Q and A

December 3, 2018

Day 60

Noon Position: 50 54S  52 07W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ENE+ 6+

Wind(t/tws): NWxN 12

Sea(t/ft): NW 2

Sky: Thin Stratus

10ths Cloud Cover: 2

Bar(mb): 1016, falling

Cabin Temp(f): 61

Water Temp(f): 43

Relative Humidity(%): 67

Sail: Main and working jib, full. Reaching.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 163

Miles since departure: 8110

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

After the Cape Horn rounding, my wife was kind enough to send me a slug of comments from the Figure 8 site. Many thanks to all you Virtual Voyagers for the support and congrats.

In those comments, I found a few questions, and I’ve tried to bang through all of them, below…

-First, a quick shout out to Raquel. Greetings. How on earth did you make it to Puerto Williams? In Coconut? If so, good on you. Actually, good on you in any case.

Q and A

From Howard and Steph:  Can you please explain “four reefs” of a jib?

Hey guys. In some of the photos I’ve posted featuring the headsails, you can see HOOD has sewn in blue hash marks on the foot of the working headsail at (what I presume to be) preferred reef points–points at which to stop rolling up the sail. I found during the F8V1.0 that two blue hashes–two “reef” points–what HOOD originally sewed on–were not enough in the south, and that I spent an inordinate amount of time at a third, more deeply rolled spot. Once home, I asked HOOD to reinforce the sail to that spot, and they then sewed on a three-hash mark. NOW, for the F8V2.0, I’m trying to keep speed up during bigger blows, and so am carrying the working headsail longer than I would have last year. To do so, however, I’ve had to roll the sail well past the third reef and to a place on the furling line I’ve now marked as reef spot number four. As “reefing” refers to “tying” or “rolling” to reduce sail, I use “reef.” Oats are rolled; sails are reefed. Hope that clears it up.

From Marc: Is there a possibility you could see any of the Golden Globe Racers in the area?

Sadly, no. It had been my fantasy to cross paths with either the leader, Jean-Luc Van den Heede or Mark Slats, who is in second. But Jean-Luc has been too far ahead (about five days) and a touch faster than Mo (he’s averaging 138 miles per day to Mo’s 135–though we may have gained a little on him since his mast fittings issues). By now, however, he’s turned north and is level with Uruguay, whereas we’re just past the Falklands heading ENE.

Slats is a different story. I had a 400 mile lead on him when we came into the same neighborhood and have made every effort to maintain or increase that lead. I’m not racing, of course, oh, no … far beneath such a …  well, OK, I am a little. And successfully, too. I think we gained a bit on Slats during and after the blow. He’s just rounded the Horn yesterday, and now our courses will diverge.

Unfortunately, this is where I part ways with the GGR boats. They’re all headed up the Atlantic and home, and we’re headed east about.

From Jeanne Socrates: Can you be reached on Single Sideband radio? (I hear she’s been attempting to hail Mo while on approach to Cape Horn.)

Again, sadly, no. Mo’s excellent SSB radio, an Icom M710, was water-damaged during the Indian Ocean knockdown and not replaced. Though adored, it was rarely used, and redundant, I thought, next to the three layers of satellite coms I have on Mo. The good folks at Celestaire.com provided me with a $200 receive-only SSB I can use to tune into the WWV for time stamps, but that’s the best I can do.

Jeanne Socrates is sailing NEREIDA in an attempt to be the oldest person to solo circumnavigate non-stop. She appears to be at about 45S on an approach to Cape Horn. I wish her the best. Visit her site at https://svnereida.com

From Paul: Can you tell us about the electrical budget on Moli? Wind and solar generation, batteries and devices that consume power? What does reliable generation look like? How do you protect the solar panel and wind generator from wave damage? Do you monitor power daily load? What devices do you have that consume more power, do you ration use? Nav and cabin lights? I saw a sextant in a photo, could you continue without power? Do you endorse a manufacturer? Whisper? Thanks.

As to energy, much was answered in comments by my friend Kowden. A couple more thoughts: Early on I created a detailed energy budget but have not looked at it in months. As it turns out, my battery bank (about 600 amps) and power generation sources (2×100 watt solar panels and a hydrogenerator; plus engine, if needed) far out perform my energy use. Lucky me.

On a typical cruising boat, the fridge/freezer and autopilot eat up most of the power. Mo has no fridge/freezer and her autopilot is only used if Monte, the Monitor Windvane, needs to be offline for some reason. Otto has steered the boat for maybe two of our 60 days thus far. Monte is really … the man! I tend to be frugal with energy use. Keep lights off that aren’t in use; keep switches off that aren’t in use, but have not had to, as yet, cut down on natural, day-in-day-out usage.

Solar is a less productive power source at sea than at anchor. Boat motion and shadows from the rig are harder to deal with, and so the panels are rarely producing their optimal watts, even when hung on the aft rail, as Mo’s are. Double that problem in high latitudes where the sun is rarely out in full, is at a lower (less productive) angle when out, and the frequent strong winds means the panels need to be down and lashed most of the time. Still, they do produce. On good days in the south, even when lashed, the panels can keep up with daylight power consumptions and extend my time between hydrogenerator charges.

I avoided wind power because, again, it seemed to me that a cruising boat, which is usually traveling with the wind and often moving extremely (rolling, pitching) is a less than ideal platform for that technology. Most wind units need apparent wind in the high teens to really perform, which we get in the south but not in the middle latitudes. In addition, I don’t really have space on the radar tower for anything more.

The Watt and Sea hydrogenerator is my go-to charging device. It runs from 12 – 20 hours every other day. At max it can pull in about 12 amps but averages about 10 in bulk mode and at optimal Mo cruising speeds of about 7 knots. I’ll try to detail later what has worked and not (it’s not perfect but I’m damned glad to have it).

As to the sextant, yes, I could navigate without power. What one needs is: sextant, nautical almanac, site reduction tables, access to accurate time, and a sense of the vessel’s course and speed over time.

One can use the almanac for site reduction, but I use Celestaire’s Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation, HO 249. Easy. Three volumes. For time, I have a small collection of cheap quartz watches and for each I’ve done a gain/loss study, so that, once set to the WWV radio signal, I know how much time to add/subtract over months of usage.

The only place I’d struggle is with boat speed and course. Heading I could take from the compass, but Mo lacks a speed indicator outside of the Chart Plotter. For this I’d have to guess. Course and speed are used to establish a dead reckoning position (DR), required for the sight work-ups. The DR does not need to be very accurate (as I prove daily), but a good DR makes the working tidier.

2 Comments on “Q and A

  1. Randall, thanks for the detailed reply to my questions regarding electrical power usage. It’s admirable that you and Mouse little electrical power. Simple systems are probably more reliable for your marathon voyage. I am so impressed with your courage.
    Keep warm.

  2. Hi Randall,
    I see that you have some plastic material over the original windows that appears to be bolted into the original frames. Can you tell me what this material is and how many bolts hold it in place?
    Is it sealed so no water gets between it and the original window?
    best regards

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