Here is the latest SitRep aka Situation Report for the Good Ship Mobius as of 27 November, 2022. Last SitRep took you up to Nov. 16th when we were in the little Spanish enclave of Melilla on the Moroccan coast waiting for a good weather window to make the next jump Westward and across the Strait to Gibraltar.
Where are we and how did we get here?
Zooming waaaaay out here is a screenshot of the satellite version from our PredictWind app which is what Weather Wonder Woman Christine uses most to do all our weather routing, that shows our travels since we left Kalymnos Greece on Oct. 30th, to where we are now at the base of the Rock of Gibraltar. Total route distance from Kalymnos to Gibraltar is 1653 nm. For those interested, here is the “weather version of this same map from PredictWind showing the various wind speeds and directions as of this afternoon, Sunday Nov. 27th. These weather maps are a bit difficult to read at first so you will likely want to click to enlarge this in order to see the thing white line that is our actual GPS track. My cartography skills are sadly lacking but I’ve done my best to add some text to help you read this somewhat busy weather map.
To help you read these weather maps, here is the color code for the different wind speeds in kts or Knots with dark Blue being zero wind, Greens being in the 20 knot range, Orange/Reds in the 30’s etc. In our case we like having a bad case of the Blues! The shortest version of this latest Sit Rep for those who just want the facts is that we stayed in Melilla for 9 days and then made the overnight passage to Gibraltar over what was American Thanksgiving on the 24/25th. That passage was 144 nautical smiles which we did in 18 hours 5 minutes so our average SoG (Speed over Ground) was 8.0 knots. 8 knots has been our overall average speed on the entire trip so far and now that we have Mr. Gee v2 pretty well broken in and have gained a better understanding of how the boat handles in different conditions and weights, we will start to play more with different combinations of engine RPM, prop Pitch and record the resultant boat speed and fuel burn rates as we seek out the Goldilocks combination for us and Möbius. Our average fuel burn rate at 8 knots is averaging out to be about 1.8 L/nm which we are quite pleased with and we will just see how this varies at different speeds, RPM and pitch. Stay tuned for more updates on these statistics in the coming weeks and months a we gather more of this real world data as we travel.
Crossing from Morocco to Gibraltar
I don’t think I had fully appreciated the fact that the ONLY way into the Med is through the Straits of Gibraltar which is only 13 kilometers (8.1 miles; 7.0 nautical miles) at the Strait’s narrowest point! So there is a LOT of water that needs to flow in and out of that very narrow Strait every day. This satellite photo from space helps you appreciate just how narrow it is with the Gibraltar down in the bottom left looking across the entire Mediterranean sea. In addition to all the water that, there is also a LOT of boats that also have to go through on their way in or out of the Med.
Here is a shot of our chart as we were crossing the Straits just at sunrise on the 25th. Each of those blue triangles is a commercial ship on our AIS Automatic Information System overlayed onto our chart. Möbius is the little Red ship icon down on the bottom right of this shot. It actually worked out quite well and we only needed to slow down briefly for one ship near the beginning of the crossing to allow him to cross in front of us and the rest all worked out to be far enough away as our wakes crossed.
The Rock isn’t a Hard Place at all!
The past few days we’ve been busy exploring the famous Rock of Gibraltar and all this area has to offer. Gibraltar has been a “British Overseas Territory” since 1713 and is only 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and completely bordered by Spain on the North, but being at the literal gateway to the Mediterranean it is hugely strategic. Being such a small area means that pretty much everything is within walking distance so we’ve been doing lots and the weather has been grand. Christine also put her eBike to good use to ride over to the “grocery store to die for” as she described her time in the Morrisons Grocery store that is only a few blocks away from where we are docked in QueensWay Quay and transport about 25 kilos of goodies she found there back to Möbius. Gibraltar may be small but based on the number of condominiums and new construction we’ve seen this is obviously a very popular spot for people seeking to find warmer climates than most other spots in Europe. Due to Brexit and the Schengen restrictions elsewhere in the EU, Gibraltar is particularly popular with the Brits it seems. The benefit for us is that in the midst of one of these newer developments is QueensWay Quay Marina which is where we tied up early Friday morning to use as our home base to explore the infamous Rock of Gibraltar and wait for the next weather window to cross back over to Morocco and around the corner to Tangier.
