We are not on autopilot

A beautiful sunrise followed the amazing star gazing night and we continued our way up north under gennaker. Like yesterday it quickly became hot and we rigged the sunshade again.
A pod of dolphins visited us briefly and we were still surprised to see so many Portuguese Men of War all around us. We again resisted the temptation to catch one of the very poisonous buggars.
Anyways, we needed another distraction and started to play with the Aries windvane. Step one was to get the rudder in the water, which at 6kn speed is a quite interesting undertaking. Josh put his harness on and climbed over the rail onto the windvane and under the solar panel. Quite a move in itself. It became more interesting when he slipped and fell in the water. You can read if he made back on board in tomorrow’s post…..

Just kidding, of course he was able to climb back onto the windvane after we had slowed Tioga down and we moved on from there. Unfortunately, the two hours that Josh and John invested did not result in much success as we are still hand steering the boat.

In the afternoon the wind picked up as expected. We dropped the gennaker, unfurled the genoa and finally found the eddy that pushed us north with about 1kn of current.
Another perfect sailing day went buy and we are now enjoying the strong phosphoresence (the sparks of the ocean-going rocketship) and more stars. With 7-8kn speed over ground we expect to get to Gulf stream tomorrow afternoon.

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We found wind, sun and lots of oil

What a day!
After some early morning fog we had lots of blue sky. The breeze filled in from the south as predicted, providing perfect broad reaching conditions all day (and night long).
With almost flat seas and about 10 kn we zig-zagged around many, many oil platforms. At any given time we could see about a handful of them.
We received our first friendly courtesy call in the morning from one of the larger platforms making sure we had them on our radar screen and keeping a distance of at least 500m.
Later on we received a safety warning because a larger ship towing an 8 mile cable to the south of us. Good to have AIS and DSC radio on…

With the southerly wind stabilized, we knew we would sail like this all the way to Scotland and therefore not have to use the engine again. We therefore cleaned up the Diesel mess in the engine room and enjoyed the rest of the day. Dark German bread for lunch and a very nice Indian curry made for a happy crew.
We rigged the Aries windvane with Peter’s larger vane, but could still not make it work.

A pod of larger dolphins put a nice touch to the perfect sunset and rounded off the day.

The wind is supposed to increase to 19kn throughout this morning, pushing us to Inverness, where we hope to arrive in the later afternoon. We see lightning on the horizon and are expecting rain from 14:00 onwards, but so far so good.

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Aries

is the manufacturer of our windvane. If we can get it to work, it will steer the boat on its own, relative to the wind and without any energy from the boat. So very efficient and no power drain like our hydraulic system.

However,
so far we have not managed to get it to work. Two winters in a row we removed the rudder, looking for ways to reduce friction. This winter, we finally managed to address that. Last year in Cuttyhunk, John and I had taken the Aries itself apart to service it and reduce any other problems. So in theory we should be good to go.
Unfortunately, we did not have much time on the water this year, and when we had time on the water we did not have any wind. Thursday, the last evening before our departure, there was finally an opportunity to put it all together and try it out.

I motored to keep the boat moving (and save time getting the sail in and out) and as you can see in the video below, the movement of the windvane did turn the steering wheel as needed. So, in principle it all works. I am not that happy with the wooden vane turning quickly enough in the wind yet; I think there is still some friction in the windvane itself that we can work on, but at least all the effort to get the rudder out, the bearings sanded etc paid off.

We’ll see how it goes over the next 2 weeks.