Dec 15, 2015

Mindelo, Cabo Verde

N 16° 53.241', W 24° 59.443'

Sailing from the Canaries to Cabo Verde was quite uneventful. We had very light winds all the way, during the last two days we even had to motor some hours.

I tried to catch some fish, but all I got was some seaweed, there was a lot of it.

I know we can't trust the charts, but I was still expecting to see some light when we were approching Mindelo in total darkness. You can see the lighthouse on top of this island, but there definately was no light flashing from it.

We have enjoyed Mindelo. This place has some very good restaurants. To be honest, we haven't found anything else than good restaurant. The prices are also much lower than in the Canaries.

It's no wonder that all the fish in the restaurats is very fresh since during the day there is fresh fish for sale around every corner.

Tomorrow we are going to buy fresh fruit from this market for our next leg.

We are planning on leaving tomorrow and we are heading for Barbados. If the winds don't agree with this, we'll just change our plans and pick an other island.

It's about 2000 nautical miles from here to Barbados. We expect to spend at least two weeks on the way, it could also take three weeks.

You can follow us on our website. The map and our last position should be updated via Spot.

When we finally arrive in the Caribbean it's going to be year 2016 already. So we wish you all very happy holidays!

Dec 1, 2015

Atlantic Ocean, here we come!

N 28° 0.442', W 16° 39.628'

Today is the day we have been waiting for a long time.

We are now heading to Cape Verde. If for some reason the winds are not favorable, we might change our plans and head straingt to the Caribbean.

Today Tenerife doesn't look so nice. I hope we find the sun soon.

Nov 19, 2015

Atlantic Ocean, almost there, we can't wait!

N 28° 0.442', W 16° 39.628'

I haven't forgotten  you all, but, well, I've been busy. Sorry about that. I promise I'll make it up in the near future. 

It's been a long almost two years in the Canaries. The Canaries are not a bad place to be, but we have just been here long enough. We left Finland to go sailing and we haven't done that much here.

We haven't set the excact date when we leave, but it's in the very near future.

Before we left Las Palmas we took care of the bottom. Now "Iiris" behaves like she's supposed to behave. It was kind of funny, how deffirent it was to manouver her with the dirty bottom.

Here we are testing our new furling system for the gennaker. The sail is not new, but we exchanged the sock for the furler.

We have already been provisioning for the past two months. When ever we have had a rental car for some reason, I've been bringing home some cans. Last week we did an inventory. We have plenty of food, we'd survive for much longer time than just across the Atlantic. Anyway we'll be still buying some more. We know that the stores in the Caribbean are more expensive and don't always have the things we might want.

Last summer I ordered me a Sailrite sawing machine, I hadn't had the time to power it up yet. 

My mother came to see us before we go. With her mental support I set up the machine and did my first stiches on it. We didn't quite have the materials we needed so I'll continue by myself sometime, somewhere else.

It was nice to have my mom around for two weeks. We don't plan to visit Finland anytime soon, and the flights to visit us are becoming longer and more complicated. We sailed to La Gomera with my mom. We loved the island. I'm so happy we finally got to see something else than Gran Canaria and Tenerife

We don't miss Finland, but we do like some things that come from Finland. Here we have some rye crispy bread stored for the crossing. And I must tell you, this is not all we have. We also have a lot of other Finnish crispy bread on board. This means we don't need to start baking yet.

We are now in Las Galletas, Tenerife. We'll be doing some last minute things before we set sail for the Caribbean (most likely via Cape Verde).

When we finally set sail (hopefully next week) I hope I have more time to update this blog. At least we'll be checking in with the Spot, so you'll see on the map where we are.

Oct 20, 2015

How to install Spinlock endless line clutch

N 28° 7.628', W 15° 25.492'

We needed clutches for our new endless rope furler. Since we have Spinlock XTS clutches, and we like them, we decided to try XTS/M clutches that are designed for endless rope.