Today we took the aerial tram up the almost vertical face to the “Top of the Rock” and had a marvelous time exploring this awemazing vantage point. If you look really, really, really closely can you find Möbius docked in the Queensway Quay marina in the center of this photo? The Rock itself did not disappoint, either as we sailed by it coming in or up close and personal as we walked around it today. Pardon the glare through the window but couldn’t resist including this shot that Christine’s quick fingers managed to grab out the window where we were enjoying a bit of lunch. Christine also spent a few hours exploring some of the caves and tunnels on The Rock and we thoroughly enjoyed our time up on The Rock today.
Where to Next?
As you may recall from seeing this chart in previous posts, our intent is to leave the Med and sail across the Atlantic which we are now about to do. Ever dependent upon weather, we are watching what is known as the Azores High which spins up winds in a clockwise direction so we will be looking for low to no wind areas down on the bottom South end of this High such that they will be behind us and helping us along. Marked as “Return of Rally Route” on this chart. Best time for this Westward crossing has just started so our timing is very good to be here now. This is also the time when the large Atlantic Rally Crossing or ARC begins and as per this real time position update, about 200 boats left the Canary Islands on the 20th and are in the positions you see in THIS real time position map courtesy of the ARC web site. And you thought the Straits of Gibraltar were busy! The ARC and other rallies are more and more popular for their safety in numbers and ease of crossing advantages as well as the high social factor but not our cup of tea so we are purposely trailing well behind them and more likely that we’ll leave the Canary Islands in about two weeks from now, mid December.
As of tonight, Sunday Nov. 27th, weather is looking good for us to cross back over the Straits starting tomorrow and the next few days. We will most likely stop next in Tangier for a brief tour of that interesting city before we continue south hopping along the coast of Morocco and over to the Canary Islands. We will again let weather and whim dictate how many hops and stops we make along the way and will update you in the next SitReps here as to how that all goes. So that brings you all up to date on the latest from the Good Ship Möbius and our thanks to all of you for joining us on this latest adventure of the Nauti Nomadic Grandparents. We’ll be back in a week or two with then next SitRep so please stay tuned for more to follow as we continue our journey West and across the Atlantic.
It has been a very busy 17 days since I left off on the last update “Bye Bye Kalymnos” on the eve of us leaving Kalymnos Island in Greece and finally starting our travels westward across and out of the Mediterranean as we set up for crossing the Atlantic probably next month.
It was with the full spectrum of emotions that we put Kalymnos in our wake as we left on Oct. 30th after first arriving back on July 7th. This little island had been our home base all that time and we had definitely felt part of the community. However we were also eXtremely happy to finally be heading back out to sea and back the life we love of exploring the world on our latest floating home, Möbius. Fast forwarding to today, Wednesday Nov 16th, 2022, I am writing this update after we just pulled into a lovely little marina in the town of Melilla which is about 200 nautical smiles West of the Algeria/Morocco border. Interestingly enough we are actually not in Morocco as Melilla is as you can read in the link above “.. is an autonomous city of Spain located in north Africa.” So officially, we are in Spain! At only 12.3 km2 / 4.7 sq mi Melilla is not very large but has a population of 86 thousand and a very rich history that will be fun to explore in the next few days.
Hopefully you not as “geographically challenged” as I am and will have figured out that we have now travelled the majority of the Mediterranean from the far Eastern end in Antalya Turkey and are now only 200nm away from Gibraltar that marks the far Western end of the Med. I’ve put in an orange line on this map tracing our approximate path of this trip so far.That will give you some idea of how pleased we are to have made such progress and how well Mr. Gee v2.0 has been propelling us along.
