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Vaquita - November 27, 2011

Nov 27, 2011
ARC report from Vaquita
1000miles since we reported from Vaquita, its about time to call in again. Thanks to World Cruising form mentioning Vaquita, indeed size doesnt matter endurance and heart does.
A Vaquita is quite a small, not to say tiny species, compared with her much bigger relatives, the Blue Whale, the Fin Whale, Northern and Southern Right Whale and even the Dolphins. Vaquitas live in the Bahia California only, are small, nice, clever and cheerful.There are just little more Vaquitas left as there are in the ARC. They are endangered to become extinct. After the Wesailforthewhale campaign in the last Volvo Ocean Race, we keep supporting the work of the WDCS with the Vaquita campaign. So please check out and support their work to preserve Vaquitas, whales and the oceans.
Next, the stereotypes about sailing Vaquita, a Class40 yacht.
No we are not masochists, yes we enjoy sailing such a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean, no we dont smell bad as we wash oursleves more less daily, yes we can do without aricondition, freezer, multimedia set, alcohol, cold drinks, autopilot and no we dont suffer and no, it is not very difficult to fly an efficiently working chute day and night (it takes maybe five hours to learn, please challenge me). All that, because we love sailing and because it is incredible pure fun when the boat surfs down waves, the bow digs in, warm water flushes over the deck and shouts of joy are being heard from the helm, the trimmers and even the guy in the galley.
In Las Palmas we made lots of friends with sailors coming to see Vaquita, interested to know how we do things on board a yacht that doesn t offer many of the amenities a "normal" cruising yacht does. Here we go for everyone who is interested.
Water: we are using a 12V DC watermaker from Katadyn, producing 12 litres of fresh water an hour. This matches quite well with our charging needs to run nav lights, instruments and communications. It is even enough fresh water to wash off the salt after having a rinse down with a bucket of sea water.
Power generation: We have thought about instlling hydrogenerator but delayed the decision. So we are still charging with an alternator driven by the Diesel engine. For redundancy there are two alternators installed, the "standard" one that comes with the engine and a Mastervolt high power output one with an external regulator we have tuned a bit :-) for faster charging, stuffing the Amps into the two 105Ah Varta batteries.
Food, drinking: we have a huge variety of treckneat freeze dried food, something for every taste. We drink water and add flavour with Isostar of Peerotone powder. One of the few real luxuries is freshly brewed coffee for four of the crew and 14 Red Bull cans for two who dont drink coffee. Every afternoon we induldge in cookies and coffee.
Sails: Our 75sqm main is fully battened, made of Dyneema fibre. It is the second of this type and we only changed as the first one just isnt a race main after having done 50.000 or so miles. The old one still has to serve for lots of cruising, delivery and training miles which makes Dyneema/Spectra an excellent choice for cruising sails (Euros/mile). Why not Kevlar? Kevlar is lighter but doesnt give the longevity Christof, the owner of Vaquita wants, and Kevlar isnt as "bullet proof" as the current sail (which gives me a much better sleep at night). So far, most miles in this ARC we have covered with an A2 sail, a mast top gennaker of 180sqm. The upper wind limit of this sail is around 23kt true wind speed, no that it breaks in higher wind but it becomes unefficient as it pushes the bow down to much which stops the boat from accelerating. In more wind the A2 is replaced by a fractional A6,a similar sail only smaller and hoisted just above the hounds. If a kite is set in anything more than 14 knots of true wind speed, a staysail that doubles as a heavy weather jib is hoisted as well, adding to the balance of the boat. All sails from North UK with whom I develop Class 40 sails.
Safety: Of course Vaquita complies fully to the ORC standards required for the ARC, Anna from the RORC has made that sure as for everyone else. We have a mix of Spinlock and Kru/Ocean Safety life jackets/lifebelts the crew is wearinig at night, during sail changes and in anything over 25kts of breeze. The 4 person liferaft has been replaced with an Ocean Safety 6 person ISO life raft that has been developed by Ocean Safety. I see this particuar raft as the best compromise between weight/quality/price on the market. Every second day we have a guy up the rig for a visual check, same on the bowsprit. Deck fittings are checked daily. Christof has bought Mc Murdo PLBs for the boat, provides a Vectra direction finder.
Weather, Comms, Navigation: This time only Iridium, a permanently installed Sailor phone and a handheld as backup. A little slow but reliable. Grib data from GFS and ECMWF. From time to time ASCAT scatterometry and Meteosat sat images via the University of Dundee. Grib processing, routing and navigation with Expedition software, developed by 1993 Whitbread winning navigator Nick White. For those who need a grib viewer, it comes for free as Expedition LT. The software runs on a Panasonic Toughbook computer buildt into the nave table with only the screen sticking out and a soft rubber keyboard an a trackball pointing device beside.
Sleeping: Very well as we are tired from sailing, on sail bags, camping matresses or crew bags.
Watch system: rolling with one guy changing every two hours. 4 hours watch, 4 hours off, 2 hours standby. Easy sailing 2 on deck, demanding sailing 3 on deck. Me outside the system floating and navigation/routing.
Gotta take a shower now, later you can find me in the high surf area, hang loose,
PS: any questions to [email protected]

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