Week 1 - Fond Farewells and a Quiet Start
On the 1st December, at 11am exactly, Captain Iain Macneil took Astra out of the Puerto Calero Marina and on to the first leg of the journey. Onboard were Orlando, Mikey, Carlos and Luke (see the CVs in the 'About' section of the website). DPA Kat managed to jump off in time!
The run up to this event was as busy as you might expect, with last minute maintenance, installation of additional tanks and a 2 week storing project. It culminated in a farewell Party at 'Amura', Puerto Calero's finest restaurant, where Iain gave a brief talk on the route and preparations and nearly 70 people enjoyed a fine dinner and the most superb cake. Photographs of the event have been loaded up to the Gallery page and are worth looking at for the cake alone. Thanks also to Jose Juan Calero, who gave a speech followed by presentations to key suppliers in the preparation project.
Storing was a big event, with a vacuum sealer purchased to ensure the best quality of food will be available onboard. 'Bad weather meals' were cooked by our DPA and frozen into handy portions for easy catering when seas are rough. We were delighted by the assistance of James Easton, who travelled from the Highlands to assist in this stage, which involved a lot of rebagging, weighing and packing.
After leaving Puerto Calero, Astra headed South West, through the Canaries to the East of Gran Canaria and into the Traffic Separation Scheme.
At this stage there was a helpful continuous wind from the North East, although the 3m waves on the stern were slightly less helpful. The stabilisers were kept on for this first phase.
The passage plan was kept to throughout and on Monday, as she approached the area where there is known to be pirate activity, Astra went 'dark'. This was a planned action that involves turning off the AIS, closing the window shutters and turning off all lights on deck. While not anticipating a problem, it is a sensible precaution in the area and they will shortly arrive back in to the 'light' and viewable on marine trackers once more. On day 5 they were reassured by the presence of an Italian warship, although the LNG tanker bearing down behind them and declaring itself armed was perhaps a little less so.
At this stage, Astra is keeping a good pace of 8.5 kts, travelling through seas of about 1.3m and with nice gentle winds from the NNW, so the stabilisers are now off. Her position is off West Africa and the crew are all in good shape. Their only problem is an issue with the AC on the bridge, so the fact that they are a good distance away is no bad thing! (temps have reached 31 deg in the afternoon)
The first fuel transfer from the IBC/Tote tanks was completed without problem
They completed their first 1,000 miles on Day 6.
Eagle eyed instagram followers will have seen they are under attack by flying fish and African moths. Luckily, the two pods of 6-8 whales have known their place and stayed well and truly in the sea.
The first sighting of bioluminescence occurred on Day 5and on Day 7 the Southern Cross was sighted for the first time
Please do go to the gallery - you will find an excellent set of photographs of the farewell and departure that were taken by Andrea Gagliano