Day 31 – 266 miles to Horta

We’re almost there! As I write this, it is 9:45am here, and we are planning our arrival for tomorrow, sometime in the late afternoon.

Our ability to beat the weather predictions continues. I am looking out at a calm sea. There is an 8 to 10 foot swell going, but the waves are so spaced out that it’s really not an issue. We’re proceeding east into a 10-knot headwind, being carried forward by a strong sea current. Throughout the night, the current was slowing us to 8 knots, and now with exactly the same engine RPMs (1700) we are running 10 knots plus.

Both divisions have boats that decided to scoot ahead, to get into port before the predicted storm on Friday. Crosser split off from our division and is now anticipating arrival at 11:00pm tonight. Strickly for Fun, Sea Fox and Four Across split off from the slower division, and are targeting an early (7:00am) arrival on Friday. Division 1 (our division) is forecasting an arrival of late afternoon tomorrow.

As I am typing this, Bob on Emeritus, has come on the radio to announce that he has just spoken with the Horta marina and they informed him that they will be closed all day tomorrow for re-modeling and to swap out the water. If he hadn’t added the bit about swapping the water, I may have fallen for it.
 
One of the items I have added to my post-voyage checklist is to have our radios checked. Emeritus and Que Linda clearly have the best-tweaked radios in our group. Sans Souci’s radios are working fine, but our range is much more limited. Twice per day, we have been doing an SSB talk with the other division. Emeritus has taken over this duty, because Sans Souci’s radios won’t reach. We can hear Atlantic Escort in the other division, but they can’t hear our transmissions. I think it’s nothing more than having someone who knows what they are doing help us refine the antennas.

I’ve enjoyed hearing Bob from Emeritus on the radio. Someone said that he’s a retired pilot. You can hear the years of experience in radio communications in his voice. I can’t explain it, and I sure as heck can’t emulate it, but his style on the radio is both lighthearted and professional. He has done a masterful job of handling the inter-divisional communications.

Yesterday was ultra-quiet. Our team has taken to reading, or watching DVDs on their laptops. There was almost no discussion on the radio, and not even much discussion amongst Sans Souci’s crew.

The few highlights from the day: 


– Garret removed our small water maker from the engine room. We have two water makers, a small 12-volt one that only makes about seven gallons per hour, but runs off the engine alternators just fine, and, another larger one that generates approximately 50 gallons per hour, but requires that we run a generator. To conserve fuel, I have been reluctant to run the generators more than I need to, so we’ve been running the small water maker non-stop. After thousands of miles of flawless operation, it wants some care and attention, which Garret is in the process of administering. Now that we have Horta comfortably in range with a predicted 550 gallons of excess fuel, we can run the generators and large water maker all we want. 

– Yesterday afternoon, Goleen called us to look at our GPS. At first we thought something had gone wrong, as it read: 37’07, 37’07. The latitude and longitude were exactly the same! There was nothing magic about it – it was just a cool coincidence. Goleen decided to exploit the situation by dropping 16 bottles with notes in them.

 

– Roll call this morning was a non-event. At the start of our trip, roll calls were one hour plus affairs, but now people respond “Plenty of Water, Plenty of Fuel, No Mechanicals, No Medical problems.” There is still an occasional burst of humor, but it’s clear that the calls are getting shorter. The call lasted perhaps 10 minutes. 

– Looking around, I notice that everyone is wearing jackets, and Phil just mentioned that he is off to change into long pants. Hopefully it will warm up later this afternoon. 

– Shelby, our dog, doesn’t seem to be reacting well to the trip. She has slept the vast majority of the trip. Her paws can’t get traction on the wood floors, so when she tries to walk, she winds up sliding from one end of the room to the other as the boat tilts.

I’m sure she’s happy just to be with us, but I don’t blame her for trying to sleep all she can, in the hopes that land will appear when she wakes.

Roberta and I spent last night plotting various routes for our trip beyond Gibraltar. We’ve both decided that an additional 1,000 miles is too much. We would like to do three weeks of cruising, but want it to be “fun” cruising, not macho passage making. This means we need to find someone to run the boat to its moorage near Monaco. Roberta’s preference is that we run the boat ourselves from Gibraltar to Mallorca, and then have a delivery crew meet us there. Her thinking is that we have never run the southern Spanish coast. I prefer the cruising past Mallorca, which is the southern coast of France. I want to see all my favorite places in the Med once more before we ship the boat back to the U.S. My guess is that the decision will be made for us as we seek someone to do the delivery.

Looking at the calendar, we will have nine days in Horta. I know nothing about Horta beyond a few emails that I’ve received. I’m envisioning a VERY small town, and that we will be bored an hour after arrival. I’m hoping it’s warm. If so, it would be fun to take the boat out and seek a quiet bay to anchor in for a few nights. We’ll see…

P.S. – Here’s another email I received regarding the ongoing topic of waste disposal at sea.