Information about this option is quite limited on Spinlock's web pages. We bought a triple XTS/M3 which seems ridiculous for endless rope, and we soon figured out that the middle one is not usable for this. The endless rope only needs two clutches, but we wanted to get the triple for it to look symmetrical to the other side.

When we got the much more expensive clutch than a normal triple, we realized that the only difference for normal triple was the open bullseyes. Very expensive bullseys!

We wanted to make the installation so that we don't have to uninstall the clutches from the deck if we need to change the rope. That is not possible with triple or double because one plastic part cannot be removed when both side fairings are not removed. 

We had also two singles and so we got what we wanted by changing the open bullseyes to single clutches. There went the symmetry.

Next I show how to put endless rope to clutch without uninstalling the clutch from the deck.

Here are the parts for single clutch.

Line must be forced into bullseye.

For example by using screwdriver.

All the bullseyes in endless rope.

Base is installed and insulated with Duralac and sealed with Sikaflex. 

This is the part that makes it impossible to change the endless line without uninstalling the whole clutch for others than singles. The small notches go under the base and can come up only on the sides, not in the middle.

Put that part in place.

Cam assembly comes next.

And the other parts.

Notice that the bolts keeping the clutch together can be assembled both ways.

Apr 10, 2015

Another try to get Wi-Fi on board

N 27° 48.999', W 15° 45.949'

All cruising boats have a VHF-radio and most also have either a SSB-radio or a satellite phone (or both). However, most of us spend way more time near the shore than off shore. There seems to be one radio connection more important than the others; Wi-Fi. 

We have had many tries to pick up a Wi-Fi signal to share it inside our boat (or at least have it working on one computer). Now it seems that we have a working solution.

We like to use the Internet on laptops, tablets, etc. in our boat. Usually that's impossible because there is no Wi-Fi coverage inside the boat. Our steel hull and aluminium deck are not helping us, it's a bit different with GRP. We have tried external antennas outside the boat, but that is sometimes a bit difficult. What we need is an outside antenna with a system that connects to the Wi-Fi providing the internet connection, while devices inside the boat share that connection through our own Wi-FI access point.

We had the idea to implement that with Raspberry Pi, but fortunately found out that there were already many devices for this task.

We had to make the decision between Ubiquiti and Mikrotik products, both have very interesting devices. We chose Mikrotik Metal  2SHPn, because of its more powerful transmitter. It also seemed a bit more robust, which is always a good thing on the water.

There is an antenna included in the package with the Metal, but we decided to have more gain with a better antenna. Omni-directional antenna is simple to use, especially when anchored out. We bought a TP-Link TL-ANT2415D.

We tried the system in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Metal was able to see more than 60 access point at once!  That's a lot compared to the old 10 or so . The system was really working as we expected it to.

A bit of a warning! Mikrotik Router OS is not the easiest user interface to work with. Here is the screen where you connect to the WiFi.

This is only a part of the screen. However, if you can handle mail via SSB, this should'n be too difficult to handle.

We believe that Metal can also be configured as a Wi-Fi access point for on board devices. We haven't tried that yet. We just happen to have some extra Wi-Fi routers (leftovers from work in Finland) with us and configured one of them to serve as our access point.

We sailed to Las Galletas, Tenerife. There was one windy day in the marina and all of the sudden there was no more antenna.

Well, there was the antenna, but the fiberglass tube had flown away (fallen to the bottom of the sea). Antenna was sold by Manhattan Computer in Las Palmas. We tried to talk to them about guarantee, but the guy just told us, that we should also have the fiberglass tube with us. We might as well have used it as a sword and broke it :) That much for the guarantees here... 

Oh well! We still have the Metals own antenna and it is also working pretty well.

Mar 20, 2015

We are sailing again!

N 27° 48.999', W 15° 45.949'

When we first arrived in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, we thought we'll stay for a month or so... We had had some boat work in mind since back in Finland. The plan was to change our hatches on deck and some other minor things (what seemed like big jobs back then). 

