Friday, May 31, 2013


Since last night when the wind dropped again and we had to start motoring, I live with a pocket calculator in my hands.
Between St Martin and Horta, we used the engine for 62 hours and had to refilled the tanks with 40.3 gallons in Horta. And this was with the engine at slow rpm, as we are doing now. That would give us a consumption of 0.65 gallons per hour, with a motor sailing speed of around 4 knots. That means we left with 138 hours of engine in the tanks. We have used already 20 hours, so we should be able to motor for another 118 hours, covering hopefulle 472 miles.
I had another look at the map and found that we were almost at that distance from Camaret, which has a fuel dock and is the closest stop on our way to Cherbourg. So we changed destination, but having in mind that should we get close enough without using the engine, we will keep either Cherbourg or St Peter of Guernsey as our fuelling stop.At noon, we were by 46:04.5 N and 15:46.8 W, 476 miles from Camaret. Right now, at 4 p.m. TU+1 time, we are 459 miles from Camaret, 556 from St Peter and 593 from Cherbourg.
St Peter and Cherbourg would be our preferred stops as they are on the direct route to Rouen.
Looking at the weather files is more depressing than ever. Apparently, there is a high pressure system forming NW of us, probably with the intention of blocking our access to the entrance of the Channel, same as when we got close to Horta, the Azores high did it best to block us. But we got there, same as we will get to Rouen.
By tomorrow night, we should have a much better idea as to whether we can go direct to St Peter or Cherbourg.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013


I forgot to mentio that we passed a milestone yesterday. Since Tom and Sarah handed over to me the care of Papy Jovial born Precept, I have covered 55015 miles over the ground as of yesterday noon, TU+1 time.
For the last 24 hours, we had a mixture of light wind and no wind, but we were able to cover 136 miles and at noon we were 778 miles from our destination, at 45:29 N and 18:05.7 W. Since then, the wind has dropped down to less than 6 knots and we have to motor sail. This is a little worrying as obviously we know that we cannot motor for more than 4 days, even at 1200 rpm. So we have to manage the use of the engine and of whatever wind is available as efficiently as possible.
Karen is not in the best of shape and has to rest as much as she can. As a result, Jean-Paul is taking a bigger share of the daily chores, washing dishes and cooking.
We are still looking at either Plymouth or Cherbourg as possible stops to refuel and we still think that June 6 afternoon would be a possible time of arrival.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ups and downs

Finally, we were able today to slacken a little bit the sheets. We go faster and more comfortably, but we know that it won't last. But as long as it does, we are able to catch up a little bit with sleep.
The bad newsd, which I hope is temporary, is that the weather forecast is showing light north easterly wind as we enter the Channel. That means a lot of motoring and slower speed.
At this point, we lowered our expectations and no longer expect to arrive on June 5th at the mouth of the river Seines, which also means that we won't get to Rouen before the start of the event. All I have to do now is make the appropriate contacts to make sure that we still have available space for Papy Jovial. I will also try and contact Tom and Barbara who are coming on the 10th, wich is OK.
One of the beauties of Cloud Computing, is that you can only consult you new and old mail when you are connected. And since I have had to reformat my hard drive, I do not have email addresses and I have to recover them from my own memory. Very risky process.
It is still very cold, by our standards, with the temperature at 62 during the night. Both Karen and I are without cold weather clothes, Karen because she did not take any on the boat, and me because somehow they got misplaced and we can't find them. So, I put on as many layers as possible and so far, it is ok.
We are now thinking of possibly making a stop in Plymouth, England to top up our fuel tanks. So far, we have only used the engine for 8 hours, but if the wind does not cooperate, we know that we won't have enough to motor all the way to Honfleur and then up the river Seine. The only two reasonable options are Plymouthy and Cherbourg, but in case of a North East light wind, Plymouth is better as we will have even less wind on the south coast of england.
We hope that the forecast will change and that we will be able to reach Rouen without having to refuel.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Third day