Quick Statistics Overview:
Since leaving Kalymnos 17 days ago, we have put about 1600 nautical smiles under our keel and the all new Mr. Gee has now accumulated 194 hours purring away in his Engine Room. We are still breaking the new engine in so I’ve been keeping the loads at about 75% of the 100% continuous duty rating, which would be 150 BHP @ 1650 RPM that I currently have the fuel injection set up for. I am able to very accurately gauge and control the engine loads by varying the pitch with the Nogva CPP Controllable Pitch Propeller and then watching the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature gauge which is pretty much a direct proxy for engine load. Full load would typically generate an EGT of about 450C/840F and I’ve been keeping it below 330C/626F and running about 1440 RPM. At these settings our Speed Over Ground SOG runs between 7-9 knots depending on wind, sea and current conditions and overall we are averaging a bit more than 8.2 knots at these conservative loads. Over the coming weeks and months I will start to vary the engine loads with different RPM and pitch settings and record all this data to help me find the Goldilocks combination of SOG and fuel burn. For those interested, in the 1600 NM so far Mr. Gee has been consuming about 1.78 Liters/NM which would be about 0.47 US Gallons per NM for my Imperial measurement friends and followers. Our design goal had been to get about 2L/NM doing 200NM per 24 hour day which would equate to averaging about 8.3 knots SOG. So we are very pleased to have exceeded this already very ambitious design goal and we will see how this changes as Mr. Gee breaks in and we vary SOG and engine loads and encounter more varied sea and weather conditions. I will do my best to keep you posted as this data accumulates.
We have also been varying the length of each passage as we hop our way West across the Mediterranean with passages like the one today from Saidia Morocco to Melilla Spain being just 35NM in a bit more than 4 hours and our longest passage so far was our jump across the top of Algeria which was 625NM in just over 3 days (79 hrs)
But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s jump back to where we left off back on Oct. 30th when we finally were able to motor out of the lovely little Greek Island of Kalymnos which had been our home base for almost four months.
For our very first trip with the all new Mr. Gee, after completing all the paperwork needed for us to leave Kalymnos and Greece we motored over to a lovely little anchorage on the South end of the tiny Greek island of Ios which was about 83NM away. We anchored in to the beautiful little “Never Bay” on the far Left in this photo at 23:00 under an almost full moon and it felt SO good to be on anchor and back at sea again after so many months. Next day, we got an early start and pulled up the anchor just after sunrise and made our way west to another lovely night anchorage on the South end of little Elafonisos Island which was about 120NM west. We averaged a bit more than 8.5 knots taking 14 hours and had the anchor down just before 22:00 for another peaceful nights sleep on the hook, aka at anchor.
Elafonisos was our last anchorage in Greece as we continued our way West and crossed into Italian waters on our way over to Sicily. Total length of this leg was 415NM which we did in just under 49 hours so average speed was about 8.45 knots. It was a great two day passage.
Captain Christine has acquired the new title of “Weather Wonder Woman” or W3 as she hones her skills using various weather software, most notably PredictWind, to do what I’m calling “No Wind Hunting” as ideal conditions for us have changed dramatically from our decades of sailing and we now ideally want no wind and flat seas or perhaps even better, following seas and winds which give us an added boost in speed. As you can see from the sunset photo above and this moon setting shot the next night, W3 has become the master No Wind Hunter!
We headed for Marina di Ragusa which is about 40NM North West from the SE bottom corner of Sicily. Our friends Matt and Cindy were there on their new Amel 50 “Speed of Life” and it was great to be able to catch up with them over several meals and good wine while we waited for the next good weather window for the next leg of this adventure to leave the EU and head over to Africa. When entering or leaving a country by boat, you need to do so at an official Port of Entry so we made the short 40nm trip up the cost from Ragusa to Licata which was the closest Port of Entry on our way West. We left Marina di Ragusa as the sun was rising and were docked in Marina di Cala del Sole at Licata just before noon and were able to get a taxi to the Police station where the immigration and Port authorities were located. This all worked out eXtremely well with neither the marina nor the checking out process taking any time at all or having any fees! So we were back on Möbius and leaving the dock in just over two hours. After the days and weeks and non stop fees trying to get our Schengen visa time extended in Greece you can imagine how delighted we were to have this final exit out of EU and the Schengen Area all happen so quick and easy. Africa, here we come!
