus et tu?
Tuesday March 17: Saint Patrick’s Day! Plant your peas! Still two feet of snow in your garden? Start digging. You have to plant them on Saint Patty’s Day or the world will end.
Wednesday March 18: EJ and Brenda Malloy and Jeff Amero and everyone else who has been rubbing it in on Facebook that they are in Florida will be dragging their sun tanned butts back to Cape Ann!
Tuesday March 31: Get your boat in the water by today and you win a prize!

Friday, March 20: at 6:45 PM EDT First Day of Spring, Equinox, equal day, equal night!

Wednesday April 1: Seasonal Openings really get underway. You can make it. Meet me at the Rudder or The Studio, who is going to open first?

Then this happens Sunday April 5th

Then this happens Sunday April 5th

Rubber Duck Tech Tip: RD wants the iPhone 6Plus


Apple iPhone 5s. High noon light, rocking platform. Shot was “normal”, not HD.

Shot this Saturday waiting for the Cut Bridge to go up (high tide) after Mug Up trying to get a duck and the Birdseye Plant being taken apart in the background (They are working Saturdays.)

Non-descript photo, a snapshot, no real subject, point and shoot. But considering the conditions, it captures some detail. There was a lot of light but the boat was rocking. So the iPhone 5s shuts the aperture down to get a long depth of field but it should be muddy in the resolution and indeed it is a bit. We zoom in:


The rod holder probably got the center of the depth of field but because the aperture is shut down to a F22 pinhole (guessing) the focus stretches from the duck butt to the paint factory. The software digital stabilization gives the Birdseye Plant some muddy painterly effects (the shot is right out of camera unprocessed) but still shows some detail of the demolition of frozen food history.

So what does this have to do with the new Apple iPhone 6Plus? The 6 Plus is going to make this shot better. The six Plus has optical image stabilization. (The iPhone 6 does not, it sticks with software fake focusing.) What is the difference? A lot. When I snap that photo two weeks from now there will be micromotors moving the lens around to lock on the Birdseye Plant while the lens is open. So if you are shooting from a rocking boat it still comes out clean.

But wait, there’s more. Something called pixel focus. Remember when you had that five pound Nikon DSLR and you manually focused the lens and you tried to get that little split image in the center to line up? 20 years ago but they looked like pixels which suddenly cleared when you focused on your subject? That (sort of) is pixel focus. There will be designated pixels across the field that need to match up, and when they do the lens is focused on that subject. When you tap the screen with your finger to light balance on the birdseye plant you are also selecting it as your primary focus (thank you Adam Bolonsky for pointing that out). Pixels in the birdseye plant will be used to “pixel focus”.

But you don’t need to know any of this. What it means is that iPhone 6Plus shots will be cleaner, sharper right out of the camera so you can fill your Facebook feed with more selfies than ever. The focus will be on your subject the entire time in a movie so your cat gifs you upload on #Caturday in G+ will be even more sickeningly cute.

The take home message: Tech marches on led by Apple. That used to be cool point and shoot digital camera you have covered with dust in the drawer next to your film cameras? Get ready for some company. High end point and shoots are history and this phone is going to start nibbling into the professional camera category. OK, you filmsters who said nothing will kill film quiet down. The three to seven thousand dollar DSLRs have plenty of life left. But everything underneath those price points I would worry if I was making a living selling them. People want to take snaps. More snaps on iPhones this year than all photos combined. Compact cameras will go the way of compact video will go the way of the Dodo bird. Because you use what you have. Since you have to have a phone in your pocket to check facebook and text you are going to shoot with your smart phone. Everything else is a slide ruler. Neat to own, but gathering dust in that drawer.

When and what to buy: The new Apple phones are the 6 and the 6Plus. I just described a few advantages of the six Plus. The six Plus also has 37% more screen, more pixels, and also better battery life than the 6. But I am still going to wait until next Friday, September 19 so I can touch them before deciding in the Boylston Street Apple Store. Everything points to the six Plus. For a hundred bucks more you get a ton more features. The battery and the camera are the deal maker. The downside is that the thing is an air craft carrier, a cross between a phone and a tablet. A “Phablet”. An awful portmanteau. I don’t want a phablet in my front pocket. “Is that a phablet in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” Bend over and start singing falsetto. But I will likely go big. I was poking fun at Toby’s Androidy Phablet just a few weeks ago. (Can you land jet planes on that?) I will live through his eyebrows raising when I pull out my Fabulous Phablet. Or my Fab Fablet out of my Euro man purse.

if you read this far …

Disclosure: I have been an Apple fan, Apple Fan Boy, member of the Apple Sheeple flock, ever since I used a Macintosh 512 to make graphs in a paper published in 1985. I find Apple is like real Science, it just works and makes my life simpler. I am biased towards simpler. Sue me.