The first day, we have been motor sailing, against the wind of course. The second day, 25 knots of wind in the nose, sailing with the boat slamming heavily in the seas and very uncomfortable and cold. Today, much better, to the point that we worry that we might lose the wind. But we are moving. 135 miles the first day, 135 the second and 139 today.
If we could sail a direct course, at noon we had 1027 miles to go to the entrance into the river Seine.
My only worry is that if we wanted to be there on the 5th morning, so as to arrive in Rouen the evening before the start of the event, we have to close on the destination by 131 miles a day. Not guaranteed by any mean.
However, Tom and Barabara are not joining us until the 10th of June so. barring an unlikely disaster, we will be there.
Sometimes we wonder if Papy Jovial had not decided to break the record of the most percentage of close haul sailing between St Martin and Rouen. So far, we have had only one day away from the head wind, everything else was close haul or tacking.
Papy Jovial has a very wide and flat bottom so the water always ends up in one of the lateral compartment. The bilge pumps being, obviously, in the middle, we have no way of pumping the water out, except for the old fashion way of sponge and bucket.
Today, at noon, we were 42:21.3 N and 22:09.8 W (TU time).
It is getting cold, especially at night (down to the low 60s) and we have had much sun during the days. However, we are in good spirit and good shape.
Tonight, another rum punch coming up to celebrate the less than 1,000 miles left.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Second leg

Our stay in Horta was both too short and too long. Too short because we would have liked more time to rest and to enjoy the island. Too long, because we know that we have to be in Rouen by June 6th. To do that, we need to cover towards the destination 132 miles per day, and I don't think that we will be able to do that. So we may arrive either on the 7th or the 8th.
At first, when we left, the wind was below 4 knots and we had to motor for a little more than 8 hours. Then we got some wind, and we have been sailing since, not always in the right direction. We covered 135 miles over the ground in 25 hours, but we closed in on the entrance of the river Seine by only 118 miles. We need to get more north in our course without addding too many miles, as we certainly don't want to end up in Coruna.
I worry that the marina in Rouen, not seeing us come in would not keep a space for us. We have to wait until we get a better idea on our ETA to do something about this.
Right now, the conditions are not bad. But again, it is close haul and we would love some broad reaching for a change.
Maybe once we are north of the Azores high with isobares in a NW/SE direction we could do some beam reaching.
We are still all of us tired, and we take it easy. Everyone on board is doing fine and we will do our best to be patient.

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Friday, May 24, 2013


As we were closing on Horta on Saturday, the wind got weaker and weaker and by evening we were not moving at all. We then decided to run the engine as slowly as possible (1200 rpm), adding water to the rate of 1 quart every 30 minutes. We were doing around 2.5 knots and by morning we found ourselves 5 miles south of Horta when the alternator decided to break the support bolt, that sheared at the start of the thread, dropping nut and bushing into the bilge. Without engine and without wind, we decided to call the marina for help, but after another hour of waiting, Jean-Paul managed to secure the alternator with sail ties well enough that we could run the engine. We cancelled the tow boat and entered the marina under our own power, except for the last 20 seconds when the belt slipped out and we we lucky enough to grab a german boat and raft up with them at the customs dock. After the formalities, we then moved to raft up with two other boats on the outside dock.
We were totally exhausted and the folloiwng days were devoted to following up on the repairs, trying to catch some sleep, do a minimum of touring of the island as we are not likely to be back soon. Making an entry in the blog was pushed back at the end of the to-do list and it is only now that the boat is ready, we have done the provisionning, paid most of the bills, that I can make an entry in the blog.
The island of Fayal (and probably the other eight islands) is maintained continuously to look very neat and clean. While driving around the island, we saw almost everywhere workers trimming the vegetation on the side of the road, painting, repairing, and keeping the island beautiful.
We are leaving tomorrow morning with some 1710 miles to cover in 13 days, if we don't want to miss the beginning of the Armada in Rouen, which means an average of 131 miles per day. This is going to be a challenge as there is a powerful high pressure over the Azores and we can expect light wind at least for the first 4 days.
But I remain hopeful !

