The completely self-sustaining, around the world, one-man sailing trip, undertaken by Matteo Miceli and partially sponsored by Leica Geosystems, continues as Matteo, underway now 30 days, passes the equator.
The last entry of The Sailor’s Journey left Matteo repairing the Eco40. He had to take timeout to replace the hydraulic piston of the autopilot and repair the relative position sensor and after a long break, the Eco40 could finally head south again.
As with the last couple of Blog postings, this entry will take you back a few weeks to approximately November 11-12. At this point in time, Matteo was approximately six degrees north of the Earth’s equatorial plane. This is just a bit more than 350 miles (562 km) from the equator and in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), also known to sailors as “The Doldrums”, with its oppressive heat and humidity and the lack of a fresh breeze for days on end.
It’s a tricky place for sailors to be as it is where the northeast and southeast trade winds come togeth-er, producing very erratic and unpredictable weather patterns – from stagnant calms to violent thun-derstorms to sudden wind gusts – and sailors need to be prepared. The humidity also causes thick blankets of fog and sailors try to get through this passage as fast as possible.
Matteo finds himself trying to avoid the anticyclone St Helena, with its large area of counter clockwise spinning wind (or lack of) and sails about 1,000 miles windward, but the Eco40 is already under its influence and at times the boat is jolted with sudden winds of up to 40-50 knots and violent rain showers with stagnant wind.
Not only is this area difficult due to unpredictable weather, it’s also difficult for satellite communica-tions because the satellites, AMER (American), EMEA (Europe/Africa) of INMARSAT overlap and lose their signal easily and communications with Matteo without constant satellite signals is difficult at best.
Nov 14 – Matteo reaches the equator!
Lattitude 0,00 Longitude N 31° 14 W
He celebrates with a hot shower using desalinated water and after starts the ritual od crossing the equator by toasting with sparkling wine to Neptune, to the staff back in Italy, to the Eco40, to the oceans and to everyone who helped achieve this goal! Saluti!
Today, colleagues have sent E-geos ‘proof ‘ that the ECO 40 was seen with a radar set aboard the COSMO-SkyMed satellite-3. The image taken by the satellite covers an area of 120 x 100 miles with a resolution of approximately 30.0 m pixels. Although the boat is smaller than pixels, they managed to locate ECO 40 with certainty.
ECO40_NOV_11_CSK_WR sighting using the COSMO-SkyMed Sat 3
Happiness for Matteo these days is an egg, freshly laid by his guests onboard, Blondie and Brunette, the two chickens supplying Matteo with part of his daily diet. Matteo writes… “Those two chickens can eat like elephants and still not produce an egg these days! But wait! Just got one (an egg)…I’m doing my math now: From the 28 days I’ve been traveling, I’ve had 12 eggs, a plate of mung sprouts every two days and about 15 kilos of fish- of which I have 10 kilos frozen, a reserve for another 10 days.
During the emergency days, I consumed a box containing nine energy bars and five freeze-dried bags of food. Not so bad!”
Matteo is about, 200 miles east of Recife, off the coast of Brazil. He’s sailing at good speed (9 knots) and following directions from the Eco40 team back in Rome and was able to avoid some bad weather.
Matteo is in good spirits today because his chickens gave him two eggs. (IMAGE) This is definitely a highlight, given that he has been on a survival diet for over 4 weeks. He now begins to stock up on desalinated water for future supplies.
He goes to check his fish nets and sees a dolphin , which jumps up and shakes her head at him as if to say no, not me! The dolphin takes another mighty jump and manages to get out of the net. Matteo starts to think how much he truly enjoys eating fried chicken…
On the 19 of November the dolphins finally leave. Ever since the Strait of Gibraltar, Matteo has been accompanied by some flying fish, a seagull or two and about twenty dolphins. Now he is alone, with Blondie and Brunette and his ever increasing bearded face…
Matteo Miceli has been on his journey for one month, covered 4850 miles (7800 km) at an average of almost 7 knots. Taking into consideration the stop to repair the boat for a couple of days, the Eco40’s average was over 7 knots.
It is easy to imagine that the Eco40 could keep up an average speed of 8 knots a day, if you also take into consideration that there was little or no wind for several days of this trip. This means the Eco40 could easily finish the trip in a total of 4 – 5 months.
Matteo is coming up to his first biggie, the Cape of Good Hope. This Cape is particularly difficult to navigate. It has a continental shelf that extends south for approximately 200 miles and is home to a current from Madagascar, which produces some of the highest waves in the world. Not to worry about Matteo. He will be passing the Cape at least 300 miles further south.
NOV 21 – 23
Matteo does his household chores. He uses the batteries that were recharged by the sun and wind, giving him power to run the boat’s electronics, to desalinate the water, to wash his clothes and make drinking water. He desalinates water for over an hour and the batteries are still running. He writes that just about any household or person can be truly self-sufficient if they want to be. Not only in the house, but around the house, for instance by using an electric car.
To be able to do this costs the user a lot in the beginning, admits Matteo, but pays off in the long run.
Just a house with a garden and two animals – even that can work!
Today Matteo catches a fish with razor sharp teeth – looks like a barracuda but it’s not. It’s been identified as a Wahoo – the fish never knew what happened to him and is in the freezer in no time.
There is little wind today but even with this small amount, the hydro-turbine could load the batteries!
It’s the last day with the bow to the south, the last sunset on the right side. Now the second Atlantic crossing of the trip begins. The first crossing was in mid-November to just off the coast of Brazil and now Matteo will cut back across. By doing this, he could mostly avoid the influence of anticyclone.
The next day Matteo hears a sudden loud bang and is the bearer of bad news. Something’s happened to the bowspirit, the pole found on the very front of most boats. The Eco40 uses his pole to connect and hold the end of the main sails in place. A pin broke after withholding wind pressure strengths of up to 5.5 tons and because the bowspirit holds such large sails as the gennaker or spinnaker in place, time must be taken off to for repairs.
Luckily, the work was finished somewhat quickly, with excellent help from the teams back home, the durability of the pole tested so that Matteo can once again start his “run” tomorrow towards the Cape of Good Hope.
And so that you are truly up to date the last entry:
Matteo is now 2000 miles from the Cape of Good Hope (28° south latitude)
High pressure in the area, therefore slow forward progress. Matteo, after fixing the bowspirit took some pictures from the 20 meter high mast
Matteo has been at sea for 38 days, travelled approx. 6100 miles (9817 km) with the fastest average speed was 9.7 knots.
You can find out more about the project Roma Ocean World (in Italian) at: