Crossing the Atlantic with Mr. Malingri – Fourth installment

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malingriEnrico Malingri, brother of Vittorio and Francesco, a member of the most famous dynasty/family in Italian sailing, has prepared an X 562 (Magix) for the Atlantic crossing and has sailed just these days from Gran Canaria to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.A great sailor, with tens and tens of thousands of miles behind him, Enrico will tell us, episode after episode, about sailing on the one hand, and on the other, how to set up a cruiser so that it can take on the ocean smoothly.

Screenshot 2015-12-19 at 12:45:59 p.m.FINALLY IN THE TRADE WINDS
Lat. 15°47′.982 ; Long. 35°08′.373 17 December 2015-12-16
Speed 9kn , wind 15 kn from E/NE
We have finally entered the trade winds, which are blowing steadily-two large depressions in the North Atlantic last week had crushed the Azores high southward, weakening the trade winds and sending them to very low latitudes. Since last night we have been steadily grinding out miles with speeds ranging from 8 to 9.5 knots. Let’s wait until the sea mounts a bit to reach the glides at each wave, then we “travel.” The ability to receive grib files allowed us, as in ocean racing, to avoid the becalmed and get in position to enter the trade winds as soon as possible and from a favorable position.

This is exactly what I wanted to talk about this episode, an interesting topic for everyone and always evolving, how we equipped the boat from the telecommunications point. In this regard, I leave the word to Marco, a long-time sailing enthusiast and expert who is always up-to-date on on-board electronics, who oversaw the procurement and selection of communications equipment for Magix. Keep in mind that almost all of us in order to afford this “escape” from civilization need to have an open channel with land.

SATELLITES ON BOARD
Regarding the choice of satellite communications on the boat, there are two options:

1 Satellite handsets, which, however, can withstand limited data communications capability unless a dedicated antenna is added.
Unfortunately, on the two systems covering the Atlantic, Iridium and Immarsat, the speed is restricted to 2.4Kb second, as far as voice is concerned both offer the same quality although the Immarsat handset has small areas not covered.

2 Iridium, however, offers the possibility, by installing a mushroom antenna, 50 cm in diameter and weighing 11kg, to achieve a 135Kb second speed.

3 Immarsat with the BGAN system, offers a choice of three data rates: 125Kb, 250Kb and 350Kb , by installing a dome antenna with a diameter of 55 cm and weighing about 13Kg.

Both of these solutions,on a boat like ours of 56 feet, require the installation of a stern post about 2.5 inches in diameter. Installation on the spreaders would be inadequate because of the size and weight of the dishes, and it interferes with the mainsail left at maximum, for the stern. With the first solution, the simplest and cheapest, you are then limited to text-only e-mail exchange, the possibility of downloading Grib, while with the second you can also download attachments, view the web , send photos and even use Skype. Our shipowner did not allow us to install the pole at the stern because he rightly considered the artifact unsightly, so we found a solution to make the laptop a fixed.

MAKE THE LAPTOP A FIXED
Iridium provides a variant of a handset with a handset, like one of those old car phones, this one is connected via a low-dispersion coaxial cable, to a watertight antenna the size of a GPS antenna, which we proceeded to install on one of the crosses. So we have a system that is constantly connected and usable below deck, the laptops provide that you have an open view of the sky. The next very important step we took was through a London-based company called Mailasail, which has been doing satellite communications on pleasure boats for years. We then added their dedicated access point called the Red Box, designed and built by them, which allows the connection of a variety of communication sources depending on where you are.

So satellite, public wifi , or cellular network via locally purchased sim card. In addition, Mailsail offers an important service, namely a data compression system that brings the data exchange speed to 24Kb. Please note that this compression for x10 also applies to systems in the second option. This option which is called Teleport and can be purchased for the modest sum of 10 GBP, monthly with no strings attached. Mailasail also provides access to a weather server, where to download both Grib and text forecasts from the various GMDSS broadcasters. It also allows us to post our location and a comment on a blog visible on the Internet at a dedicated address. Ours is www.mailasail.blog/magix. This way from the ground our loved ones keep track of our location and progress, and with the comment in the blog they have a collective feed back of what is happening on board. All our computer devices, iPads, Iphones can be connected to the system via wifi.

COSTS
The cost of an Iridium or Immarsat handset is around 1,000 USD, to which one must add a fixed antenna and quality cable for another 500 USD. The Redbox access point costs 350 GBP. Call costs, unfortunately still remain high cica 1.50 USD per minute.

YELLOW BRICK
We also have another very interesting ‘apparatus is called YB. It is used by all ARC participants, to monitor their location. It is rechargeable lithium battery operated, and can be programmed to send the position at various intervals by acting as a transponder. Each battery charge lasts about a month or more. From home anyone can follow us, the system updates the location very smoothly automatically. We programmed it to broadcast every 4 hours. At www.my.yb.tl/magix you can follow us. It also allows those in the crew to download a small app on their cell phones to communicate via Bluetooth with the transponder and forward short text messages. Each person can purchase their own credit online and then manage it. Very efficient and with an attractive purchase budget at about €.500.

ENRICO’S WORD
We have as a last resort a shortwave ssb Yesu radio to communicate through the amateur radio network and with other boats underway. For now it is a work in progress because we were not able to install the wire antenna before we left and now so it is all flying.

THE COUNCIL.
The advice then if the boat will be around for a while is to permanently install the radio equipment. If you have an insulated backstay, it is best to have a fixed installation without problems. Also to be brought some antennas of the required dipole length that offer great efficiency. In this case you need to have a coaxial cable coming out of the mast about 5/6 m above the bridge. With CS&RB, we have gone around the world in this way. The antenna was hoisted at the time of transmission, we always talked to everyone at the right times of propagation with hams from all over the planet. So my comment and feedback to the 4 Atlantic crossing in annua domini 2015 is that as far as communications is concerned we are really in the future. We are out here in the middle of the sea with the nearest coast 1000 miles away but we are not alone and we have the info we need.

Atlantic greetings to all

Enrico and Marco and all the crew

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