AuthorLéo

Sicilia-Sardinia: the whimsical Brutus

After dropping the other crewmates in Sicilia, we are now three aboard : Adrien, Cassandre and Olivier and our next step is the Island Vulcano. We sail during a few hours in very comfortable conditions towards the island where we discover a strange smell. It comes from the sulfur of the volcano, a smell very similar to rotted eggs. On the island, we can see people in warm mud baths : they are known to be very good for the skin. But we won’t take the time to enjoy them and we head to Lipari, the biggest island of the Aeolian islands. There, as always in Italy, the marina costs 70€ for the night. But we don’t want to pay anymore. Weather conditions are cool and we will moor somewhere else. We find a beach with pub, wifi. Luckily, the wifi is on during all the night and we use it to upload photos on the website. The next island we are moving to is Salina. We moor there too and we repair the porthole of the aft cabin which was not waterproof anymore.

Next step : Aliduci, the far west island of the Aeolian islands. In the middle of the afternoon, with the engine on , we hear a suspicious noise coming from the engine. We have a look and we realize the alternator is vibrating dangerously. One screw is untied and a cable is disconnected. That explains our doubt on the capacity of the battery since a few days. It does not come from the battery but from the alternator! The hole where the screw goes through is larger than normally, it is not safe to use. We put down the alternator and we continue only with the electricity of the solar panel, which is large enough in Mediterranean Sea. We stay in Aliduci just for the night : we have found a free spot at the fisher dock. The day after, we head in the morning toward Ustica, an island well known for diving, located in the west of the Aeolian islands.

We arrive in Ustica at the end of the day and, one more time, we find a free spot but this time on the diving boat’s dock. In the morning, we find the material to repair the alternator. We fulfill the water tank and the gasoline tank and are ready to leave to Sardinia. It is a great crossing with 200 miles and a total lack of wind. It is useless to wait for it : weather forecast says it won’t come for a week and if we wait too much, strong gale force winds are to be expected. So we decide to go now, only with the engine on our side. As you can understand, we are not in our best mood. Hearing the noise of the diesel engine is very boring. Hopefully, we have a lot of books aboard and we will spend a lot of our time to read.

The only distraction of the crossing : we see a turtle at 5 meters of the boat. We try to follow it but it dives without letting us the time to take one picture… After two days, we finally see Sardinia. The wind increases while dark clouds cover the sky, we are about to finish the navigation under the rain. Finally, we arrive at the island of Tavolara at midday totally wet.

Once the boat well anchored, we leave the boat in order to eat a well merited plate of pasta at the restaurant on the beach. We come back to the boat in the afternoon and we rest for a while, but at 19p.m. the wind come back very roughly : despite the anchor, we are drifting to the beach! Even with the engine we are in difficulty to counter the wind. As we are entering the swimming area, we manage to get back the anchor. Now we can put a little of the jib sail, that helps us to take more speed and we can sail at 45° to the wind. Five minutes later, we are out of danger and heading to Olbia, a very good shelter. There we are happily surprised to find another free dock.

The day after, we meet the fablab of Olbia. They are organizing an event to familiarize children with new technologies such as 3D-printing and laser cutting. Helped by a translator (our italian is not good enough yet), we present our adventure. After the presentation, we invite children to come aboard, they are fifteen running on the deck.

Just before arriving in Oblia, we had noticed the engine was one more time difficult to start. We suspect our engine to be clogged, as in Elbia. We take the exhaust system apart in order to clean it. After that, the engine looks a little easier to start.

In Olbia we meet Yann and Petra, they have been sailing since three years in the Mediterranean Sea on Nautic of Humble, a boat as long as ours. We spent an excellent evening with them but the next day, we are leaving on our boat while they are leaving on their bikes to a lake in the mountains. In the evening, we arrive at Capreira, a little island 8 miles from Olbia. We spent the night here and in the morning, when we start the engine, the oil alarm does not stop beeping. In addition to that, one of our winch does not want to work anymore, he claims for more oil too! There is a lot to be done on the boat, that is why we decided to come back in Oblia, a place where we can find a lot of services.

After an engine inspection, we conclude that the lubrification oil is full of dirt and because of that, the oil filter have been clogged. The oil could not pass along properly anymore, so the pressure went down and the alarm beeped. First step : we change all the oil of the motor and we put a new oil filter.

We take this occasion to change the gasket of the oil pump because it was leaking since a few days. But we cannot wait the gasket to be sent here so we use milk bottle. The carton of those bottles is very efficient to realize a basic gasket. The hardest is to cut properly the carton.

After all those reparation, we start the engine : the oil problem looks resolved but the engine still does not want to start well. After the air exhaust, we can check the exhaust valves but it involves a difficult operation : we must take the cylinder head out. We do not have any other solutions, so go on! When we finally see the exhaust valves, we understand immediately

We are very happy to have discover the problem but there is still a lot to do. We spent all the day to clean different parts of the engine. At 7p.m we finish replacing the second head cylinder, and are ready to start. We are all very tensed when we turn the key…and it starts perfectly! We celebrate it with Yann and Petra, who came back from their bike trip three days ago.

We clean one more time the boat which have momentarily been transformed into a garage and are ready to leave. Yann and Petra sail with us to Golfo Pevero, a shelter 20 miles from Olbia. It is very comfortable to sail with another sailing boat.

The day after, we move to the Madalena Islands. The wind is against us and is very strong (30 knots), but the water is calm. Yann and Petra are still with us. The navigation is not easy, we must slalom among the reefs, the navigation is very similar as in Britany! We finally find a good spot to spend the night.

In the morning we leave the beautiful Madalena Islands and say goodbye to our friends. Yann and Petra continues to the west while we head toward the Lavezzi Islands in Corsica.21

POTUGUESE MISFORTUNES : FROM BAIONA TO NAZARE

Was Neptune in a bad mood this days ? Or is it just an unfortunate following of events ? Anyway, we got pretty unlucky in the last days…

Weather first blocked us in Baioa under rain pourring cats and dogs, and wind gusts over 50 knots ! We have to spent the days inside the boat, fighting against moisture while trying to fix differents stuffs as best as we can. The moral breaks when we discover that the wind turbine got blasted against the solar panels… Wind pushed the solar panels up, enough for the wind turbine’s blades to crush on it. We did test the room between the panels and the blades, but the wind was stronger than our arms, and the panels went further than we could expect. Half the baldes are now broken, and the moyeu is wrecked. That’s the end for our wind turbine first version!

Eolienne cassée

The next day, a short weather window allows us to leave Baiona to Porto. We still have to face 15 knots of wind coming from South (where we intend to go) and a 4 meter swell. Pretty unconfortable. After numerous tacks, we leave the Cies Islands in the clouds.

Iles Cies dans les nuages

A few hours later, the swell has almost gone, and we pass the Rio Minho outlet : we are now in Portugal ! We set the red and green courtesy flag on !

On hisse le pavillon portugais

We make a two days stop in Porto, fixing different stuffs, printing new blades for the wind turbine, and an afternoon of sightseeing. We leave sooner than expected, as soon as a bit of North wind comes back. The trip ends sooner than expected : with no wind we go to the Aveiro Laguna with the engine. This one produces strange, unhabitual noises, and we discover that some of the fixation bolts are untied.

Réglage des silent-blocks

After a few hours in this place we love so much, the engine stalls, we leave the laguna with the wind and nice sun beams appear to (at last) dry the boat and its crew. We are in a good mood, we fish and start sewing a protection hood against the rain.

Navigation et couture

Leo starts a few experiments to optimize the hydro generator. The problem we have is that the rope between the generator and the hydro propeller has to be unraveled after each use : a long and boring operation. cf video

Le méli-mélo de l'hydrogénérateur

The new unraveling technique is quite simple : You just need to detach the rope and the propeller, and let the boat’s speed unravel the rope for us. To ease this operation, we decide to use a carabiner instead of a shackle. But an unforessen kind of fish opens the carabiner, and we loose the propeller part of our hydrogenerator ! We set a challenge to print the new blades for or propeller before arriving in Lisboa ! The Northernly wind is stable, and we continue to sail south with the spinnaker. While we take shifts at night, the 3d printer prints the new blades for our wind turbine.

Pale d'éolienne en impression

Before dawn, some « déjà vu » strikes again : an other part of our steering wheel cable breaks ! Again ! This time the weather is very nice, and we repair quite fast, installing rope and hoping it will hold till the closest harbour, Nazaré.

Drosse cassée

After a few hours of sleep and a shower to fill our energy, we install a new steel cable and assit to the fishermens parade, all decorated for a sea procession.

Bateaux décorés à Nazaré

We leave before the sun sets down, to Lisboa, beginning to print our next hydrogenerator !

Departure, Dolphins, Rudder: from Pornic to A Coruña

At last we’ve set sails! Waking up at 5AM was quite tough, an hour when for most of us it is still saturday night more than sunday morning. Thanks to our friends and families that came to say good bye. After a few tears when we untied the mooring ropes, the harder was to see all the little figures on the dock disapear in the horizon.

Départ 1

Départ 2

Good bye Pornic, hello Spain! Cape is set to South West, wind are favorable, and our route is almost direct. Out of Pornic’s bay, the north-eastern swell get its way and let us surf, revealing the rolling nature of Karukera. The swell will stay with us at all time.

With all sails up, the boat speed is good, around 6-7 knots average, and surfs around 10 knots! We get used to the sailing routine, switching drivers every two hours, taking pictures and videos, sending the last texts before being out of reach. The first naps starts barely after noon: we have to be in good fit for the night to come.

DCIM100GOPRO

A last contact with french coasts when we see Yeu’s Island Lighthouse, right when the first dolphins come and play with Karukera! What a wondeful show to see them surf the same waves as us, jumping in front of our bow!

dauphin 1

 

DCIM100GOPRO

We will be surprised to see how much time dolphins would come and play during the crossing, day and nights, for a few minutes and sometimes for an hour!

The first night is full of stars, and the wind decreases a little bit. The waves are still big, and it’s hard to sleep with the boat rolling from one crest to an other. We cross a lot of boats, fishermans and cargos. Stressful moments when we don’t know where those big masses are heading to.

To cut the rolling, we set up the spinnaker whe the sun sets! Giving us more speed, and allowing us to make a more direct route, the mood gets better with a few morning jokes !

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With the light breeze, two of us can sleep when one is still driving: morning naps are good. Conditiond are great in this second day of sailing, and we print 3D parts to improve our wind turbine while in the middle of the bay of biscay. We won’t see any boat this day nor the next night, but we get to luck to have a very nice companion! A little bird lands on Karukera to rest a few hours. He would go around the boat, fly under the boom, land on improbable places of the rig!

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The second night with dolphins is magic: we can perceive them thanks to luminescent planktoon that lights up when water stirrs. Each swell break is amazing: it seems that we are in the middle of a turquoise pool. We start the wind turbine and it produces enough electricity to full the batteries at all times.
The third day, wind rises up progressively, the swell gets bigger but more importantly shorter. The boat gets harder to steer, and it requires way more strength. We try the hydro turbine which starts to surf behind us!

We perceive Spain mountains around 5PM, and even if we still got 50 miles before A Coruña, smiles are all over our faces!

L'Espagne

We think that the feared Bay of Biscay was nice to us, but he has not said its last word.
Wind gets to 30 knots with gusts, and we decide to reef our mainsail. The maneuver will be sporty: we have to make almost a half turn to face the wind, with swell on our side. The three of us are on the deck, harnesses tied as usual, Oliver at the steer.

While turning, we hear a big smack. Oliver Yells: “we lost the rudder!”

