Around The World Voyage : Commentary : Leg 4

May 19, 2002

Distance made good last 24 hours- 183 miles
Average speed last 24 hours 7.7
1725 RPM
Fuel burned last 24 hours 80 gallons (including generator)
Fuel remaining 563 by Flow Scan 550 by sight gauges
Range at current speed with remaining fuel using data from last 24 hours- 1,287 nm Distance remaining to Panama Canal 540nm (won't reconcile with yesterday)
Course 275
ER temp 111 F

We are off of Punta Gallinas Columbia as I write this and will shortly make the turn which will give us a straight shot to the San Blas Islands. I have cheated a little and already moved the curser to our upcoming peaceful anchorage- 459 miles. We are giving Punta Gallinas a wide berth because.. well just because.

The "witches brew" description is still applicable to our conditions although it hasn't be all bad all day- actually settling down a few times. I have been trying to understand what is going on and think that it is somewhat related to current. We are generally helped by a current which sweeps thru the Caribbean and ultimately consolidates north of Cuba to form the Gulfstream. As the current makes contact with South America and interplays with the ABC islands which we passed yesterday, it breaks into unpredictable eddies and counter currents. At times the current is directly behind us as evidenced by the gorgeous high SOG numbers. At other times it is hitting us on our port side as evidenced by the fact that we are crabbing to stay on track to our way point. When the current is behind us, the confused seas abate, when is comes from the side, the "witches brew" returns.

We are of course steering the boat with the Raytheon autopilot. We can choose to lock it onto a magnetic compass heading (auto) or tell it to steer to a "way point" of our choosing (track).We normally use the track mode because to set a course, we can simply move the curser to the desired destination on the video screen of the chart plotter, click "Go To" and we are in business. Once the command is given to steer a track to a waypoint, the auto pilot makes corrections to stay on that imaginary line. Thus when a cross current is encountered, the boat is being pushed off of the track line and the auto pilot is constantly trying to bring it back. Our magnetic course is straight up on the radar and the path to our waypoint is shown as a dotted line on the radar screen. When the boat is crabbing to stay on course, you can see it because those two lines don't line up. Right now, they are off by about 30 degrees.

My lamenting about slower speeds in the morning report turned out to be wrong- in fact, we actually had our best 24 hour run so far.


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