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