Monday, 29 February 2016

St Helena Outbound Day 7

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 09 55S 016 55W, saillng at 6.5 knots on a course of 270M. The wind is ESE at 15-18 knots with a 1.5m SE sea and a low S swell.  We are sailing under single-reefed main and double-furled yankee.  Sunny with scattered small cumulus.  Our day's run was 134nm, our DMG was 89nm and we have 3151nm to go.

We are two hours short of completing our first week at sea, close enough to give some stats.  First here is our speed plot for the week up to the early hours of this morning.  Day 2 was certainly a slow day but otherwise we've had good speed.

Week 1 Speed Over Ground

So here are the stats:
  • Log Distance = 976nm
  • Average Boat Speed = 5.8knots
  • Distance Made Good = 669nm
  • Average VMG = 4.0knots (ouch!)
  • Engine Hours = 6 hours (charging only)

Overall it has been a nice week's sailing.  However our progress towards our waypoint off Fernando de Noronha has been disappointing.  The problem is the wind being light and blowing directly towards the waypoint.  Hence the zigzagging we're doing.  We've actually taken a deliberate "hit" sailing north on the non-favoured gybe over the last two days.  We want to be roughly between Ascension and Fernando de Noronha to be closer to other boats.  Once we get to the waypoint we should be able to sail the course, with current assistance.  Bring it on!

Yesterday afternoon we had 10-15 knots of wind and rain-bearing cumulus clouds passing by.  We only got wet a couple of times but we reefed and shook it out twice.  We left the reef in overnight to avoid being caught out by a rainstorm but it ended up being a nice night with 8-10 knot winds.  We were doing only 4-5 knots for much of the night but we both slept very well!

At 1045 this morning we gybed over on to port tack.  This tack seems to be more comfortable and is certainly the leading tack for our waypoint at present.  We tucked a reef in immediately after gybing since the wind was 15-18 knots.  We're now trucking along nicely, and only 20 degrees off the waypoint.

As mentioned a couple of days ago I've been playing with the Winlink HF radio email system.  Last night I managed to connect to PY4LF in Brazil.  This station is the closest for yachts west of St Helena and Ascension.  It has 7MHz, 14MHz and 21MHz frequencies.  The operator Jo has been very helpful, leaving the station on the air for the last 24 hours for me.  Normally it is only on the air from 1800 to 2300utc.  Below is a DX Toolkit propagation prediction for the path between us.

HF Propagation to/from PY4LF

Last night I connected on the 14MHz frequency at 1530, 1700 and 2000utc with the connection being very strong at 2000utc.  This is in line with the prediction, and should have improved further later in the evening.  However I was asleep by then!  In the early hours I tried the 7MHz frequency without success, due I think to interference on the channel.  Hopefully the above info is of use to other Winlinked boats passing this way!

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