Kincsem is three days out of Falmouth and we are approaching Cape Finisterre, the Northwest corner of Spain. As of 0900 this morning, we have covered 480 of the approximately 1450 nautical miles to Gran Canaria – less than 1000 miles to go. At 1000, the Parasailor went up and we are now moving along very nicely. The grib files are in excellent agreement that we will have Northerly winds increasing to above 20 knots over the next few days until we reach Gran Canaria.
Our last days in Falmouth were busy. I was hoisted up the rig to check for issues over the weekend but found all in good order.
A lot of shopping was done so now Kincsem’s stores are overflowing.
Marcel our chief provisioning officer; he was in charge of provisioning on Flyer for the Whitbread Race!
But there was not just work. After dinner on Saturday we found a bar where the famous Mighty Howlers were playing …..
Monday was again busy – starting with the installation of the replacement furling motor for the genoa and ending with one more shopping run and a quick get together on board Kincsem with Anne Hammick, the OCC port officer and long time editor of the Flying Fish and OCC members Reg and Nicky Barker. Reg is Rear Commodore of the OCC.
The footsteps of Robin Knox Johnstone on the pier in Falmouth; he left from and returned to Falmouth for his non-stop circumnavigation in 1968/69, winning the Golden Globe Race.
After some 16 hours of motoring initially, we crossed the Bay of Biscay in moderate Northerly breezes. What a change to have the wind behind you after so many months of going upwind almost every day! We experiment with different sail combinations.
Code Zero and Genoa on double poles, which is a surprisingly fast setup
Life on board is pleasant and as soon as the UK shores were no longer visible, the temps went into the 20s and shorts were seen on deck! We have a very experienced, international team. Stefano, who’s from Italy and sailed with me last year from Iceland to Scotland, Marcel from France, who did the Whitbread on Flyer many years ago, Jim from the UK and me from the US. We run three single person watches with 3 hours during the nights and 4 hours during the day. We take turns in having a day off from keeping watch. The person who is off is in charge of cooking and cleaning for the day. Today is my turn so I will get a full night’s sleep!
How come you are reading this while Kincsem is at sea? Before, we could get basic weather files via email but never posted on the blog from offshore. The answer is that we now have Elon Musk’s Starlink system on board, which gives us very fast and cost effective internet whenever we turn it on. I purchased the system on sale in Hamburg and provisionally installed the antenna in a fishing rod holder and the router in the aft lazarette. Rainer had provided a WIFI switch so we could turn it off and on from the cabin without opening the hatch to the lazarette. It worked great across the North Sea, but the WIFI signal was pretty weak, resulting in only 1/10th of the speed that the system is cable of. Then the big break-through came a few days ago when Ben, Christoph and I managed to thread the antenna cable all the way from the davits to the nav station so that we could install the router inside the cabin. Voila, 200 mbps of download speed! Christoph and I had also disabled the antenna motors last week which meant drilling a large hole into the antenna, pulling out the motor cable and closing the hole with a plug and some epoxy glue. Surprisingly, the system still works! Having disabled the motors, it was now possible to install the dish permanently next to the solar panels. In Portsmouth, with the help of the OCC port officer, I managed to find a guy who made a permanent stainless holder for the antenna right there and even sent a reinforcement of it which arrived just yesterday in Falmouth. Now, the only thing that’s missing is to convert the system to 24V power from 230V which will hopefully be accomplished in the Canaries! This will save a significant amount of power.
The system is truly a game changer and will increase safety on board by a lot. In addition to being able to download all kinds of weather information that would have been prohibitively expensive to download, we can now download information about ports, anchorages, currents, etc, that we don’t have on board, YouTube videos that explain how to repair defective equipment, the works - all while out of reach of mobile phone networks. As Starlink uses quite a bit of power, the plan is to turn it on only twice a day to download weather and allow everyone on board to send and receive some mails and texts. So internet detox will still be possible on board Kincsem! For now, we will keep the Iridium Pilot as a backup.