Saturday, May 18, 2013


No other word to describe this final stretch. Yesterday at noon local time (TU-10, we were 96 miles from Horta. Today at noon, it was 46 et there is no sign that we are going to get any real wind soon. So, no way to tell when we will finally arrive. With 38 miles left today at 3 p.m., we should arrive tomorrow, but with all those calm winds, there is no guarantee.
Jean-Paul has tried to tighten up clamps and nuts on the engine. It slowed down the leak but did not stop it and we found out that we can use the engine at slow rpm if not idle for only 48 minutes before it starts heating up again.
Only in Horta, wil we know what the problem is, where exactly the leak is and what caused it.
At noon today, we were by 37:59 N and 29:20 W with 46 miles to Horta.
We are looking forward to the first real shower and the first round of drinks at "Chez Peter" au Cafe des Sports.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Garbage collection day

Yesterday was the day of collection of garbage. In fact, this is the second time that we do it.
On long ocean crossings, there are two items which prove to be challenging to manage, the garbage and the fresh water consumption.
For the garbage, here is what we do.
Like many other sailors, we accept, when no longer on the continental shelf, to throw overboard glass, metal, paper, cardboard and obviously leftovers of food. For the glass and metal, we make sure, by filling up the glass bottle with sea water and by poking holes in the metal container, that it would sink to the bottom of the ocean.
We are then left with plastic stuff, yoghurt containers, milk bottles, various packing for ham, bread and others. Before putting in the garbage bin, we rinse everything with sea water to avoid fermentation and bad odors. Once the garbage bin is full, I take the "Food Saver" machine to vacuum pack things, I make bags of 11 inches wide by 3 feet long and I vacuum pack the garbage. I end up with small bags odorless, waterproof, that can be stored anywhere we want inside the boat. You could even sleep with it !
For the water, I follow the principle "if you can measure it, you can manage it" and I have installed a water meter at the outlet of the fresh water pump so that I know to the tenth of a gallon how much water has gone through. Then, everyday at noon, I tell the team how much water we used the previous day, how much since we left, what is the daily average and bsed on it how many days of water are left.
And my experience is that the water consumption sets naturally at a level that guarantee that we can finish the passage without problems, without having to set rules. This is also why I do not have a water maker, except for a manual one in case of emergency.
Today at noon (14:00 UTC) we were by 37:27 N and 31:52 W, 167 miles from Horta on a direct course. But, as has been the case for the last ten days. we won't get there on a direct course but will have to keep tacking to the end.
All bets are off ! Karen said we will arrive Saturday noon, Jean-Paul Saturday 3 in the morning, and me the pessimist at 3 in the afternoon. The loser will buy a round of drinks at the "Cafe des Sports.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A little handout from Eole

I was expecting Eole, the god of the wind, to do us a little favour. And it did. But a really little one. This morning, he allowed us to sail due east, on a direct course to Horta for some 34 miles, but then again started to push us on the south side of the course. But there is some wind, like 10 knots and we now are only 262 miles from Horta.
At the noon fix, (14:00 UTC), our position was 37:47 N and 34:52 W, at 283 miles from Horta, hoping for an ETA on the 17th afternoon.
Now, hard to tell again. But we have 250 miles of fuel in the tank, and should the wind completely fail, we know we can still make it in good time.
If we can arrive before the morning of Saturday 18th, that would be great. We will have time to start on the repairs, do some purchases of parts needed and wash the boat. On Sunday we would do some touring on the island and on Monday to provisionning and works on the boat Monday, Tuesday and leave on Wednesday 22nd for a passage that is not supposed to take more than 12 days. That would make us arrive in Rouen on June 2nd, therefore leaving a little time to spare before Rouen to make a stop in Guernsey.
At night, it is colder and colder et the boat is very humid. In the day, with a little sunshine and some movements, it is bearable, but the night when you are sitting still in the cockpit, it gets difficult for organisms used to live in shorts and T-Shirt to gradually acclimate.
At lunch, Karen prepared for us a warm beans soup which was very welcome and got us a little warmer inside.
Otherwise, the day has been dull,, except on a few occasiosns during the night when we fell into a patch of no wind. At 10 knots, if the boat is moving, let's say at 5 knots, it gives us an apparent wind of 15 and we can keep moving. But if for one reason or an other, like the boat hitting a large wave, then it stops and the apparent wind fall to the same as the actual wind, i.e. 10 knots, and it is very difficult to restart this big 10 tons undersailed boat. It takes time, patience and concentration, and all along, you wonder if you will be able to regain some speed.
However, we should not complain. With very little wind, we did 137 miles over the ground yesterday, 137 the day before and 143 the day before. If we were sailing in the right direction, we might already have arrived. But you never sail direct. When we left St Martin, the distance to Horta, as the crow flies, was 2180 miles. So far, we have sailed 2573 miles and we still have probably more than 300 to go before we get there.
Tomorrow at this time, we will be within motoring distance from Horta and I hope to be able to write that we won't need it.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Target seeking

