Tuesday 15 January 2019

ABC Islands to port

We are making great progress towards the northern Colombian coast, over
halfway to our destination,Santa Marta. It is wonderful to be at
sea again.

This morning the perfect downwind sailing conditions are continuing,
with just the right amount of wind. In addition, Steve Withers has
guided us towards the most favourable pockets of the west-going
equatorial current. It is easy for us to spot when we are in it because
the boat speed over the ground (as opposed to through the water)
increases significantly - imagine it is a bit like going on the moving
walkways at Gatwick airport. But unlike those, it doesn't take a
reliably straight line, and when we are out of it we don't know whether
to turn to port or starboard to find it again. Hence Steve's valuable
help from Carlisle, where he has internet access to the latest current
flow information. Thanks Steve.

50 miles away to the south lie the ABC Islands, a buffer between us and
the north coast of Venezuela. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are part
of the Dutch Antilles; this trip we sadly won't have time to stop there.
It is 190 nautical miles until we pass Punta Gallinas on the headland
that marks the northern tip of Colombia's north coast. We expect the
winds to strengthen from then on, and the current to turn against us.
With wind against the current the sea will be more choppy, so we plan
to stay away from the shallower water near the coast until our final
approach into Santa Marta.

You have already been introduced to Nicky and Richard, but there is
another new and very important member of the team on board. Working off
the stern of Tintin, just next to Wendy, is the towed generator
"ampair". A steel shaft 50cm long with propellor blades at one end
is connected via a 10m length of rope to a small generator suspended on
the back rail. The spinning of the rope provides the power. Wiring
challenges were solved by Rob over New Year, so we have now
commissioned it and it is working tirelessly to charge the ships's
batteries. We think it needs a better name, answers on a postcard
please! Together with the solar panels on the rear gantry and the wind
generator, we can harness enough energy to power the batteries up
without using the engine.

Of course, the Angling Society of Tintin also has its line out over
the stern. The arrival of the ampair means that only one line can be
deployed at a time. I am sorry to report that, despite early promise,
the AST has not yet managed to match the success of the the previously
formed Tintin Angling Society (Atlantic branch).

No comments: