The joys of satellite phones and spinnaker poles

The Return of Irene III - 2018
Louis Goor
Thu 30 Nov 2017 20:26

30 November 2017 - Day 2  - Irene III maiden trans-Atlantic voyage

Latitude 28 degrees 2.944 minutes North – Longitude 17 degrees 4.593 degrees West


Having set such a blistering pace on our first day together, the question was whether we could maintain such high levels of productivity today. When our skipper Louis reads out his long list of tasks outstanding, it feels like we could be in La Gomera for a few days yet.

However two priority items were fully sorted today, but not without significant headaches and drama.

Because all our weather forecasts and communications will be routed via satellite phone, whether we would actually set sail for Antigua was dependent on Louis getting the new satellite phone to sync with the onboard navigation system.

Having spent four frustrating hours yesterday liaising with multiple IT helpdesks in Cork, Dublin and London, Louis set about the task again this morning. Multiple visits to computer and electrical stores in the town yielded a variety of new computer leads, however none could get the system working.

When an IT bod in London suggested that these problems often arise because of dodgy USB leads, Louis experienced a “lightbulb moment”.  He immediately headed into town for a third time, this time to search for a new USB lead, to exchange for one he had bought in  local Aladin’s cave huckster store.

With the new USB lead in place and an email gremlin sorted, Louis declared the system operational and confirmed that we would be sailing the Atlantic after all!

Meanwhile John HH and Sean spent today at the commercial port of San Miguel, on the nearby island of Tenerife. Their job was to collect a seven metre long spinnaker pole which had been shipped by sea freighter from Ipswich.

Given that we expect the Trade Winds to be at our backs, we’re hoping to maximise sail area by setting a “Gull Wing” formation of Spinnaker and Genoa simultaneously.

While the sea leg of the pole’s journey had taken six days, getting it the last 40kms from San Miguel to Irene III hadn’t been successfully achieved in seven days. That’s why John HH and Sean were dispatched before dawn via car ferry to Tenerife, to negotiate the logistics of its final leg.

Moving a seven metre pole is not straightforward, so the ever creative John HH and Sean had hatched five alternative plans, including if necessary, them hitching a lift on a passing yacht with the spinnaker pole under their arms!

In the end, they did a deal with a local trucker and returned to Irene III mid-afternoon with their fingers firmly crossed, assuring Louis that the pole would follow on the last ferry of the evening.  

As Louis struggled with the satellite phone, John HH & Sean negotiated their spinnaker moves, Sabine and Johnny quietly continued their synchronised cooking extravaganza.  

They have now filled the freezer with Guinness & beef casserole, Mexican tacos, lemon and rosemary chicken, beef tagine, Greek chicken meatballs and half a dozen other delicious meals.  Fear not, we will not fall hungry on this voyage.

Meanwhile John E was tasked with fitting the automatic identification system (AIS) beacons to all the life jackets. In the event of a man overboard, the AIS will deploy automatically and send signals to Irene III’s VHF radio and also a GPS satellite, giving the position of whoever is in the water, so that the vessel can turn around to collect them.

With that job completed, everyone was assigned their personal name tagged life-jacket and another hectic work day came to an end. 

PS. As this blog was about to be posted, the spinnaker pole was successfully delivered to our boat. It's rare to see grown men get so excited about a carbon pole….at a marina!