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Stephen Hyde’s “A Lady” circumnavigating the globe

As I write this piece, RCYC’s Stephen Hyde’s Oyster 56 “A Lady” is fast approaching St Lucia, as she completes the ARC Rally in what looks like being an excellent Atlantic crossing time of less than 16 days.  Arriving in Rodney Bay, “A Lady” will have completed the first stage of her world girdling voyage as part of the World ARC.

The voyage which will take most of two years, will take the crew to the Pacific via the Panama Canal, down to Ecuador and on to the Galapagos Islands and the Marquesas. During April and May, they cruise through the Marquesas, Tuamotos and Society Islands before departing from Bora Bora in mid-May and heading towards the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu. Then it’s across to Cairns, Australia and a cruise inside the Great Barrier Reef, before regrouping for the leg across the top of Australia to Darwin and the start of the Indian Ocean stage.

From Bali, the Rally moves on to Mauritius and thence to South Africa, aiming to be in Cape Town for Christmas 2010. In January 2011 the fleet heads out from Cape Town to Brazil, via the tiny mid-Atlantic island of St. Helena. From Salvador de Bahia, the route cruises north along the coast to Recife, where crews can enjoy the frenetic sights and sounds of Carnival Brazilian style. Late March sees yachts back in the Caribbean and they will have sailed approximately 25,000 miles.

For the technically minded, the e-mail and blog capability aboard the vessel is facilitated by an Iridium 9522-TP Fixed Satellite Phone, linked to the boat’s GPS tracking system, supported by an Apple Mac Mini computer unit.    The system is configured to support an integrated Web Diary system which facilitates automated vessel tracking and the capability to post pictures, stories and other information which are automatically linked to the position reports from the unit.  The system also facilitates the acquisition of 6-hourly weather updates in Grib file format via e-mail, and my own experience of using this facility during a “A Lady’s” trip to the Azores in July of this year has convinced me of the value of satellite communication aboard an offshore cruising yacht.  Its ease of use and relatively low cost when used in “non-voice” mode provides significant advantages over Single Side Band (SSB) radio installations traditionally employed on offshore vessels.

We wish Stephen and Aileen and all the RCYC crew members who will join the boat at various stages of the voyage every success and safe sailing.

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