Boating & Biking Adventures

Month: September 2021 Page 2 of 4

Porto to Funchal – Logblog 6

I am on shift. It is 4:45am local time and pitch-dark. The moon gives good company from 9pm to 4pm but then disappears and you sail into black, as black as you can imagine, just the deepest dark black. Well, the stars are there and can only be seen in detail once the moon has settled. I sense we have a good mixture though to enjoy both scenarios. I was wondering the other day, why ORION is already visible out there as my memories tell me, that ORION is a star formation for winter…hope I am wrong, need to check that. Winter…the air temperature is increasing night by night. Tonight we have a fast sail. Wing by wing with the main full unfurled and the 110% foresail, winds of 10 to 13kts from astern we are constantly above 7kts and occassionally staying above 8kts speed over ground. The Lady wants to arrive!

We plan landfall at Madeira during the next night. Our approach will be early morning but I am sure that we will see the lighthouses many many miles before getting close to the islands. All going well we shall berth in Funchal before noon on 18th September. Clarifications with the marinas are ongoing by mail. We have some options but our preference is Funchal.

Need to make a cup of tea now!

Fair winds…

Porto to Funchal – Logblog 5

Early morning we got caught by a rain shower after which the wind direction changed slightly from NNW to NNE as forecasted. After adjusting the sails and the sun coming out it became another nice Bluewater Sailing day. 2 other ships we could see far away the whole day, relaxed sailing compared to the coastline of Belgium!

It was the day of “Favonius” to come into play, the name of our new Hydrovane installed and not tested yet. Our elctrical autopilot (no name yet) works marvelous but I did not want to rely on it without a second system onboard. The Hydrovane is a hydro-mechanical rudder installed at the stern of the boat steering the boat by a windvane set into the preferred wind/direction. After some minor adjustments in the setting of the vane and the gear it worked all day without playing games. The course of the boat followed the course of our weather routing on a wing by wing set-up in 12 to 15 knots of backwinds. Already impressed Favonius will not only provide us with good winds in future but also help to steer them out.

We are now entering night number four and it is clear that this will become a five night trip. We expect to arrive in Madeira on Saturday, 18th September before noon. There is no rush as the weather window is open to the end and we are not under pressure to arrive e.g. before some bad weather kicks in. This is an important factor to consider from the start, something I learned from Inge and Ralf from SY malwieder and TO friends. The Bluewater remains fascinating and I could just sit and watch all day to absorb this unique atmosphere the ocean offers.

Fair winds…

Favonius - our Hydrovane wind steering system - in operation. Thank you!

Porto to Funchal – Logblog 4

Need some more for a meal! 😉
Lunch time...😋...Flying fish on the boat.

It is 3 o’clock local time in the morning and I just started my watch. Susan is back into bed having some rest. We have chaned the roster scheme from four hours each to three hours as Susan felt, that four hours is too long. I think she is right, three hours is better for a two crew sail.

Yesterday was a Bluewater Sailing day in the area of Josephine, which is the name of the nautical area referrred to in weather forecasts issued for example by the Portuguese Weather Institute on Navtext and other channels. The forecast was very much in line with the Grib files received from Wetterwelt and perfectly fits into the real weather situation we are facing at the moment. The notherly wind has kicked in as expected with 10 to 15 knots , gusting 20kts, from a 345 to 360 degree bearing. Our course is 215 degree, so that gives us an so called true wind angle of about 130 degree from starboard side – good angle for a night sail, The waves have increased to 2.5 to 3.5 m I would guess but the direction of the boat is in good harmony with the direction of the waves, the latter ones coming from NW direction.

For the night we have taken almost all of the main sail in and are progressing still with 5 to 6 kts, which is about the max speed I prefer when it is dark. Trashing the boat through the night with 8kts does not make sense to me on a passage unless you need to escape some bad weather. Our weather window to Funchal/Madeira is open, so even if we arrive 1 or 2 days later, the conditions at the time of arrival will still me managable. In other words there is no bad weather at the scheduled arrival of this journey pushing us to high speed night sailing.

Under blue sky and deep bluewater we were pressing along with 7 to 8 knots most of the day. We had all our meals and good rest with additional sleep. During the whole day only one other ship appeared on the horizon and on the AIS. There is not much traffic here, which is good. This night we had three ships heading West, which proberly came out of the Strait of Gibraltar, which is the latitude we are on about.

The moon has settled about an hour ago and it is now pitch-dark again. You cannot even see the bow or stern of the boat but you can see million of stars giving accompany out here on the ocean…

Fair winds…

Porto to Funchal – Logblog 3

We have reached the southern tip of the low pressure system and the wind has changed to NW direction as expected and needed to get to Madeira. Still a bit low with 7kts but forecast is that it will go up to 20kts over night, which should bring us a smooth sail through our second night on the ocean. Tomorrow the wind shall veer futher North and provide us with a stable breeze until the arrival at our destination. Highlights today were the jumping dolphins close to our boat and two wales passing by in about 100m distance. Susan discovered them first during her watch and it gave me a goose bumps feeling to see them slowly passing along breathing and showing the characteristic fountain on the water only created by these magnificant creatures. Cooking, spleeing, going watch, enjoying the sea….took us through the day. The moon is out, the starts are up, some clouds and we are heading into the darkness further South to our destination Madeira.

Fair winds…

Porto to Funchal – Logblog 2

Interesting & impressive cloud formations...most of them friendly some a bit nasty.

