We arrived into St. Helena after an 11-night, 1,713nm passage from Cape Town. Conditions were somewhat rough for the first few nights, but calmed down considerably after. For the rest of the way into St. Helena, we had light winds and condtions so calm it hardly felt like we were at sea. En route, we crossed the Prime Meridian and returned to the western hemisphere after two and a half years away.
We ran slower than we usually do on this psssage to explore fuel economy at very low power levels. Our interest in doing this was driven by our considering a direct run from St. Helena to the Caribbean. The 3,650 nautical mile passage between St. Helena and Barbardos is at the very limit of Dirona‘s range. Generally, we have no experience at these speeds, so we probed the upper end of the speed required to ensure we could achieve the needed fuel economy to actually complete the trip. At an average speed of 6.14nm/hour, we consumed 1,047 gallons, yielding a fuel economy of 1.64nm/gal. This is even better than the 1.5nm/gal needed for the Caribbean trip, so we’re feeling more confident we can make the trip.
Trip highlights from December 28th to January 4th follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps
We’re crossing through Valdivia Bank now, where depths drop from 16,000ft to under 800ft. Freak breaking waves have been reported here, possibly a combination of the sudden shallow water and strong winds against the Benguela current. The wind was SE 15-20, with no perceptable change in sea conditions, as we passed through the bank.
Last night we passed outside the coverage area of our always-on KVH mini-VSAT satellite data system. Connectivity was suprisingly good right up until we left the coverage area. We’ll be connecting only briefly a few times a day via Immarsat BGAN until we re-enter KVH mini-VSAT coverage near the Brazilian coast en route to Barbados.
We picked up a ship on radar over 24nm behind us, running roughly on the same course and closing quickly. We guessed it might be the RMS St. Helena that supplies St. Helena and Ascension Island via Cape Town, or perhaps a cruise ship en route to Brazil from Cape Town via St. Helena. We sure love our Furuno 25kW radar–it picks up targets at amazing distances.
Conditions remain excellent, with winds below 10 knots and the waves about 5 feet on 7 seconds. And sea conditions are forecast to improve to below 4 feet on 8 seconds as we near St. Helena. On this leg, our goal is to show that we comfortably can hit the 1.5nm/gal that we need in order go successfully complete the planned 3,650nm of the next leg to Barbados. All good so far.
The boat was a little dirty from our last few days in Cape Town and lots of salt spray from the first two days underway, so James gave the boat a quick powerwash today. Its so much nicer to be able to walk around outside and not get return covered in salt.
Virgin pina coladas before dinner to celebrate crossing the Prime Meridian and returning to the western hemisphere after two and a half years away. We crossed from west to east on the passage to Fiji in July of 2013.
Conditions have improved slightly as expected, and are just wonderful. Seas are below five feet, with winds around 10 knots, and pitch and roll are barely noticeable. The speed and fuel economy have been somewhat variable, but are great right now as we’re making 7 knots at 1.78 nm/gallon. ((The check light and external alarm lights are on due to underway maintenance.)
We’re in the process of draining the cockpit bladders. The port bladder still is full, but the starboard bladder now is partially empty. The blue hose attaches to a fitting on the starboard bladder near the cockpit door and snakes across the floor to the bulkhead fitting. (See Fuel for the Crossing for details of our fuel transfer process.)
Our start alternator parallel relay, despite being the “biggest, smokin’est” 24v relay on the market, failed today. We don’t have a spare, so James took it apart to see if he could fix it. The connector plate slide (in James’ hand) had melted slightly, causing the relay to jam on, and the insulator broke up at the connector slide plate. Both issues are heat-related. James did manage to rebuild it and get it operational again, but we really need a new one.
We got a muffin fan out of storage under the pilot house settee to cool the start alternator relay when in use. Whenever we open up a storage area, Spitfire is in there instantly. He knows our storage areas better than we do.
The RMS St Helena, known localy as just “the RMS”, is arriving this morning from Cape Town as well. They’re doing 14 knots, so made the trip in less than half our time. The ship actually left St. Helena the day we left Cape Town and has been there and back in the time we travelled here.
The small grey island on the right is Egg Island and on either side of the central peak are Swanley and Old Woman’s Valley. We were disappointed that the island was so shrouded in clouds and we might not get a view of the dramatic shoreline, but the visibiliy is improving as we approach.
Spitfire inspecting our mooring. He’s always concerned when he can see other boats nearby. We normally don’t use a buoy, as most seem to be rated for 20 tons, but the new moorings at St. Helena can handle 50 tons.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.
On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.