All sails are quicly sets down, boat is drifting slowly to the North-West, in a strong sea and huge black clouds upwind. Hopefully the rudder is stille here, and it’s only the steel cable between the sterring wheel and the rudder that broke. We will make a quick fortune repair with a rope instead of the damaged cable. We hope it will hold for the remaining 25 miles to A Coruña: there is no closer shelter. We contact the closest MRCC (Marine Rescue Center Coordination) to inform them of our situation, in case it would get worse.

We are going slowly to A Couña, with half the Genoa, looking at a huge thunderstorm settling in right in front of us. We prefer not to think of what would happen if a lightning was to touch the mast…
The thunder, the rain, and unstable winds are playing with our nerves, switching between 20 knots North East to 5 knots South East to nothing a dozen times… We try to go as fast as possible without forcing on the wheel, using the engine and the sails. Every two hours, we get reassuring calls from A Coruña checking on our situation.

centralenav

Once we have passed Cabo Prior lighthouse, the thunder goes away, just as the wind. Stress is comming off, but we still have 4 hours till the harbour. We are seriously tired, but it’s not the moment to go sleeping. A lot of fishing boats and getting in and out of the Ria, and shoals have to be avoided.

We finally get to A Coruña around 3:30 AM. We have sailed 371 miles since Pornic, in just a little less than 3 days. We are dirty, salty, tired, but glad to have finish our first step!

We will stay here a few days to rest and repair. Inès will meet us here on sunday.

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Departure: Sunday April 19th, 6AM

Chargement

Checklist :

– A repared boat

– Papers in order

– Fonctionnal prototypes

– Super motivated crew

– Food and drink stock at maximum capacity

– Nice weather forecast

Let’s go!

 

Bags being ready for a long time, we were just just waiting the right moment to set sail. Nothing better than a one night navigation trainig from Camoël to Pornic to check everyhting is allright! We left the Vilaine river after spending so much time there for a 12h step to Pornic, repeting different maneuvers, setting spinakers, crossing cargos, trying the berths for short naps, etc. It’ll be easier to leave the harbour with the Loire river strong current near Pornic, speeding us up around 2-3 knots. We checked the navigation system we prototyped, and everything is all right (follow our position here: http://lab-rev.org/position ).

After a few calculations, the routings give us an ETA (estimate time of arrival) in A Coruña tuesday at noon, the forecast predicts good winds in the right directions, but also short waves with us, and a huge long swell in front of us, conditions no member of the crew ever experienced.

Chargement

Delayed departure.

When shall we leave? If only we’d know, and it was depending of us…

Let’s sum up last month since we (first)launched Karukera.

Once the boat was afloat, serious matters begun! Moving in, we check the functionnement of every gear, put everything in place, once, twice, until we find the appropriate spot for everything (remember tetris)!

Unfortunately, after a few days we discover a small water infiltration near the engine shaft. An 80cm bronze tube (étambot in FR), allows the shaft to go trough the hull and turn at high speed without (suposeddly) letting water get inside the boat. Details are boring, just know that different pieces provides the system to be waterproof.

But we were taking water in, and even with a small debit, it was not very reassuring. Karukera had to be taken out of water, back to shipyard. We thaught the stern gland was the problem, and focused our repair on this system. And to do so, you need to remove the rudder and the engine shaft…

Dépose de l'arbre d'hélice

We use this time back to shipyard to improve the drum genoa system with our partner Jade Gréement!

Tout petit, vu d'ici !

Back to water a few days later, our mood breaks down when we see the water still coming in…

Finally after 3 times back to 2 different shipyards, a lot of different advices (mostly contradictory but always well-wishing) from all the Villaine mechanics, and a little levitation session for Karukera, the leak is finally repaired!

Karukera vole !

We also used this few weeks of delay to test the boat at sea, and with the engine. We were incredibely surprised how seaworthy the boat was even with 30 knots of wind established! This gave us energy to go trough our different problems!

But at least, after three weeks fixing technicals problems, we are still stuck for administrative problems. The boat papers still not arrived… So frustrating!

During those weeks we totally forgot to give news and are sorry for that! Computer and engine greease does’nt go along together so well! We’re finally ready to go, a month late but even more determined!