North (temporarily) from the Caribbean

     Making last checks of Celebration, the weather, and posting this at almost the same time.  Lynn has cooked up some entries in advance and we have on hand plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, and easy to prepare, easy to eat food. The thought is to head north tomorrow. Straight, or actually kind of arced westerly, toward the Beaufort/Moorhead City North Carolina inlet. As we started this cruising journey we knew not what it would bring and where we would go. We started off slow, up the coast, then south, doing longer and longer jumps off-shore. Finally deciding on the trip to the Caribbean. We have been asked often if we intend to "cross oceans" or go "around the world" and the answer is always "we don't really know". But we are always learning more about this little ship and more about us, likes, dislikes, expanding our comfort zone and our ability to sail in weather. So in a way we are learning more of what we can, and might like to do. This trip is another extension. Will we want more crew, or are the two of us about right? Too long a passage, or will we find a groove. Exciting, or like many we've met who find long passages boring? Whatever the answers, we'll know more by the time we reach the next port.

   This passage has few firsts for us and we are in fact pretty excited. It will be Lynn's longest off shore voyage, and our longest together. It will also be my longest with a crew of just two. We've done 4 1/2 days together before just fine. This one at  over 1300 nautical miles will take a few more.  It is our first with wind steering providing an alternative to the power consuming Auto helm and of course another way to steer without Lynn or I standing behind the wheel for days/week plus. Done that...it sucks...so we carry a spare motor, control unit, etc for the electric version and now a completely unpowered option. As some remember I was on a "powerless" delivery 18 months ago and it altered several priorities for me in off shore sailing. And the new vane has been christened "Rejse"  (Danish for voyage) in deference to early Aries wind vanes being manufactured in Denmark. Although now made in England we're sticking with our Scandinavian theme, counting on the combo of Hjlmr and Rejse to steady the wheel. 
External Sound Card
    Another firsts is no weather routing. Of course we can always tune in to Chris Parker and listen, but he is no longer on call for us. After a long period of fee paying service, we realized we never called for advice. Only listening, watching, taking in weather forecasts/faxes from NOAA,  grib files and have done OK. Not always perfect, but OK, so we're giving it a go. We use the SSB (marine HF radio) for weather faxes, grib files, and position reports. Faxes over HF radio have been around for a long time, but newer technology allows this laptop to receive it via that radio, decode, file, and display it. As well we can send and receive rudimentary e-mails and with attachments like the grib file which again being decoded with a simple viewer on this laptop allow us to see the wind, wave, and pressure models running out a few days.

System up, RMS Express Transmitting/Receiving
No "Pactor" modem!  The modem appears to be the most common cruiser solution, but it is another expensive, sometimes problematic solution. We use software called RMS Express which uses the computer to emulate the modem without the $1400 cost. One key to making it work however is a good clean sound card, in our case external to the computer. This one is a SignaLink by Tigertronics. For ~$100 the company includes all the cables for attaching to your specific radio, the USB connection for the computer, and several more. What it does is the same as the sound card in the laptop, but without all the extra electronic "noise". The faxes are clearer, the e-mails work better, and all the cords are now off the navigation station.

    And one last first: our daughters, Amanda and Hannah, have volunteered to make a few blog posts here, so we will send them position reports via the SSB which they will post here. They can also send us e-mails back along the way, of course short and no photos. So if anyone is interested, they can follow along for the trip. Hope to see most of our US based friends soon!!


Ian McCrum said...

Hello you two, I have been lurking for a while but thought I'd give you a shout. Best wishes with the journey! I have a HR41 hull 85, "Shadowmere". Still working as a teacher so only the long summers... currently have the boat in Sweden, to cruise the Baltic this summer. I am a electronics lecturer (and ham) If I can help with anything just ask.
Let us all know how the windvane behaves! Bon voyage.

Jim P said...

can't wait to see you three. fair winds.

Anne and Chris said...

Bon voyage! (Yes, we're still on a French island)

Equinox Crew said...

We're probably too late to send you the best of luck, but hope not. This is really exciting. You guys have some brilliant ideas for self steering and communications. Cannot wait to hear how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Have a safe and enjoyable voyage. Hope you can make it to St. Pete sometime. Take care. Kristel