When we lived in New Zealand, DrC and I regularly kept track of the doings in the United States. I rotated DrC through several RSS readers on his iPad before he settled on Flip as his preferred way to keep abreast of the news of the day. Every morning, he'd sync up his news feeds and then head off for the train. I received my news through my ear buds, downloading podcasts from NPR, BBC, Slate and the New Zealand Herald. Whenever we wanted a bit more detail, we'd head for Google News and start drilling down into the source stories. However, it is true that with time he and I both became less and less interested in U.S. news and devoted increasing amount of time to world news headlines and those for the United States. Even so, we had a basic familiarity with the major stories of the day in the U.S. It's hard to be a good world citizen without knowing what the largest economic and military country in the world is up to. I suspect our perspective and mix of news was growing more typical of folks who live in NZ, Australia, Europe or Canada.
Out here in the middle of the Pacific, our news is all self-referential. We live in small town made up of about 250 families scattered from the Tuamotus to New Caledonia. Despite a square mileage measuring in the millions, our community is very tiny and doesn't really care all that much about the "outside world." Our "paper" consists of maybe one headline with local news and five pages of weather. News like the earth quake on the east coast comes to us late, if at all, and it appears on the second page below the fold. Out here, we like the comics and the puzzles, but we don't care much about the sports page and the financial page is only useful for those who still have money in the market instead of their boats. The only really important topic is the weather. With regular monotony, everyone pulls down weather information and then begins the artistic phase of divination.
Sometimes we share other news. Usually, our stories are of the happy sort. Boats leaving Bora Bora and heading for Aitutaki. Other boats having such a great time in Suvarrow they are having trouble leaving. A friend dropping off a nephew and picking up a son in American Samoa. Loose Pointer getting a new windlass. Sometimes the news is simply awful. Two boats lost on reefs in the past two weeks. Connect 4 rips out a main. Java loses a rudder and engine on reef near Sabu Sabu. It even starts to sound like headlines when you put it like that, but let's be honest. No one cares but us. And the feeling is mutual.
The east coast hurricane was for us a slightly different bit of news. After all, this was not just a weather story, but a weather story at sea. I'm sure Don Quixote was not the only boat taking advantage of our highly developed ability to get detailed information about weather conditions anywhere in the world to learn more about the hurricane's progress. You would be amazed how much a sailor could tell you about that storm just by looking at the GRIBS, weather, and coastal alerts. For example, without reading the headlines (since we can't), I'm betting there is very little wind damage, particularly north of Maryland. That doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. If Australia last year taught us nothing else, it taught us that flooding can be the real danger in storms like these. It looks like significant storm surge, some big waves along the coastline, and a godawful amount of rain. But as a wind storm, Irene just isn't. To put it in context, during Jimena (Cat3/4) in Santa Rosalia, we saw sustained winds in the low 90s while Irene is hovering in the 30s and 40s with gusts in the 50s. That's just a bad day off the New Zealand coastline. Hmm. Well, we'll learn whether we called the GRIBS correctly when Mom sends more news tomorrow.
But on to more salient news... Frank and Gail are finally getting off Palmerston today, en route to Niue with Catacaos. A new flock of boats is leaving Bora Bora now that the wind has moderated over the dangerous middle. The southerly swell caused damage to bungalows and the marina in Tahiti. Duty free fuel is available at the dock in Nieafu. Anyone looking to trade one bottle of Red Label scotch for two bottles of crappy rum, contact Toast on the evening net.