They used to say "if you don't know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else." We are at the opposite of this. We know very well where we want to go, but still we ended up somewhere else. However, since yesterday, the situation has improved a little bit. From noon to noon, we have closed onto Horta by 78 miles, a lot more than what we did the last few days. Now, it is a matter of not making mistakes in choosing the right tacks. It is somehow the same approach as in a chess game. You have to be able to visualize the next few moves and not only the next one. I am glad that we have Jean-Paul with us on board. He is an accomplished racer and I am sure that we will make the right choices. In any case, even with the best case scenario, I doubt that we could arrive before Saturday the 18th afternoon. And unless they have changed the order of the days in a week, the next day will most probably be a Sunday, with most businesses closed. And we have a list of minor repairs so long that in french we call it "longer than a day without bread". So we will be pressed for time if we want to leave Horta with enough time to make it to Rouen before the start of the Armada. It also implies that we will need a little more cooperation from the weather.
We are also getting great help from Claude of the "reseau du marin" (Ham radio network out of Montreal in Quebec). Claude, who is 72, is an accomplished sailor and in addition to the weather information that he provides, he also makes suggestions as to what tactical choice to make, and so far, he has been proven very right every time.
At noon today, (TU-2), our position was 37:40.3 N and 36:33.0 W. For the time being, we are heading true 020, and we intend to tack late this afternoon as we do not want to go too far north where the wind might be too light. On the other hand, we don't want to go too far south either, as it would add too much distance.
The water situation is back to normal. Since we left St Martin, we used 98.2 gallons, which is an average of 5.17 gallons per day. We have 118 gallons left, which is 20 days of consumption.
We have not used the engine for the last 9 days. The solar panels and the wind generator provide more electricity than we need for the freezer, the refrigerator, the computers, the instruments and the various other electric apparaturs. That means that we have no idea how the engine will behave when we start it. We had the over-heating problem, with loss of coolant. We also know that the fuel in the fuel tanks has been subjected to the same movements as the water, and therefore, I am worried that the fuel filters will get clogged a soon as we start. The last day I am expecting to run out of wind and therefore in need of motoring. We can just hope that we won't have to call "Tow Boat US", since there is none in the Azores.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

water drama !

Yesterday, as Jean-Paul was trying to get some water, nothing was coming out of the faucet. We went into troubel shooting mode, checking the filter on the pump, checking the pump, switching from one tank to the other, all that in vain. We almost concluded that there had to have been a leak in the sytem upstream of the pump and that all the water had leaked into the bilge. And we started thinking on how we were going to manage, with very little security reserves of 6 gallons. We talked about drinking beer and milk and using the hand operated water maker that I keep in the ditch bag near the life raft. We knew for sure that the starboard tank of 90 gallons was near empty and there should be water in the port side tank. Since a modification made in New Zealand in 2010, it is no longer possible to dip the tank having moved the fill pipe to make room for a bunk on top of the tank. But I could hear water sloshing in the tank and convinced myself that there should be water in there. We disconnected the feed hose from the pump and tried to suck the water in, but with no success. Then, we disconnected the hose from the tank and tried to blow in it and found that the hose was blocked somewhere. We used a long coax cable to try and clear it. No success. Following the lines, we finally found the block, in the most impossible location in the engine room where the hoses from the two tanks join and then lead to the pump. We decided that in the current conditions, repairs was a very difficult option and decided to set up an external bypass between the tank and the pump, and it worked. Big relief !
Then, the support holding the radar screen in the cockpit broke and the whole radar fell on the floor of the cockpit. It is still functionning but unusable as such. I am not very optimistic on the prospect of finding a spare with Edson. It looks like this part is very old, probably same age as the boat born in 1987 and there might not be in stock any more. Welding is out as it is cast aluminium. Maybe a special cement, with reinforcing plates across the fracture.
It was also the day we came closer than 500 miles from Horta, and we celebrated again with a rum punch. Dinner was a microwavable type which we warmed up in boiling water in the pressure cooker.
All that resulted in no blog yesterday and also I could not do my usual radio session with the canadian networks.
The wind is still in our face and we might have to tack all the way to Horta, which would take probably 6 days. We are not happy about that, but it is waht it is.
At 18:00 Universal Time, we are 426 miles from Horta and our position is 37:30 N and 37:31 W. Currently we are heading 130 when the island is on 079, doing around 5.5 knots. The conditions have improved, the boat slams less into the waves and the wind is donw to around 15 knots.
We are hoping that the wind will be a little generous and veer or back some 30 degrees to ease up on the tacking.
We shall see. We still have enough wine and rum to last another week.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