Our planned one month stay became one year and two months. When we left Finland behind, we thought that was it for any stress in life. We were so wrong. Our life in Las Palmas was an stress after an other. Sometimes it was the work load, sometimes the schedules and well, sometimes there was just too much hard work to do.

Here I am, happy to be sailing again. I had the longest break in my whole life from sailing while in Las Palmas. 

Our first sail to Tenerife was quite a struggle, we had no boat speed what so ever.

In Las Galletas I took my wetsuit and snorkel and took a look at our bottom.

OMG, I knew it was dirty, but I didn't expect it to be this bad. I tried to clean some of it with a strong spatula, but it didn't help much. I only had energy and skills to clean very small area near the water line.

Now we are back to Gran Canaria and the sail back was not horrible but nearly that. I have never yet had a sail that I would say I'd have rather stayed on dry land. This leg was nearing the feeling.

We had planned to sail on to La Gomera. El Hierro and La palma from Tenerife, but we changed our plans to meet up with some friends of ours next week in Las Palmas. And then before sailing again we have to find someone to clean our bottom. We love to sail, but this floating home of ours is not a sail boat at the moment. It's not only the missing boat speed, we could almost live with that, but it's the way a sail boat works. It just doesn't work when the hull is in this shape.

Anyway, we are now happily in Puerto de Mogan and we are very glad that we are at least able to move again. Our life is once more becoming the dream we want to live in the real life!

Mar 5, 2015

Navico Broadband Radar and OpenCPN

N 28° 0.437', W 16° 39.626'

Our former radar was old but very reliable Furuno. The only problem with it was that the CRT screen was taking too much space and power. We didn't want any new screen either. We want to use a regular laptop or a tablet as a display for all navigational data. We are currently using OpenCPN as chartplotter, so it was interesting to find out that there is a radar plugin for OpenCPN. Navico Broadband radar has some interesting features like low power consumption and good visibility at close range. It seems like the perfect choice for us.

First view of the new radar. Our heading sersor still needs a bit of calibration.

We got the system working but there were some difficulties with installation.

My first mistake was that I didn't read carefully OpenCPN plugin documents before buying the radar. Navico 3G and 4G radars are sold under the brands Simrad, B&G and Lowrance. Our heading sensor uses NMEA 0183. By reading Navico documents I thought that Simrad 3G with RI11 interface was suitable for us and I ordered it. When I got the radar I read the plugin manuals through and found out, we didn't need any interface box at all. Lowrance 3G would have been cheaper, because it doesn't include an interface box. We chose 3G and not 4G because we don't need the longer range. Besides it costs more and uses more power.

Navico Broadband radar without interface box has radome and cable. Cable is an ethernet cable with additional power wires. It doesn't use PoE! When used with chartplotter like OpenCPN, it also needs heading and position data. OpenCPN plugin must provide this data to radar. Without position and heading there is no radar view! If you are using OpenCPN, you probably already have position data. We have an Airmar H2183 heading sensor with NMEA 0183 cable connected directly to our auto pilot. OpenCPN receives NMEA from serial port or ethernet. Our goal is to put all our NMEA data to ethernet, but now we made a temporary wiring for NMEA 0183.

Routing heading sensor data to OpenCPN was easy, but it didn't work. Plugin document states that used heading sentences are HDT, HDM or HDG. Airmar was sending HDG as default. I programmed Airmar to send HDT which it did, but without data. HDT means true heading. Sensor probably has variation database, but it needs position. Ok! I routed nmea position sentence (RMC or VTG) to Airmar and it started to send heading data.

We got a two second glimpse of radar picture in OpenCPN. OpenCPN was receiving gps and heading data through two different serial ports in our windows laptop. After a few seconds the other port died away.

Next step was to route heading sensor data through NAIS-400 AIS box. Now all NMEA input was in one serial port and it works.

We tested the new system by sailing at night from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Las Galletas, Tenerife. Radar targets and AIS targets were equal and we were very satisfied.

Installation would have been very easy by using a heading sensor with built-in GPS.