Friday, November 30, 2012

Wheel Steering

Well, plan B actually worked so we have wheel steering again. Since we are holding it together with hose clamps we will use it as little as possible.

Fair winds and following seas

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 30. 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 17 38.153
W 036 27.484
C 230T S 4.5 Knts
1514 NM to go (now measured to St. Martin (new destination)

Quiet 24 hours. We are heading more south to avoid storms in our previous track. We have been ultraconservative with the sails so as to avoid the last minute reefing exercises of the previous night. Pretty day today, more sun and warmth then we have seen in a while.

Fair winds and following seas.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 29, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 19 02.196
W 035 08.049
C 240T S 6.5
1549 NM to Go

It has been an eventful 24 hours. We have had:
Squalls with winds to 35 knots,
Catastrophic failure of our wheel steering (and the vane steering that depends on it,)
Failure of the shackle that holds the main sheet to the traveler,
A poetry reading
(But not in that order...)

We lost the wheel steering to a pressed in part in the Edson steering that failed. We took it apart this morning and determined that we could not repair it at sea. This leaves us with two of our four redundant and separate steering systems: the Autohelm autopilot and the emergency tiller. So we continue on our merry way!
The icing on the cake was when the main sheet came free from the traveler. This was a simple fix. It required finding a new shackle and replacing the broken one. Fortunately we had a spare that worked on board.

The crew is well and accepting that some things break and we have sufficient backup systems to continue. It is been continuously overcast and we are all hoping for a decent couple of days of sunshine.

Fair winds and following seas.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 28, 2012

Noon (UTC) position
N 19 27.716
W 033 29,565
C 205T S 6.5 Knts
1671 NM to go, 111 NM last 24 hours

We tacked and are heading much more South. Wave action is still an issue, we do a lot of rolling. In the last 12 hours the waves have moderated from 8-10 to 5-7 feet so we are rolling a bit less. With light winds the sails flog when we roll so we are giving up a little on course to keep the sails full. According to the GRIB files we will be heading into even lighter winds in the next day or two.

We keep getting light rain every once in a while and mostly overcast skies. Air temperature keeps rising, most nights the cockpit is comfortable but not warm.

Fair winds and following seas.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 27. 2012

Noon (UTC) position
N 20 14.916
W 031 42.257
C 280T S 5.0 Knts
1782 NM to go, 123 NM last 24 hours

Lots of light rain last night. We have been giving up a bit of our south progress due to 10 foot waves rocking the boat. It has been overcast at least half of every day. In the afternoon the panels are obscured by the sails That has put a big crimp in the solar panel electricity production. Fortunately we can sail without any power at all. We do use some but are very careful. Hopefully we will get a few days of clear skies.

We are making good progress and have dropped into an easy routine appropriate for an ocean passage.

Fair winds and following seas.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 26, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 20 55.167
W 029 37.328
C 255T S 6.0
1905 NM to go

Some light rain overnight but the winds have been holding up. We did 127 NM in the last 24 hours. That has been our best run yet.

After several days of overcast we are finally getting some bright sunshine. It is doing great things for the solar panels.

Fair winds and following seas...


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 25, 2012

Noon Position
N 21 32.260
W 027 23.834
C 240T S 5.0 Knots
2031 NM to go, 97 MN on track last 24 hours

We caught another fish today. Watching the three ladies (the crew) land it and clean it is a joy to behold. They don't even talk to each other. They have each worked out their role in the past three days. How cool is that?

Some light rain last night. Pretty strong winds and then they died for about 4 hours. Between the short days, the low arc of the sun, and the consistent overcast we have been on electricity rationing. This morning we ran the engine for 2 hours just to bring them back up into a comfortable operating range.

Jessica got to talk to her Mom and Dad last night, first by satellite phone and then by ham radio. I think they were all very excited. It was fun to just watch her glow in pleasure.

The weather is getting slowly warmer. With the warmth has come a lot of moisture, hence the clouds. It has gotten pretty sticky some pasts of the day. We still have at least another 180 NM to go South, I expect it will get warmer still.

Fair winds and following seas.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 24, 2012

Noon Position:
N 22 37.963
W 026 01.640
C 220T S 5.0 Knots
2128 NM to go

We continue to have light winds. Running with the asymmetric at night is difficult even with the moon so we have accepted going a little slower and running on the jib. Most of the time we are at about 150 degrees relative so when Reboot rolls in the waves it keeps trying to gibe. We only made about 80 nautical miles yesterday, well off our expected pace of 120 NM per day. The GRIB files indicate that we should be getting some stronger winds in the next couple of days. I hope so.

The crew are amazing. They have learned Reboot quickly. With the light winds we are doing a lot of sail changes. I just say we are going to do a change and everyone grabs a task and gets it done. They also seem to like each other, frequently the watch stander will have a companion for conversation and company. In addition, (as a male I need to point out that) they cook great food and for the third day in a row they have caught a fish! We are eating well. I am actually concerned that I may gain weight on the passage.

