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Showing posts from February, 2023

Voyage Planning - it's about timing

Today should be the start of the final stage of Ruth II's journey home to the Med. All preparations are done - we are fueled, provisioned, and indeed even personally cleaned and if necessary we could now get the whole way to Palma, some 1200NM away, without stopping again.   However timing is everything - the highlighted arrow on the chart is of a possible sheltered stopping spot at La Graciosa, just N of Lanzarote and some 150NM NE of our current spot in Tenerife.  If we do stop, it will be to try to optimize our passage through the straights of Gibraltar, at the moment the grib files (weather forecast) is suggesting that a 24 hour delay might be beneficial.  We are back up to four with the arrival from Ireland of Jack last night - welcome aboard! TC

On the Subject of Food

I think it was Napoleon who said that an army matches on its stomach. There is no doubt that a well fed crew is a happy and effective crew and one of the amazing features of this voyage has been the food. We have been blessed to have some wonderful cooks on board - to the extent that some of us have gracefully withdrawn from any attempt to complete, and instead have become washing up specialists. I thought when I first came aboard in Cape Town that it would be impossible for anyone to cope with meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the one sitting - however it just happens every afternoon without fuss or drama that everyone is totally satisfied. Some pics to try to illustrate. 1. Ravioli production line in full swing. Start by making pasta yourself (no shortcuts on Ruth II) and take it from there - this particular cook-up is all in Andrew's video - the link is in the last blog post in case you missed it. 2. Pizza Day - somewhere in the South Atlanti

VIDEO - Cape Verdes to Canary Islands

Another of Andrew's lovely videos.  This one includes scenes from the galley, dolphins, and another Birthday party. From Praia to Mindelo to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Click here to watch Unfortunately this will be Andrew's last video on this voyage as he head's home by air from here. Suggest you subscribe to his channel to keep a lookout for fresh videos in the future - I have a suspicion that he could be back at sea, perhaps in his own blue water boat, before too long. Subscribe here Safe home Andrew - Ruth II will miss you and thank you for helping to bring her so far around the world.

Canaries arrival

We tied Ruth II to the marina in Santa Cruz de Tenerife early this morning.  Like the dolphins on yesterday's photo she must have sensed something was near - we did almost as much milage in the last two days as we did in the first five of the leg from Cape Verdes.  At one stage I thought we might be like Columbus and find America such was the initial dog leg to sea. After a couple of false tacks we eventually got a freeing wind, and helped by the engine we avoided falling off the edge of the ocean.  Port arrival always means bubbles and this time Ruth II really needed her bath, her deck, guardrails and anything exposed were salt encrusted after the long bouncy beat. So straight from night watches to hours of hosing and scrubbing, the boat quite properly comes first and the crew scrub later. It will be bed for me once this post sends and God knows when I will get up again.  However this is probably going to be a shortish stop. The weather

Day 6 from Cape Verdes

1530 - Friday, February 24. I am guessing that most people have heard the advice on how you eat an elephant. We have been chewing at ours since coming through the ITCZ, having the wind and currents in our faces instead of carrying us along. Anyway we have now taken some big bites, and while we are still quite a distance from the Med we are getting quite used to chewing at it. Yesterday was another day of slow progress, in fact since leaving Mindelo our average progress directly towards the Canaries was under 100NM each day until this morning. Today we feel were are flying, the sea is quite flat, the wind has backed a bit and finally we are pointing at Tenerife. All going well, another 48 hrs might see us at Santa Cruz where a full boat wash down and fresh food replenishment will be among the priorities. The last few days have been a great experience for me, in particular observing the use of navigation and weather routing systems, something that I couldn't jus

Day 4 from Cape Verdes

1530 Wednesday 22nd February. This leg was always going to be slow - the log says we have sailed 465 NM, yet we are still 550 NM from Tenerife - the 830 NM direct distance will probably translate into over 1100 NM by the time we are there - it's a long slog to windward and the Canaries current has also not helped averaging over 1kt against us. Currently we are sailing towards Mauritania in 12kts of breeze and a flat sea - Ruth II is very happy to have left the lumpy stuff behind for a while. Today has been full of excitement - for starters, we tacked onto port around mid-day after 3 full days on starboard. The real thing though is it's Par's Birthday - and already we have had a magnificent Full Ocean Breakfast (sausages, eggs, cabbage fry, potato fry, tomatoes, beans, and lots of tasty bits) - the skipper was busy in the galley all morning. After that we had tea and birthday cup-cakes, along with the presentation of gifts (primarily culinary items

Day 2 from Cape Verdes

1600 - Monday February 20th Earlier today Ruth II crossed her own track westwards from November 26th 2021, thus technically completing her full circumnavigation of the globe. She has a bit more to do before she can rest - she has to take us to her home in Palma where some of us will sign off and she will get lots of well-earned tlc. CONGRATULATIONS RUTH II. Back to this leg - having waited for decent window of weather, finally yesterday we left Mindelo in a bit of a gale, with 30+ kts and a short sea to be confronted for the first few hours. This little gale was always going to be temporary - the winds accelerate through the gaps between the islands and once clear we started beating with staysail and reefed main in 18/20kts and lengthening seas, as I write this we are 160 NM north, some 700 NM downwind of Tenerife. We are down one, Mary has flown back to Ireland for a short visit, but is due back aboard in the Canaries - it will make a difference to our watch sy

Sneaking one last post in leaving Cape Verdes

Just before we cast off.... We are leaving just as carnival starts this weekend.  Caught the following this morning - think this is the schools parade.  Definitely the last picture post for a bit... I think!

Voyage plotting - challenges ahead.

  On Jan 8th in the post titled Voyage Plotting and Planning I avoided saying too much about what might happen beyond the Cape Verdes. Now reality is here, it's uphill to the Med and there is no way of avoiding the fact anymore.  We plan to break the voyage in two by stopping somewhere in the Canary Islands, we are not sure where, but it is a minimum of 800 NM as the crow flies and likely to be somewhat longer for us.  The NE Trades have been blowing hard all week in Mindelo, we are headed shortly as the forecast is for things to moderate over the next few days. Anyway a little wrap before we go 1. The possible passage plan - the wind is due to moderate considerably over the weekend which should give us the chance to motor sail almost directly into it once the sea state improves. This route shows Las Palmas, Gran Canaria as the stop - it's just one option.  2. We are leaving behind lovely Mindelo - a spot I h

Boats for Oceans

Just a quick review of the options for crossing the pond, as observed from the marina this few days.  1. Deluxe Boat - not sure if you would be allowed sail it yourself, and if you were whether you would need all the rooms! 2. Full Colour Boat - lovely hull, strong rig, go anywhere and everywhere.  3. Modern Way Boat - serious contender for ideal couples boat and I think this one is a ballasted center-boarder so handy for beach and coral. 4. Younger Couples Boat - this neat one I'd guess is 29 feet overall. Her young crew are heading for Surinam in a few days - at just 1800 NM, about as short as you can make it.  5. Already Knows the Way Boat - not sure if sheep are grazing in the rigging or it's a form of talcum powder for sails.  6. Familiar Looking Boat - Looks like a big sister to Golden Apple, the boat the Coveney family did their circumnavigation on in the 1990s. This one won't be leaving Mindelo anytime soon.  7. Pirate&#

Mindelo observations

Yesterday you only got pics of Praia, so here is a flavour of Mindelo, our other Cape Verdes stop.  1. The harbour is lovely, with many cruisers using it as a staging post to take as much as 800 miles off in the Atlantic crossing. The yacht marina is behind the high ground at the root of the commercial pier in the photo. 2. The entrance is marked by a high rock with a very distinctive staircase lighthouse. In the background is Ilha de Santo Antao, the second largest Cape Verde, and apparently the vegetable garden of the islands.    3. Everyone is generally well dressed.  4 & 5. The old town has lovely buildings.  6. The pic that wasn't used at the property expo! Whoever named the islands must either have been colour blind or a marketing guru. Cape Bán Dubh (use Google translate if you have to) more like.  7. Do visit, it's fab, but if you arrive by boat keep a good lookout when navigating - this sunken ship is unmarked close to the dire

Praia and Mindelo - a tale of two cities

We are recuperating still in Mindelo, the best harbour for yachts in the Cape Verdes and somewhere to which I hope to return to again before too long.  It has an excellent well sheltered natural harbour, a very decent marina, and a lovely buzz, with vessels of all descriptions which generally arrive from the North with a plan to head West for the Caribbean and beyond.   Ours is now becoming a delivery trip, we are headed for Gibraltar and the Med, from here it is uphill. Once a window appears in the generally strong NE Trades we will head off with a plan to rest again in the Canaries some 800NM NE of here.  The Cape Verdes is a widely spread, volcanic originating, group of 10 (ish) islands 300 miles off Africa. With a fast growing young population of 500,000+, the newly (1975) independent republic has wonderful potential and many challenges given both it's lovely climate and location.  Praia, the Capital, a city of 130,000 souls, on the island closest to


Just a little reflection - at sea on a quiet lone watch gives plenty of opportunity to take in how insignificant we are in the greater scheme of things.  1. The vastness of Space, the brilliance of the Sun, occasionally Venus, Saturn and Jupiter at dusk, and the closeness of a full Moon - and we are just something tiny (sorry Liam, Ruth II is still fab) on the sea. 2. Jamestown, St Helena - inside the walls are festooned with memorials desperately trying to maintain a memory.  3. Rural, St Helena - the chickens seem to be introduced at a couple of days old.  4. Georgetown, Ascension Island.  5. Praia, Cape Verdes.  6&7. Praia again - I stumbled upon these First Communions - a facinated voyeur at others beautiful family occasion.  Not sure if there is an answer however this voyage has allowed me space for which I am grateful. RIP Dad.  Tom  

A bit of Celestial Navigation

This voyage has given me the opportunity to revisit the joys and art of navigating without GPS - in particular adding sun sights to my armoury of objects that can be used to get a positive fix on position at sea.  The first thing James, our Skipper, recommended was to read a book called Longitude by Dava Sobel - essentially the history of the chronometer. It was a great way for me to get an understanding of the principles and possibilities of navigating with celestial bodies as well as a good history story.  Seafarers have navigated using the stars for millennia, essentially because their position relative to each other never really changes. It is not the same for our sun, moon and planets (which the ancients thought of as wandering stars). However their movements relative to the spinning of the Earth are easily predicted so by knowing what time it is exactly, and some jiggery pokery with angles and tables they can be used to get a position line.  Any read