5th week on the Pacific Ocean: On ne vient pas enfiller des perles

Lots of adventure this week. Ya almost lost the outer jib in a squall and meets with an unexpected visitor. Also, energy is slowly running out. How is Ya’s crew holding? Well, ‘on ne vient pas enfiller des perles’.

Adventure and a Fixing day

Day 1. Sat Apr 27 2024

Last evening the wind decreased. Early in the night, the wind picked up a bit and Peter also heard a funny noise. The wind picked up because you could see a squall approaching in the moonlight. The noise appeared to be caused by the tack of the outerjib that was off its place. The sail worked itself more and more up to the top.
Meanwhile, the squall entered and the wind got stronger. Before Peter could call Pierrot, but he already stood in the cockpit: “Need help?” Yes for sure!
Pierrot took the helm and put the Ya on the best possible course. Peter went to the foredeck to lower the pole that was holding out the outerjib. First the mast side. Yes, lowered. Then the pole out of the donky dick at the mast. The strong winds helped in a sort of way to get it out, since the outerjib was slamming every now and then when the wind was too strong to keep the boat on course. Then the pole, 4 meters long has to get from the outerjib sheet. To open the lock there on 4 meters distance, there is a little line along the pole to open the lock. Peter pulled. nothing happened. The pole was still connected to that slamming outerjib. Again a pull, Peter pulled a third time and kept pulling… and the pole fell from the sheet. the tip hit the sea water but that was OK. Now the rest of the outerjib down. Pierrot made sure that the halyard was free and without twists -while steering in the meanwhile- and Peter let the outerjib go down and pulled it on deck.
Bingo, job done. Need to fix this tomorrow morning.
Then, Pierrot discovered in his watch a jammed block of the staysail sheet. Need to fix this tomorrow morning.
Then, when Peter got up to take the morning watch, he missed his life vest. Yes, the hanger was broken and it had ended up somewhere on a couch under it. Need to be fixed this morning.
Also we had to fix the twist in the Parasailors’ sock. So Peter started at 7 o’clock, Pierrot helped from when he woke up, and we have fixed all jobs at 3 in the afternoon. By the way, two of them are done that way that the chance on a next fix is very, very small.
In the calm weather we did not make many miles. But, during dinner -Pierrot made a good risotto- we agreed: what the heck, it was a great fixing day.

A close visitor

Day 2. Sun Apr 28 2024

The steady weather is back. This means no squalls, a shiny sun and a nice little 12 knot wind. A perfect weather for Pierrot to fix the fishing lines. But this time with smaller baits, because we have learned our lessons of the braking fishing lines.
A few seconds after the line was in the water, a shadow appeared, surfing underneath the waves. It came dangerously close to our bait. A shark? No, that can’t be true -we just fixed the lines and this bait is too small for him. After a few underwater surfs, it came to the surface to breathe: a lonely little whale (well, about 6 meters). It circled around the Ya for some times, played with the waves and from time to time came out of the water to catch breath. The whale gave a nice show, that Pierrot tried to film. Which is not easy on a boat going up and down. Did it want some company for a while? Or was it just curious by the sounds the propellers made? Nevertheless, we enjoyed its playing around, It deep dived into the sea to say a goodbye.

Our food after 2800 miles

Day 3. Mon Apr 29 2024

What do you think we eat after 2800 miles and 5 weeks on the ocean? An old sail and a shoe string? No.

Try this.
Today Pierrot made a puree with milk and butter, seasoned with tamarinde, a bit of cinnamon, and pepper.
He cut a chicken breast in pieces, made a mushroom sauce and put it in. This is the base. Then he chopped an union , a bit of red cabbage and garlic. You let it cook for a while. Then as late as possible a can of peas in it (including juice)
You serve the puree and sauce separately.

Bon appetit!

An energy issue

Day 4. Tue Apr 30 2024

For a part of the day the sails block the sun rays on the solar panels. But we are not worried at all about the energy, because both our propellers run when we sail. They make the motors rotate and that gives us hydrogeneration to charge the batteries. So we have abundant energy when we sail. Every time we arrive after a long trip, we always have a (nearly) fully charged battery bank.

But….
In the beginning of this voyage one of our motors stopped generating.
And some days ago, the other one stopped.
Now we are losing energy. We could cut some usage. For example, we switched of our second plotter and that saves 20-25 Watt, so about 400-500 Watthour a day. That is one percent of our battery bank.
But still we lose energy.
So, yesterday we set appointments. We estimated the worst case scenario and then we can afford to lose another 1.5 percent of the battery bank each day. As soon as we loose more, we cut down the freezer. And then the fridge. And then… laptops, whatever.

But so far, we lose not more than 1 percent.
So no worries, fossil free sailing stays safe.

1000 miles to Gambier

Day 5. Wed May 01 2024

This afternoon Pierrot noticed it is only 1000 miles to Gambier.
Well, only… But we did already 3000, which included a track through the Doldrums.
With the current friendly weather (fingers crossed it will stay this way), we will arrive beginning of the second week of May.
So now and then we talk about Gambier. All we know is that the main source of income are the pearls they grow.
We discuss what we could do there. For sure we want to visit such an oyster bank with pearls. Yesterday Pierrot started a shopping list. Peter started listing the jobs to do when on anchor. Pierrot questions how French it will be, and how Polynesian. Peter thinks of learning from the people there, as well as showing people how we do things fossilfree. Most Polynesians are religious, so a visit on Sunday to the Catholic church will be on the list.
As Pierrot would say: On ne vient pas enfiller des perles.