Unnecessary detail: the Info on the shot says F2.2 ISO 40. So instead of shutting the aperture down the camera digitally selects “slower” film to capture more detail. I’m not going back to change the verbiage just to make film school graduates happy who want to argue about the size of silver halide crystals.


Blue Duck on the War Path!

Rubber Duck's larger half sister had just finished reading "Lonesome Dove" when she found out her baby sister had been kidnapped. She really thinks now that she is that Blue Duck. The meanest half breed this side of the Pecos who would fillet you if you looked at her funny.

Rubber Duck’s larger half sister had just finished reading “Lonesome Dove” when she found out her baby sister had been kidnapped. She really thinks that she is now that Blue Duck. The meanest half breed this side of the Pecos who would fillet you if you looked at her funny.

Rubber Duck Tech Tip: Lowrance Elite 7 HDI

Rubber Duck loves her gadgets and she wanted to know what was underneath her rubber butt. Rocks or maybe something fishy worth eating? So she just installed a Lowrance Elite 7 HDI in the Blue Duck.


Driving SSW down the Annisquam River past Wheeler Point. Water Depth 23 feet, Water Temp 45.3F, speed 5.1 knots.

Price point in the mid range for a depth gauge, fish finder, Chart and GPS display. In 2014 it is amazing what these things can do for short money. Double the price and you can get side scan which will show inside the wheel house of the sunken wreck in 200 feet of water. Maybe in a few years we trade up.

So what does this unit do? In the display from left to right. First the overlay numbers gives 23 feet of water under the boat, the river is 45.3 F temp at the transducer mounted on the transom, and Blue Duck is putting along at 5.1 knots. The left most screen shows the track moving south past Wheeler Point. I haven’t loaded the Navionics “Gold” charts which will will give even higher chart resolution. The base map is pretty good though. All 53 green and red channel markers on the river are there if I forget how to stay in a channel. The middle screen is the “Fish Finder” sonar which in deeper water might show some fish “arches” when it sees an air bladder of a fish. The rightmost panel shows “Down Scan” sonar which displays a pretty remarkable view of the bottom. In the current view there is a bump in the bottom as we travelled from 20 to 25 feet deep. One can waypoint mark that bump by just moving the cursor back to the bump. Then by driving back and forth the bump is still there! It will be interesting to see how it displays a feature in 200 feet of water.

All in all a nice unit. It is dead simple to switch screens to all chart, or split two of the views. Disconnects easily for safe keeping. I spent the winter looking at the myriad possibilities and settled on this one for ease of use and features. This model has been out over a year so the bugs are all squashed and the software is version 3.0 (I hate version 1.00 in any software.) The real compass on the console still works and the paper charts are within reach but I might be able to retire the sextant and throw away the Loran C charts. (Do they even broadcast Loran anymore?)

-Paul Morrison and RD (RD will hire out to string transducer wire. She thought it was fun.)

Rubber Duck Says: Cape Ann Needs Another Boat.

Someone is twisting Rubber Duck’s little rubber wing to post a story about bringing her boat up from Woods Hole to Gloucester.

Woods Hole Yacht Club

Woods Hole Yacht Club. Flares, horn, fire extinguisher, PFDs, VHF radio, Sudafed, check check check.


Up Buzzard’s Bay to the Cape Cod Canal, Wind 7 knots from the west. Familiar territory.


Cape Cod Canal Railroad bridge. Still a train a week. Last time through the canal was 1972. Looks bigger. That bridge is way the hell up there.


Bourne or the Sagamore Bridge, always mix them up. FYI: if you have a head cold and you just took a football sized antihistamine cocktail do not look up at an eighteen wheeler crossing the bridge as your boat squirrels around in the current.


The wind freshened from the WSW to 25 knots so too wet to take photos of Plymouth, Duxbury, Scituate, Cohasset, the Graves lighthouse. From the Graves, aimed at the Salem powerplant stack then picked up the windmills of Gloucester.

Arrived 11:30 AM, 93 miles, four hour trip. Take home: This is an easy trip if you can pick your day. It’s all about the wind. Having VHF and a paid up SeaTow membership (the triple A of the water) helped too. The boat is faded blue. Rubber Duck is christening it “Blue Duck”.

“Blue Duck request opening Blynman Bridge.” Went out for a spin on Saturday up the Annisquam then over to Rockport and Straitsmouth Island. Flat calm tried out the 225HP Suzuki topped out at 30.9 knots, 35 mph. Dialed back to 22 knots, a nice cruising speed.

Photo of Navionics Track