another day in the washer

Last night, before dark, we decided to tack and go north to avoid a new depression forming right ahead of us. We certainly did the right thing, avoiding the stronger winds ahead. But going north made us take the seas from a different angle, and the boat started slamming the seas violently, to the point where again, we suffered some minor damages. One of them was the line of the roller furler that got out and on top of drum, jamming itself between the drum and the outside body. In one particularly violent slamming it broke and the genoa unfurled completely. Fortunately, most of the line is still on the drum and if we needed to reduce the genoa, we would have to heave to, tie the two parts of the line and pass it though larger block that would accept the knot (we have two of those). Then we should be able to roll it in. We could not do this without heaving to as the foredeck is sometimes underwater, the bow going straight through the waves.
Karen had to set up camp on the leeside bunk and she is now reading comfortably without running the risk of being ejected out of the bunk.
The good news is that we are now going north and getting closer to the center of the high pressure system. Within approximately ten hours from now, the wind should start to drop and the worse will be behind us.
Breakfast having been on the lighter side, I decided to prepare cheese omelets for lunch. And I did ! But it required a lot of juggling with every item going into the preparation trying to fly their own way.
So, tonight, can opener cooking, with another french specialty "Petit Sale aux Lentilles".
This is my sixth atlantic crossing, and might turn out to be the first where I do most of the way between the Caraibbean and Horta not only on close haul, but tacking in the end. We have as of now 541 miles to go to Horta, as the crow flies, but if we have to tack, it will become 1,000 miles and another week. Tacking on a Morgan 41 Classic, which is otherwise on wonderful cruising boat, is not the easiest way to go as she goes something like 120 degrees between tacks.
At 20:00 Universal Time, we were 34:07 N and 38:23 W going north at 5.5 knots.
Hopefully, I should be able to paint a better environment tomorrow.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Easterly for ever

Still going east when we need to go north, but the wind has decided for us. Jean-Paul and I keep stugying the grib files and the weather charts, and the conclusion remains the same, we cannot tack until tomorrow afternoon around 6.
We are also closing on the area where the crew of "Grain de Soleil" might be drifting in their liferaft. However, the potential area is 215 miles from north to south and 135 miles from east to west. Chances to be able to see them are very slim. From the deck of Papy Jovial, we cannot see beyond brobably 2 miles each side. That is to say that the strip made by those 4 miles would be slimmer than a line done by a fine pencil on the chart.
However, we will be sailing in this area from south to north and will keep our eyes peeled, hoping for a miracle.
Based on what we see on the grib files and on what the network "Le Reseau du Capitaine" tells us, we will definitely tack tomorrow to go north.
If all goes well, we still might arrive in Horta by the 16th.
We are all doing well, Karen is slowly building up her sea legs and Jean-Paul and I are finding a good rythm in terms of taking naps and keeping watch.
Nothing much more to say. Or maybe inspiration is not there. Whatever. Time for drinks, see you tomorrow.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

On our way to the Canaries

All day, the fate of the sailboat "Grain de Soleil" has been at the center of our conversations and thoughts. If the small amount of informations that we have is true, I am shocked and upset that so little has been done to try and help those people.
They switched on their EPIRB on April 24th, being around 400 miles west south west of the Azores. Search and rescue did not start until the 26, allegedly because of the weather. The EPIRB stopped transmitting on the 27th, and since then, no news. But apparently, very few people are aware of this drama. The Ham Radio networks that I talked to were not aware.
I do not understand why so little has been done.
I thought that as soon as such a distress call is received, the organization that received the call (in this case I think was CROSS from France) would initiate a search and rescue effort, and at the very least, makes sure that all shipping in the area is made aware of the call. And the ham radio networks, which are one of the most effective communication system worldwide, should have been made aware.
I hope at some point that I will get more info and be able to understand why so little was done. My friend Mike, back in Norfolk, who is very familiar with those situations having been in the center of it, told me that if you triggered your EPIRB in the middle of the North Atlantic, rescue would be on their way within hours, sometimes minutes.

Apart from that, life on Papy Jovial today has been uneventful. Nice weather this morning, showers and light wind the afternoon, until at 4 o'clock we hit a wall of squalls with little wind and plenty rain that pushed us south. It does not look like it is moving or disintegrating, so we have to continue with a lot of south in our east. Might not be that bad since there is a depression developing to the north, and the "Reseau du Marin" (Ham radio network out of Canada) tells me that if we stayed south of 33 north, we should not see more than 22 knots of wind.
And Jean-Paul who had done his laundry today and put it outside to dry has instead received a multiple and thorough rinsing with freshwater.

We are wondering if the weather is not trying to force us to change destination and chose Madeira or the Canaries. Hopefully, after the week-end, we might at last see some easterly wind and sail towards Horta.
Right now, our position at 10:00 pm TU, our position is 33:16 N and 40:03 W. We are only 638 miles as the crow flies from Horta, but we might ending up covering 1100 miles to get there. Currently our course over the ground is 120, which is not exactly the direct course.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Latest bad joke from Dr Murphy

While on watch early morning, the wind was dropping and I decided to go back to two reef from three. Then I tried to roll out the genoa, to find out that the starboard winch was very hard to turn. I jerry rigged something to sheet in using the port side one and when Jean-Paul came on deck, we took the winch apart and found out that the gear used for the fast speed was completely jammed. We took the corresponding part from the port side winch and put it in place on the starboard one. It works but means that if and when we tack, the winch on the port side will only work on small speed. As long as we know, it should not be a major problem.
However, it is more and more obvious that we need the email address of a reputable boat yard in Horta to take care of that problem and that of the broken stanchion base. We looked at it, and we believe that it should be possible to weld it back in place, as the bottom plate is still in place. Taking it out would be a major job, as it is bolted to the deck and access to the bolts might mean to cut out part of the ceiling liner, made of heavy fiberglass.
Today, we received several messages relating to a 34 foot sailboat "Grain de Soleil". They triggered their EPIRB on April 24th, from about 400 miles west south west of Horta. The EPIRB continued to transmit until the 27th. Because there was a major storm over the Azores at the time, rescue efforts could not fly over the position until after 48 hours and found nothing.
We will be sailing close to that area between the 12 and the 13 and we hope for a miracle.
Now that the weather has become more manageable, life on Papy Jovial is returning to its regular routine. Last night, we cooked with a can opener for a "cassoulet toulousain", and tonight Jean-Paul is improvising something with the left over, some bacon and some potatoes.
Our position at 18:00 TU-3 is 33:26 N and 42:15 W. We are 730 miles from Horta as the Crow flies, but it does not mean much with this wind keeping in our nose. The NOAA weather charts show the Azores Hight settling down on the west north west of the islands, and we have to be careful not to go there as the closer we are to the center of the high, the less wind we will have.
We can only keep a close eye on the weather and take it one day at the time.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Probably out of the worse

