Leg 3 – Day 6, Saturday June 17

Data at 8 AM…Engine hours: 4328.5

Fuel consumed yesterday: 134 gal., total leg fuel consumed: 622 gal.

Miles traveled yesterday: 166 nm, total leg miles traveled: 870 nm  

Weather: NE wind 10 – 15 kts., mostly clear, temp ~65 F degrees

Seas: N wind wave 3 – 5ft., NW swell 5 – 7 ft.

Barometer: 1002 mb, tending down

Water temperature: 66.8 F

Midnight to 0300 watch

The wind should abate this morning.  We’ll see how much.  It keeps fooling us by seeming to drop, then, about the time you’re convinced it has, it picks up again.

It’s just 100 miles to the coast, but our heading isn’t the shortest distance.  We’ve given up steering to a waypoint, instead just keeping a set course.  The difference is that the latter does not correct for wind, current and wave action.  The result is a more southerly tendency.  In the 20 miles since that change, we’ve drifted 3 miles from the original route line.  So, given that it’s another 100 miles to the waypoint longitude, we could be over 20 miles farther south than originally intended.  It’s less stressful and doesn’t really make any difference, otherwise.  Actually, we planned it this way upon leaving Horta in anticipation of this exact situation.


We’re fishing again. That tells you something about the weather.  It’s marginal, but we’re out of fish.

And we’re slowly coming out of our torpor.  Appetites are returning.  Nobody got sick, but it was a close call for two, whose innocence (guilt?) shall be protected by anonymity.

There are more and more foreign language radio transmissions.  We monitor CH 16 (international contact & distress, only; once contact is made, both ships must switch to a ‘working channel’) and 78 (the fleet’s choice for a working channel).  Internationally, all boats are required to monitor 16 while under way, so radios are programmed to listen to two at once, when in what’s called ‘dual mode’.  This way, we can call each other without first switching to 16, to make contact.

When in dual mode, 16 is dominate, so it will interrupt any conversation on the other channel.  All intra-fleet calling and talking is on 78, but we’re often ‘stepped on’ by 16 calls.  The talker doesn’t have a clue this has happened, but all listeners are switched to 16 until the 16 caller releases the microphone call button.  Imagine being on the telephone and having the conversation switched to some other, totally random conversation, but only one party, the momentary listener, knows that’s happened.  It’s frustrating when it’s all in English, but downright weird when the interruption is unintelligible.

As of late-morning, we’re inside of 50 miles from shore.  In another 35 miles, once inside the shipping lanes, we’ll turn more to the south to miss that point of land in our path.  Also, at that point we should be in cell and internet range, never to be denied again (well, that’s debatable).

At this point, all those on watch have frequent commercial ships to deal with.  Rules of the road, so to speak, apply.  Knowing those rules is mandatory, just like driving a car.  No tutorial; lucky you.  However, we’re done fishing until we cross the shipping lanes.  Self-preservation is a higher need than seafood dining.  No tutorial, here, either.

Now that we’re back in contact with the world, I want to encourage questions in the comment section of the blog.  If I can make interesting blog-speak out of it, I’ll answer in a post.  Otherwise, I’ll answer with a reply-comment.  Subtext: I’m struggling to find content other than the same ol’, same ol’.


Lots  o’ ships to deal with in the shipping lanes*.  Like a highway, usually ships going one way stay to the right of those going the other way.  Since we’re crossing, we have to deal with both left and right, both of which have the right-of-way.  To make matters more complicated yet, the lanes are wide (2 – 3 miles) with buffer zones.  Total width, here, is 26 miles, so it takes over 3 hours to cross.  More complication:  there are four lanes around Cape Vincente, two northbound in the center (one for hazardous cargo) and two southbound, one each on either side.  The innermost southbound lane must be for ships bound for the Med, while the other is for through traffic. 

