Thursday March 13th 2008
After 18 hours of motoring we have now just got sufficient wind of about 6 knots to sail again. The quietness and beauty of a serene sail in idyllic seas after a long time of motoring has to be experienced to fully appreciate. We had a few showers in the night, but the grey dawn soon gave way to partially cloudy but mainly blue sky with an intensely clear and hot sun!
When you sail long sea passages you don’t sail in a straight line as drawn on a chart because of the curvature of the earth and the projection used in making a map on a flat chart. You sail what is called a great circle route which is the shortest distance between the two points. When you look at this route on a large “flat” chart it shows up as a long distinctive curve. For the WARC fleet, the relatively short sea passages so far in the southern hemisphere and the fact that they have been either due south or due west did not show up this curve. It should not have been a surprise, but when we left the Galapagos the curve went well south before it came back up north to the way point. In the northern hemisphere the curve goes the other way, north before it goes south again. Anyone who has flown across the Atlantic and have looked at the route taken by the plane will have noticed this pronounced curve.
Modern yacht have an array of instrumentation all fed by a multitude of small computers giving the most precise information and making navigation and route planning so much better than even a decade ago.
As an example of the sort of information you can download, today’s photo, which I hope you can make out, shows Asolare on a computer screen as a small red boat. The pattern from the boat in the direction of the Marquesas show lines at 4 hourly intervals and the fastest route to follow is shown as a solid red line with waypoints shown on it every four hours. The great circle route to the Marquesas is shown as the upper dotted line but because of the small scale does not show up as a curved line!
I hope you can see that we are tracking the lower red line fastest route that is calculated by knowing the wind strength and direction every four hours for the next three days, and the computer program has an immense data file specifically for Asolare and all the sail configuration possible and with all the “special” sails like our magical Parasailor included in the complex program.
You see sailing is really very simple nowadays – just follow the yellow brick road!
It is really red but sounds much nicer in yellow!
Sorry about the rather tutorial type of email today but nothing else special to report!