As you can see, it is not a very big jump, about 195NM from Licata in Sicily to Bizerte up on the NE corner of Africa so an easy overnight sail in just less than 30 hours. We pulled in and were side tied for a nice change in the very nice Bezerte Marina by 14:00 on Tuesday the 8th of November. Tunisia has very good prices on diesel fuel, 0.66 USD per Liter, so we took full advantage and did our first filling of all six of our diesel tanks. We took on a total of 6792 liters and with exchange rates for the Tunisian Dinar and a credit card fee the total came to $4510.18 USD which at today’s fuel prices was a very good deal we think. We now had about 11,000 liters of fuel onboard and so we were finally able to see how well Möbius sits on her waterlines. As you can see, the hull was now eXactly on the lines! A bit closer shot as it is difficult to see where the 120mm wide Black Bootstripe on top changes to the Black InterSleek bottom paint but if you click to enlarge you will see that indeed sits eXactly on that line which is a great testament to our eXcellent NA Dennis Harjamaa! Well done Dennis and thanks for creating such a fabulous hull and boat for us.
Oh, and just in case you needed any proof that we are definitely not in “Kansas” anymore, check out this shot Christine took of the breakwater across from where we were tied up in Bizerte Marina. Yup, that’s a camel, well actually a dromedary with just the one hump, casually strolling along the breakwater. There was a small herd of them which we saw at various times during the day. While we were only in Bezerte for a few days before the next weather window opened up we did get time to walk into the the very colourful old town and enjoy the sights and smells of this waterfront city. We were also able to fit in a great date night eating some street food and then a delicious full meal at a little restaurant on the water. And enjoy one more beautiful sunset evening to finish up our all too short time in Bezerte and Tunisia. We had originally hoped to fuel up in neighboring Algeria where the fuel prices are even lower at about 22 cents per liter, but it turned out to be too long and difficult to get the required visa to allow us to stop there so we had to make the jump from Bezerte to Saidia in Morocco in one go and sail about 10nm off the very long Algerian coast of North Africa. It was a very smooth passage as W3 worked her weather routing skills perfect yet again and we had exceptionally calm seas with some following seas to help out several times. On one of her 6 hour watches Christine snapped this photo as she had fun surfing Möbius down some of the larger following swells and hitting speeds above 11 knots. Most of the time though it was more like this and we enjoyed some beautiful sunsets and sunrises along the passage. Christine had several opportunities on this passage to enjoy watching the large dolphins that came over to say Hi and play in the pressurized area ahead of our bow. I’m not sure who was having more fun, Christine or the dolphins but they all had a great time. This is a relatively busy shipping route and so we saw our share of other ships on this passage such as this little fella. We have a very good Class A AIS (Automatic Identification System) onboard, with several backups so pretty much all the other ships show up on our charts along the way and give us full information on each one including boat size, heading, speed, CPA Closest Point of Approach), etc. so makes it very easy to contact them on the rare times we need to and otherwise stay well informed of where they are in relation to us. I took advantage of the calm conditions to do the first test run of the Paravanes I had built. These are what we are going to try out for stabilizing Möbius in seas that want to cause us to roll back and forth sideways. The paravanes or “fish” as they are often called, are rigged to a fixed line of Dyneema off the end of each A-frame boom which is lowered off each side at about 45 degrees. The fish run about 5 meters or 18 feet below the surface where they “fly” through the water very smoothly. When the boat tries to roll to one side the paravane that is being pulled up resists this motion and the one on the opposite side dives down as its line goes slack and sets up for its turn when the boat tries to roll the other way. I particularly like iterative design