Day 5: STT -> Azores - No wind but traffic

Blue Note
Marco M.
Thu 2 May 2013 14:18
Date: Thursday 02/05/13 - Time: 12:00 Blue Note Time - 11:00 EDT
Position 25:17.5N  59:02.49W
COG 58T SOG 4.0 kt, Wind 280T 8 kt, Barometer 1006.1 decreasing
Temperatures: Air 26.0C, Sea 20.2C
Last 24h Sailed Distance: 106 NM
Sailed distance since departure: 593 NM
Time since departure: 5d 3h 00m
Average Speed since departure: 4.82  kt
Intention: sail to Horta
Distance to End on rhumb line: 1731 NM
ETA: Sunday May 19
Diesel consumption: 33% diesel burned with 23% of passage done.
Detailed Track (50 is the maximum number of point, i.e. once the last point reaches 50, the last point always is 50):

No wind but traffic

During the last 16 hours it has been an absolute calm with wind less than 4 kts.
We are waiting for wind to slightly build up, which are expected to happen later this afternoon.
The bad news is that the grib file shows that on the rhumb line on May 4 we could to be at the center of a dissipating weak low pressure with again no wind.
No sure at the moment if the low will dissipate before we get there or we will have to deviate from the rhumb line and stay south of the low.
The diesel consumption will soon start to be a strong factor in any decision since we are down to 2/3 of our diesel left. That is still 650NM of range but with 1700NM still to go, does not sound that much.

No fish to report, after carefully reading the literature available on Blue Note about blue-water fishing, Damien concluded that his not fault of the Frenchman but rather the combination of a calm sea with motoring at low speed.
Looking forward for some wind to demonstrate that is not the Frenchmen fault.

The lack of fish was compensated by the amazing high traffic of sail boats.
We spot in distance a sail boat and call her on the radio: a  59' feet "Peter von Seesterm" heading for Horta and from there to the Baltic sea. Then later at night we got passed at less than a mile distance by a 115 ft long sailboat  motoring also for Horta at 8.5 kts.

S/V Peter was helpful to try to debug the VHF/AIS short range issue.
Before departure for the Azores I had to reprogrammed a new MMSI number on both units.
The previous MMSI number was issued by BoatUS and is ok for sailing in the US waters but for international travel
the MMSI number must be assigned by the FCC,
Unfortunately, only the Raymarine service department can re-programmed the MMS number on a unit.
So in March I had to take both units off and ship them to Raymarine.
They returned them promptly with the new MMSI number programmed and also some software updates installed.
On April 26, I re-installed the unit on Blue Note and they seamed to work fine. I tested the radio by calling American Yacht Harbor and check that a sailboat at the same marina was able to see Blue Note on her AIS.
While leaving Red Hook on the 27 I noticed that the radio was more silent than usual and that the AIS was picking up not as many signals that it used to do. While sailing we started to get AIS signal from Cargo ship when they were 15 NM
while in the past I used to start to see them at 50nm or more.
Bottom line: both the VHF and the AIS appears to have reduce range. When I called s/v Peter, I asked if he could see me on his AIS and he did not, he also mentioned that I was coming on the radio with a weak signal and lots of background noise.
I tried to clean and re-insert the VHF cable that goes from the antenna into the AIS unit but with no change of performance. I also tried to bypass the AIS unit plugging the VHF cable directly into the radio but got the same poor radio performance. Perhaps the connector from the LMR400 VHF cable got damaged when I disconnected from the AIS unit but it looks fine and it is hard to imagine how. It could be that the antenna got damage and the loss of range was un-related with removing the units, but I usually don't believe on coincidence.
Unless it's not a coincidence and when leaving Blue Note with the un-terminated VHF cable the antenna got damaged.
Not clear how and why but I guess the next step could be to replace the antenna but that will need to wait until Horta.
I also sent an email to Frank at Raymarine asking for suggestions, but I have not got an answer yet.

Enjoying the calm at the bow of Blue Note

Evening clouds