So Donald and Power Of One have added another 1600nm to their tally and arrived home in Savannah, Georgia. Well done!
I had quite a scare this afternoon when I checked on their position as the little ‘SPOT’ device that plots the boat’s position, and sends it to the progress map, reported the last update some 4hrs prior to the time I checked. I sent Donald a text to ask if everything was okay and I had no reply from him. I know he doesn’t communicate that much out there over the satellite phone but once a few hours had passed, and still no response, I started worrying a bit.
So I thought I might be able to find him via his AIS (Automatic Identification System) device which sends a position to a central database, and is used by maritime vessel tracking systems as a supplement to marine radar. Marine vessels can see other marine vessels plotted on their navigation systems via the AIS position, so very handy to have for safety – if it is switched on. There are a number of online websites that you can view the AIS positions of ships and boats in real-time, I use Marine Traffic mostly.
Unfortunately Donald’s navigation software, Adrena, still wasn’t working from having failed during the Rhoute du Rhum race, so that meant his AIS wasn’t working either as they are linked together. So I couldn’t see him but then I started looking for other marine traffic that may have been in the vicinity of where his last reported position was. This is when I got a fright as you will see from the image below that one of those big, closed vehicle cargo carriers – RORO I think it’s called, for Roll-On/Roll-Off – looked as though it had crossed very close at the time when and where his last position had been reported!
I messaged Debra to ask if she had heard from him and didn’t hear back immediately either. So now it was just a matter of waiting and hoping to get word at some time that everything was still fine. A few hours later Donald and Debra got back to me to say all was fine and that he had just crossed the sandbar into the Wilmington River – phew, relief! Donald hadn’t realised the SPOT device had stopped working, and he had no success in getting it revived. Electronics are great – when they work! In Donald’s words:
“All good, except Spot who I noticed 20 minutes ago. Tried resuscitating but no go. 8 nm from outer buoy and calm seas. Neptune has granted me safe passage.”
I replied that I had been worried because of the AIS info and it coinciding with the last Spot position report, he responded with –
“That was legitimate worry. Two vessels called me very close to say I appeared on radar within a mile. AIS clearly not working…”, “Very sobering. Come all this way with everything ocean has to offer and get taken out by a ship on the way in. Won’t leave without AIS and Adrena working again.”
Later update msg – “Inside the Sound doing up to 10 [kts] SOG (speed over ground). Phew, I’m home, that was a difficult one, despite a very pleasant and quick voyage on balance.”
This was the position as at 3-12-19, 23:45pm (GMT-4). Donald has around 100nm to go to the finish, but has to hang around for awhile to wait for the tide to turn so he can navigate the shallows of the river entrance. Frustrating for him I’m sure!
Some brief text messages from the last couple of days:
Yesterday morning – “Beating away for a change but aggressive shift to N then veering to East in next hour or so for the final sleigh-ride down to Savannah. Can’t wait. Reminds me on a small scale of getting out of jail East of Azores.”
Yesterday afternoon – “Hey Bruce. Out in gorgeous sunshine in perfect sailing conditions but sadly having to reign my girl in for arrival in time for tide.”
Early this morning – “Less than 100nm but have to wait for tide.”
Making good headway towards Savannah. Yesterday’s text from Donald;
“Lovely today. Sailing at 135 TWA (True Wind Angle), gusting 23 knots and surfing up to 17 knots (boat speed), sun out but not tropical. ETA Wednesday morning, hopefully in time for incoming tide.”
Debra had mentioned that there were storms forecast in Tennessee that would hit the East Coast. Donald not too keen on any more storms after the storms he had on the Rhoute du Rhum, but looking at the weather maps, anything that hits him should be a breeze by comparison to those!
“No storms is the main thing. I’m fully over them, for the time being at least haha. Think I might take a nap and let my girl have some fun on her own. :D”
You may recall that the AutoPilot wasn’t working during the race so he said it was “Bliss” to be able to let Power Of One sail on her own again now that AP is working again.
Donald set off from Gaudeloupe on 6 March to take Power Of One back home to Savannah, Georgia. It always takes a few days to settle into the sailing routine and as usual, for Donald, there was some seasickness to overcome. Unfortunately that meant he spent quite a bit of time on deck which resulted in some heatstroke and dehydration!
After a couple of days Debra reported that he had got over the seasickness and managed to eat again and was feeling better. Message from him on Thursday was;
“Feeling better. Every nm NW it should get cooler. Sun blasts into cockpit and cabin but plus is that solar panels are running everything and adding 5A back into batteries, amazing!”
Yesterday, 9 March, the following;
“Barrelling along at 10 knots in 15 knots of breeze. No fireworks but heading straight for Savannah, and hopefully there in time for incoming tide. Yesterday and last night was just squall after squall. Fortunately got spinnaker down yesterday evening before bad stuff hit. Today much more pleasant.
Been on starboard since rounding Guadeloupe, bit of beating on port Monday and Tuesday forecast, then a reach straight over the sandbar and down Wilmington River. Hopefully it lasts.”
Donald and Power Of One are on the move again after Power Of One has been laid up in Guadeloupe since the finish of the 2018 Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe.
Donald arrived back on the boat in Guadaloupe on 24 February 2019 to assess the damages suffered during the race and to start readying her for the trip back to Savannah, Georgia. There had been some keel damage leaving La Coruna after the storm damage repairs were done so the plan was to take her out of the water and inspect the keel.
As you can see there was some damage to the fairing of the keel box so that needed to be repaired.
On 4 March the new VMHU (vertical masthead unit) weather instrument, and a new fuse box for the Efoy solar power fuel cell system arrived. For those that followed the race, you may recall that during the storms Donald lost three VMHU units due to them being ripped off by the intense winds!
So with the repairs all being done, Donald and Power Of One set off on 6 March heading straight for Savannah. The routing software was looking favorable for an 8-day trip on the current weather forecast. Donald mentioned that he was feeling quite apprehensive about the trip, which I reckon is due to some PTSD-type trauma experienced during those intense storms during the Rhoute du Rhum. I saw some hardened skippers reduced to tears at the finish of their race due to the stress release and hardship experienced! Anyway, I suggested that he would most probably feel fine once underway. :o)