Day 8

Majic 2's great ARC 2006 adventure
Peter Howe
Mon 4 Dec 2006 12:14

Position at noon GMT on 4 December 2006 was 19.06.23N, 35.04.80W. 197.2 nautical miles sailed in last 24 hours on the boat log. 1515 nautical miles to go to St Lucia.


Awoke this morning to the news that a Nicholson 32, Compromise, crewed by 3 had activated their EPIRB last night and radioed for assistance due to a 'breakdown' of their skipper, and concerns for their safety. Apparently there are no other ARC yachts nearby (their reported position is 400 miles behind us), so Falmouth coastguard have diverted Mirabella (super yacht?) to their assistance.


Very disappointed to receive the positions yesterday, and despite the excellent mileage we are logging, find that we are still in 7th place in class, making no inroads into the leaders. It would be a trifle unfair to say that we are charging around the ocean, at great speed, covering a lot of ground, but in the wrong direction. However that's how it feels when you can't sail fast directly towards the finish line, but every other boat can (except for the catamarans who are also in our boat; if you excuse the pun). Today's download of mid-Atlantic weather charts show no change in the situation for at least 3 more days.


Yesterdays major debating point between the crew was the state of the batteries. Can I start off by saying that they have performed to date exceptionally well, with no sign of any deterioration in performance of any of the many systems that run off the 12 volt supply. However we have two 'smart Alecs' black boxes that appear to disagree on this point.


The first is a digital ammeter, through which every movement of electrical current is routed. It measures current going out from the battery rack and that coming into the batteries from the engine alternator. You will remember that in the racing class we are allowed to run the engines, in neutral, solely to charge the batteries. It is a simple arithmetical calculation, given the capacity of the batteries on day one, for this device to work out what the current capacity is at anytime. This it does, and daily proclaims that despite how long we charge the batteries the capacity is reducing. This morning, before we started the daily charge, it showed only 33 amp/hours left. It blames the other black box.


The other black box controls the rate at which the alternator replenishes the charge in the batteries. The principle being that it will charge at the maximum rate (75 amp/hours) if the batteries are very low, and reduce the charge rate accordingly as they get better. It is in direct contact with the batteries, and calculates the dosage according to the state of the patient, so to speak. What happens every charging session (twice per day) is that the alternator starts off charging at a very brisk rate (55 amp/hours) but very soon reduces the rate, down to 10 amp/hours within 1 hour. The implication is that they are in good form, and need no more charging.


Which one to believe? Zat is ze question.


Whilst we are in boring mood, can we just briefly mention that we have finally found the pack of clothes pegs, along with his new glasses that went missing 2 weeks ago; that Pete Howe claimed he had bought and stowed safely on board. For the past week the crew have had to make do with an initial supply of 5 , gratefully received from the neighbouring boat in Las Palmas, that had finally reduced to none after Ron and the skipper fought with a poor errant flying fish in the cockpit yesterday. What they used the pegs for, heaven knows, but they disappeared, leaving us devoid of a means of drying clothes. Regardless of pegs we can't use the guard rails for drying since they are regularly swamped with sea water as the huge waves sweep the cockpit. So we have strung a clothes line across the three forks of our antenna mast on the stern. As I type, Pete Howe has just received his daily shower in the cockpit courtesy of an unseen growler.


Apologies for the diversions into domestic issues, but we look set to sail this zigzag course under white sails for the next 3 days or more, with nothing exciting happening on the sailing front.


Finally, we will be passing the halfway point of 1500 miles this afternoon, and have granted ourselves an extra can of beer each to celebrate. Peter Howe has claimed skippers privilege for TT Ron's can.