Fair winds and following seas


Friday, November 23, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 23, 2012

Noon Position:
N 23 07.514
W 024 48.359
C 245T S 3.5 Knots

We continue to be plagued by very light winds. Yesterday we did manage to get 97 NM closer to Martinique with a lot of sail changes and hand steering. Fortunately I have a crew of three so we have been able to spread the load. I am sure I would be going nuts if I was alone.

We caught a dorado for the second day in a row today. It is nice to have fresh fish. I hope that as our land bought stores of fresh food run out we will be able to continue to catch fresh fish.

Fair winds and following seas.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, Wednesday November 21, 2012

Sixth day out.
Noon Position
N 23 47.656
W 021T 23.263
C 265 S 6.0 Knots

We have been plagued by light winds ever since leaving Tenerife. Last night the winds finally filled in and let us steer the course we want. We had a bit of rain last night. Having a full crew has resulted in many sail changes. We now use the asymmetric when the wind gets light. This has been keeping up our speed but does not help us when we are trying to go dead down wind.
It being winter the solar panels are not putting out anywhere near the charge that they do in the summertime, even as far south as we are. We have been in an energy conservation mode. Fortunately Reboot can sail with very minimal power – just enough to run the GPS to give us location, course and speed.
Temperature has been all over the place, from sun bathing to wrapped in coats against the wind. We are looking forward to the warmer climes further south.
Fair winds and following seas

Monday, November 19, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound - Monday, November 19, 2012

Fourth day out – first post
Noon position
N 25 36.760
W 019 36.252
Made good 255 Nm on track, 2523 Nm to go (At departure 2778)
Crew: XO, Moira, Sarah, Jessica

We have been plagued by very light winds. We are about 100 Nm behind and 40 Nm East of our intended track. Wave action has kept Reboot rolling making it very hard to steer our intended course.

Our Marine Mammal spotter (Moira) has already spotted two pilot whales and possibly two sperm whales. We were visited last night by several pantropical spotted dolphins. They played around in our wake for a while. We were all delighted but I think Jess won the prize for being the happiest.

We are trolling but no luck yet. We took the old line off the trolling rig and replaced it with a new line. Of course it got all snarled up while we were trying to change it out. Great crew building exercise for about 1 hour until we got it all sorted out. Next time we will do it differently.

We have had good radio contact with Fred (W3ZU) and Bill (KI4MMZ.) The ham contest this weekend made it a bit difficult but we were able to file position reports.

We left the water maker behind somewhere on its grand tour of Europe. As we were pulling out of Santa Cruz de Tenerife we go a call that they might be able to deliver it by this coming Friday. I am glad we just bit the bullet and departed.

Fair winds and following seas

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Ready to depart Tenerife

The Crew
We hope to depart for Martinique tomorrow.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food Shopping

Today we went food shopping for the transit - 4 people - estimated 25 days. 750 €. Four "trolleys" full of food. Fortunately the store delivered right to the boat so we were saved trucking everything down the dock. Now if the water maker would just arrive. Of course there is a strike in Spain...

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The float switch (again)

I have been working my way through Reboot's systems in preparation for our departure. Once again I checked the bilge. Unfortunately the float switch that Rob and I had repaired failed to work. Taking it apart we discovered that it had rusted to the point of failure. A walk to the boat store, 50 € and 1/2 hour in the bilge corrected the problem.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

To celebrate my one year anniversary of heart surgery Lysann Hofmann and Moira Moore took me to Burger King for a double whopper. I passed on the cheese as I am a recovering heart patient. Ah, the American experience in Spain!

Fair winds and following seas.

Pretty Faces

Rob (my temporary crew) and I have been laughing about how in every photograph of a boat in a magazine there is always one or more bikini clad lass in prominent view. Since Reboot is right at the entrance to the marina we get to see every boat that comes in. For some reason they are all crewed by old men. So it is treat to share a picture that does some justice to the magazines.

Jessica and Lysann
Meet Jessica (part of my temporary crew) and Lysann (from the catamaran Bounty across the way. I took this picture while on a walk and shopping trip in Santa Cruz.

Pretty Girls.

Fair winds and following seas.

Bikini, Marshall Islands

We have a new 110 foot cutter rigged sailboat visiting Marina Santa Cruz. See I did not recognize the flag so I asked the crew. It is home ported in Bikini, Marshall Islands. (In the US a documented vessel can pick anywhere in the United States for a home port.) The owner obviously has a sense of humor. For more on the Marshall Islands and Bikini see

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Playing in Poo (3)

The saga continues. We continued to explore why the aft head fills with water even with the sea inlet closed. Obviously it is back flow from the hose to the tank.But the tank is empty. Well, no, it turns out that the tank is full - right to the brim. Surprise!

I spent some time on the Catalina 42 owners web site exploring this problem. It turns out that holding tanks not pumping completely out is not unique to Reboot. The plumbing is such that if the deck clean out is open the macerator pump pulls in a lot of air from the deck clean out and can't get a good suction on the tank. We had left the clean outs loose to make it easier to add water to clean the tank. So we closed them up tight and pumped the tank out. We will see if this helps.

