Boating & Biking Adventures

Author: Bernd via DL9BS/mm Page 2 of 12

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 7

It is close to midnight and we are running 6+kn straight line to our waypoint set at the southern tip of Martinique. Sometime earlier today we started the downhill part of this passage, means we have done more than half of the total distance between Cabo Verde and Martinque. It took us seven days and, based on the latest weather forecast and route planning, we are now expecting to arrive 29th December 2022 at Marina Le Marin, where we have a confirmed reservation in the marina starting exactly on that day. Still a long way to enjoy but let’s see.

It was another relaxed bluewater curising day in perfect trade wind conditions with a typical sunset.

Fair winds…

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 6

The transmission over the HF Radio using Pactor works fine on this journey so far. On the previous leg from Canary Islands to Cabo Verde I struggled a bit first to get connection at all and then to get some reasonable speed for transmitting/receiving the data. Therefore I will keep trying to post some small photos, which will then be readdressed in proper resolution once having a proper WiFi connection.
I have used three connection points so far for the communication. Obviously the Swiss HB9AK is one of them and very often the best. In the initial phase of the journey the French F5ZFX also worked fine and surprisingly fast. Recently we got connection via Barbados 8P6BWS reasonably performing. We did not manage to connect via Kanada on node VE1YZ yet, which shall not be forgotten as it also helped me out on various occasions in the past. From the propagation point of view I am getting a better feeling on time and frequency to be used for good connections. Before sunrise local time on 10 and 14 Mhz worked up to now quite well. We will therefore focus on those parameters trying to include a photo now and then into the transmissions.
We are just getting a mini squall and the lady is asking for some attention…
Fair winds…

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 5

While writing these lines, the clocks are somewhere between early lunch and early afternoon, depending which time zone you refer to. Some clocks onboard are set to UTC (14:39) for the alarm to remind me on the radio talks with Jan from SY Sutje, Just now we moved from Frenando de Noronha Time (12:39) to French Guiana Time (11:39) being the actual local time we are in. Somewhere in between sits Cabo Verde (13:39) becoming less relevant after almost one week on passage. You wonder what it matters. Not too much, I think, as long as I don’t miss my radio talk and we eat and sleep as desired. Works well. Time seems to have become an endless resource for the moment. Obviously it is not and I am so glad we are out here on the ocean doing what we are doing right now! It took long long time to get here, that’s for sure.
Looking at time from a different aspect, these ocean passages are ambivalent and splitting views among bluewater sailors. Some just want to minimize the passage duration and arrive, get over it. All sails up! The number of days and average speed are more relevant than wear and tear to crew and boat besides comfort. Others don’t care how long it takes, as long as it is comfortable and enjoyable. They would not start the engine, if the wind calms down, the sea becomes flat and the average speed drops below hull speed. If in comfort, their focus will even more move towards enjoying the sea. I had the opportunity to mingle with both type of sailors feeding my mind and position on this.
Clearly, we want to sail in comfort. Therefore our speed is driven by comfort. It has always been like this, since we sail. We dedicated speed to the jobs and comfort took over the moment stepping onboard. It has paid back very well for us until now.
Once the comfort at sea is gone, time becomes a totally different perspective and ranking.
Fair winds…

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 4

After five days at sea it was time to take a shower. I allowed myself two liters of tap water for that and waived the idea on a salt water pre-wash followed by a sweet-water rinse afterwards. On previous shorter passages I enjoyed the daily showers in the early evening hours but this one is different with respect to water and electricity, both being interlinked with each other.
We need power to produce electricity and water, which is normally generated by the Fischer-Panda Generator. As mentioned earlier, this animal started to refuse producing AC at 230V higher than 2.5kW. Below that, it works fine. The nominal rating of the generator is 6.5kW. The watermaker is asking for 3.6kW at full production, which is 130l per hour. In other words, we are not able to produce water at nominal flow at the moment. 50l per hour seems to be possible but at lower water quality. After some checks suggested over the phone by YEH in Glückstadt (excellent service support) we concluded to replace the capacitors as next step, which Susan brought into Mindelo in her luggage. BUT, when the local technician came to have a look into the engine room, it appeared to me, that he had difficutlies to determine between the ships engine and the generator. I could have guided him through the process of finding the capacitors but finally decided to live with 2.5kW for the moment not being able to produce water on this passage. Long story ending in a two liter shower after five days at sea and a Fischer-Panda authorized service workshop waiting for us at the othe side of the pond to fix this issue properly.
We have more than sufficient water and electricity but it is a good reminder, that these resources are limited and consumped with prudence, not only on a sailing boat at sea.
From last evening wind and sea state picked up a little bit and we are back to 6+kn on the log at 14-17kn true wind speed, precisely as forecasted. The lady is back at her comfort speed with a happy crew being more and more able to enjoy each mile of this passage.
Fair winds…

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 3

...wishing you all a contemplative 4th Advent...

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 2

It is 4:30am and I have just taken over the watch from Susan, when she mentioned a strange noise. It was different to the creaky sound coming from the interior furnishing of the boat, which synchronises with the rythm of the waves and boats’ heeling and you simply ignore after a while.

