We’re on our way

We’re on our way

St. George, Bermuda, May 5th. 2018

Four Seasons, a NoLimit 1550, has set to sea after spending a winter ashore on Bermuda. Our course over ground is 066 degrees, headed towards Flores, the most westerly island of the Azores.

The crew list has changed and we now have aboard, listed according to age: Peter Braam, 70 years old, Second Captain and Cook; Edzard Braam, 69 years old, Captain and Baker of bread, and Joost Braam, 43 years of age, son of Peter, First Officer and also Head Cleaner.

Two days ago we flew to Bermuda via Toronto in time to be present when Four Seasons was lifted into the water at the British Naval Dockyard on the west end of the island. At the wharf they had looked after our boat well, all batteries had been kept charged, but there was still a long list of things that had to be checked before we could say we were ready to leave. A pleasant surprise was that all lights, switches and buttons worked. Even the water maker, that had given us cause for concern in the past, happily produced more than 20 liters per hour. Quite a relief.
We sailed first to Hamilton, where the cook organised the taking on of provisions for the next two weeks. For the first few days we will have fresh vegetables, fruit and milk products, later we switch to seagoing rations. This is not all a bad thing. A few of the crew members are overweight, the cook for example, lives by his motto ” a good hen isn’t fat, a good cook certainly is”.

The folowing day we move on to St. George on the East coast where we take on diesel and fill the water tanks, just to be sure. We have to pass through Customs and Immigration here, though this went very smoothly after we gave the highest ranking official a small souvenir from Amsterdam. Little things can make a big difference. Waved off by a number of locals, we head out to sea and announce our departure to Bermuda Radio. Goodbye.

In the distance we see a couple of sailing boats ahead of us. Their AIS tells us that their course is similar to ours. One of the skippers calls us up to ask if we are also headed for the Azores.
Would it be OK to call us up if he gets into problems.
Yes, of course.
Does he have problems, or does he anticipate them?
This is unclear and we hear no more from him. His AIS signal dissapears after a while. That of the other boat too.

A few hours into the passage we get a warning that the battery is low on the Iridium satellite telephone. We could do without this as this is our only way of communicating with the outside world, aside from the VHF that only has a limited radius.
The problem turn out to be a loose cable. But still.

Darkness falls. We see no other ships on the horizon, the radar and AIS screens are empty.
We are all alone. The wind is coming from one side, blowing from the South. With wind and waves abeam, we have to actively steer above our course, this takes it’s toll on our speed and uses more fuel.

During the night we repeatedly get a signal that the the battery voltage on the port engine is dropping. Time to call the doctor; that will be Peter Wierenga, the Big Brother of No Limit Ships in Groningen.

Running the port engine faster doesn’t help, it sounds as if the left alternator has failed. A check in the engine room confirms this, a small green light in the depths in the electrical system is out.
Time for action. If the voltage drops too far below 24 Volts the engine will stop. The meter reads 23.7 V.
We start the generator and the voltage increases. That is good, but not a solution. Peter suggests loading the port battery from the starboard alternator.
A nice idea, but it’s a sauna in the engine room, and we have to climb over the running starboard engine while the ship rolls on the waves to re-route the cables. Nevertheless we succeed, connect the wiring and it works. The generator van be stopped.

Right, that is behind us, not a boring trip so far. By now we’re into our next day, the sun is up and the sea is calm. The past hours we have been running at an average of 8.5 knots so we’re not complaining.
We have spent our first 24 hours at sea, covered 187 nautical miles and used 380 litres of diesel.

See you next time, I’m off to bake bread.

Edzard Braam

Four Seasons position at the time of this message:
33.32.958 N
061.23.314 W

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