Posts Tagged ‘transatlantic’

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Distance to the horizon

September 13, 2010

A while ago we posted a short video taken on board MSY Wind Surf in the middle of the Atlantic.  Actually, not really the middle, we were about 300 miles from the Azores, but not that far off.  We were part way through a 14 day Transatlantic crossing which started in Barbados and ended up in Lisbon.

The footage was taken outside the Compass Rose bar late morning.

One of the unusual things about the Windstar ships is that they operate an open bridge policy.  When not in port the bridge is open and guests are welcome to visit and ask questions.  On this day that proved useful.  Our conversation went something like this;

How far away is the horizon?  Umm, not sure.  A few miles … or so … maybe more … or perhaps less?

Thinking someone on the bridge should know the answer Ian wandered up there to ask.  As luck would have it the Chief Engineer was present and happy to help.  Such is the beauty of sailing with Windstar: have a question, well ask the Chief Engineer and he may just have half an hour spare.

Anyway, the answer was this: With normal visibility the distance to the horizon, in nautical miles, is 2.1 times the square root of the height, in meters, above sea level.

Distance to horizon = 2.1 * √(height, in meters, above sea level)

In that time we were about 12m above sea level so about 7¼ miles to the horizon.

Taking the maths one step further, if the distance to the horizon was just over 7 nm then the circle of sea that was visible to us was about 165 nm² … and not another ship in sight.  Actually, we hardly saw another ship the entire crossing.

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Wind Surf, mid-Atlantic

February 18, 2010

Back in 2007 we took the slightly crazy decision to take a cruise.  Crazy for a number of reasons;

  • We’d never cruised before
  • We booked it a week before sailing … and two days before we needed to leave
  • The cruise was 14 days long, with no ports of call
  • The cruise was across the Atlantic in one of the world’s largest motor sailing yachts

Suffice to say that the gamble paid off and we absolutely loved it.  So much so that in 2008 and 2009 we went on exactly the same trip – the eastbound Transatlantic crossing on Windstar’s Wind Surf.

Before that first trip, and in subsequent cruise planning, we’ve made great use of the Cruise Critic website.  They provide forums for cruise lovers, and cruise newbies, to pool information.  For lovers of the Windstar ships the Windstar forum is a fantastic resource.

A while ago there was some discussion of the Transatlantic crossings including the relative merits or eastbound vs westbound, the passenger loads, the peace experienced onboard in the middle of the Atlantic with no other ships visible.

This brought to mind that as part of the dozens of photos we’ve taken onboard Wind Surf we also have a very short video clip taken using the camera.  It has no commentary, but it does give a sense of the peace of the mid-Atlantic.  For those interested in technical details the camera is Fuji 6500FD.

The footage was taken late morning on Monday 14th April 2008 from just outside the Compass Rose.  For reference deckplans are available here.

Notes from that day give the ship’s position at noon was 33 49N 031 21W.  Nearest land Pico in the Azores, 310 nautical miles away.  At that point we were approximately 2,050 nautical miles (nm) from our start point in Barbados.

To give that some context, our position was about here;

Wind Surf's position

Our experience is that people either love or hate the idea of a Transatlantic crossing.  The thought of day after day at sea excites some and terrifies others.  We know folks who risk coming out in a cold sweat just looking at that map …

14 days without sight of land, are you mad?!

For us it is one of the most restful places in the world.