Tuesday 3 Dec 0215 local time
Miles missing in St. Lucia 204, traveled from Mindelo 1859
Almost another ocean left aft.
Tonight we do not sail, we slide like on a Disney World attraction, it is an impression that is only apparently different from the usual, not much has changed, except that the sea has flattened, the return of Mr Aliseo has smoothed the waves of the line of instability and filed the surface by the wind crests, the new ones have yet to form, so we are on liquid and soft hills, and Ariel glides as if attracted and not pushed. The wind is increasing and soon the waves that the same wind generates will appear, to mix with the swell from the northwest (the hills) which are about 3 meters, and come from far away Canada, where a strong depression is really shaking the North Atlantic.
Today the race committee informed us that two boats of the Mini Transat, the one they do with boats of 6.50 meters, or almost a third of Ariel, have dismasted and have been abandoned; fortunately the skippers (alone) are safe and the rescue operations are underway. The real problem for the ARC Plus fleet of 85 boats, plus another 250 from the normal ARC, behind us, will find them on the drifting course, so they advised maximum alert.
What do you do in these cases? It is true that the ocean is large and a 6 meter boat is small, however, although remote, the possibility of a collision exists. If we were involved we would have to navigate with the radar constantly switched on and calibrated in order to highlight even small boats, as is done when sailing under the coast in our seas at night, to avoid small fishing boats. Radar is not normally used in the ocean, because every ship or boat you meet is equipped with AIS systems(Automatic identification system) in order to provide in real time with reduced energy consumption, one’s position, speed, route and international identification. The radar instead emits waves that are reflected and recorded on its screen, therefore even small objects are read as potential obstacles. The calibration of the radarit is essential to prevent false echoes from triggering alarms. For example in the ocean the difficulty lies in finding the right balance of radar wave reading because even large sea waves or rain are read as an obstacle. The latest generation radars have sophisticated functions and if properly calibrated they really represent a fundamental aid for safety. The real problem is energy consumption, which in the case of continuous use of the radar, at least at night, will lead to rectification of the energy balance table to adjust the appropriate energy production. A very useful function is the timed transmission, which allows the radar to scan the sea ahead for 3 minutes every 15, for example; an eye that sees ahead of us up to 24 miles, but to have a good read,let’s say that it is close to 100% certainty, risking a false alarm for a wave bigger than the others, it must be calibrated at 6 miles, amply sufficient to guarantee us the safety of not colliding.
Instead Ariel with his team of no longer young people is doing well this regatta. From today’s positions we are seventh out of 95 boats, to the absolute first in our class, a position that we cover from the start. Only one chases and pursues us, but behind the void for many miles. I am sorry that La Ceci is not with us to experience not only the speed of this crossing, but also the sense of competition lived with the utmost prudence without ever putting the crew at risk. In fact, trying every possible sail rig to run safely, I found that the “trivele” is what is giving us the most satisfaction, especially in managing the violent storms that are very frequent after the 50th meridian, especially in a mixed regime such as in these days. Yesterday we had a meeting with 3 of them.During the day they are sensed and prepared for impact, at night they suffer, so it’s better to have a rig (that is, to be with the right sail so as not to risk breakages or other troubles).
Suddenly the air becomes fresher, more humid and the wind also rises by two forces (from 15 knots it can reach 30 in 5 minutes), the direction can change even by 40/40 degrees, but not beyond; they are most often accompanied by violent downpours of water, which the navigators of yesteryear found propitious to replenish the reservoirs by inventing collection methods. Yesterday morning the rain arrived in 2 minutes, the time to remove the cushions from the cockpit and close every porthole including the hatch for entry on board; to give the idea of the water bombs arriving, in 15 minutes the bucket that was at the stern was half filled! Have a sail organized with the “trivele” (3 sails at the same time – retained mainsail, tangoned jib opposite the mainsail and free staysail open instead from the mainsail side) and manageable from the cockpit of the boat,without having to go forward to maneuver, it makes navigation super-safe in these situations, especially with a small crew. In our case we can endure without touching the sails up to 30 knots, and when it happens we only observe a great acceleration without particular modifications of the attitude. If, on the other hand, we had chosen a sail rig with spinnaker or Gennaker (the large colored sails at the bow), not being able to withstand too much wind (they are sails to be used when there is little wind) and especially if sudden, every crew, not just us, he is forced to lower and stow the glider in a few minutes, a maneuver that does not go hand in hand with safety at night. For this reason, beyond the 45 ° / 50 ° meridian, at night white sails and above all the “trivele” which reduces the roll, stabilizes the bow and makes us almost tie one more knot.
Last night, in fact, a great toast to the new weapon! and especially to Miss. Trinchetta, always used only and exclusively with “ardent” gaits, or going up the strong wind, now reinvented and happily tested also in the carriers. However, the day began in the morning with a nuisance: the generator running to recharge the battery pack (we turn it on for three hours every other day, to make water, for bread, occasionally the washing machine and to recharge). This morning after half an hour of honest work he goes out. The check of the various possibilities starts, and the first search to do is in the sea intake, sometimes plastic bags or algae are sucked up, since we are sailing in the usual sea of algae of this stretch of ocean; the sea cock can be inspected, with a filter, and is also new. Nothing, it’s clean.The second check includes the impeller, and the third, possibly, the temperature sensor (it had already happened to me in Formentera with Mistero Blu). Morale I drop into the engine room and free it from the noise and fire protection bulkheads, I dismantle the impeller and find it completely destroyed … and the mechanic’s words come to mind .. “doctor these impellers to break them it takes years, and since the procedure is really convenient, they never do it willingly, moreover the generator works very little in the Mediterranean ”.”Doct these impellers it takes years to break them, and since the procedure is not really convenient, they never do it willingly, plus the generator works very little in the Mediterranean”.”Doct these impellers it takes years to break them, and since the procedure is not really convenient, they never do it willingly, plus the generator works very little in the Mediterranean”.
I always have the spare parts on board, so you are back in operation in about half an hour, although the work with the roll and the hot generator required acrobatic skills and not indifferent muscle tone. But we see that today is the “hymn to heat” day. At 7 pm I am about to prepare dinner and think of all Cecilia’s advice, how she would do it, what she would have put in, and in the end, an appetizer of jamon pata negra as an appetizer with a cold Albarino, followed by a roast chicken with lemon with potatoes, casera-style broccoli (invented at the time) washed down with a Ribera tempranillo from Murcia; and so far everything is ok, but the real problem, and I understand Ceci, is the heat! Ceci as I thought you! Then in the morning sauna in the engine room and in the evening in the kitchen. But she is probably the penultimate on board before arriving,and we have to dig into what’s left of the galley and I say it softly, and only to you, but my companions have a chicken again tonight. But they will only know at the last moment! Well, in the night I continue to slide on this partly silver sea for the crescent moon, and in fact, as the ocean fishermen say, the trade wind has returned with it!
See you tomorrow.
Paolo & Crew