2007-04-26 / News

Jamestown a 'Treasure Island' for geocachers

By Sam Bari

Abigail and Samantha Feight examine the contents of a cache they recently found using a GPS device. Photo by Michelle Umbenhauer Abigail and Samantha Feight examine the contents of a cache they recently found using a GPS device. Photo by Michelle Umbenhauer Geocaching - pronounced geocashing, like cashing a check, might be new to your vocabulary. But for those in the know, geocaching is the latest and greatest sport, game, activity, whatever you want to call it, on the planet.

According to East Ferry Deli Manager Stacy Feight, an avid geocacher, Jamestown is one of the hottest geocaching spots on the globe, with 22 geocaches- or hidden items- spread around the island. She said that the geocaching Web site, www.geocaching.com, describes geocaching as a product of the ultimate in space-age technology. The global positioning satellite system (GPS), a navigation tool used in everything from cars to commercial jumbo jets is used to locate their positions on the planet.

The Web site claims geocaching to be an entertaining adventure game/treasure hunt for GPS users. All that is required is a hand-held GPS unit, which costs a lot less than a Game Boy or X-Box, actually under $100, and access to the Internet.

A GPS unit is an electronic device that can determine any approximate location, within 6- to 20- feet, on the planet. Coordinates are given in longitude and latitude. The unit can be used to navigate from one location to another if need be. Some units provide their own maps, builtin electronic compasses, and even voice navigation, depending on the complexity of the device.

Units can cost thousands of dollars, but those guarantee pinpoint accuracy to within one foot, and that is not necessary to play this fascinating game. Knowing all the technical mumbo jumbo about GPS units is also not needed to participate in geocaching activities. All a player is required to do is be able to enter what is called a "waypoint," where the geocache is hidden.

Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capabilities of GPS units. A "cache" is a little treasure that is hidden, concealed, or stashed in a secret location that will only be recognized by geocachers.

The basic idea is for individuals and organizations to set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet with other GPS enthusiasts. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is leave something for the cache if they take something from the cache. In other words, if you take something, it is only polite to leave something.

Currently, 22 published caches are hidden in Jamestown, including a new one posted on the Internet last Monday morning. The coordinates of cache locations are published on the Internet on the geocaching Web site. Simply enter a zip code or home coordinates and all the caches in the area will be revealed.

The stats from the geocaching Web site claim 387,959 active caches worldwide as of last Monday morning. In the last seven days, 285,709 new logs have been written by 42,059 account holders. Caches are located all over the world, including one on Mount Everest and several that are under water.

Feight learned about geocaching from her sister, Michelle. Now Feight's daughters, Abigail, 6, and Samantha, 11, are involved. Every weekend they go on geocache hunts and tend to their six caches at various places that she is hesitant to disclose. "There's one right down the street from the deli," she said, but she wouldn't reveal the exact location. "I know of eight caches at Fort Wetherill and Beavertail," she said. "Sixteen more are on the island but I don't know exactly where," she added. She also said that they have found 55 caches since they became involved in the sport.

She also said that anyone interested should visit the Web site where everything is explained. Geocachers can order cache items, and even GPS units from the Web site. Posting coordinates of caches and geocaching events in different areas are also listed for everyone to see.

Geocachers are also known for doing good deeds and for helping communities through the geocaching network. Fort Wetherill will be a recipient of a major geocaching event on May 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is called CITO, which is an abbreviation for Cache in, Trash Out. Geocachers from all over the area will be notified that they should come to N 41° 28.600 W 071° 21.800 to participate. Everyone is invited to attend because Fort Wetherill is family and pet friendly.

According to Bob Umbenhauer, owner of East Ferry Deli and Stacy Feight's father, geocachers will be cleaning up Fort Wetherill. The park and historic fort is a great place, but many have taken it for granted and left tons of trash all over the area, Umbenhauer said. Geocachers will be picking up and carrying out trash. The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will pick it up later. In addition to trash clean up, they will be participating in graffiti and paint removal. All trash bags, plastic gloves, and paint removers will be provided and if you wish to bring your own work gloves and tools, please do so, Umbenhauer said.

He also said that the geocachers will be divided into three teams. Team A will be removing graffiti and cleaning the fort. They will paint a large portion of the fort gray. They will also remove glass, and sweep the fort as well. Team B will do the park cleanup, which is basic trash and litter pick up.

Team C, a small team of kids, will be painting large rocks that have graffiti on them. "On these rocks we will paint colorful pictures of the ocean, and Rhode Island things. We will also paint park rules to encourage people to please pick up after themselves. We are still working out some details on this part," Umbenhauer added.

He mentioned that "around 1 o'clock we will take a break for lunch. It will be a pot luck affair; so if everyone brings something to share that will be great. East Ferry Deli is donating hamburgers and hotdogs, and I will provide a grill for cooking. If everyone can list what they will bring in their logs so we don't get 800 pounds of chips that will be a big help. We will also have Gatorade containers with water, iced tea, and fruit punch. Plastic cups, plates and utensils will also be provided," he said.

In case of inclement weather, we will be setting up a canopy to keep dry. There are bathrooms on site, along with running water to wash hands.

Umbenhauer said, "You will get dirty, so bring old clothes, and gloves if you have them."

For further information, e-mail Bob Umbenhauer at delibob@aol. com.

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