While taking a closer look with the headlamp, I found a flying fish on the cockpit floor fighting for his life. These poor looking creatures leave a bit of a mess with descaling after landing and oozing some mucus while also spreading some stinky smell. I don’t like them, hardly accept them outside the cockpit but get annoyed, if they come too close. On the photo, which I will add once we have WiFi again, you can see the flying wings still foldet out, trying to take off again, but no chance.

Once the wings are folded in, you know, this creature will not thrash around anymore once you pick it up and throw it back into their living environment, now becoming their graveyard. The whole process from flip to fold in takes around one minute, I would guess. I have a flexible gripper arm, about 90cm long, which helps me often to fish fallen things out of hidden places in the boat they have fallen in while doing boat work. Very useful tool, also in terms of getting rid of flying fish without touching them at all.

There is also some traffic out here again. This time not fishing boats but one commercial vessel passing by heading east and, believe it or not, SY Geronimo (MMSI 244620501) sailing along in 4nm distance north from us heading west.

Visibility is good, so we can also see their navigational lights clearly. Obviously with 20m length they are faster than us and will get sooner to a cold drink at the beach bar but vice versa have less time to enjoy the ocean. It’s a choice, to some extend. Geronimo, what a coincident.
We have started yesterday to read “The Doyle – Martinique to Grenada” and you won’t believe how excited we got while browsing through this excellent cruising guide. A mixture of travel guide and nautical almanach, perfect for sailors. Tons of useful information, which will help us to plan the upcoming weeks within this area. It will be a different world to us not only from the sailing point of view. We look forward to explore this area by boat and bike absorbing the caribbean lifestyle.
We have moved one timezone west and are now in Fernando de Noronha Standard Time. It is an archipelago off the Brazilian coast at the very eastern tip of South America, actually closer to us than Martinique but we better keep going. 270° west rather 180° south. The hour time difference does not mean much to us. We have not adjusted the clocks. Time is much less relevant out here. UTC timing is more important not to miss my daily chat with Jan on the Marine Radio.
We look now forward towards another pleasant and relaxed day at sea.
Fair winds…

E to W Atlantic Crossing – Logblog 1

…waning moon over stern…
It is 3:30am in the morning of our third night on this Atlantic Crossing from East to West. We left Mindelo a day later than planned mainly due to the late arrival of Susan’s luggage and influence by the slogan of the Cabo Verdeans: No Stress! As a matter of fact, it does not matter and the extra day took some time pressure out of the To-Do-List and made it a pretty relaxed departure. After a yummy pizza at our favourite restaurant Colombinho and with a thourough farewell from Petra, Jan and Tobi with the exchange of a few last minutes gifts, we did throw the lines at 9:30am. SY Sutje left 24h after us and are now on our toes, approx. 150nm astern.
A last minute comment on the blog came in from Jani, which I managed to put online before leaving but did not find the time for a reply. Really appreciated the farewell wishes from a next generation fellow sailor. Thank you! We hope you keep enjoying following our adventure and find the time yourself to make it out onto the ocean.
Since then we have sailed 407nm in pretty pleasant conditions apart from three hours motoring through the dead wind zone south of Santo Antao. 1680nm to go before we reach our waypoint set at the southern tip of Martinique. In other words, approximately 20% completion rate.
It was one more time the crew and not the lady, who had to cope with the conditions at start of the passage. We managed to keep the boat moving before and after taking rest. Apetite was low and we forced ourselves to drink enough to stay hydrated. Susan had a cold – 90% over now – I had my usual headache caused by some back tension for 16 hours and since yesterday, the world with its ocean is shiny again – for me. Susan needs another 24 hours but later today, it will be fine. The fun part shall start. 2100nm to sail is a distance which puts things into perspective, which contributed to our longer run-in period, which is normally 24 to 36h at maximum. Finally it is also a very emontional journey and I wonder how we look at it once we have reached the mountains top and the downhill part of the passage starts.
I have not done any weather checks as the trade winds are the trade winds and the window for 10 days look ahead showed perfect and stable trade winds for our course at the time we departed. 15 to 25kn from NE slightly increasing towards the end of the 10 days. During my daily evening calls on the Marine Band Radio with Chief Jan from SY Sutje, I scrounged the latest updates, which confirmed the forecast.
Today, we shall get a bit less wind and from tomorrow onwards it should be in the 20+kn range. In fact we are down to 10 to 13kn only now and I am focused keeping the boat moving at 4kn reducing the banging to a bare minimum. Susan needs good sleep!
Seaweed in the SailGen and the Hydrovane kept us busy for an hour yesterday and broke our good old boathook, both pieces rescued. It is known, that on the latitudes we are sailing some extended fields of seawead are common. We did not face an extended field but enought to clog our two systems. It was easy to remove the grass from the SailGen propeller but the Hydrovane made it a bit more challenging as the rudder goes very deep into the water. Lying down on the after deck, while trying to strive it off with the boathook, I bruised the rips a bit. Nothing serious but will need some embrocating with DOC Morris for a while. Glad I got some of the stuff left from Erika. A broken boathook was the donation for this learning. It got stuck between the leading edge of the rudder the the hull mounting while trying to strive the grass off the rudder. Did not work. Hook consumed. Next. Furl in the sails to get the speed out of the boat. Disengage the windpilot and run under electric autopilot. Give a hard turn on the windpilot rudder into both directions to get maximum twist and the stuff came off. It will happen again but now we are better prepared and need a new boathook.
Two smaller birds accompanied us for a while yesterday. It happend before but new was, that they came as a couple and landed on the water. What a similes.
Fair winds…