The night was quite and peaceful and we could sail all through. Today will be some hours under engine as we are passing the low pressure system to get to the notherly winds on its backside which will then take us all down to Funchal/Madeira. Waves are moderate and some light clouds. A bird giving us some accompany during the night has left, probably also recharged and ready to go again. Shipping traffic is now down to zero as we are out of the main shipping tracks…therefore some more relaxed watches. All going well we should reach the northerly winds this evening just before the second night will kick in.

Fair winds…

Porto to Funchal – Logblog 1

We are heading into the first night and if all went well with our IT settings there should be a blog below this one to show our roster duty schedule on this voyage.

After an early out of bed this morning last few things got put in place and then we went at 7am to the backary to get some late fresh bread and pastry. Back onboard it started to rain…hm…but then also some thunder was approaching Porto from South. Checking the weather radar showed that the weather front should be gone by 9am, our scheduled departure time.

It became a bit of a rought start at the beginning, some current against wind waves at the port entrance bara and then suddenly up to 30kts wind out of nowhere. After a while it stabilized and one of the factors was to get away from the shore. Under some blue sky and a wave pattern typical for the Baltic Sea we made our way along our routing track – some under sail and some under engine and some under both, so called motor sailing.

Dolpins were suddenly jumping around the boat, some distance lightning around but far away we are now crossing the motor way North-South-North of the major merchant ships. Visibility is great, the moon shows us the way, a bird has just landed on our outboard engine to take some rest and we are enjoying the first night on the ocean.

Up to now the weather routing works and we hope it will not surprise us later…

Fair winds…

☝️2 crew roster duty plan…

All going as per the plan we shall be on the ocean now for 9 hours and this is a scheduled blog release as we are out of mobile networks.

In the past we were very sloppy on our roster duty plans while sailing long distance. Longest distance Susan and myself did many years back was from Augustenborg/DK to Bornholm/DK – a 3 days nonstop voyage.

This time we have decided to bring some discipline into the journey with a “strict 4 hours each” roster duty plan.

We will see how it goes and obviously a bit of flexibility is needed here and there. We also believe that during the day there will be some shared time as you cannot sleep 12 hours a day either.

Some people also call it vacation but that is another topic…😂.

Fair winds…

🙋‍♂️Leaving for Funchal…

Good-bye Porto! Great city, no doubt.

We are leaving Porto today with destination Funchal/Madeira. The planned shortest distance is 672nm, a 5-6 days trip. During the passage, we will receive updated weather reports to adjust the routing as and when required. The net controls from Intermar e.V. will offer twice a day verbal communication via HAM Radio, which we will be part of. Very nice!

It is our first longer passage and we are obviously a bit nervous but also confident we will be able to complete this passage in safety, comfort and style. Preparations have been completed and it is now time to throw the lines. Accompany from other TO yachts is not foreseen this time but there will be plenty of traffic on this route to deal with.

Some text updates (no photos) on this blog via Winlink can be expected as we did during our Biscay crossing before.

Fair winds…

🧐 Weather Routing with qtVlm…

Our abo with provides good weather information (Grib files) but is weak on WeatherRouting, which is key to ensure sailing in safety, comfort and style. Actually their software SeamanPro does not generate any optimised route between selected starting point A and ending point E. It will only show the weather conditions over cruising time based on an imported fixed route. That is not what we are looking for in nowadays century.

A program called qtVlm has been introduced to me by Hans-Uwe from Intermar e.V. and I am quite impressed by the comprehensive approach this freeware (French development, you name it!) provides to the sailors. Especially the weather routing is amazing.

One of the features, which impressed me, was the catalogue on their server to choose the polar-diagram for the individual boat under journey. Obviously you need to tell the software how fast the boat will go under which wind conditions. Together with the grib files it will then optimise the best routing for your travel plans and sametime generate waypoints for the routing to follow. Continuous updates while on voyage are possible based on actual boat position and updated weather information at any given point in time. Excellent!

I have simulated three routes to Funchal/Madeira the other day based on three different weather models provided by Saildoc, Wetterwelt and XyGrib. As you can see in the chart above, Saildoc and Wetterwelt result in the same routing, the only difference is the arrival time, Saildoc is 1 hour and 35min later. Routing based on XyGrib is slightly further North but about the same arrival time as Saildoc. I lose my confidence a bit looking at the “Nb of Tacks and Gybes” in the table! With a sharp eye you can see the prop in the top rigth quadrant nest to the routing line. Engine hours are calculated to around 4.5 hours at the time the boat speed by sail drops below 3kts. Amazing but Let’s see, it’s all theory anyway! 😉

Mother nature will tell us the truth and I am sure it will be quite different but it helps to optimze the journey and manage expectations!

Besides that I look forward to good discussions with the Intermar e.V. Netcontrols on 14.313kHz twice a day during our times out on the ocean.

Fair winds…

☝️Position reporting – offshore

We are planning to go on passage soon and the position reporting via VHF (e.g. Marinetraffic, Vesselfinder, etc. based on AIS) will not work anymore. Therefore the following systems have been set-up to track our routing even while out on the ocean…

1. Noforeignland via HF Ham Radio (updated min. once per day)
2. Winlink via HF HAM Radio (updated min. once per day)
3. Garmin Explore via Iridium (updated every 10minutes)

All going well, these three sites will report our postion with a different timebase. To me it is more a safety feature than anything else.

Click on the image and it shall bring you directly to the latest recorded position.
Click on the image and perhaps zoom out a bit for the right scale. You might move the mouse on the position to see some short messages as well.
Click on the image and perhaps zoom in to get to the latest recorded position.

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