Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Racing ahead thanks to acceleration zone


Hi all




If you have ever played a game of snakes and ladder, you know that if you land on snake, you have to slide back down the board. That's what its like when you are heading into a storm.


But sometimes you land on a ladder and shot up the board. That's what its like when you encounter an acceleration zone. This is where the northerly winds are squeezed into the limited space between the high islands increasing the speed  of the wind.
We encountered such a zone between the Canary Island of La Palma and La Gomera. We rode a good strong wind in the acceleration zones around the islands, up to 38 knots and Ed the human said we reached our new top speed of 9.1 Knots.
Wow an amazing ride, but a bit scary too. I found a safe place to sit where I could hold on and made sure my life jacket was tied tight.



Monday, 30 November 2015

Where does the wind come from?



Hi all

One thing a sailing boat like Moondancer needs is wind. But have you ever wondered what wind is and where it comes from? The sun heats the ocean and the heat is released slowly. Heat from the ocean warms the air and warm air rises.

When the warm air rises from above the ocean, cold air rushes in to replace the warm air – that movement makes wind.
In weather prediction terms, cool air produces high pressure and warm air causes low air pressure. 

The wind pushes against the sails and the Moondancer travels through the water. But it’s more complicated than that. You need to put up just the right amount of sail depending on the strength of the wind. 

And there are lots of other complicated maneuvers to learn to be a proper sailor. 

It’s nice and calm today and the crew have let me control the tiller. This is connected to the rudder which is used to help make the vessel turn.

You have to turn the tiller the opposite way that you want to turn. The tiller will also help keep the Moondancer traveling straight, but you have to adjust it slightly as the vessel gets pushed sideways by the waves.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Musical interlude

Hi all

I'm really getting into being part of the crew and that means taking part in the music too. 
 Unfortunately I am bit too small to play a musical instrument but I joined in with all the

'yar la lay’s'


Click the link  Becalmed Feat. The Commodore

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Atlantic Ocean from Spain to Portugal.

Wow, its been a wild ride so far, calm days and sun sets, rough stormy seas and eerie sea mists. There has also been fun, songs and music.

  
One of the many groups of dolphins we have encountered on our journey. These are bottlenose dolphins.
These are pilot whales lazing at the surface. They are toothed whales, mainly black with a large rounded head. This included the mellon which helps them to echo-locate. That is using sound to find your way around and to locate food. The males are largest, they can be over 6 metres long! They also have much bigger dorsal fins that dolphins.

Click link for a short video of the Atlantic, Spain and Portugal

Monday, 16 November 2015

From Portugal to the End of the World

Hi all

We have now reached Spain and a chance for me to give you a quick update.

A chance for me to share highlights of the leg of our journey from Portugal to Finnisterre in Spain.

The weather conditions have been quite varied so far. We have had some amazing sunsets and sunrises but in our recent stretch we were swallowed up by a huge bank of sea mist. It was very eerie. I have been in fog on land and even up in the mountains of the Canary Islands of Tenerife.
Somehow this eerie feeling is even worst when you are at sea. The feeling that almost anything could be just beyond out view in the swirling mist.

There are many dangers for a small vessel in the fog. A small ship could run aground on rocks or other half hidden objects. Which is why we are traveling safely away from land. There is  an even bigger danger of collision with another vessel. So every now and then one of the crew would sound the foghorn to alert any other sea users as to where we were.
The first two times Captain Casparo sounded the horn it made me jump as the only other sound we could hear was gentle splashing of the water as the Moondancer cut through the waves. 

Sea mist is like being in a cloud as the mist is also made up of tiny water droplets. Sea mist forms when mild air travels over the colder seawater. This causes the moisture in the air to condense into water droplets. Not so scary once you know the science. And as long as you have a great captain and crew to get you safely through.

Eventually out of the mist we see land

We have reached the safe haven of Finisterre, also enshrouded in the sea mist. 
In Ancient Roman times it was believed to be the end of the known world, which was easy to believe when we came up to Finisterre out of the fog.

As you know I have a great interest in maritime history and I was very interested to learn that  This was where the Phoenicians (an ancient trading civilization form the Mediterranean Sea) sailed from here to trade with Bronze Age Britain. Wow we must have traveled a similar route.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Crossing the Bay of Biscay

Hi all

We left Falmouth in Cornwall bound for Spain heading off across the Channel  and the Bay of Biscay
Weather is very unpredictable in the Bay of Biscay and can be very stormy. I have heard that in the days when huge sailing boats sailed the seas, sailors feared the Bay of Biscay. They either struggled against the powerful westerly winds or heavy swells that drove them into the Bay.
Things are much easier today (I was pleased to hear) with modern sailing vessels, with modern technology to lend a helping hand. The crew had been monitoring the weather and its now cleared enough to head off into the blue again.

We are now moored at Lison Portugal and we are again waiting for a weather system to clear before we move on. So a good time to give you an update. The weather was indeed quite rough at times and we all got thrown about now and again. 
Luckily everything was tied down and we did not loose anything (or anyone) overboard.

Lots of dolphins and whales swim through the Bay of Biscay and we saw some pilot whale and a pod of common dolphins joined us for a while. We all welcomed their company.


There was also an amazing sunset as the sun seemed to just sink into the ocean! 
We hope soon to leave Lisbon for the Canary Islands.

Click the following link to see what fun we all got up to crossing the Bay of Bisay

Ed and the Crew of the Moondancer.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Falmouth

Hi all

Well we had to stop over in Falmouth in Cornwall. This was mainly due to the need to wait out the passing of some very stormy weather. It was a chance for me to visit somewhere else in the UK that I had not been before. 
My travels over the years have taken me to many beautiful places, such as the Hawaiian Islands, the rugged Olympic Coast in the USA, Seal Island in South Africa and even Antarctica. But there are many beautiful and amazing places in the UK as well.
As soon as the weather clears we will head off across the Channel and into the Atlantic, so Famouth is our last stop before leaving the UK and heading off into the blue. Next stop Portugal.
Falmouth is a great place for surfing and I have had some great surfing experiences in the USA but the seas are too rough here for a tiny bear like me.

I am getting to know the rest of the crew a bit better now. They are lots of fun and I am enjoying the chance to be at sea and listen to their live music that is very much a part of the the Moondancer and the sea.
Click the link below for a glimpse at the rest of the crew and the reasons for this amazing journey that I have been invited to be a part of.

Stormbound in Falmouth

Bye for now

Ed the Bear and the crew of the Moondancer