500 kilometres and 12 days

23/09/2010 at 11:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Pinta has now sailed for more than 12 days and covered over 500km (based on straight line distance measurements between each data point we’ve received from the boat). Had we managed to sail that in the right direction we’d now be 120km south of our second waypoint at 49 degrees north, 15 degrees west (about 780km west of Brest in France). This only gives us an average speed of about 1.7 km/h although a lot of this has probably been suboptimal sailing. On our best days we’ve seen top speeds of just under 4 km/h, the worst have been less than 1 km/h. Of course all this is based on data points that are 6 hours apart and we are assuming a straight line between those two points. In reality those lines won’t be anything near straight and actual speeds of travel will be faster.

Off out to sea

20/09/2010 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Pinta has spent the last 3 days sailing North West and getting further and further from land and any chance of rescue. The coastguard have said they might be able to organise something if we end up off the coast of Dongeal but at this rate we’ll be more likely to end up in Iceland or Greenland. The wind does look like it might change to a northerly for a couple of days later in the week and that might bring us back closer to shore but we can’t be certain.

Heading for Galway? or the Cliffs of Moher perhaps.

17/09/2010 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After 4 days without a control system Pinta is now near the entrance to Galway bay and about 30 nautical miles off the Cliffs of Moher (the biggest cliffs in Ireland and one of its biggest tourist attractions). If the current course continues then Pinta could sail straight into the cliffs which would be very spectacular for all the tourists, not so good for us. However it would be nice if she went a bit further south and ended up on the nice sandy beach in Lahnich (wishful thinking I know) or slightly further north and inside the relatively sheltered waters of Galway bay where a rescue would be quite easy.

6 minute video of Pinta now available.

16/09/2010 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Computer is really dead.

14/09/2010 at 8:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It looks like the control system has really gone. Pinta had spent spent all of Sunday sailing away from its waypoint because the wind didn’t allow sailing directly to the waypoint. However just before the last Iridium message she appeared to have turned around and was heading straight for the waypoint. We’ve now had several Spot messages since the final Iridium message and we are now north of the waypoint again and it should be easily directly sailable. Even if the rudder was broken and the sail still worked it should be possible to make that turn and its not happened. With the current wind forecast it looks like Pinta will sail parallel to the coast for a few days and might end up hitting the Arann islands or somewhere around Slyne head.

Lost contact with Pinta, but we’re on the BBC

13/09/2010 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Pinta is supposed to send us a message via Iridium every hour. Its now been over 2 hours since the last message.

We had a message during the night to say the Gumstix had rebooted. The Gumstix isn’t supposed to reboot so this could be a sign of a loose power cable or water in the electronics box.

So it looks like we only got about 49 hours of autonomous sailing and only covered about 87km. This is still further than our previous record (17 hours and about 25km) and we think its further and longer than anyone else has sailed autonomously before but are not 100% certain of this. Also despite this sailing being “autonomous” we have completely failed to reach waypoint that was only 28km away at the time Pinta was released.

We will have to wait to see if we get any messages from the SPOT tracker to let us know if she’s still afloat or not. Unfortunately since we launched the SPOT hasn’t been very reliable, we’ve lost 4 out of 10 messages from it. We suspect that by mounting it near to the metal frame which houses the solar panels we’ve partially blocked its view of the sky. The large waves we’ve been experiencing may not be helping either as swaying about and having walls of water blocking the satellite view might not help. If Pinta is still afloat it will be interesting to see how long she lasts without any control. It is also possible that the tiller pilot could still be operational despite the rest of the system failing.

In good news there’s an article about us just gone up on the BBC website plus a news item Pinta will be shown tomorrow BBC Wales News and we’re getting a mention on Radio 5 live and on Radio Wales.

We are the only competitor.

13/09/2010 at 10:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The other team (ENSIETA) from France have just emailed to say they won’t be participating in this year’s Microtransat. This is a shame as their boat looked like it had a good chance of making it and it would have been nice to have at least one of competitor. Maybe next year!

We’ve made it back to Wales without Pinta being destroyed.

12/09/2010 at 8:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’ve made it back to Aberystwyth and Pinta is still going! We had been worried that we’d discover it had stranded itself on a rock or sailed back to Valentia before we’d left Ireland and that we’d have to turn around and go and pick it up. With telemetry messages arriving every hour there is this tense moment each hour as we wait for the email to arrive. We nearly thought we’d lost it last night when the email didn’t arrive but it was just the email servers being slow.

Going round in circles

12/09/2010 at 11:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Since last night Pinta has basically just gone round in a big circle. It looks like the control system has been flipping between thinking it can sail directly to the waypoint and not being able to. This is probably combined with heavy seas which are probably making steering very difficult and meaning it can take 10 minutes to actually get settled on a new course. To make things even more worrying we have not been more than 4 nautical miles from the Skellig Islands, two rather large and very rocky islands just off the coast.

Still afloat despite a near miss.

11/09/2010 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We are now somewhere between Killarney and Mallow (about 1/3rd of the way back to Rosslare) and I just dared to check my email to see how Pinta is progressing. The good news is she is still afloat and is heading in the right general direction. The bad news is that she is much closer to shore than we had intended. At one point she got within 650 metres of shore!

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