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I've got it, I've got it


Jessica arrives

Jessica at the top!

Jessica arrived and we put her to work threading the second spinnaker halyard. It was her first trip to the top!
The view from below

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Inmarsat ISatphone Pro Data Service

ISatPhone Pro
Prior to leaving to cross the Atlantic I purchased an Inmarsat ISatPhone Pro from the Satellite Phone Store for emergency use. I used a prepaid plan and since the more minutes you purchase the longer they last before they expire I bought enough minutes to get a one year duration. After a few months I realized that I was not using up any of my minutes so I started to use the phone occasionally to call my sons.

While in Horta, Azores I installed the drivers for the telephone on my computer. One of the drivers converts the phone into a modem that runs at 2400 bps. This is very slow. Ancient, like me. Consider that the Hayes "Smartmodem" modem of early dial up fame (1987) was a 9600 bps modem. (Technical aside, the Hayes command set "AT" is still used as the standard for most all modems.)

Now consider that the normal setting to render color on your screen is 32 bit color. So we can transmit 75 pixels per second. At 1024 x 768 screen we are dealing with 786432 pixels! The good news is that web sites don't actually transmit all those pixels. They transmit a script that tells your computer how to "render" the page. The script is actually much more compact with one exception - every picture rendered has to be transmitted over the connection.The good news is that the pictures are compressed too so not all the pixels have to be transmitted. However, the end result is still 20 to 40 minutes to render a single web page. How is that for slow?

So what good is a 2400 bps modem on a satellite telephone? What you can do is transmit small amounts of text in a reasonable time. Thus, email works. One can use email to download Grib data (for example from Saildocs.)

Enough theory - how do I actually make it work?  What you need is a telephone number for your phone to call. There are three options:

Option 1 - Connect to Inmarsat

See for step by step instructions. The down side is that you are making a dial up network connection and your computer will do all its uploads and downloads (like automatic updates of your software) while connected. This can lead to quite a lot of minutes.

Option 2 - Use an dedicated (payed) email connection service

I use SPSMail. This is a dedicated service for email.that includes an email address and several options for managing your mail.

Option 3 - Connect to your Internet service provider

Some internet service providers give you a dial telephone number to use "on the road."  Setting up a dial up connection to your provider will also work.

A note: Passage Weather provides a link for "the bandwidth impaired."  Do not confuse "bandwidth impaired" with "bandwidth nonexistent." I have been told that the Passage Weather download takes 30 to 40 minutes on an ISatPhone Pro.

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It never rains in California (Tenerife)

"Seems it never rains in southern California

Seems I've often heard that kind of talk before

It never rains in California, but girl, don't they warn ya?

It pours, man, it pours"

(Mamas and The Papas)

Hello from sunny Tenerife where it only rains in February. Well, not quite. For about the last week and a half it has rained every day. Like other volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean there are always clouds at some point in the day over the Canaries. Normally we get some light mist from the clouds. We have been experiencing steady downpours of several hours at a time. There is a lot of airborne dust here, some of which blows in from Africa. With the steady rain it has been coming down and making quite a mess. We have not gone swimming as the water is just ugly.

Last night Rob and I went drinking with a group of Netherlanders from the boat next to Urs and Isabelle. It seemed that every time we wanted to head home we were stuck in a bar in a downpour. Of course the only solution was to have another beer. I have a splitting headache this morning! Not only that but we decided to walk back in the rain so I got totally soaked. Actually we did not decide, the bars closed for the night so there was no place to go.

Fair winds and following seas.

Halloween shore side (Hurricane Sandy)

Ridgewood, New Jersey

Most cruisers have a shore side support system to receive mail and so forth. In my case it is my older brother Al and his wife of many years Sally. They live in Ridgewood, NJ north and west of New York City.

His Halloween report:


Here’s a different take on Halloween for your blog.  While you were partying in Tenerife, we were experiencing a different kind of evening.  Yes, the tree is resting on the house.  Yes, we have no power.  Yes, we will have no power for quite a long time.

 This storm came on the exact anniversary of a freak early season snowstorm last year that left us without power for three days.  Three days and counting, now.

 We do have a generator, but gasoline is tight because the power outages are very widespread and few stations have power.  We run to warm the house in the morning, shut down and then run at sundown to re-warm the house and provide light in the evening.  One neighbor has their fridge hooked up to our machine and another is running a space heater from it.  Lights on at 7:00, off at 10:30, on at 5:30, off at 9:30.

 Happy Halloween."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween at Cafe Atlantico

The Group
Yesterday was Halloween. Cafe Atlantico had a Halloween party. What this really meant was that they had live music and some decorations. Moria, Rob and I had Chinese food and then headed down to Atlantico where we were met by Isabella, Urs, and Ingran. The band was actually pretty good for a change. More interesting was watching the Tenerife "in crowd" all show up. There were about 100 of them and they all knew each other.

Costumes were very scarce but there were a few. I was surprised that no one (except for Isabella and me) was dancing. Urs told me that the Spanish  love to dance and are quite good at it. It was not in evidence last night.

Fair winds and following seas.