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FEBRUARY 27, 2020, MUSINGS

CORONA VIRUS… HYPE?

I don’t know about you all, but I was starting to get overwhelmed and worried by all the news about the Corona Virus. Granted, we do not know the real extend of what is happening on the ground in China because the government there is so secretive and controlling, but the media here are bombarding us with scary news of new cases popping up all over the world, like Iran and Italy.

Are Corona Virus and Gravity are infecting the Tower of Pisa? Let’s not give the Media any ideas.

Obviously, I am not planning to go visit Tehran any time soon but my 2020 plans do include Tuscany among many other tourist destinations and, if you listen to the news, you get the depressing impression that a devastating black plague equivalent is descending on poor Italy.

So, I was kind of agreeably relieved to find this interview of TV personality, Dr. Drew, who took the media hype heads-on. It made a lot of sense if you put things in perspective. Yes, from a media point of view, the Corona Virus (with ZERO deaths to this date in the United States) is way more sexy than reporting on the current flu epidemic in this country that has already killed 16,000 people this season.

I do not trust the numbers from China but South Korea’s numbers should be realistic. They show 1,766 reported cases with 13 deaths. These casualties are mainly patients with poor immunity.

I contacted some of our charter partners overseas and asked them for their opinion and none of them are really worrying a lot. The Veneto region in Italy, which counts over 5 million people had 70 people infected. That is less than 0,0014% of the population. This link https://www.agi.it/fact-checking/news/2020-02-20/coronavirus-influenza-stagionale-7136419/ shows the statistics of the winter fever in Italy in the last years. Every winter between 5M to 8M of people get sick and around 400 die, mainly exposed children under 5 years-old and people over 70. These numbers are in line with EU statistics.

Therefore, when looking at the situation from that angle, I do not intend to change my overseas travel plans for the time being. I will get my usual travel insurance to cover any eventualities but that is about it.

As Dr. Drew said, the media should shut up and not overblow the situation for ratings purposes. Anyone remembers the Washington Apples Alar scare of 1989 and the unnecessary immense damage that was caused to the growers by the hype from the media and their need for sensationalism?

Just my two cents…

NO MORE NOAA PAPER CHARTS?

(Photo: Getty Images/Saxifrag)

There has been a lot of news popping up on the subject of NOAA’s decision to no longer publish printed navigation charts.

I received this morning this article from BOAT US and thought it would be useful to share it with my sailing friends.

You can also find more information on this subject directly on the NOAA website. It explains in great details what you can expect during the paper chart sunset period ending in 2025.

The nice thing about the new print-on-demand and ENC charts is that they will be up-to-date. That could have avoided me running aground last year when entering Big Sarasota Pass. Where 8′ of water was shown on the chart, my keel hit bottom in 4′ of water. Very embarrassing… When we finally got off and got into the channel, I notice that green marker 11 was actually on dry land.

Talking about paper charts, I am probably just as guilty as many of you to rely too much on the electronics on a yacht rather than on paper charts. But what happens when the electronics go down? When coastal cruising, do you still practice triangulating your position using fixed points? Do you even still know how to do it? Do you still practice D.R. using navigation charts?

Granted, when chartering in the Med, I use electronics more than paper charts because, a lot of times, either some charts are missing or they are in such awful shape that they have become useless. Thank Goodness for the Navionics and Navily apps on my cell phone…

Happy Sailing!

Capt. Jean De Keyser

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