Radio Propagation and Other Things
30 December 2008
Oceans Dream is equipped with an SSB radio via which we have been sending and receiving our email. Unfortunately, radio propagation is so poor at the moment that we have been struggling to connect to the email server, located in Durban. So, this blog update is being sent via Iridium satellite telephone.
Not only is radio propagation down in the dumps, the fine electrical contractors that did the wiring, connections and set-up of Oceans Dream did not bother to install any ferrite suppressors on the wiring as they were supposed to. What happens each time we transmit on the SSB/HF radio, is that RF travels all around the boat via the electrical wiring and we loose our autopilot and other electronic navigation equipment. We also have LED indicator lights on the main switchboard light up when the circuits are off and RF interference on other equipment such as the battery charger and solar panel control unit. Not very nice when you need the systems to be reliable.
Since Christmas day we have been sailing during daylight hours under spinnaker, and doing reasonable mileage. However, at night we have been making very slow progress under genoa alone. The winds are really very light and are constant at around 8 to 12 knots only.
We have changed time zones twice so far and are now on GMT or UTC. There are no further time zone changes until a few days after we depart St Helena. And talking of St Helena, we calculated that at our present daily runs of 135 nautical miles, we would arrive during the night of 31 December and 1 January. We discussed this and have decided to go very slow during the next two nights which will result in us making landfall on the morning of 1 January 2009 so that all aboard can view the island from the sea during daylight hours, rather than making landfall at night and not having the opportunity to view the island as we make our approach in the dark.
As I type this I am on watch and every and I is pitch dark outside. I have been monitoring everything around us and we have had no visual shipping seen for the last few days. When I came on watch I switched on the radar and note that there is another small boat about 10 nautical miles on our starboard beam. I will pass this knowledge on to Luke when he comes on watch at midnight and he will in turn pass it on with each watch change through the remainder of the night. If the boat is still there in the morning, I will get a position and give it a call.
Today we had a magnificent display of a huge pod of dolphin come bouncing past us. They were obviously busy catching their dinner and did not come and investigate us and give us a personal show - pity, as we have not had much sea life around us for a few days. We have had a whale next to the boat but the bird life has all but disappeared. Lets hope we get some more sea-life as we get closer to St Helena.
Thanks for taking the time to read my notes and thanks to Shaun, ZS1RA, for sending the comments on to me. Until the next posting, regards from Adrian, Jackie, Luke and myself, John.