FIX-I.T. @ SEA: The Story of A Lady (Part 2)

Sunday, 02 Aug 2009 10:10

DSC_7522-EditA Lady, OYSTER 56, Owner: Stephen Hyde, Ponta Delgada (Azores)

Azores, North Atlantic, 10:00 hours, I left Ireland yesterday, after a short trip from Lisbon today, I have arrived to Ponta Delgada on the largest of the Azores island. I will rejoin my client Stephen Hyde aboard A Lady his 56 feet Oyster (hull number 23). Together, we have planned to test the computer system aboard and to run some troubleshooting drills for the rest of the week. By then we will be landing in Portugal... The crew is composed of 4 persons.

Monday, 03 Aug 2009, early afternoon.

We have been sailing for now almost 24 hours, all is going well, a gentle breeze is carrying us away from Azores. Stephen is learning about receiving grib files, in other words getting weather forecasts from different sources, to compare them to get as close as possible from reality. This is very important, at sea, things can get seriously tough between Beaufort 5 and Beaufort 8.

Tuesday, 04 Aug 2009, late evening.

DSC_7330_2Today the wind is abandoning us, we have had to motor right in the middle of Atlantic North. We are goose swinging with a large sailing yacht like we would with a laser. We are using the spinaker pol to hold the headsail out. Stephen is learning the basics of email transmissions. In this splendid environment, surounded with whales and dolphins, we both have dificulties in keeping our focus for more than 40 min, so I have scheduled more discussions, short talk and exercises. We also have long watch at night, Stephen is taking the first part with Sarah, Aileen and I are on the morning watch, so I must head to bed now if I want to be able to get up at 1 am...

Wednesday, 05 May 2009. 11:00

At least, our computer sessions aren't made too difficult by the "poor" sea conditions! Watching a computer, at sea, can be seriously painful if you are suffering from sea sickness. We all suffer from it to some extent. Since we have left Azores, we are blessed with sun, blue sky and·not one drop of wind today... I have explained to Stephen how the Mac mini had been reconfigured into a PC because in the spring of 2009 there weren't any Mac drivers for the alady5Irridium phone that A Lady is kitted with. I also explained why a Mac, because it could be configured natively with Mac, Windows or Linux and then run any software we'd want. Stephen is a little bit technophobe (Please, don't say I wrote this!). I am not absolutely certain today's session was his favourite. Over the past few month I have tried to get familiar with A Lady's schematics. Thanks to John Johnson and Natasha in Oyster Marine that sent a full set of blue prints to my workshop in Cork. One reason for choosing a Mac mini, was the external power supply, today Steve learnt how to disconnect the whole system and reconnect it. It is powered on the 220 circuit of the boat and while the central unit is located in the chart table, the power supply is conveniently located behind the instrument panel on the starboard side of the boat.

I was told by many of my colleagues at the time I designed this solution, that with the humidity and the tropical heat in Panama, the poor Mac would surely die.. Well let's ''wait and sea'', but for each extra mile beyond Panama, I will ask my coffee to be served at my desk, with great humility and 2 sugar, please! ;-) - (Nota Bene: ALady passed Panama city on the 1st Feb 2010, the Mac mini re-engineered in our workshop in Cork, is still very much alive, and at the time adding those lines, it is about to arrive in South Africa in November 2010 where I am planning to service it, remotely)

Thursday, 06 Aug 2009. 17:00

More Dolphins today, I would never have thought my Marine IT Troubleshooting course to be that popular! It has got to be the most attractive event in the neighborhood today. Sarah made a short video, we kept whistling to encourage them...·And today's course was driven toward posting photos on the blog, resizing images, understanding document's weight and emailing attachments.

Friday, 07 Aug 2009. 20:00

We have covered almost 500 NM since our departure, the weather forcasts (GRIB: Gridded Binary data) from Mailasail are less accurate than usual today, it seems in fact that the server has stopped updating since we are receiving the same information after each email request. Perfect drill for the P8022374troubleshooting training, let's switch to another source.

GRIB are output files generated by computer forecasting models. They are tremendously more compact than regular weather charts and because of their size are very well suited for download via wireless means. The largest producer of GRIB weather is NOAA although other organizations such as Meteo France, Norwegian Meteo Institute, the military and research institutions also generate GRIB files. NOAA GRIB files are well suited for marine forecasts and widely distributed. Two different GRIB sources will soon confirm what we are reading in the clouds above our heads, we are about to get into strong wind. We will be arriving to

Saturday, 08 Aug 2009. 11:00

DSC_7452Portugal here we come, blown like a bullet by a strong wind near gale and after a long night playing hide and seek with tankers, container ships, cargo of all size and shape in Gibraltar shipping lanes... Today is my last day of work aboard A Lady, I have to do a couple of minor adjustments requested by my customer. Stephen is now well able to use his computer to retrieve emails, weather forecasts, post articles into his blog so we can follow him each day around the world. I won't be able to take part to the Transatlantic ARC race, I feel very honoured I have been  offered, but I am already committed to an archaeological firm in Cork & Galway. Nevertheless, I will be providing a routing service, tactical emails sent twice a day for 10 to 15 days in November 2010. I am also in charge of training two crew members in retrieving and analysing grib files... Ok that's it for me, see you all Monday morning in the workshop, in Cork ;-)