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Dear Dan,

Your response to Henry’s e-mail regarding the kinds of materials one may with clear conscience discard at sea, was right along the lines of my thinking when I was part of a crew of four who delivered a sailboat across the Atlantic during December, 2003.

In spite of my waning interest in sailing and growing passion for the Nordhavn 43, I was asked by lifelong boating friends to help crew on the delivery of their new Lagoon 410-S2 Sailing Catamaran Moonshine from her birthplace near La Rochelle, France to the British Virgin Islands via Tenerife, Canary Islands and St. Barths, FWI. The voyage from France across the Bay of Biscay and down the coasts of Spain and Portugal allowed plenty of stopovers and water was never an issue, so we ate every meal off real plates and washed them. Ditto for the jaunt from Gibraltar to Tenerife, which took only 5 days in flat calm conditions.

The 2,940 NM trip from Tenerife to St. Barths was a different story, because we were contemplating a sailing voyage of three plus weeks with a finite supply of water (220 gallons, plus about 70 gallons of drinking water in 5 liter containers) and no means of replenishing that supply at sea. Fresh water showers came only every four or five days at first and we provisioned lots of paper plates so that we could avoid or minimize the use of fresh water for washing dishes at least once or twice a day.

Prior to our departure from Tenerife, we discussed among the four of us what we would jettison and what we would keep. It was decided unanimously that once we were well out to sea, paper of every kind would be discarded as long as it did not appear to be plasticised or printed with inks or dyes. Food scraps and any unwanted leftovers would be thrown overboard as well. We would keep everything else.

Because we were sailing and had limited fuel, we were advised by our weather forecaster Walt Hack (thanks to Jim Leishman for that recommendation…Walt’s forecasts were flawless) to continue south to the vicinity of the Cape Verde Islands before turning west, which added about seven days to what would have been, in a Nordhavn, a rhumb line course direct from Tenerife to St. Barths. 21 days, 9 hours and 22 minutes after we left Tenerife, we reached St. Barths with 14 large bags of garbage in our forward hold.

I believe that on that voyage we were as good to the environment as we could have and should have been. We knew that our garbage and recycling would be something of a burden and in fact, by the end of the trip it had nearly filled the available space in our port bow storage area. We saved and recycled all of our aluminum cans, steel cans, printed can labels and every bit of plastic. We committed the accumulated contents of the wastebaskets in the heads to the landfill in St. Martin. We intentionally did not use one of the packages of paper plates we had bought because we discovered the plates were coated with what appeared to be a plastic compound. We had looked for biodegradable toilet paper in Tenerife, but finding none we bought toilet paper without coloring or scent, as we knew that dyes and scenting compounds could be poisonous to marine life. In short we took the preservation of the marine environment very seriously. And after sighting literally hundreds of floating, mostly plastic and Styrofoam objects at sea, we were convinced that our mindset and our hold full of recycling and garbage was a really good thing.

And until this afternoon, I thought that we had made the appropriate choice regarding our paper plates.
 
Before e-mailing the above to you to enthusiastically support your position, I phoned my motherin- law, Dr. Isabella A. Abbott, who was a Stanford University Professor of Biology at Hopkins Marine Lab in Pacific Grove, California for 31 years and is currently Wilder Professor of Botany Emerita at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. She has, for more than 60 years, studied the oceans as a distinguished marine biologist and written countless books and papers on the marine environment. I thought that she might have an opinion on the subject, and she did.

She told me that most paper products are, as you suggested in your letter to Henry, quickly and effectively absorbed by the oceans. She said that newspaper and most toilet papers and even most paper towels and facial tissues are readily converted back to cellulose fibers by water, as their fibers are only loosely bound. According to Dr. Abbott (“Izzie” to her friends, colleagues and favorite son-in-law) those kinds of paper products as well as discarded food products are likely to be ingested long before they hit bottom, by any number of marine organisms.

However, on the subject of paper plates, Izzie said that even if they are not coated with visible plastic compounds, paper plates usually contain chemical binders designed to prevent liquids from penetrating their fibers. She added that in general, more expensive paper plates which tend to be thicker and more dense, contain more binders and are worse for the environment than the cheaper thin varieties, which she chortled, “is why the cheap ones leak all over your lap and the expensive ones don’t.”

While Dr. Abbott applauded your and my thoughtful efforts on behalf of the environment on our respective voyages and agreed that only minimal environmental damage was done by our mutual attempts at “Downwind Paper Plate Frisbee Toss With Food”, she ultimately sided with Henry and suggested we both should have kept the paper plates aboard. I promised Izzie I would take advantage of a Spectra watermaker on my next offshore adventure, which will be aboard a Nordhavn 40, and serve every meal on FINE CHINA! How decadent!

Thanks for the stimulating discussion thus far. Hope to hear opinions from other concerned bluewater cruisers.

Sincerely,

Paul Foerster

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