Lanzarote to Cabo Verde – Day 9 / Logblog 8

We got a welcome visitor during the last night, a puzzled seagull. I was sitting in the cockpit, when I heard some unusual noise on the other side of the spray hood under the mast top. It has hit somehow the boom and felt down on the teak. After sitting on the boat for some time it flew off leaving some of its business behind. 😀

Taking some 30min rest after the hit. Then off.

The last 32nm happened quickly. The wind brought us up to the port entry where we took down the spinnaker pole once protected from the waves and motored into the marina. The marina staff were very attentive and supportive to secure the boat in a berth at winds still blowing 20kn – never stopping trade winds.

There will be some delay in cleaning the logblog as I have to work per the priorities on the To-Do-List, which got longer again. Some routine work but also some new issues like the water maker high pressure pump shutting down seconds after start. And finally I want to get on the bike and explore the area.

Thanks for joining.

Fair winds…

Lanzarote to Cabo Verde – Day 9 / Logblog 7

It is 1:30am UTC in the morning and the zigzag is over. We have gybed under bare pole with the Hydrovane only and slowly returned back into our lane of approach towards the waypoint set in the middle of the entrance channel between Sao Vincente and Santo Antao. Running 2.8kn boat speed and 3.6kn speed over ground caused by the pushing current at 19kn TWS on the stern with no sails at all up. Still irritates me a bit but I never tested this before.

Sunrise is at 6:50am Cabo Verde time, which is 7:50am UTC. Coming from Canary Islands, we still have UTC on our watches. 8am UTC arrival time is perfectly fine then. We have a bit of float now in the schedule, so we can get the spinaker pole down and some water with our water maker produced. It never produced water into the boat´s own water tanks, so today is maiden day for the system on this aspect. Things will change from here onwards anyway. We have left Europe and are going into a developing country. Poverty is a subject on the Cabo Verde Islands. It was clear to me that the arrival into Mindelo will be the spicy part of this passage. Acceleration zone between the two islands, sea charts stating “watch out for unmarked wrecks” on the approach to the marina, unlit buoys, full anchorage in front of the marina, etc. I got a reservation confirmed, that should help. Hope their committment has not changed.

Despite all the uncertainties I am totally excited to pay a visit to this place and its people.

Good I rested the nights & days before as this night will require full attention until we are securely berthed.

About 25nm to reach the waypoint and 32nm for the berth.

Fair winds…

Lanzarote to Cabo Verde – Day 9 / Logblog 6

We have just now sailed 800nm without taking the mainsail out once and only flying the 110% foresail. It got sometimes fully deployed, sometimes partly reefed and sometimes not even unfurled. With or without spinnaker pole.
This gave me some food for thought on sail arrangements and after a long and heated discussion with the lady we concluded the following concerning the mainsail.

The mainsail is good for two purposes:

#1. Obviously you cannot take the lady out on a catwalk without having mainsail out. Imagine, sailing the parade alongside many other boats, whereever in the world, and no mainsail out. The yacht will only look complete and attractive under full set of sails. No doubt.

#2. The mainsail is also needed, from a technical point of view, if the skipper wants to bang his head against the wall. In other words, the skipper wants, or has to, sail against the wind. Technically you will need some mainsail out to make that work properly.

In all other circumstances the mainsail remains a nice to have, which brings minium speed advantage but plenty of headache. The mainsail can become a huge risk under certain broad reach courses, especially with increasing wind angls in windy and wavy conditions. Numerous times this was the reported root cause of serious injuries or even death in worst case or best case de-masted yachts desperately crying for help. Some had preventer lines some maybe not.

I had my own experience around 2005 when Susan and myself approached Hasle in Denmark on our beautiful HR34 at that time. We did the unintentional gybe and I found my glasses next to me on the cockpit bench and cannot recall how they got there. The only thing I remember is that the boom did not bang my head as in this case I would probably not be sitting here typing these lines. Perpaps I did defend my head against the boom with my hands and by doing so the glasses flew off. I cannot recall the exact circumstances but understood at that time, that I was lucky.

Sometimes speed could be a good reason and the extra knot you would get from the mainsail might bring you into the marina before the storm kicks in or it´s getting dark but passage planning can partly compensate for that. Perhaps not in each and any case but it´s worth a consideration.

I am sure this subject can be debated further but personally I feel much more relaxed keeping the main furled into the mast even though I arrive a bit later at my destination.

We will need to decide on our sail configuration for the upcoming crossing of the Atlantic towards the Caribbean.

Fair winds…

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