Far to the north, the lanes look more normal: all ships stay to their right.  There are gaps in the continuity of the lanes.  These are where normal right-of-way rules apply, so that’s were we will cross the path (* technically, it’s not a ‘lane’ at this point) of most of the traffic.  It’s highly recommended that non-commercial vessels stay out of the lanes, altogether.  It’s easy to see why.

There have been up to 15 ships on my radar/AIS.  It looks like a Star Wars fighter squadron attacking us (we’re in the center).

Obviously, we made it through just as my watch ended.


The cliffs of the mainland, at Cape Vincente, are visible to port.  The Med is within easy striking distance!  Gibraltar tomorrow (late).9

7 thoughts on “Leg 3 – Day 6, Saturday June 17

  1. I’m glad you all are just about there. I’ve been anxious, worried be out the sea, storms and unexpected problems. Thanks for your blog. Someone asked me if you’ll be at risk because of pirates. Good question. I may have misses it, but will you be traveling in Europe once docked? More sailing from there? Anyway,… we are glad you all are Safran. Hi to Shar!! You got married? We have been out of touch.


  2. No pirates, though we did take precautions when we went to the aid of the sailboat in distress (leg 2). Turned out to be unnecessary.

    We’ll stay on board for about 10 days, heading up to Mallorca, then to Barcelona on our own. Will finish with a 9-Day bicycle trip from Bilbao to Santiago. Blog will continue until we get home.

    Shar & I had a narriage ceremony 5 years ago. That’s nearly married; everything but church & state.



  3. Pedro and Shar!

    Hope this finds you guys well and upright. Really looking forward to the Gibraltar report.

    Two questions: 1. What do you guys do once you arrive to your destination? Stay with the boat? Land tour? Get on a plane? 2. What happens to the fleet? Do they make the crossing west when they’re done? Keep going east? Or scuttle them in the Med?

    Not too much to report here. Still (floating) boatless. Fall launch at best. Losing Sherman was a huge blow. I’ve got a very part-time welder but I have to do all of the fabrication – cut and fit every single piece, tack it in place, then let my welder come around and final weld them. An incredibly labor-intensive and slow process when I already have a day job. I have a LOT more appreciation for aluminum boat builders now. On the plus side I’ll know every square inch of this boat (literally) and am starting to learn how to weld aluminum…

    Shelly’s in summer garden mode. That and working too many hours. I’m pushing her to figure out how to go half-time next year after I retire (by July 1 hopefully).



    1. Thanks for the update. We stay with the boat to Mallorca or July 1, which ever comes last. From there to Barcelona, then bicycle trip from Bilbao to Santiago. Home from Porto on 7/18. Fleet disbands now, but we have similar schedules with another boat. Malaga on Wed. to pick up Bob’s wife, Kim. Moxie stays here 3 years. Bob & Kim will stay on board ~6 months/yr. Don’t know that returns plans have been discussed.


  4. Thanks for the blog and congratulations on arriving. It’s been very interesting reading despite your concerns that you were running out of topics. Did you track sea state throughout the trip, i.e. X hours in mild, average, heavy weather conditions to summarize how much of the trip was spend in each? I would be interested to know if you considered it a rough trip or easy overall.


    1. Hi Gary. I did not track sea state, other than the daily opening selections of misc. data. It often changed dramatically throughout the day. By and large, I’d say we had a calm trip. There was a rough start out of Palm Beach for two days, then the calmest of the trip after that. Our departure from Bermuda was delayed 2 days. It was moderate or better on the Azores leg, and we avoided the biggest storm by just hours of our arrival there. The last leg was easy except for the Strait, which is usually nasty this time of year. Prior to the trip, I speculated that “everybody gets a gale”, but we managed to be at harbor for the two that could have socked us.


  5. Thanks for your blogging, Since Ken is not cruising this year, and Egret is finished, gotta get my Nordhaven fix somehow. Spent a lot of time on transits in the Navy, so know how boooorrrrrinnnnnggg passages can be.
    Thanks again, and if you are ever in Hampton VA a round is on me.


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