Saturday, March 6, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island - Day 12 - Almost There

60 miles north of Easter Island - 26 13.3S 109 02.4W

"Luke, you switched off your targeting computer."

You can almost sense the nearness of land. After 11 days at sea and exactly 2000 miles as of 3:00 this morning we are all quite ready to arrive, and we are a fast boat. Soggy Paws was still around 8 north as of last night, only making 140 miles a day or something as they go through the same washing machine we dealt with at the beginning of our trip. When we designed Visions speed was one of our primary goals, and she has done that, averaging about 185 miles per day or about 7.7 kts. This includes quite a bit of time drifting in 5 to 8 knots of breeze and a very light hand on the throttle when motoring to minimize fuel consumption.

I went as far as recomputing what we call our "MotorSail - Fuel Priority" polars. These are the performance estimates that we feed into expedition when we intend to motor sail, but want to burn as little fuel as is practical. Previously we assumed we would just make sure we were going 7 knots or so, but this time I tried to hold the power usage to just 1200 rpm where we burn about 1.8 gal/hr. This means as the wind picks up, when motoring upwind, we don't go that fast, but it is quite miserly with fuel. At that sort of power rating, in moderate 6-8 knots of wind, we could motor due upwind at 6+ knots for over 1500 miles, quite impressive for a sailboat. Now if we knock that down to just 1000 rpm we would slow to around 5 knots, but would extend our range to about 1700nm. Much slower than that and the engine is a bit rough.

I have the radar going tonight to look out for the scattered small squalls that tend to bring wind, and keep going out to 48 mile range to try to get the first peak at a radar return from shore. Nothing yet, but in another hour or so it should come into view....very exciting.

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