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Bella Donna (9) - April 20, 2007



I don't know this boat or the people, but this scene is typical today; iPad did not exist. (I forgot to take photographs)

The day starts early. I am up at 3 AM with munchies; my blood sugar is low. The light is on in the salon. Deborah is at her computer. She was wide awake; her body was so used to her 3 AM watch the wakeup call was automatic. We chat for a few moments while I munch on prunes and miniature sugar-coated chocolate kisses, each about the size of a pencil eraser.


Returning to my cabin, I now can not sleep. Is there caffeine in chocolate? I update my family website to show pictures from the passage between BVI and Panama. As the photographs start uploading, I get sleepy and pass out. I awake to a dark cabin and wonder what time it is. Oh, it's 8 AM! I must be the last up, but as I get to the salon, only Don is at the salon table on his computer. I smell coffee; it is still perking; Don just put it on. A look

outside; the decks and salon windows are wet. It rained last night, but the sky is now blue awaiting the ball of fire to arrive and rise above us. It turns out that everyone slept in late because we could. Everyone worked on computers or read. We have a leisurely breakfast, "mad dog eggs."


The official Panama Canal "measurer" showed up around 11 AM to "measure" us. He was a charming man educated at UNLV, the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He was excited to meet the prominent boat owner, a rare thing, he says. He was very familiar with the computer system I designed as a consultant to Boeing in 1974. Under a Federal Gov contract, my employer Computer Science Corporation did a requirements-level design that took eight years, resulting in a 4-foot thick requirements document for a Marine Traffic Control system to automate the Panama Canal. (If anyone is interested, I have quite a story about this project, but that would require another story) Surprisingly, they only replaced the system during the millennium 2000. The method I designed in 1974 was to run on a 16-bit microcomputer. Thus the critic date-time data was limited to a period that ended in 2000. Remember all the systems we worried would catastrophically fail on January 1, 2000, the MILLENNIUM PROBLEM? This was one of those. I warned Boeing of the problem in 1974, and they did not comment; they thought the system would be replaced sooner. About 1990, they started to rewrite my design on 64-bit technology, spending much more money. Our "measurer" said many felt the new system was less capable. What if? No, I was too busy with the startup, OSI.


It turns out that his job required getting answers to a lot more questions than the length, width, and draft of Bella Donna. Where did you come from? Where were you three months ago? Where are you going? And where are you going after that? Where is the boat based? We responded to the world. Do you have a horn on board? He wants to see it. John pulls out the little arousal can with a horn resembling a toy. He wants to hear it. John points

it out the salon door, and the horn makes a HUGE sound. Good, says the "measurer," you can not transit the canal without a horn. What is the horn for? We are not sure. After what seemed like hundreds of questions, he finished his job. Now he will submit the answers to

the scheduler, who will let us know when we are going to transit. Oh, he did measure Bella Donna, which is 73.16 feet long (LOL, Length Overall) and 37.87 feet wide (beam).



God Bless Bella Donna




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