Saturday, July 19, 2008

The crossing

The crossing.

Some statistics about the crossing:
Total days at sea 26
Total Hr at sea 612
Total Miles at sea 3885
The crossing from Atlantic Highlands NJ to IJmuiden Holland was done in three legs. 1/ from Atlantic Highlands NJ USA to Horta on the Isalnd of Faial the Azores.
2/ Horta to Plymouth England. And 3/ Plymouth to IJmuiden Holland.

Total distance first leg was 2150 nm
Total days at sea for this leg 16
Total hrs at sea for this leg 391
Total miles at sea 2250
I have added 100 nm to the trip as we had to move further south in order to avoid the worst of the weather system that we encountered. I did not lay a track for this part of the route, and I have no way of knowing the exact distance. Not only did we move further south than planned to miss the worst part of the weather we felt we would have a better ride with the waves coming right on the stern rather than starboard, or port quarter stern. As we got more used to the heavy seas we realized that the boat had no problem taking the seas from the quarter stern, and after a week or more we did not alter course to have the waves coming right at the stern. I don't know if we got used to getting beat up, or got braver!?!? I guess we established our sea legs by this time.
Average RPM 1300
Total Fuel for this leg 681gallons and includes running the gen set for for approx 25 hrs
Total distance 2250 nm
Total days at sea 16.5
Total Hrs at sea for this leg 391
Average speed 5.7 kts
Average m/g 3.37

>From Horta to Plymouth we could run somewhat faster as we had plenty of fuel for this portion of the trip and being that we took longer than expected on the first portion we averaged close to 1800 RPM
Total fuel for this portion of the route 524 gallon
Total distance for this leg was 1268 nm
Total days at sea for this leg 7.5
Total hrs at sea for this leg 178
Average speed 7.1 kts
Average m/g 2.42 after taking off running the gen. set for approx. 10 hrs

>From Plymouth to IJmuiden
Again we averaged 1750 RPM
Total fuel for this leg 110 gallon
Total distance for this leg was 367 nm
Total days at sea this leg 2.5
Total Hrs at sea for this leg 53
Average speed 6.9 kts
Average m/g 3.3

The total duration of the trip was a little longer than I had expected. I had calculated the time from Atlantic Highlands to Horta to be a few days less than two weeks. As it turned out it was a couple of days more than two weeks. I believe this is due to the weather we experienced. Usually in early June the part of the Atlantic we crossed ( south of 40 degrees lat.) is fairly calm with blue sunny skies. We saw only a few such days. Most days was cloudy foggy, and or rainy,all accompanied with a fair bit of wind. I had expected we would have some seas with substantial waves but certainly not as many days as we experienced.

We did see some traffic, however there were days that we did not see anything on the AIS screen. AIS (Automatic Identification System) would show us any ship within a range of approx. 15 nm, as well as all pertinent information about the ship such as course, speed, destination, closest point of approach, time to approach, and the name of the ship. All this is very important so as to avoid a possible collision. A collision on the high seas could really spoil a otherwise good day at sea!! Most of the traffic we would see on AIS, and could not see with the naked eye even though they sometime were within 4 to 5 nm away from us. On a clear day you should easily be able to see large ships as far away as 6 to 8 nm, perhaps further than that.

We kept watches at all times. Some boats, especially sailing vessels who are crossing single handed, or at best with a couple do not value watch keeping at all times. We did, and had a schedule drawn up of 8 periods in 24 hours. the schedule was as follows 0800 hr to 1200 hrs/1200 hrs to 1600 hrs/ 1600 hrs to 1900 hrs/ 1900 hrs to 2200 hrs/ 2200 hrs to 0100 hrs/ 0100 hrs to 0300 hrs/ 0300 hrs to 0500 hrs/ 0500 hrs to 0800hrs. The night watches were kept shorter as this is the most difficult.
As I mentioned the traffic was light to some days non existent. However this changed once we got closer to the English channel. The English channel is a bottle neck of ocean commerce to and from northern Europe. As well the North sea was very busy. In these areas one would have to keep very diligent watch, and make changes to our course in the appropriate time in order to avoid a collision. One time when I was on watch we were clearly on a collision course with a 945ft cargo ship. He was on my port side and according to the rules of the sea had to give way to me. However common sense in the boating world says that the bigger you are the more right of way you have, and you don't argue your right of way when the one approaching you is close to 1000 ft!! However in this case I could not turn to port to avoid him due to other traffic in the area,
so I called him on the radio and asked him first of all if he saw me, and second if he planned to cross in front of me, or behind me. He came back and said that he would alter course to starboard and pass me on the stern. It was quite interesting to see a 945 ft ship that was coming straight for me alter course and all of a sudden I saw his port beam lights, and he crossed my path on the stern by less than 1/4 of a mile.
One other container ship crossed in front of us ( there was no concern of a collision with this one) and he was absolutely enormous. I called him on the VHF, and asked him if he was the biggest container ship on the ocean. He said that there was actually one that was bigger than him by 60 ft. His dimensions were 1100 ft long 100000 ton, and he carried 8500 20 ft containers when fully loaded. It was enormous!!!
Other than having lots of traffic to look at in the English channel we also enjoyed the best weather of the entire trip. However that deteriorated as we got closer to the Dutch coast, and we entered IJmuiden with drizzle and fogy weather. Typical Dutch weather!!!!In spite of the mostly unfavorable weather during the crossing I could not have been more happy with the performance of the Kadey Krogan Clyde described it best when he said, and I quote " It is quite interesting to see these large swells towering above the stern of the boat. It seems just as the following seas are about to come into the cockpit, Le rêve with little effort lifts her big broad butt over the waves. She reminds me of the grace, lightness of foot and elegance of watching a self assured heavy set girl dance" end of quote. And I have to agree.
Next time I have good internet connection I will try and send some pictures.
Stay tuned!!
Bill and Joanne

No comments: