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Well, many of us have been following Mark's travels around the world for 11 years now. He posted his route, linked his spot and iridium and makes one post a day in a 24 hour day to keep folks informed. I also find it educational, as he's quite an accomplished sailor and understanding his decision matrix was quite informative to me. I'm sure they'll find plenty of time to sip tea and play poker. ;-)
 

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Captain Obvious
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Making for the trades. Later in the week things may turn a little more turbulent and while hopefully he will find fair winds, the wave action is predicted to increase. He may have his choice of conditions depending on how far south he is.
 

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This mornings post on PredictWind actually solicits questions, via iridium. I don't have one for them and thought I wouldn't bother them anyway. However, they asked (in both english and french), so they must truly welcome them.
 

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I hope they don't run out of wind. If 'predictwind' is accurate they are headed for a windless area. It shows they still have 5kn boat speed. I hope they can keep the boat moving. It really sucks to have light wind. If they steer using a vane they need 5kn apparent. If they use an autopilot they need 2kn boat speed. Maybe a little less depending on the brand of A/P. I have a B&G controller for a homebrew hydraulic actuator and it steers down to 1/2kn boatspeed in smooth water. But commercial actuators may not do this. So I worry about them. A lot of stuff is floating around in those windless regions: fenders, glass balls, wood. I wonder how the boat is steered?
 

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Maybe they run under power. "Power conserving revs" (i like that) They had no need to run the engine for all these days and it's a good time to charge the batteries and maybe the freezer? Maybe the forecast is wrong. Happened to me a few times. In a small sailboat you are so very dependant on favorable weather.
 

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The winds shown on the web page are most likely quite different from what Marks is experiencing.
True enough. I almost always experience slightly more wind than these tools graphically suggest. If I can dig below the pictures, the gusts often tell the rest of the story. Perhaps he'll enlighten us with his post on Predict Wind today.
 

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Both of us guessed correctly, on different levels. He's motoring for sure, but believes it's because he was duped by the wind models. Here's an excerpt.......

...When it was time to re-join the blue line along the coast I was seduced (seduced, I say!!) with a computer model that showed northerly winds in the area normally southerly winds and the calm spot in the middle had disappeared. However, like an oasis in the desert… some things evaporate as you reach out to touch them. So we came too far west, towards the Azores Islands, and are now without wind, “A painted ship upon a painted ocean” except I turned on the engine and we are now motoring south to rendezvous (note the French word) with a puff of breeze...
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I have been following Mark's routing from the beginning, and I think that he has done a great job of staying in the wind and out of the seriously heavy stuff. But now the boat is in an area of seriously light winds with no obvious way out of this. They are currently motoring on a glassy sea trying to get to wind.

If I were routing this I would turn further north to just north of due west. (see black line on wind map below) That route should put them into solid winds all the way to the Caribbean. The problem with that route is that there would be a day of close reaching followed by avoiding the brunt of the large windy front in that area. They would need to ride the edge rather than dive into the heart of that front, and that will take careful monitoring. The good news about that is that the safety valve is to run off to the south a little, putting them closer to the rhumbline (roughly the red line on the image). . While I have annotated this with straight lines, in reality, they should be able to 'fillet' (round) the connections and save a lot of miles sailed. Also that front seems to be moving slightly to the south and west and so may come to meet them. (I cannot confirm that with the software that I have available).

The problem with their current route is that course will keep them in patches of light to no wind half of the way to the Caribbean.

Taking their current course is less risky if they have enough fuel to motor for 800 to a 1000 miles.

Of course, as a offshore cruising friend once said to me, I tend to do routing like a racer, (max. VMG vs risk aversion). I also emphasize that I don't have all of the weather and current routing tools that I would like to do this properly. .

138864
 

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That frontal zone looks like the best wind, but it's risky. Might not be where predicted either. Fronts like to move.

I think I'd stick with heading south until the butter melts. If they have enough fuel to reasonably get down to the trades, it should be a relative milk run, from there.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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That frontal zone looks like the best wind, but it's risky. Might not be where predicted either. Fronts like to move.

I think I'd stick with heading south until the butter melts. If they have enough fuel to reasonably get down to the trades, it should be a relative milk run, from there.
Yes, that is what Mark said. I had been watching that front for several days and it as been slowly moving south and east. But I will note that both you and Mark have more time doing offshore routing than I have, and I tend to do old school stuff plotting movements of lows and highs, gradients in the isobars over time, and not using the more modern tools all that much.
 

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you and Mark have more time doing offshore routing than I have
The vast majority of my weather routing is done above the clouds, where I can typically outrun a front. :)

Although, I can't count how many times I've had to race one to the runway. Hate those.
 

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Translation:
38 51.407n 16 08.484w
Lake, jellyfish and pudding
Tue Mar 23 2021

After 7 days I also learned to neither slip nor fall inside during shaking. I crossed the
boat up and down and across the waves. My body remembers it with pretty colors. I even
managed to fall out of my seat and was afraid to make coffee… A Frenchwoman without
coffee. Where is the world going!
No more rain. a beautiful blue sky. This morning it was full of low clouds. At sunrise
they let the dyes in pink pass through wells of light. The sea was calm. So still it
looked like a silver lake. The problem is, there is not enough wind to sail. The lapping
of the water is therefore broken by the engine. Fortunately by tomorrow morning, it will
be cut! But there are still 2 advantages to the situation. The first is that it is easier
to observe what is happening on the surface.
We saw 2 dolphins offshore. And I had the joy of discovering “Portuguese something
jellyfish”. They have a blue, triangular fin, or sail, that protrudes from the water and
helps them steer. They are small living sailboats.
The second is that I took my first shower! With hot water since the engine is running!
Since there are no waves propelling us right and left, I was even able to shave. You can
imagine the result after a week ... transformation into Chubacca. It is not easy. You
always need a hand for the boat and a hand for either. So one hand on the guardrail and
one hand on the razor. Yes, but. The side rails are lower than the armpits.
So no, this is not a romantic cruise when you have 7 days without a shower, hairs
everywhere and an engine in the background. But it's still very nice.
Mark gives me more and more initiative. I finally know the name of all the strings.
On the other hand, while it is clearly posted that whoever is on watch should cook, he
asked me an hour ago not to cook his steak tonight.
But what about my steak cooking? I'm French anyway!
Regarding food, I released my new celebration recipe: the pan-rolled pudding. I can
already see your face. "What did she make up for us again ?!" You can call it
cinnamon bellows if you prefer:
You need a bottle of milk that has been open for 5 days whereas it is written there to
consume within 4 days. Oops. I won't be able to drink enough latte until yesterday. Then
you have to want to make pancakes or pancakes but without a recipe and without having
ever made one. The 3rd element is not having eaten your planned egg ration. That’s 2 /
pot lunch for me. So I broke 4 in the bowl. We add sugar to it, vista de naz as mom would
say. And we whip. We add a little cinnamon. Then we whip soft butter in it and have a
hard time dissolving it. Don't worry, I haven't taken out the oars. After that you have
to add almost everything else in the bottle of milk to this. We keep a swig for the next
morning's coffee, because 6 days is good for the intestines. For that to hold we put a
little flour. Since I didn't want to put a lot of it, I took the rice flour which was
already open. A little bit of yeast. The goal was to put half of the bag. But I put all
of it. We pour a ladle into a hot pan
We put the lid on to avoid wasting gas. When it makes little bubbles on the surface, we
try to turn over like a pancake. We miss. It makes a blob. We start again and we fail
again. So we make a Japanese-style rolled omelet: roll your end of crepe-pudding-bellows.
Put it on a plate. Make a 2nd crepe-blabla and just before rolling put your roll etc…
Enjoy lukewarm. We are not dead and Mark even reworked a second part! He's gone to bed.
We'll see if he gets up!
 