The wind is now down to 22 knots from the 35 + of the last 48 hours. The movements of the boat are a lot smoother, but still not to the point that I want to spend time at the keyboard, fighting gravity when the boat is trying to kick me out of my seat and onto the stove on the other side of the boat.
Yet, during that time with gale force wind and seas building to a steep northerly swell, we've kept busy, trying to keep Papy Jovial in working order. First, it was the lower part of the companionway that had to be secured. It is fasten to the forward part of the water heater compartment, but only with machine screws that had enlarged their path and got out. We replace most of them and put them in backward so that they would be screwed into the wooden part and not the fiberglass. That should hold it in place until we get to Horta, where we will put in place bolts and nuts.
Then the strap at the corner of the portside lee cloth in the main cabin broke as the thread attaching them to the cloth got away. Karen, who is valiantly struggling to stay active, sewed them back (each of the two corners broke, but one after one) and we now have a place to sleep when on a port tack.
After that, it was the turn of the propane sensor to become erratic and keep sounding a leak alarm and shut off the valve. I tried to put the sensor out in the open, to see if it would work in fresh air, but it did not. I have that happened when in New Zealand in 2010, and I had been told, at the time, that those sensors over time start to malfunction. So, for the time being, we took out the solenoid valve located on the bottle itself, and have to shut the valve manually as soon as we have finished using the stove. We only use it for the morning coffee and for dinner, so it is manageable
Then, the stanchion base of the stanchion, abaft of the starboard gate.where the lines for the windvane goes through on two blocks, broke. I had noticed that the stainless steel tube that goes from the gate to the stanchion was bent downward, noticed that the stnachion base on the gate was cracked, and concluded that this might have happened when then the new engine was lowered onto it. I did not see the crack on the other stanchion, and with the continuous hammering of the boat, it finally broke. We removed the horizontal stainless steel bar and I was able to adjust the lines from the windvane, although they are now chafing agains the genoa sheet. Mut that should hold until Horta.
It looks like Doctor Murphy is still with us. Buit we will prevail !
Right now, we are 851 miles from Horta on a direct course that should be on 064. But the wind and the seas would not let us sail on a direct course and we are doing 090, due east. From what I see on the Grib files, we will probably have to tack around May 10th to go north, and then tasck again towards the Azores. How many miles this is going to add to our course is anybody's guess as we can't see that far ahead what the wind is going to do. It might add 200 or 300 miles, so it is difficult to say when we will get there. Anything between My 14th and May 17th.
Our current position, at 6:00 p.m. local time (TU-3) is 33:43 N and 45:06 W.
Despite of the weather conditions, we did celebrate with a rum punch getting to less than 1000 miles from Horta.
Tonight, canned dinner, suaerkraut.

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Monday, May 6, 2013


we are busy managing the weather so no blog today. We are fine, just busy.
See you tomorrow.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

real sailing now

Playing cat and mouse with the calms is no longer the name of the game. We are now in real sailing, on close haul with a little over 21 knots on apparent wind and we are progressing real well in almost the right direction. Unfortunately, we expect the wind to veer to a more northerly direction, which means that we will probably sail south of the course. I only hope that we will not have to tack too much as it will add significantly to the distance left to go.
We no longer need the engine, at least for today. Between 8:30 this morning and 6:00 this afternoon, we went from minus 215 amp/hour to minus 145, which is a net gain of 70 amp/hour for the day. If we remain very cautious in our use of electricity, we might do away with the engine for another day.
At 6 this afternoon (TU-3), we are by 32:43 N and 50:29 W we 1121 miles to go on a direct course. The grib files tell us that we will have to do at least one tack, which will add to the distance. How much, we don't know yet.
This morning, we topped up the coolant in the engine and this afternoon, we could not see any leak. But we have not started the engine so we don't know yet if the mishap was a temporary thing caused by a low level of coolant.
We have to getting used to live on a close haul situation. We don't have yet to walk on the bulkheads though. Papy Jovial does not list a lot, most of the time 15 degrees, but that is enough, added to the jerky motion caused by the seas, to make cooking or washing dishes not very comfortable.
Tonight, chicken and rice with veggies mixed in it.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Lots happening

We were able to keep the spi until 8 this morning when a warm front caught up with us. The squalls are full of heavy rain but no wind. We hurry to get the spi down and then go through the usual scenario of calm followed by a little wind in the wrong direction.
So we decide to move away from the front and recharge the batteries, using the engine for no more than two hours.
Well, after one hour, as we were enjoying lunch, high temperature alarm, and we run to stop the engine.
It appears that a lot of coolant has found its way into the bilge. As soon as the engine has cooled down enough, we look for a possible cause of leak and found nothing. Jean-Paul suggests that we check the valve to drain the coolant system. Took some time to find it, although there is a photo in the manual. Finally Jean-Paul found it, cracked open 1/8 of a turn. Since we cannot find anything else, we have to be satisfied with that explanation. We topped up the coolant, restarted the engine with Jean-Paul in the engine compartment, watching every where and found nothing wrong. Besides, the wind has come back and we can keep sailing for a while, managing our electric consumption the best we can and hoping that the solar panels and the wind generators will supply enough for our needs.
Tonight, we will again do sauteed potatoes, this time enhanced with some corned beef.
We should have wind for the next four days, sometimes a lttle too much, but nothing we can't manage.
At noon today, we were 31:03 N and 52:38 W. We still had 1265 miles to go to Horta. I now reckon that we might arrive on the 15th only.
Tonight, we will move the clock forward one hour to TU-3.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

