Leg 2, Day 8 – June 4

Data at 8 AM…Engine hours: 4109.9

Fuel consumed yesterday: 124 gal., total leg fuel consumed: 675 gal.

Miles traveled yesterday: 173 nm, total leg miles traveled: 1143 nm  

Weather: SW wind ~10 kts. tending up, fleeting fog & partly cloudy, temp ~74 degrees

Seas: wind wave <2 ft., SW swell 3 – 4 ft. hardly noticeable 

Barometer: 1007 mb 

Water temperature: 69.0 F

Reunion
At daybreak, we were within visual range of the other three boats, although it was mid-day before the amoeba had regained its loosely defined structure.  The only indication that we ever left is in our fuel burn number.  It’s 25% higher for roughly the same number of miles traveled.

The lack of land to be seen, for days on end, is of absolutely no consequence. Our visual constant is the other boats of the fleet. Without those, who knows if the lack of land would have a higher impact.  And the sameness of the days has made for an indeterminate spacial orientation.  We could be on day 5 or day 20, and I’m not sure it would feel any different than today.  We are just doing what’s needed, and doing it continuously.

Sleep is not the issue, now, that it was on the first leg.  I’m paying more attention to the detail that accumulates ‘adequate’ rest.  Ear plugs, especially, help during the daytime naps in the saloon.  Everyone seems more rested as we enter the second week out of Bermuda.

Post role call

We’re into another time zone to the east, -1 hr UTC, called Cape Verde Standard Time, leaving Fernando de Noronha behind.  And I must remark that poor Fernando must feel rather under-appreciated.  Going this direction, at this speed is like Ground Hog Day (movie reference) for spring daylight savings time; every 2-3 days, we do it again, exactly the same.  

The new weather forecast is in and smooth sailing is out, twice before arrival in Horta.  Tuesday and Thursday appear to be the offending periods, the latter more so.  Winds and swell will be behind us, so we’re feeling fortunate in that regard.  Arrival in Horta, at our current speed, will be late afternoon on Thursday.

Pyro-flare testing will commence tonight at 2200 sharp, in an orderly manner, proceeding clockwise.  Bernie’s naval training and years as a submariner come to the fore in situations like this.  We all benefit greatly from his knowledge and experience, and his precise instructions on procedure.  And I’m sure that there are times he must see us as undisciplined rabble, depending on luck more than learned application of good seamanship.  On Moxie, we appreciate his presence and guidance more than we show in our deportment.  I was a wilderness guide in the 70s & 80s, and am acutely aware of the responsibility when personal safety is paramount.  Bernie’s standards are to be soundly and loudly applauded.

There’s a daily occurence that I have not mentioned because it’s difficult to describe and almost impossible photograph.  That’s the Portuguese Man o War jellyfish.  I’ve heard about them forever, but they’re not what I was expecting.  For such a ferocious name, they’re downright diminutive; maybe 5″ long, kinda oblong in shape, rising 3-4″ above the water’s surface.  The normal jellyfish  translucent white color applies, except for a thin pink-purple crest that runs from bow to stern.  That is what’s visible, floating by.  They look much like soap bubbles (hemispheres) unless they’re right next to the boat, when the oblong-ness is more apparent..  Looking down on one, there’s a dark ring just below the waterline.  Below are trailing, flimsy, poisoness tentacles that, reportedly, are very painful if contacted.  We pass many hundreds, daily.  At first, we all (except Bob) thought it was plastic trash.  Glad it wasn’t.


After dark

The pyrotechnic testing occurred on schedule.  The visual effectiveness element, which was what was advertised, was variable, depending on the type triggered.  The surprising part came from the number of duds in our (combined) inventory of expired devices.  To summarize: big parachute flares rule!  In our pentagon formation, boats in the fleet was separated by 1-3 miles.  At those distances, the parachutes were plainly visible, with an effective period worth betting on.  The 12-gauge shells suffered the highest failure rate.  On Moxie, 2 of 3 were launched without flaring. When successfully ignited, they can be seen OK, but their duration is woefully short, maybe 5 seconds.  Hand-held flares were visible, but suffer by being easily obscured by structure and seas.

I suspect we all carry expired flares, chutes, etc. as a practical matter.  The requirements for current devises, plus the low  deployment rate, difficult disposal regime, more-is-better and old-is-better-than-nothing attitudes, equate to ‘lots on board’.  I suppose I’ll continue to carry some expired devices on Medeek, but my assessment of their usefulness is greatly deflated.  In an emergency, I want the highest reliability combined with greatest effectiveness.  When needed, I suspect I’d reach for the newest big parachute.

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