and I start with the simplest approach and then adjust from there as I test. This first setup was a fully manual one with the orange line being the fixed length line that the paravane is suspended from and then a smaller Grey retrieval line attached to the rear of the tail fin. Christine slowed the boat and I lowered each fish into the water and they quickly zipped out and trailed behind the boom attachment points and then bring the boat back up to speed. A bit too busy to take photos but you can imagine how this works. It worked quite well but the retrieval required more effort than I thought was safe so I will re rig these lines so that the retrieval line goes up through a block mid way out on the boom and then over and down to a winch on the large Arch on the boat. I’m in the process of doing this rigging now and we will try it out on the next passage and let you know how it works and can get some better photos and details on their performance. We pulled into Saidia Marina which is just inside the border between Algeria and Morocco our longest passage so far at 625nm which took us just under 79 hours with an overall average SOG of 7.9 knots. As you can see, they had plenty of room for us! The marina is very large with an entire mall of shops and restaurants surrounding two sides but it has seen better days and Morocco had been closed for two years due to Covid restrictions so it was a bit sad. However the people and all the officials were extremely kind and engaging and we were quickly checked in and had fresh Moroccan stamps in our passports. We were about to loose the good weather we’d been having so we took advantage and made the quick 35nm trip from Saidia over to Melilla which as I mentioned at the beginning is actually part of Spain so we pulled in just after noon time and were quickly tied up and checked in.
As per my opening photos and comments, this marina and town is the opposite of what we found in Saidia, being very full and busy, very modern and diverse and is already proving to be a great spot for us to hunker down for perhaps as much as a week while we wait for the winter storms to pass through and provide us with the next chance to motor our way along the Moroccan coast as we get closer and closer to the Straits of Gibraltar that are now less than 150 nm WNW of us.
The other fun thing that recently happened is that we crossed the invisible Prime Meridian or Zero degree Longitude and so we are now into officially in the Western Hemisphere! Antalya sits on about 30.7 degrees East and Melilla is at about 3 degrees West so we have now traveled more than 33 degrees of latitude on Möbius. Looking further ahead, we are setting up to cross the Atlantic next month and will mostly likely take something close to the Southern route as shown on this map. These are typical routes for sailboats and thus based on favorable winds circling the Azores High pressure zone so we will just wait and see how that is positioned this year and figure out the best “No Wind Hunting” route for us to take across the Atlantic. Stay tuned for more as these Nauti Nomadic Grandparents do our best to continue to keep you all well entertained! Thanks and hope you will join us again for the next update to see just where Möbius is in a week or two.
Well, finally finding the time to put together this quick update we have ALL been waiting for and <spoiler alert> let me just start with what you really want to know; yes, the brand new Mr. Gee version 2.0 is now fully installed and Möbius is back up and running! This update will focus on the installation of the new Mr. Gee and then I’ll do a second one in a few days with outline of where Mr. Gee has powered Möbius to since we left Kalymnos last week on Oct. 30th.
Let me just say that since finally departing our four month home port in Kalymnos, we have now put about 600 nautical smiles under our keel and I am writing this to you from Marina di Ragusa down on the SE corner of Sicily. We are waiting for the next weather window to continue our travels West and out of the Med across the North coast of Africa, and hope to leave tomorrow (Monday 7 Oct) or Tuesday so it may take me a few days to get that second travel update written and get some internet to be able to post it but do stay tuned for that. Now, back to as quick a summary as I can do about the installation of the all new Mr. Gee.