The day of the spi

Finally the day when we could dry the spi up in the air has arrived. But not before a hellish night when Jean-Paul and myself kept hand steering all night at great speed exceeding 0.5 to 2 knots. For the whole night, we had to show almost 22 miles, but we moved forward anyway and did not burn any fuel.
Although it rained all night, Jean-Paul stayed dry in his V-Berth and the temporary repair to the leaking hatch seemed to haved worked. Should be good at least until Horta.
This morning, beautiful weather and enough wind in the right direction to set up the asymetrical spi that pulls us at 5 knots, sometimes more with only 5 knots of apparent wind. Next day should show a decent mileage.
Not today. We covered 90 miles over the ground, 81 through the water (the speedo will probably have to be recalibrated) and we got only 75 miles closer to Horta as we certainly did not sail in a straight line during the night. At noon, we still had 1375 miles to go to get to Horta. I reckon that we can do that in 10 and a half days and that we should be able to have a drink at the famous "Cafe des Sports", also know as "Chez Peter" on May 14th.
At noon, our position was 29:34 N and 54:09 W. As for the water, on average, our consumption remains at 5.3 gallons a day which means at that rate another 33 days of water in the tanks. For fuel, we still have 47 gallons in the tank and 5 in the emergency jerry can. We have promised ourselves that we will not touche the engine until we are at least at the half way point.
We also have in the freezer another 4 meals of fish, one of chicken before we start digging in our 13 canned meals. We won't have to eat the youngest member of the crew to survive.
Tonight, salmon and tagliatella.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

motoring, motoring, motoring

I am beginning to feel concerned as it is obvious that we cannot motor sail to the Acores. At 6 p.m. today, we still have around 70 hours of motoring in the tank at 1400 rpm, which gives us around 3.6 knots. That's 250 miles but we still have 1,427 to go. We need not only to manage the use of the engine as efficiently as we can, but also, we must find wind.
I had good communications today, morning and afternoon with the two canadian radio-networks and their forecast is not all that exciting. More light winds followed by head wind. Not the best combination. We will try and go north as much as we can so that when the NE comes we are close to the latitude of the Azores. Long way to go . . . .
Today, we found the source of the leak in the forward hatch. It is a part that tighten the hinge against the glass that lost a screw and the plastic part that presses against the glass. Jean-Paul used a tape that was given to me by Scott and which is normally used in the building industry. But he told me that he used that on top of hatches and it works well. This should be a good solution until we get to the Azores.
This morning, we had strong violent thunderstorms, with lots of rain, thunder and lightening. This afternoon, more squalls, but this time without vertical circulation, with some rain but still no wind.
At noon today (TU-4), our position was 28:44 N and 55:19 W. We had covered 109 miles for the day and we still had 1449 miles to go. Water situation very good. For the fuel, we have been motoring now for 46 hours and the consumption looks to be around 0.7 gallons/hour.
Tonight, steaks and sauteed potatoes.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

the battle of the calm

Motoring, motoring, motoring since morning just after midnight. We only have 107 miles to show for the day. We try to run the engine as conservately as we can, sometimes only 1200 rpm to save fuel as much as we can. Anyway, it is obvious that we cannot motor all the way to the Azores and hopefully some kind of wind will come and help us.
The good side of it is that the boat hardly moves, and we can get busy on various chores, like laundry, pushing the wedge in the mast back in place, replacing (again) the schackle keeping the clew of the main on to the boom.
Reading, sleeping, cooking, and hoping that the wind will come soon.
Our position at noonl local time (TU-4) was 27:33.8 N and 56:34.2 W. Despite the laundry, the water consumption remains very good, at 4.92 gallon/day.
Today we found out that we did buy another bottle of Ricard, and we look forward to the drinks of tonight.

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