The Sailor’s Journey – 9

On the 23rd of January, Matteo Miceli, now sailing in the Pacific Ocean, has passed the Greenwich Meridian. This line not only measures longitude at 0° and is the single prime meridian line for all nations, it also is the universal day for the entire world to set their time and dates to 12:00 UTC (International Standard Time or 12:00 Greenwich Local Time) and marks the parts of the earth diametrically opposite, that is to say, directly opposite of the other side of the planet (at 180° E or 180° W), where it is exactly 24 o’clock.
What this means for our sailor, is that, because he  crossed this imaginary line sailing from west to east, Matteo gets to live this day not once but twice. And at 22:50 UTC, Matteo passes from the western to the eastern hemisphere and shouts out in glee at the thought of it. He is finally on his way home.

Just that day, Matteo passed the uninhabited group of volcanic islands known as the Antipodes, unfortunately without seeing them. These islands can be found in the sub Antarctic waters just south of New Zealand. There is no general public access allowed and they are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Antipodes got their name because they are situated near the “antipodes of London” (or the 0° meridian line) and are the first bits of land allowed to see the new day. Fortunately, Luke Pietranera from  the e-GEOS team, has sent a beautiful image of the islands taken by COSMOS at 4:32 UTC so Matteo can at least see them from above.

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Satellite image of the Antipodes Islands

Seeing this image sent by the e-GEOS team in Italy hasn’t been much of a consolation prize for Matteo because he hasn’t seen any land since leaving the Spanish coast of Gibraltar back on October 27, 2014 – just waves and horizon for the last almost 100 days. The next land Matteo will have the chance to see, will hopefully be Cape Horn.

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Sailing route from February 22.

January 25, 2015
Roughly 3400 miles (5475 km) to go until Cape Horn. It’s very cold with little wind. The forecast is good for the next two weeks, confirming that the Pacific is much calmer than the Indian Ocean.
This gives our sailor time to repair things, such as the clew, one of three corners needed to fasten the staysail to ropes that pull it up or down.
The Eco40 consists of 8 sails. There is a mainsail, a jib, a staysail, a storm, a “code zero”, a jib top and two gennakers. Each of these sails are needed for different types of wind and the Eco40 has so far put the most wear and tear on the jib and staysail, both needed in low latitudes for strong winds and both extremely important for the boat’s long haul in the Atlantic.

Enough about the sails, what about the chickens? Brunette and Blondie? In the past weeks you have only heard about Brunette – so what did actually happen to Blondie? Well, Matteo did not – as you might have thought (let’s be honest) – go crazy for the taste of a drumstick and fry her in a pan. But unfortunately, Blondie passed away just before Christmas. And poor Matteo cried like a baby – what he might have done if a pet cat or dog died – before she was handed over to the sea. Blondie gave no signs of sickness or suffering due to rough seas. She died peacefully after providing plenty of eggs and offering Matteo companionship and solace through the roaring 40s of the Indian Ocean.

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Blondie in memoriam

January 27
Today marks 100 days of the Eco40 being at sea with ZERO Emission!
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Watch Video here

Matteo thanks his sponsors, his teams back home and science & technology that he is able to prove that this sailing journey is possible. To sail so far without any assistance! He and the Eco40 have been self-sufficient with solar panels, wind and water turbines and Matteo sends his message to all people of the Earth:
“The future is in your hands. It’s up to you to respect the environment. Today the technology exists to live without oil or coal. Let’s work for this very important common goal.
The changes in innovation over the last 10 years have been exponential. Think of what we will be able to do in the next 10 years. Think about the future of young people!
Think!!!”
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January 29
Almost dawn, Matteo tries his luck at catching a fish but nothing’s biting. He checks the rudder that he fixed almost 8,000 miles ago, back in the Indian Ocean and it’s still holding strong.
A tooth that Matteo has injured in a previous sailing journey has been seriously causing problems. He has a crown on it but the root was damaged and now this is the cause of pain. So Matteo, who has surgical equipment on board and has also spent time as a nurse while completing his required military services as a young man, got to work and….need I say more?

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Mending sails and toothaches

After the pain subsided, he checked the three Leica Geosystems antennae, which are measuring the height of the waves and the stress effects on the boat frame, his electrical equipment on board and spends some quality time with Brunette before duly setting out toward Cape Horn.

January 31
Wind direction 190 ° , intensity 25,9 speed , air temperature 10°C , 8.5°C water temperature , pressure 996.1. Covered with rain. 190 miles in 24 hours.  Batteries 85 % , using water turbine.
Matteo Miceli: “Yet another day without the sun but with lots of icy rain. The fish aren’t biting, it’s freezing cold and I even have to bath with water at 7°C. The last fish I caught was on December 18th and I ran out of it on January 7th. I am consuming freeze-dried food, which I can heat up and tastes good, as well as also eating energy bars, but these are my so called “emergency provisions” so I have to ration them and keep in mind my projected arrival date is April 20th.
Brunette and I have reached the Atlantic and I try to fish again. I hope Brunette lays an egg soon. I can’t risk fasting so I eat a bag of freeze-dried along with an energy bar a day.
The grain and feed for Blondie is still on board. I’ve learned to be creative and for the last two days, I have been eating the chicken grain. I soak it in water first, then wash and cook in a kettle. It tastes great. And carbohydrates give you energy and a good sense of humour! Since I have 15 kg of it, I think I will try to grind it and try to turn it into flour to make mini pizzas in the pan!”

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Chicken feed muesli

February 3
A mess of waves. A giant one took Matteo from the left, breaking the hold of the boom (a wooden horizontal mast at the bottom of the rigged sail that helps control the boat). It ripped the clew (the piece holding the sail to the boom) and opened the hook that attached the sail and tore the tiller hard downwind.

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The clew , which attaches the sail to the boom and it’s broken hook.

It was a cold night and Matteo feels frozen to the bone. The snap hook from the jib sail has caused problems and there were electrical problems onboard the Eco40 as well. The email program on his PC needed to be reinstalled and connections restored. He is in debt to the team back home, The Earth Staff he calls them, for patiently talking him through all his technical problems via the satellite radio.

Matteo feels grateful that someone up there is watching out for him and finally has time to admires the beautiful sunset.
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February 6
1580 miles from Cape Horn. The weather is good and morale much better. Finally, Matteo is on his way home and everyone is looking forward to his return.
Matteo has been nominated as a candidate for Sailor of the Year 2015 by the Swiss watch manufactures, Tag Heuer. Anyone who logs on to this company’s website can vote for him.
That alone is quite an honour. Now he just hopes the brunette will get some rest and finally produce an egg.

February 10
900 miles from Cape Horn, Matteo has almost reached the third “Big Boss”. He is in the middle of a storm in Antarctica but in high spirits, even if he knows he is in a delicate situation. The Eco40 is approaching the Straight of Drake, where potential wind can generate strong waves averaging 6m and wind exceeds 50 knots. Water temperatures average 4°C and air 7°C. Matteo has to bite the bullet because the storm is due in 6-9 hours. Images of where the icebergs are lying in wait have been sent to Matteo and are attached below.

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Icebergs with their positions.

February 11
The storm arrives and so do the waves. A couple of buckets of water went down the hatch, which Matteo forgot to close. Luckily no electrical equipment got wet – just poor Matteo, who gets dosed with water from head to toe.
A new change of dry clothing makes him feel better and he can jump into his cosy sleeping bag. He still has to leave the hatch open though because the moisture in the cabin could still damage the electrical equipment.
As Matteo drifts off to sleep, he wonders about his luck that the Eco40 didn’t do a forward somersault or capsize sideways with the waves. It was the worst storm Matteo has encountered to date. He feels he looks 20 years older but thanks his lucky stars that he has lived to tell us about it!!!

February 15-16
Just 600 miles to go to the Big Boss #3: Cape Horn. In anticipation of travelling through a narrow passage after Matteo passes Cape Horn, the E-GEOS and ESA (European Space Agency) have been working double time to help Matteo avoid the many icebergs that litter his way and help this part of the journey be a safe one.
On February 16th, Matteo passed through Cape Horn, just off the southernmost tip of South America. We had hoped that Matteo would be able to see it but the journey took place at night so poor Matteo still hasn’t seen land since October 27th, 2014. When the sun rises, Matteo should finally be able to see land and this, makes Matteo extremely happy. See the passage here: CapeHorn
He has had a really rough time the last several days, with three storms with winds great than 40/50 knots and waves exceeding 6 m with maximum values exceeding 10m high.
The long journey of the Atlantic begins and his journey towards 50° latitude, where the threat of icebergs is finally gone.

The measurement report from Q3:  Eco40_measurement_Q3

Good winds to you Matteo!

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