Maintenance

Day 6. Thu May 02 2024

When the weather and waves are a bit easy, we do maintenance jobs. Now, the weather is easy for weeks. Every day slides by with the wind and the waves and the sun making its curve around Ya.
We do jobs like polishing stainless steel, whipping lines of the sheets and halyards, repair a waterline, fix a lamp We have that much time, that with every repair we first ask how it could be made better than it was.

It is also nice to read a book, but every job that you have done, marks the day in a nice way. That is good for you.
And in the meanwhile, it is good fot Ya. When we will arrive in Gambier the Ya will look better than at her departure in Panama.

Vegetables

Day 7. Fri May 03 2024

We are now exactly 5 weeks at sea and the vegetables come to an end.

Pierrot bought all the vegetables in an open market in Panama where they came straight from the farmer and were kept at ambient temperature. We can’t keep them cool on board so you must buy un-chilled vegetables to keep them as long as possible.
Pierrot tried to tell the vegetables sellers in the best Spanish he could to select the freshest products possible, and even though we did our best not to bruise the vegetables, we still had some rotten tomatoes and carrots and others that we had to throw away in the first week.

During the last five weeks Pierrot selected the vegetables thoroughly. We kept the strongest ones as long as possible, and there is lef : a piece of cucumber, 1 and a half cabbage, 1 onion, 5 potatoes and a bunch of garlic.

We still have enough to survive, even for a couple of weeks. But that is just not fresh but in cans. But no worries, it will just require Pierrot to show some of his magic cooking skills.

4th week on the Pacific Ocean: Good and bad news halfway

Peter and Pierrot are halfway the Pacific now. The bad news: Pierrot twisted his ankle, the fishes disappear with the fishing gear, and Ya meets some squalls. Read on for more good and bad news!

Full and by

Day 1. Sat Apr 20 2024

Since we hit the 3 degrees south theoretically we could go in a straight line with a course of 245 degrees to Gambier.
But because we are on a sailing boat we never really go straight, we do the best we can with the wind, waves, and currents. We opt for the better course so that we can take the maximum speed out of it and so that we can be the most comfortable.
This is the reason that we go more to the south. We come in the east/south-eastern winds.
We are at the moment sailing full and by: outher jib, stay sail, main sail and mizzen.
Our average speed is about 5 knots. If the trade winds keep blowing, then we would arrive in Gambier in about 3 weeks.

Steady and stable

Day 2. Sun Apr 21 2024

This morning the wind dropped, picked up, changed in direction. Peter was busy with trimming till 11 o’clock. Then, the wind started to blow with the same speed and from the same direction. It hardly happens, but from that time till now, 6 o’clock, we didn’t touch the sheets nor the rudder, nothing. This is stable weather.
After Pierrots catch of the kingfish two weeks ago, no fish bites anymore. Pierrot keeps on trying. But, since we passed the enormous industrial fishing ships with their nets of many miles long, Peter is afraid that here is no fish left anymore. Also a stable situation, but Pierrot does not give up.


Half way

Day 3. Mon Apr 22 2024

Last night we passed the 1900 miles. So we are half way to Gambier. We are three and a half weeks underway now. The first 800 miles, with the doldrums in it, were really time consuming. Sometimes we only did 30 miles a day. But now we do a daily 110 to 120 miles. So if everything goes smooth, like it should on this puddle jump, we will see our destination in about two and a half weeks from now.

Meanwhile we discussed the fossil free way of cooking, of living, and how you stand in life, in society, that sort of things.
So, great discussions here on Ya, with only the trade winds blowing and an ocean of waves around us.

Pierrot sits

Day 4. Tue Apr 23 2024

Yesterday evening while trying to cool down some homemade yoghurt, Pierrot fell down the stairs and twisted his ankle badly.
After cooling it down for 2 hours in seawater and wind, Peter made him a beautiful bandage, all there was left to do was rest.
When Pierrot woke up for his watch, Peter had changed course to make it more confortable and made a beautiful setup to steer the boat so that Pierrot has to move as little as possible.

During the day
Pierrot sits down and slackens the sheats for Peter
Pierrot sits down and Peter brings him the fishinggear for him to fix it
Pierrot sits down and read a book while Peter makes diner
Pierrot sits down and Peter brings him his laptop
Pierrot sits down and eats the pork and vegtable cury Peter made

Short,
Peter has to work twice as much and Pierrot can only sit down and wait for the pain to go away.

The worst part is,
All this happened for the yoghurt that turned out bad anyway


142 miles last day

Day 5. Wed Apr 24 2024

Now the wind is perfect, the waves not to high and we can put Ya on a beautiful running course of about 100-120 degrees from the wind. Last 24 hours we did 142 miles; that is nearly 6 knots. A 12 meter yacht generally makes about 120 or 125 miles per day. The hull speed (the maximum speed) of this length is about 8 knots. But Ya is only 10 meters long and has a hull speed of 7.2 knots.
Since we are out of the doldrums, our daily mileage has increased. We started with 90 miles and it increased every day. Although from 110 miles a day in little steps.
The nice thing of such high speed is that the hydrogeneration charges well. That is also necessary, because one of the two propellor alternators doesnot charge anymore. Combined with the unfortunate angle that we make to the sun, we don’t generate much energy. But the batterybank contains 62% the last days so we will manage it to Gambier, no worries.

The dinner. Now because of Pierrots wristed ankle, Peter is cooking. Lucky us, we ate the stew from the freezer that Pierrot made last week. So no worries, we will survive.

Good news, bad news

Day 6. Thu Apr 25 2024

With the change of watch, Pierrot told Peter:
“I have some good news and some bad news”
“Tell me” said Peter

“Bad news: We are at 58% on the batteries, so we lost 4% since yesterday.
The good news: With the wind we have we are now charging a little and we can unreef.”

  • “Ok, we can handle that.”
  • “There is more. Good news: We have caught 2 big fishes. Bad news: the 2 fishing lines coudnt resist and broke.”

-“Is there also just good news?”
-Yes there is. I gave one last try to fix the broken keyboard on my laptop, and it started working again! And, my foot is feeling much better and I can walking on it a bit already.

-“That is great. A day starting with more good news than bad news will be a good day.”

And yes indeed, it turned out that way. Especially because Pierrot’s foot is doing that well, so he is back in the galley cooking again.

Hands

Day 7. Fri Apr 26 2024

This morning we could hoist the Parasailor. Beautiful. So we took the sails down: Outerjib furled in and taken from the bowsprit back into the bag. Then, to lower the main sail we have to go upwind. Instead of using the engines, we do that by sailing so we hoist the mizzen to get the ship upwind.
Then when all was down, we hoisted the Parasailor. But, something went wrong so we had to lower the sail again and we would have to fix it in the wind shadow of the main sail. So, mizzen up, then the main sail up, then the Parasailor up to fix the problem, then the Parasailor down again, then the mainsail down, then the mizzen down, then the Parasailor up again.

This afternoon the wind was a bit too strong and there were squals coming. So, we lowered the Parasailor. We hoisted the staysail, the mizzen and the mainsail again, put the outerjib on the bowsprit and hoisted that one.

So a lot of hosting and lowering this day. Ever tried it? Now, the hands of Peter are red and a bit painful, and Pierrot has a blister here and there.

What came out of Pierrots blistered cooking hands was a great Penne Bolognese.

3d week on the Pacific Ocean: Ya crosses the Doldrums and reaches the not-so-Pacific

Ya’s position can be found here

We did the Doldrums

Day 1. Sat Apr 13 2024

3 degrees south, we will reach it in a couple of hours, we are finally safe. Out of the Doldrums!

It has been a long struggle against wind and currents those last days, but we stayed hopeful to get through.
Good weather reports, a sound ship, our navigations skills and a dose of perseverence brought us to here.
And also, thanks to all the candles you lighted!

Parasailor

Day 2. Sun Apr 14 2024

We had just a little bit of wind, and pretty steep from behind and a swell perpendicular on it. A nasty combination, with sails easily banging all the way. The solution: we hoisted the Parasailor. O what fun, just to watch, to look at. We made 5 knots with only 9-10 knots of wind.
The Parasailor is a joy. It is nearly 2 times bigger than the genaker, but so much easier and safer. When the wind gets stronger, it stays on course and the sail is still easy to take down. Check Peter’s “Ode to the Parasailor” on Youtube, channel Fossil Free Around the World. It starts with: ‘Shall I compare thee with a summer’s day’…

There is more good that starts with a P and that is Pierrot. Today he made saucise avec puree et legumes.

Energy

Day 3. Mon Apr 15 2024

On our course to Gambier, we see that from 2 PM the sails block the sun on the deck solar panels. From 4 o’clock the solars on the biminitop (over the cockpit) are too much blocked to deliver. The wind is so weak, that we don’t get some relevant power out of the starboard alternator. The alternator on port side is broken. So that can become a main issue.
Now we are losing about 2% or 3%of our battery capacity every day. We shut off the plotter in the cockpit. It takes only 20 Watt, but in 24 hours that will be 480 Wh. That is more than a percent of our battery capacity to be saved.
Of course we have a little back up generator and some petrol. But when we wanted to do a regular maintenance on it, it did not start. Once you live fossil free, with hardly any things breaking down, you notice that these fossil engines never work when you really need them.

Unpacific

Day 4. Tue Apr 16 2024

The Pacific’s name refers to the pleasant long swell, and the friendly winds. The frequency of the swell is often more 11 or 12 seconds. While the Atlantic has a shorter swell, of about 8 or 9 seconds. That is a big difference. Togetther with the friendly winds, it made Magellan and his mates call this the Pacific Ocean.

Yesterday evening we got a thick overcast. Then the first drops started falling. This day we get rain coming in long showers. From the South East there is a high and short swell. So that is lots of motion for us when we are doing our jobs. This is quite un-pacific.

Lucky for us, this afternoon we got some more wind, and we needed that. It makes the Ya sail pleasantly, because with some speed the Ya is able to move friendlier between these waves.

Pierrot made a curry of chick peas. A recipe inspired him, but it did not work out as he wanted. Also quite unpacific.

Storm after the stills

Day 5. Wed Apr 17 2024

Yesterday evening we saw some squalls getting closer (a squal is a shower with heavy winds and rain).
Indeed, one passed by. Rain and strong winds were hitting the hull hard. But it quckly passed by and again we had light winds.
Did everything already pass? During the night the squalls kept on coming and going, more and more frequently. Peter decided to reef, just in between two of them. Just in time, because the next squall hit us even harder.
Today the conditions stayed as in the night. We continuously thought it would get better, but before long a new one hit us. On top of that, the wind and rain haven’t made us very productive today.

Now in the evening, the time periods between the squalls get longer and longer. We wil wake up tomorrow in the calm after the storm.

Ups and downs

Day 6. Thu Apr 18 2024

With a wave height of 3 meter and a frequency of 8 to 9 seconds, one can say that we experience ups and downs. It makes the working on board not easy, especially during the squalls, whilst the motion is even tougher.
The block of the waterstay (stay to hold the bowsprit down) broke. Lucky us, the outerjib on it, was furled in, so there were heavy powers on the bowsprit, so it survived. We took the outerjib down, fixed the block, and up again.

A day

Day 7. Thu Apr 18 2024 / Fri April 19 2024

The sun is back, it is the great Pacific trade wind weather again. Only our course needs to go more southerly, but we will manage that.
Our rhythm is back. Peter works in his morning watch. Next to some navigation, he does jobs, like fixing the waterstay connection to the bowsprit. Or maintenance jobs. Because one maintenance job a day, keeps the repairs away.
Pierrot regularly checks the storage of the veggies and the fruit. Very important. Now, three weeks from the start, we still have a melon, a bunch of apples and a bunch of oranges. After this check, he polishes the boat for some hours.
In the afternoon we read a book, Peter does a nap, and Pierrot makes the dinner. About 5 o’clock we eat. Then we write this post -“what shall we tell today” is the question during our dinner time.
After the meal we set sails for the night if necessary, like reefing the sails. Then Peter does the dishes. He takes the first night watch and Pierrot goes to bed for the next 6 hours, and takes the watch from midnight.
This is the regular day. Like it?

Second week on the Pacific Ocean: Crossing the Doldrums?

Crossing the Doldrums, as all sailers know, requires lots of energy – and some luck. Luckily on board of Ya the crew makes the most of the situation. They just keep hoisting and lowering the sail according to wind and current. And all the time, they keep their eyes on the prize: crossing the Doldrums! Good food, good mood – and some superstition. Read on!

Lucky Pierrot

Day 1. Sat Apr 06 2024

When Pierrot took over for the night watch, there was hardly any wind, and from the wrong direction.
At first light Peter woke up when Pierrot made a tack. The wind had increased. Peter could take over the watch with the Ya on the right course and a good speed.

In Peters morning watch, the wind slowed down as well as the direction, to unfavourable. When Pierrot came on watch, the wind increased and the wind angle changed again to the right direction. Then, Pierrot just had the fishing gear ready, we caught a fish. A Kingfish. We just at it. made by Pierrot. It was delicious.

So things become simple on board of Ya. You call the name Pierrot and luck is all around.

Solid

Day 2. Sun Apr 07 2024

We are sailing pretty far from the Galapagos Islands. Reason is, if we would sail more to the west now, the currents could take us there. Or even worse, we would have to go all around them on their North side. That would take an extra 500 miles. Yes, tt is tempting to go already now to the WestSouth West, but no, first we go much more Soutth and we have to ‘swallow’ the disadvantage of the bad winds and currents, to avoid the big risk later.
So, a solid navigation and a solid mindset.

Pierrot baked his first bread in the bread baking machine. Umpfh. It did not rise. This bread is good to use for building walls, for it is really solid.

In the East to the South, and then go

Day 3. Mon Apr 08 2024

There was a question from a reader: Why is our route so much to the East? Because there is the Humboldt current, running along Peru and Ecuador, setting to the North, and we want to go South.
Indeed, we just want to avoid that current. But we are reluctant to go to the west for two reasons. First because the currents. More to the west they are going North West now. (normally at this season there are currents going West, but not now, just bad luck). So this means with no wind, you would be brought to North of Galapagos.
Second because of the winds. Where we are now, the winds tend to be South, or even a bit South West. So you can make a Starboard and Port tack to go South. But in the West, near Galapagos, the winds are South East. If you don’t make it south of the Galapagos, you will never make it and have to go all around these islands. Making a Starboard tack just East of the Galapagos, with the NW current, would set you on a North ground course – back to Panama, or Costa Rica!
So it is here in the East that we have to make enough way to the South. We want to cross the equator at about 84 degrees West (we are nearly there). Then we go, with a little bit of favourable winds, our way to the West South West and -counting on a SE blow more to the West- turning more and more to South West course. Hence we end up on the South of the Galapagos. If Neptune could help us a bit with less Northern currents there, we would be delighted.

If this story is not clear enough, then the most important is: Pierrot made a good Chili con Carne.

Slowly

Day 4.. Tue Apr 09 2024

Today things went rather slowly. In the morning we tacked and with the little bit of wind we had we could slowly head for the direction we needed to go. well to a WSW course and we have to do SW. but we will get there, slowly.
The weather was nice. not too hot, not to cold. a little swell, a little waves. We took our time to slowly clean the deck and polish some stainless steel. The day continues gently and peaceful like this. We conceive that perhaps in the night we will pass the equator. But, hours are passing by and the wind became slower, so the Equator will be there slower.

We ate South East Asian Fried Rice. Peter and Pierrot are still discussing if it was not to spicey. But everything needs its time, we also discuss these things slowly.

Against

Day 5. Wed Apr 10 2024

There are two models to predict the currents in this area. One is called Marcator, the other is Hycom. We see that Mercator has always been right, and Hycom is almost always wrong here in this area.
It looks like Hycom is just predicting against Mercator.
However, Mercator always predicts currents against our route. Also today. For the complete area, from Ecuador to the Galapagos, all currents are against us. Very unusual.Just bad luck. So we try to avoid the strongest currents. The Humboldt current runs along the Peruvian and Ecuadorian coasts, to the North. Now, this current has widened itself three times, and is also affecting us. And how! We tested this today. We sailed 2.5 knot to the South, against that current, and our boat went… against our course. We went back!
The Humboldt current appears to be really strong.
The only thing we can do now, is take profit of the last bit of wind (also against us) and sail to the west-south west.
So if you read this, would you light a candle to turn the currents and winds with us?

Motorsailing

Day 6. Thu Apr 11 2024

PredictWind already predicted a long period of windstill weather. And indeed, last night we lowered the sails. no wind at all. The water was flat.
What to do? The strong current can push us back all the way and we have to start all over. Most probably we could slowly end up to the West or North West. It could lead to situations like coming close to prohibited islands of Galapagos, getting troubles with the Coast Guard there, and what have you.
So we switched our motors from alternators to engines and with a tiny bit of power we can just make our way perpendicular to the current. With our limited battery bank, we cannot do this for long. Just for a day or two. To prevent emergency situations, there is a small generator on board and some petrol. It can use 10 liter per day. We use only what we need.
In practice, there is nearly always a tiny bit of wind. Not enough to sail. So what we do is motorsailing: if we make a bit of speed with the engines, we create our own wind and all together this is just enough to make the sails work. A beautiful combination of wind and motorpower. If the sun shines, the solar panels deliver enough to make the engines run that bit. We call it ‘Sun sailing’. In the night we get the energy from our tiny generator.

Meanwhile, the wind picks up. We make 4.5 knots! Pierrot already switched off the engines, yesss, we sail again!

Pierrot made a great stew of beans, patatoes, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, and his touch of a mix of spices. We loved it.

The signs are good, but

Day 7. Fri Apr 12 2024

Last night it became cold. humid. moisture.
It became colder. just your sheet was barely enough to keep you warm. In the morning the humidity was that high, that the smoke alarm started beeping. A thick grey layer covered the sky. Why?
We were sailing over the area where the deep cold streams of the Pacific ocean ‘bumps’ on a ridge and comes to the surface. This stream created our current against and once on top, this current is no more. Hurray! No current against anymore!
Your candles helped.

Another thing. The predictions say that till Saturday we will have little wind or no wind. But, now we have very light winds from the South East. Are these the first winds of the SE Trade winds? Or is it just a coincidence? Generally the trade winds blow at the 3th degree South. That is another 100 miles from here (and the last days we often did only 20-ish).

Are we through this doldrums? Or not yet?

First week on the Pacific: good food but bad winds

In their first week on the Pacific, Peter and Pierrot had good food but bad winds. The start from Panama was great, but then came the bad winds. Read all about it in this weeks’ blog!

Screenshot from https://fossilfreearoundtheworld.org/map-where-we-are-now-position-of-the-ya/

Great start

Day 1. Sat Mar 29 2024

Our voyage to Gambier Islands starts great. PredictWind forecasted favourable winds and currents from last midnight till April 1. At 21:00 we lifted anchor and we slowly left Panama City with its metropolitan skyline. At 23:00 the first little wind came. We could sail.
In the morning we came in the currents, all favourable. We do more than 6 knots. Now we are rounding Capo Malo (Bad Cape), with a respectable distance. PredictWind’s Weather Routing predicted exactly what we are doing now.

Pierrot, just 3 days on board, made a flying start. He did the provisioning of the vegetables and fruits and stored them, he runs his watches, and today he made a great salade for lunch and a Carbonada a la Flamande. Man, how to get us happy on board.

Some extremes

Day 2. Sat Mar 30 2024

This day had extremes. In the night. he wind started picking up, we had to take a double reef, and some later even a third reef. Then, the attachment of the toppinglift broke. Not nice, to fix things in the night, but we maneged to settle everything calmly.

In the morning the wind started to drop, contrary to the forecasts. When a 20-25 knnots (6 Beaufort) was predicted, it even becomes wind still! for some hours. This delay will change our routing later on.

We also had our first loss. A bunch of 5 bananas fell down during our little adventure at night and 8 carrots have already completely rotten. But still we had a great meal.

Suspense

Day 3. Mon Apr 01 2024

The weather forecasts were not corresponding with reality, so we took new ones through satellite communication. Today it is the last day of our month satellite contract and we have a massive credit, so we took extensive forecasts.

As of tomorrow, the winds will not be favourable for the next 500 miles. Also the waves will be against. So the currents must get us through.
There are two models predicting the currents. One saysthat we get all current against us, or pushing is with force into the Galapagos Islands. The other one says we got the currents with us, or no currents at all.

What will it be?

April 1

Day 4. Tue Apr 02 2024

At midnight the wind slowly dropped. Strange, all weather forecasts say different. Pierrot did his best to keep the Ya sailing but, finally, at the end of his watch there was no wind at all. Only the engines could help. We had to accept that the windstill area appeared to be much bigger, and we will have an 800 miles wind still voyage, in stead of 500 miles.

Then the wind picked up again. We are sailing. We sail slow, only 3 to 4 knots, but we are sailing.

So nature fooled us at bit. On April the first.

Moods

Day 5. Wed Apr 03 2024

We started our passage with a weather window that should bring us all the way to th Equator now. But, the weather chose to be different. Now, we are hundreds of miles ‘behind’. The currents are playing with us and we try to make the best of it.

Last night just before Peter’s watch ended, the last bit of wind had gone. The currents could do what they want with Ya. Pierrot saw it all happening in his watch. For every sigh of wind he hoisted the sails. And he had to lower them again as they start slamming by the motion of the Ya in the waves.
The next morning Peter took over. A bit of wind started to blow… from the South to South West, exactly against, just the wrong direction. These winds can stay here for weeks.
Peter took the decision to sail to the South East. At last you can sail in the Southerly direction then, to get yourself free from current . OK, that is another 200 miles -do understand the scale of the ocean. And we made 1 knot speed over ground- do understand the strenght of the current. So after 8 days, we would be in an area where no currents are, at least a place where you will not be set back.
Peter made calculations on the quantity of energy on board, and when to use it as engine power. But again, the scale of the ocean is simply large and we are iny miney tiny. This passage could be a long, long story, with days of waiting and hoping Ya would not loose to many miles. Days of waiting? Or weeks?

So you understand the moods of us here on board.

Suddenly, around noon, the Ya made a spontaneous tack. The wind has shifted in just two-three seconds. We got a South South Easterly wind. We could sail! OK, the current refrains us to sail straight to the South, but near Galapagos we could probably pass the Equator. That is another 400 miles, but who cares – we are sailing!
The mood has changed to excellent and vivid here on board the Ya.
Pierrot made a great curry with coconut milk, wow.

Good hope flies with the wind

Day 6. Thu Apr 04 2024

Last night a big booby came sitting on Ya’s bowsprit. We had good hope that the SSE winds get us against the currents, all the way under the Galapagos and could brings into the tradewinds.

Early morning the booby left us. The wind changed its direction to the SSW and that is exactly against for the next 500 miles. These winds typically blow here in June and later.
We downloaded the new weather forecasts from PredictWind. The SSW winds are here to stay as long as the forecasts predict.
So to sum up: the currents are against us, the winds are exactly against us, as well as the waves. This does not look well for a smooth and running voyage.

If you see our good hope flying with the wind to you, would you please be so kind to blow it back to us?

Back ‘n forth

Day 7. Fri Apr 05 2024

Back and forth, that is what we have been doing the last 24 hours. Heading to the South East, then tack to go to the North West, and again, and again, and again…
Frustrating, because we need to go to the South West. Constantly changing our minds on what would be the best course, does not help either to get closer to our destination.

We wait and hope for the currents and/or winds to finally be on our side. In the meanwhile we take every little opportunity to get an extra mile.
The last day we did 32 miles. Perhaps we do half of it today? Perhaps in our best dreams.

Want to know more? Follow Ya on a daily basis!

Our Panama Canal transit and… The Pacific!

Panama Canal Transit and … the Pacific

Finally, after a very long waiting list we transited the Panama Canal. Together with Sue, with Jack and Sol, and don’t forget Poki the cameraman and maker of this movie. A top quality movie!

Poki filmed our Panama Canal Transit. More from Poki on https://vimeo.com/user1230810/videos

The very moment that you see this, we – Pierrot and me- have already set sail for the Pacific, a near 4000 miles route, to the little islands of Gambier in the South Eastern area. The first 800 miles will be challenging , with wind stills and countercurrents. We could even be entangled in the Galapagos Islands…..
You can follow us daily on https://fossilfreearoundtheworld.org/map-where-we-are-now-position-of-the-ya/

Wave energy

Every sailor has sailed against the waves. When on the engine, you see the big difference between going on flat water or waves. It doubles or triples the necessary energy.

Why using it against you? Why not use it for you?

That is how the Xander and Sven thought, just 18 year old. Xander sails regattas, currently the 29-er. Then you are aware of the wave energy!

The two guys started a school project, to get electricity out of wave energy. A real life experiment.

In general it works like this:

You put a floating container in the water. A closed pipe, a canister, anything that floats. There is a coil with a magnet in it. This magnet is connected with a line to an anchor, hooked in the bottom of the water. So when the container goes up and down in the waves, the magnet moves up and down along a coil. This way it is converting the motion into electricity.

A simple pipe should do it..

But..

But, like all inventions, the first prototype did not work. The pipe started leaking, thus damaging the electro magnetic system.

What now?

Xander and Sven started all over again. They designed a second prototype. Have a look at the drawing.

The second prototype. Translation: 1. Magnet; 2. Coil 3. block; 4.line; 5. pipe; 6.container; 7.anchor; 8.Waterlevel; 9.Bottom

.

Would it work this time? Please check the movie they made.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. (courtesy Xander Schaap en Sven Rekelhof)

Later they showed their prototype in a ‘dry environment’. If you pull the line, it was possible to make a LED light shine like the sun! (well, nearly).

Congratulations, gentlemen!

More about wave energy

Wave energy is the very sustainable alternative to compensate the energy lack of windturbines and solar when windstill and cloudy. It is even better than the non sustainable alternatives like gas, oil or nuclear power plants. Because the latter are expensive and they cannot be easily ‘switched on and off’.

So, Dutch engineers are working on it for some years now. Here are some developments.

The pipes on the left side go up and down. Connected to a magnet-and-coil, they produce energy. This system is already that sophisticated that the pipes can be 50 times smaller than the prototypes of 10 years ago. (courtesy Innovation Quarter )

This is a design for the near future: A lot of buoys, 19 meters high, all generating wave energy. (courtesy CoPower)

Or an installation (courtesy Change.inc4 )

The Dutch ‘InHolland’ university of Applied Science has done studies, leading to a concrete project: Symphony. (Courtesy Symphony )

Again an article about Sustainable Sailing book

The Sustainable Sailing book is also noticed by the national newspaper Trouw, and uses a full page to describe what the book is about.

Here the contents of article, in the English version. As well as the original Dutch article.

A trip through the water can also be more sustainable

(Translated from Trouw, Sustainability and Nature, p 8.)

Now that the sun is out, water lovers are starting to get the itch. They want to enjoy sailing, on a sloop, sailboat or yacht. Eager skippers can master the art of green sailing.

Let’s be clear: anyone who abandons the plane and gets on a sailboat instead is doing green. Climate icon Greta Thunberg has already taught the world this lesson by demonstratively taking a trip on a lightweight racing yacht to a climate summit in New York in 2019.

However, a trip through the water can always be even cleaner and more conscious. That is the message of sailor and environmental scientist Peter Hoefnagels in his book ‘Sustainable sailing in 13 practical steps’, published at the end of 2023. In it he explains extensively and optimistically the opportunities there are to limit the environmental impact of a boat trip, whether with a sloop or a large yacht.

His target group is large. The Dutch together own around 500,000 boats for pleasure boating, reports Rijkswaterstaat. Of the people with their own boat, most own a motorboat (42 percent) or a sailboat (33 percent), the rest own, for example, a sloop (16 percent), according to the RAI.

Holidaymakers and recreationists also like to rent a boat. About 1.5 million Dutch people sail or sail at least once a year, while private boat owners do so five times or more.

The planning of the boat trip is often the factor to sail sustainably.

An environmentally conscious boat trip starts with planning, Hoefnagels describes. Where does someone cast off, where does the journey go? When spending an afternoon floating in the canals or on a lake, the route is not that important. Then take a small clean boat with sail or battery, instead of a ‘fossil’ sloop with a steaming engine.

If the trip is more serious, on a larger boat, then a combustion engine is almost a must for (extra) power. In that case, planning largely determines how sustainable a trip is. A lot depends on the weather. The harder the wind and current are against you, the more a (sailing) boat has to rev the engine to move forward.

If you optimally adjust the trip shortly in advance based on weather reports, you can save half on fuel, because the fossil engine does not have to be turned on. That also saves a lot of noise, both under and above water.

Hoefnagels also sees silence and tranquility while sailing as sustainable, because (water) animals are less startled and disturbed. For the passengers themselves, sailing pleasure is also greater without noise, he says.

Energy consumption by the blade (you know: the ‘propeller’ on the back) and motor are the biggest drain, but quite a bit of energy also goes through the cabin on a large boat. Electricity is usually needed for equipment, lamps, a refrigerator and heating. Economical use is paramount, with a highly insulated cool box, LED lights and a heat lamp. And the electricity that is needed can largely be generated on the boat. Solar panels and mini wind turbines (which fit on a meter-high mast) provide power, and an onboard battery makes storage possible.

Not everyone has to pack the boat full of panels, like students during solar boat competitions, but a solid set of several large panels helps the skipper on the green road. This is even necessary when traveling long distances, so as not to become a ‘slave to your refrigerator’. What you don’t want, Hoefnagels outlines, is to run the generator to generate power for the cool box, or to detour for power. If possible, ensure that you as a skipper are ‘autonomous’ in terms of production and energy needs.

Cooking with butane gas is common on most boats and ships. With your own solar and wind energy, cooking on an induction hob is more attractive and also cheaper.

And if you want to consciously cook on a boat or yacht, you can use a hay box, for example, Hoefhangels recommends. That’s exactly what it sounds like: a box of hay. A hot pan can safely remain glowing to cook food. A so-called ‘hay dam’, a kind of tea cozy for over a pan, can also limit gas combustion.

What helps to keep all forms of energy consumption on board within limits: use an app or a meter on which consumption is visible. Hoefnagels states: “Just by mounting the energy meter in a permanent place that is clearly visible to everyone, the behavior of the crew changes.”

If there is a toilet and a tap on board, it is important not to discharge waste water, but to store it properly and dispose of it responsibly on shore. Also consider a dry toilet, Hoefnagels advises. Such a toilet contains no water, pee and poop are collected and thrown away in the bag.

Some of the environmental damage caused by boating often occurs once the boat is stationary. Then it needs to be cleaned and scrubbed occasionally to remove deposits and dirt from the boat. Do this with harmless means, the author advises.

Biocide-containing paint is widely used to prevent fouling. “This kills aquatic life and spreads microplastics,” the author warns. So don’t do that. Environmentally friendly alternatives are available, such as ‘saponifying paint’ without biocides.

And here the author shows himself to be an experienced skipper: after a trip through fresh water such as a lake or river, first sail for a while in salt water, i.e. the sea, then the deposits and algae will dissolve a lot easier.

Do what you want with my tips, Hoefnagels emphasizes throughout the entire volume. He seems to be protecting himself against potential grumblers who think: can’t I just sail without a care in the world anymore? According to the author, skippers with ‘youthful curiosity’ who are open to his advice and experiences can help themselves and the environment.

Sustainable sailing – in 13 practical steps, J. Peter Hoefnagels. Hollandia Publishers; 192 pages. €24.95.

New developments in batteries

The developments on storing energy is diverse. Here we stick to the storage of electricity only and that is already pretty diverse. We forget the big tweaks made on Lithium batteries and have a look t at wider variations. from capacitors to batteries made from solar panels.

Seeing is believing.

Supercapacitor

A supercapacitor can store electrical energy and is very light. It can be charged very quickly and can supply a lot of energy. A disadvantage is that it cannot yet hold the electrical charge properly. The capacity is also still small. Supercapacitors have long been used to power the flash on a camera. Recently they have also been used in cordless drills.

Saltwater battery

A saltwater battery works on the same simple principle as a lead-acid battery. Only the chemical reactions are not that intense. A saltwater battery therefore requires a lot of space and is relatively heavy. However, many more charging cycles are possible. The saltwater battery has recently been made industrially.
This heavy storage is suitable for large ships. Its advantages are the durability and simplicity of the principle, and therefore of maintenance and repairs.

Condensed battery

A Chinese car battery manufacturer says to come up with a so-called condensed battery that can contain 500 watt hours per kilo. This would be very light and even interesting for aircraft.

Core of grinded solar panels

With silicon as a basis, a relatively light silicon battery could be made, even lighter than an LFP battery. The grain size of the silicon must then be only a few nanometers, which makes it more expensive than gold. A way has recently been found to separate the silicon from old solar panels and then grind it into nanograins. All this in a simple and cheap way. As the development of solar panels continues, the old panels automatically become waste. But with this invention, discarded solar panels could be the raw material for future batteries.

The modern batteries are made under very clean conditions

This is just a view to the horizon or beyond. Please don’t wait for these developments, because most of them will not make it to the market.

Fast developments in solar energy

How fast do developments go?

In 1980, a good solar panel could not even convert 8% of the solar energy to electricity. When we started the Sustainable Yacht project in 2010 , the best solar panel available on the market could reach 20%. Three years later, we could install solar panels on the Sustainable Yacht ‘Ya’ doing just over 20%.

And the more panels will be on the market, the faster the developments go.

Faster and faster

Doing a mere 20% in 2010, in 2020, there were solar panels developed converting over 30%. A 10% increase!

In 2023 a Chinese factory developed panels with a 39% efficiency. They do that with a beautiful trick: they use two layers. The top layer consists of a special material, called Perovskite. that layer takes about 10% and that is not much, but it is transparant especially for infra red radiation. Under these transparant cells there are the regular cells as we know them, and they are especially sensitive for infra red. It leads to a total solar to electricity conversion of 39%!

They call it the heterojunction cell or simply tandem cell.

The cell to the right has two layers. The first (with Perovskite) converts solar rays to electricity and it lets the Infra Red go through. The second layer converts these rays to electricity. Such solar panel is also called a tandem panel. (Source US DOE)

Within the same year, German researchers even tipped the 39.9%. The pace of the development increases.

But, take all these new developments with a grain of salt. Donot wait for it to put on your roof. It can take decades before an innovation will find their place on the market. If they will anyway. For example, the Perovskite panels work only on critical Oxigen and water conditions. Especially these conditions are hard to maintain on a durable, sustainable basis, for on your roof, or on a ship. So perhaps these panels will only be used for outer space programmes?

A more versatile deployment, a faster growing market

Nowadays, many people and companies put solar panels on their roofs. Because we like to use that left over surface to make some energy, some money.

But we see smarter solutions. Architects start playing with it. They are designing facades of buildings with transparant solar panels. When in the office, you have a pleasant light in stead of a torching sun trying to cook the workers heads.

Next to climate solutions, solar panels also give a building a ‘face’.

We also see this on boats. More and more biminitops are made from solar panels. Because, why not using this shadow maker also as an energy catcher?

All new deployments enlarge the solar energy market. It makes the development increasing faster and faster.