More Thoughts From Jeff Log2

Posted by Jeff on Friday, June 1st, 2007 at 9:15 am

First Mate Golden reporting:
Sailing. Let me say a couple things about it that might seem obvious to most of you but which as someone who has not ever been sailing before were striking to me. First, sailing is very slow. When we are actually going at our max speed of near 8 knots and are heading straight for our destination (something that hasn’t happened yet), we are going about 7mph, or a pretty basic jog. When we are going under 3 knots, which isn’t infrequent, I could hike a lot faster. On top of that we spend a lot of time chasing the wind instead of heading toward our destination. Last night we overall moved further away from the Azores in order to get as far north as possible (which seems t have worked because we have good winds and are heading east now, whereas some other boats farther south don’t have much wind now. And then there were those three days we spent at the beginning of the trip heading south to avoid a severe weather area. I enjoy panning out on the computer’s map to see where we would end up if we stayed on our current course. For a long time we were headed straight for Angola. Then at some point that had shifted enough s we would hit the tip of Brazil. By the time it was Venezuela we were all thoroughly depressed. I enjoyed this projecting quite a bit, but the Cap’n said it depressed him further and no more. So he never heard when our course was actually heading us toward Antigua, where he and Admiral Iron Ear just came from before Bermuda – a very challenging 8 days journey.
But by the next day our course would have had us just missing New Foundland, later missing it altogether and going through the Arctic Circle to northern Siberia, and, before long, we were actually pointed right at the Azores. Yippee!
Understandably conjecture about how many more days til we arrive is a popular topic of conversation. (I can actually hear them talking about this above deck right now.) We placed bets a couple days back. Both our Captain and Admiral Iron Ear think we’ll get there on the 9th, our meteorologist-in-residence, David’s brother John, guessed the 10th, and pessimistic me thinks we’ll arrive on the 11th. (If we got to go almost directly to the Azores with great winds we would still probably not quite make the Captain’s bet. (And I figure we’re going to have to make some kind of diversion again to accommodate weather challenges.)
The other thing about sailing is that sailboats have motors. And those motors get used a lot. And thank goodness cuz I can’t imagine having to be 100% at the mercy of the winds for this whole trip, how much back and forth and sitting around you’d have to do. Also it was very helpful when we wanted to move away from that bad weather and the winds weren’t agreeable. And even if the winds are working with us, as they have been the past two days roughly, the solar panels aren’t powerful enough to recharge the keep the batteries charged, which we use for the fridge and freezer, the radio, the autopilot, the laptops, etc. So we run the engine (not engaged) to recharge those for a couple hours maybe every day or so. For those who care, we are still getting great mileage. If we do the roughly 1600 regular miles to the Azores on, say, 75 gallons of diesel, we’d have gotten over 20mpg. But remember that that also includes our fridge and freezer, computers, and everything else that other people who are traveling do not have to calculate into their mileage. (We are also going to have gone a LOT more miles than as the crow flies, but in the end mileage is about getting where you want to go, not giving you credit for extraneous miles.) So 4 people meeting almost all of their energy and travel needs for a vehicle that has two bedrooms, two baths, a living room and kitchen, and a balcony (take THAT Hummer!), for 20mpg. Not too shabby!

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