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New posts from Marjorie - translated
Bubbles, soap? No!
Tue Mar 23 2021

Midnight. Tickles on the arm. My eyes suddenly open like two headlights in the middle of
the night. “Is it time to wake up?” “Yes it is. First let's go outside. ”Jacket and life
jacket, here I am quickly in the cockpit, on my knees, leaning over the stern of the
boat. I see like an alley of bubbles in the middle of our path. Mark lights his torch.
No. No bubbles. But there is a stir. I do not understand. But are there lights? He guides
me inside. Just awake, my brain not very active, I hit the control of the engine on my
way. Mark lets out a nice "oh! For **** sake!". He goes down first. I try to be
delicate and gradually move the control to get to a fuel rate of 1.4. As soon as I get
downstairs , Mark turns off the lights and starts pumping down the toilet. And there I
see a big dot of light starting to dance in the bowl! Fireflies? No, no Marjorie. Not
fireflies. Bioluminescence! They just keep coming. He points out to me that he had
extinguished the navigation lights so that we could see them well. We go back up. And I
ask him "so these are not little critters? "" Yes. They're like little
critters. And when you shake them, they light up! The engine's propeller agitates the
water. As a result, they are bioluminescent. ”
If I had had the internet, I would already be looking for more information.
Mark turned on the navigation lights again. He is in bed. Me, I'm outside in the cockpit
under a bright half moon and the stars. The water moves like a gray satin sheet except at
the area of the small bubbles. My shift begins!
Marjorie

Free sms - small caps
Tue Mar 23 2021
Good morning or good evening!
First: there it is! Two days ago we shifted the clock two hours back!
Second: Nothing is specified on the free sms page. But, your texts are limited to around
160 characters according to Mark's estimate! Also, if you do not include a reply mail
address, messages all arrive under a standard number label.
I have received several beginnings of messages under this number and not entire ones. So
I don't have all the messages, and I don't know who writes.
Email has no limit, we think.
As a reminder: no photos, videos ect… Normal text from normal. Mark says "plain
text".
Free sms at: Iridium Messaging
and insert our Iridium phone number 881652435532
For the email address please send us a signed request! This way we avoid the possible
possibility that a troll sends us videos that will block our satellite network for days!
(I had skipped the emails before leaving Cherbourg. I thought it wasn't working! Sorry
...)
Thanks to you for your messages! : slight_smile:

Marjorie


Dolphins! 2 Dolphins!
Wed Mar 24 2021

We have been sailing since 10am this morning! It is 1:10 pm and just now we have just
seen two common dolphins swimming alongside the boat!
swimming fast and full of grace.

Marjorie

2 Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) came to play by the boat: slight_smile:
 

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Now they've got wind, but worried about getting too much wind, followed by no wind. Seems like all conditions normal. But he is worried a bit. Maybe because he used a day of fuel so early.
 
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Minnewaska - I come from a family of farmers, so I understand the "there's either too little [wind,rain,sun,warmth] or too much of it, but never just the right amount" concept. Whenever I do a passage it seems to be the same way - if the wind happens to finally be the right strength, it is coming from the wrong direction :)

At least Mark has company on the trip!
 

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He's dealing with a tricky set of variables. He's got to try to avoid the more serious wind of this approaching stormy weather centered on Madeira, and then deal with the ensuing " calm after the storm" He's a little frustrated with how much time it's going to take to get south and into a warm and a steady breeze. So far, I think his departure timing and route planning have been excellent, despite the frustration of being becalmed for a bit. He'll be happy when the butter melts and he can take a straight shot for an island.
 

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Maybe I should shove the computer into Davy Jones Locker?
May not he such a bad idea if it is giving nothing but conflicting information. It is hardly better than no information.

I don’t think I would or he whould do it, but I can surly understand the urge.
 

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May not he such a bad idea if it is giving nothing but conflicting information. It is hardly better than no information.

I don’t think I would or he whould do it, but I can surly understand the urge.
I think the wind speed and direction presented are a forecast. Meaning, it's a guess based on something. For about 30 years I have been using a Furuno Weatherfax after working with one on a SC 50 sailing from Seattle to San Francisco. It prints wind speed and directions on thermal paper from actual observations from ships at sea. There are not as many marked locations as on "predictwind" but they are actual observed wind speeds. So far it always worked for me and despicted what I experienced. It doesn't work in sheltered waters because local winds are influenced by the land and broadband reception is not so good.
 
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