It took almost two months for the original Mr. Gee to get from Kalymnos to the Gardner works in Canterbury England but fortunately the return trip was MUCH faster and “only” took about two weeks for this sight for sore eyes turned up on the dock beside us. All still fully sealed up and just as it had been when it left Gardner Marine Diesel GMD the day after I flew back from being there for the full dynamometer testing that I outlined in a previous post. Even Barney was wondering when this abyss in the Engine Room was going to be filled up again and he was on hand to supervise the whole installation. James and Michael at GMD had kindly included the remaining epoxy paint and put that in the box on the pallet. Manufactured September 2022 so can’t get too much newer than that! After SO much time and effort, it was sure a great feeling to unwrap this all new version of Mr. Gee and get busy preparing him for the installation. If you look closely at the brass plate on the fuel injection system you can see that it is currently set up for Continuous 100% use with 150 BHP @ 1650 RPM, and as some Gardner fans say these are “Draught Horses”! I spent a few hours reinstalling a few things such as the big Electrodyne alternator that is powered by the PTO (Power Take Off) as it was easier to do while sitting out on the dock. Then I protected the polished valve covers up top with some foam and set up the two chain blocks front and rear for adjusting the angle of the engine as we lowered it in place. The crane truck arrived right on time which was also a nice change as the first time for taking the engine out, it took over a week to arrange. Didn’t take long to lift the 1200kg engine off the dock ……… …… and onto Möbius. Kind compliments of brothers Michael and John Psarompas who own Argo Oil & Tug Boat, two of the crew from the Argo Tug Boat behind us kindly came over to lend some extra hands to help lower the engine into the Engine Room and set the motor mounts onto the anxiously awaiting engine beds. As many of you know this wasn’t my first rodeo wrestling Mr. Gee into place and with these four extra hands it all went quite quickly. And the all new Mr. Gee was finally settled into his new home and mated up with the Nogva CPP Controllable Pitch Propeller gear box. It took me about two days to remount all the systems such as exhaust,the second Electrodyne alternator (top left), fuel lines, engine guard bars and then do the engine/prop shaft alignment and torquing down the engine mounts to lock it all in place.
Apologies for this quick and dirty video of the first starting of the all new Mr. Gee v2.0 but hope it adds a bit to how this all went. I gave a bit of an overview before starting up the engine and then did a bit of a walk around of the engine to show things such as the oil pressure, exhaust water flow, etc. Hope you enjoy!
Out of both curiosity and safety I decided to pump the diesel Day Tank empty and open up the bottom inspection port to see how things had faired in the almost two years since the first fill during the build. Very happy to find what you see here, aka NOTHING. The sump you see in the lower Left had been doing its job of collecting some of the bits from construction and I had been able to drain these out previously as per the design. Silver cylinder in the top Left is the Maretron pressure sensor for measuring tank level and the pickup outlet is over on the Right.
Bolted the inspection cover back on (lower left) and refilled this 660 Liter Day Tank with fresh clean diesel out of the main tanks. New engine called for new filters so installed these and bled them to get rid of any air. Also took the time to put coloured zip ties on each of the valve handles on the three fuel manifolds to help me double check that I have the right ones open or closed for different operations such as transferring fuel between the main tanks, polishing the fuel (aka cleaning), filling the Day Tank and of course the supply and return for feeding Mr. Gee when he is running. Once I had Mr. Gee and the rest of the systems on Möbius back up and running there was quite a bit of bureaucratic steps we needed to go through before we were allowed to leave. The boat had been officially “detained” by the Greek Coast Guard and they required that we hire this engineer to prove that the engine and the boat was back up and running again. All of the various officials, offices and agencies all needed to collect their “pound of flesh” and ample Euros which took longer than the actual installation of the new engine! Last but not least, we completed a quick sea trial by doing a big loop outside the harbour with the engineer aboard and we finally had the green light from him and then went through another round of approvals and payments to all the agencies in town but by end of day on 29th of October, 2022, almost four months after we first arrived, we were cleared to depart Kalymnos! We treated ourselves to one last “date night” on this lovely island of Kalymnos that had come to feel like home and reminded ourselves of just how fortunate we had been to have had the opportunity to get to know this small Greek island and so many of her wonderful inhabitants who had become so familiar and were all so kind and generous to us.
Thanks for the memories and Bye Bye Kalymnos! We feel SO privileged to have had this extended time to get to know you.