Ayres, 46, rowed across the Straits of Florida through 15-foot seas for roughly 48 hours while first mate Dillon Moore, 19, bailed in a desperate attempt to keep their 9-foot dinghy from sinking or drifting into the Atlantic on the Gulf Stream in a strengthening south wind. “I figured, boy, I better raise the bar and not stop rowing until we’re either dead or we’re safe,” says Ayres, a snowbird from Onondaga, Mich., who lives aboard in the Florida Keys during the winter.
As a rule of thumb, marine electronics manufacturers assume that nearly every boat on the water carries GPS in one form or another, and that effectively gives boaters membership in a larger group called the “GPS community.” The group found its voice for the first time this year in the face of a common enemy.
Backed by a hedge-fund billionaire, a company called LightSquared wants to build a 4G broadband communications network, and the Federal Communications Commission has given its initial approval. GPS manufacturers and users are horrified, believing that LightSquared’s plan would disrupt navigation on land and sea and in the air.
Deployed in combat intelligence or combat engineering roles, Coast Survey field staff would scout, map, chart, pilot, clear sunken ships from channels and install navigation aids for Union forces, often while dodging bullets and artillery rounds.
When the war broke out, Charles Harrod Boyd’s survey team moved up to Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine, to get away from the fighting in South Carolina, where it had been working. While the Coast Survey schooner Arago, Boyd’s ship, was in Maine it captured two Confederate ships, Express and Alice Ball, that were trying to run a naval blockade in late summer 1861. The survey team moved back to South Carolina to work with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In May 1862, while doing survey work along the James River, Boyd captured six Confederate soldiers from the 24th South Carolina Regiment.
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