Out of the Roaring Forties into the Thirsty Thirties and a mass of electronic information tells us when we'll arrive in Rio. Life onboard Adele heats up but there's an irritating little low on the horizon


The amount of information displayed at Adele’s steering and control consoles is staggering. There are no fewer than 12 B&G repeater display units in the cockpit alone and on the centre console is the Sea Book
screen upon which all radar and chart plotting information can be displayed.

As we break through the halfway mark to Rio, ETA (estimated time of arrival) is being noted with interest. The TTG (time to go) readout currently says 4d 4hr and 15min and the DTW (distance to waypoint) is 982.4 nautical miles. But you can also plumb in PTA (planned time of arrival) based on average speeds which in our case have been set at 9kts and 13kts. Our position this morning at about 1000 was 37deg 13min S, 34deg 20min W.

There are two radars on Adele, one a Tranas radar which as the name suggests interfaces with the Russian made chart-plotting software. Transas is the only charting software class approved for GMDSS. Updated annually by disk (the yacht’s navigation system is isolated from the internet for safety reasons) the chart plotting programme has also been deemed good enough by IMO (the International Maritime Organisation) for vessels not to have a paper chart back up, but having been in the waters of South Georgia no navigator worth his salt would trust the electronic chart to deal with the intricate local pilotage.

Mate Mark Thirkettle was constantly double checking on paper charts with parallel rule and dividers making sure he knew as closely as possible where we were, although some of those charts hadn’t been corrected for almost half a century! He is aided by the other, more sophisticated, Furuno radar (for features above the water) which is the one we use for lookout on watch. Earlier in the passage it was invaluable for picking up bergs. That big one off South Georgia, incidentally, was eventually estimated to be about the size of the Isle of Wight but astonishingly neither the British Antarctic Survey staff at King Edward Point on South Georgia, nor Commanders Weather, our routers, knew of its existence!

Six B&G 20/20 repeaters are suspended from the framework above Adele’s deckhouse and normally display, from port to starboard, course over the ground (COG), speed over the ground (SOG) derived from GPS, true wind speed (TWS), apparent wind speed (AWS), heading and boat speed through the water. Other read-outs at the helm stations can bring up anything from barometric pressure and forestay tension to sea water temperature (now at 21.9 degrees C from barely 1 degree!) and air temperature. Apparent wind angle can be read out next to an analogue indicator. There are several more repeaters further forward and aft on deck and about 10 below decks although I don’t think I’ve found them all!

After a stonking day’s sailing yesterday on starboard – we tacked two
days’ago which makes my bunk far more tenable – we have had to resort to a bit of motor sailing as the wind is dying. Also on the horizon is a low forming south of Rio. Skipper Andre has decided we cannot get over the top of this so we have come down a few degrees and are aiming to pick up following winds on its southern and western flanks. At least that’s the hope?