06/18/2012, 625 Nm ENE of Bermuda
Adjusting the gennaker
A short blog today. The GRIB (weather files) were not accurate tonight. We should have had a nice wind from the South backing to South West, In reality it is beating into a light Easterly wind. We have had the engine running for some time, but we can't use up our scarce fuel under conditions when you actually can sail. At least, it stopped raining. Yesterday was a very grey and rainy day. However, this morning wind from behind again, so hoisting gennaker. The sun is now also out. WOW!
I am extremely fortunate to be able to take a month off crossing the Atlantic ocean in this way. Imelda is enormously generous to make this possible for me. Also the children and my mother are making sacrifices for me not being there or in the case of my mother create another source of worry. It is also fantastic that it is compatible with my work. Finally other people are making this possible, especially my fellow crew members Hans and Sven, as well as Anders who continous to be a source of very supportive "shore crew" and technical adviser, while my dear wife performs the role of spiritual adviser.
06/17/2012, 800 Nm ENE of Bermuda
Sensual, isn't she?
In yesterday's blog picture, I was wearing my "Sail Fast, Live Slow" t-shirt from Bequia. One of the books in the ship library is "In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honore. So far, I had not have time to read this book.
It is 2.35 am ship's time and I am on watch. On the subject of time, one of the peculiarities to be on a boat in the ocean is your ability to decide what local time it is. We decided a couple of days ago to move the time forward one hour from Atlantic time as we progressed East. Currently, we are on GMT -2 hours (with no daylight saving adjustment or three hours behind British Summer Time). I insist calling it with its beautiful historic name Greenwich Mean Time rather than its more bland newer label UTC; Universal Time. Who wants to have his or her name changed? We discussed earlier tonight if anyone on land has this time zone; maybe Greenland? I can't remember. Any way, GMT -2 gives us long evenings and reasonable early daylight in the mornings. It shouldn't be that difficult as it is almost mid Summer.
We have got a perceived monster onboard. It is red, black and white. It was designed by Imelda and me. It is not one of our children! It must be a she, as she is very sensual, good looking and has a curvy balloon shape. It is indeed a sail. Today was another first. I learnt how to sail with it. We raised it at 10.30 this morning and it was surprisingly smooth to fly. it. I have to admit that conditions were very good; no sea and some 8-12 knots of wind. Nevertheless, it is the first time that I feel that |I| basically can master this sail. Touch wood! I read back Norwegian Ivar Dedekam's excellent sail trimming book, "Illustrated Sail and Rig Tuning" that explains things and give good hints. A lot of sail trimming books are very theoretical, but he writes in a practical way with excellent illustrations. We sailed with the spinnaker until the wind dropped below 6 knots in the late afternoon. The sail was very stable and gave us a good extra knot of speed.
We all try to adhere to some important principles to us when we go to sea. These principles are often quite individual. Some like KISS; "Keep It Simple Stupid". I wish I did, but I am too fascinated by gadgets and systems. One of the principles I try to follow is to have redundancy systems. Some times I have even configured several levels of back up systems. Starting with something very basic; being on a sail boat rather than a motor boat, if the sails won't work, you have at least your auxiliary engine. This principle goes through everything that I have configured onboard. Automatic steering; we he have dual autopilot rams and pumps, and we have a wind rudder backing up the autopilot (even a tiller pilot that can be used with it for motoring). The wind rudder is a "Hydrovane" with its own rudder so it can back up the boat's main rudder. We got two satellite phones and should both fail a long range radio to back it up with. We carry an electric hot plate, should our gas stove fail. The freezer could be used as a fridge, should the latter fail etc. etc.
Doing a long ocean crossing; adequate supplies are very important. I delegated the food part entirely to Hans on this crossing (only insured we had some extra coffee onboard!) and so far we have missed nothing, ate mostly fresh produce and in a style much better than I do on land. We set with 1000 litres of water in our main tanks and emergency jerry cans of another 60 litres, plus some 10 gallon sized containers of bottled water. Emergency rations would be some 2.5 litres per day; so bottled water and jerry cans would suffice for the whole trip should we loose our water to a leak in the tanks or contamination.
We got 690 litres of diesel onboard in the main tanks with another 25 litres in emergency jerry cans. Another thing that I am keen on, is to have spare supplies of fluids to cope with a complete loss of one tank. This goes for engine oil, gear box oil, coolant, hydraulic oil for the winches etc, hydraulic oil for the autopilot etc. This means that we carry a good 60 litres of various kinds of hydraulic oil onboard!
Not only were the dolphins back, but the wind also picked up strength after dinner. We make progress, albeit with modest speed, on a broad reach straight towards our destination. The Atlantic is a huge place, we are still struggling to reach the half way point between Bermuda and Horta; Bermuda is 800 nautical miles to our stern and Horta is 1000 miles ahead of us (both measured as a bird's flying distance). We have made 886 nautical miles during the six days since we left Bermuda. So, what ever way you look upon it, we should today reach that half way mark. I expect speed in the second half towards the Azores to pick up, as we have a conveniently appearing low pressure system that will move in to our North within 48 hours and should drive us all the way there. It is another very dark night. I cannot see any moon or stars; only the fluorescent glow from the water that Queenie pushes aside in her Eastward stride.
06/16/2012, 418 Nm ENE of Bermuda
Preparing to hoist the gennaker
It is Friday evening at home in London and here on the Atlantic it is Friday afternoon. We are squall dodging. There are quite a few of them around. So far, we have been successful to not have to lower the gennaker. We can see the rain appearing on the radar which helps a lot to track the path of the squalls. From just looking at the sky, it is difficult to judge distance and direction. On a normal Friday evening, Imelda and I would at this time just have finished our favourite "Uncle Wrinkle" take away in the teahouse in our garden. The day here started cloudy, but the sun came out and it felt like a traditional European good weather summer day, rather than the tropical days with lots of humidity that we got used to.
Hans is preparing something delicious for our traditional six o'clock pre-dinner drinks; apparently "Devil's Eggs" and "Hot Spinach Rolls" from his new Bermudian cook book. Sven is re-mounting a plate covering the hydraulic oil reservoir for the manual hydraulic system with some silicon. I am updating the polar curves for the boat (running with gennaker). It is part of the navigation programme that is sail performance module which records speed and wind angle under different wind speeds that the boat is doing. Later on this can be used for passage planning or indeed keeping tabs on the boat's current performance versus its previous best one.
So far this leg has offered following winds and very stable conditions, albeit a bit on the light side. Tonight at 1am, we will be three days out of Bermuda. The first leg from Fort Lauderdale gave us much more variable conditions from extreme heat and no wind to thunderstorms with 40 knots of wind. It is partly explained by that we had a weather front passing by. Also the coastal areas of the US, is much more prone to thunder than out here at sea. My mother should, beside ourselves, be pleased with the less likelihood of thunder, as she really dislikes that.
I did some calculations earlier. The leg from Florida to Bermuda was 948 nautical miles of which we did 275 by engine or 29 per cent. It took us six days which means an average of 158 Nm per day or an average speed of 6.6 knots. I can hardly believe it, but by tonight we should have done a quarter of the leg to the Azores and within 4 days half of the distance across the Atlantic. It is already June 15th, so it is about time! The going right now is painfully slow as the wind is about to die out. Hans is calling for dinner in a moment and Sven and I have still to check a possible coolant leak on the generator beforehand. Blog writer Almqvist is signing out.