What can we say, it certainly wasn't very adventurous, after all we have returned to places we visited already with Shaula3, the only novelty being a few anchorages that we had not visited before.
A quiet anchorage in Meganisi
The period spent in Greece was pleasant, with fine weather and
not yet too crowded. The 500-miles transfer voyage from
northern Adriatic to Corfu and even more the return leg were once again the
problem, especially due to the unexpected sequence of depressions, one right
after the other, that required frequent and lengthy stops to wait for a
fine-weather window. So this reconfirmed that a quiet cruise
from northern Adriatic towards Greece would require at least two months if
limited to the Ionian islands, and possibly three or four to sail around the
Aegean sea, but then the seasons must be taken into consideration:
There are several strategies, besides leaving the boat there
during winter: leaving early and going quickly to the farthest destinations, and
then returning slowly with the wind at the back and waiting september for
the passage northwards is one of the more common. Or, leave early
and return early, like we wanted to do this year but failed because we were
delayed by nearly one month and then were slowed by out-of-season depressions!
This cruise has been the long-awaited opportunity for an in-depth test of the boat and all its systems: in general we are happy with the results, nothing was seriously wrong but only few minor refinements are needed. The main problems came from the Raymarine instruments, especially due to a mysterious "missing GPS signal" error message that showed up from time to time. Dangerous problem, because it caused the autopilot to switch off and could be solved only after a general instrument-chain restart. As far as we have been able to trace the source of the problem, it seemed to be related to a mis-handling of a message from the AIS receiver to the chartplotter, but so far we don't know how to solve it and Raymarine's technical support has not been much helpful.
Baby checks a position fix on the chartplotter
Another problem was with the autopilot's actuator (the electrically-powered piston that moves the tiller): perhaps a bit under-dimensioned, it literally unscrewed itself in two! Probably, for an important passage it would be worthwhile to carry a spare piston or to install a more powerful model (which we did not install from the beginning due to space problems).
The performance of the new propeller has been a mixed-bag: on one side, the engine now is able to reach its rated maximum r.p.m. (3600), the fuel consumption is quite moderate at less than 2 litres/hour at a cruising regime of 2400 r.p.m. and manoeuvring under engine is good, but we lost speed: about 4.5 knots in flat calm, to reach 5 knots we need to run the engine at 2800 r.p.m. which seems a bit too much. On the other hand, with the old propeller the engine was stressed and unable to reach the nominal maximum r.p.m.
And what about performance under sail? Unfortunately we had few chances to experiment, when the wind was not too strong and forcing us to seek shelter! The general impression is favourable, the boat seems to be s bit more responsive with light winds compared to Shaula3, while behaving similarly with stronger wind. No surprises when sailing close-hauled, a notorious weakness of lifting-keel boats, with a bit of wave the bow angle with the wind is around 45 degrees, achieving a course-to-wind angle around 60 degrees, pretty much in line with what we achieved with Shaula3.
And finally, the accommodation which is quite good for a boat
of little more than 10 meters with 2/3 people on board: the main difference with
Shaula3, which was over 1 metre longer, is with the forward cabin which in
Shaula4 is reduced to a "V" berth, the so-called "breton bunk".
Excellent the charting area, and reasonably good galley area, with the help of
an additional folding work-surface.
This cruise was intended to be a test bench also for the aging crew, to understand what kind of challenge we could afford in the next years.
Unfortunately, 4 years have passed since when we purchased Shaula4, without having been able to use it for anything serious, and in fact we have almost reached our planned age limit.
Baby on watch while the boat motors in flat calm under autopilot
On the positive side, we fell into our on-board daily routine very easily, sailing for several consecutive days without any problem and easily handling crew work during moorings and anchorages.
Still, seven years have passed since our return from the
circumnavigation, and during these years little health problems have left us
less nimble and strong, and in the end less confident of our capabilities and
more exposed to small accidents that only few years ago would not have bothered
us. Still able to sail then, but less willing to take
risks and tackle challenging adventures.
- Duration: 51 days total
23 days effectively sailed
- Total mileage: 1235 miles
- average mileage: 24 miles per day
54 miles per actually sailed day
- Engine hours: 309
- Fuel Consumption: 1.7 litres/hour
The data talk of a rather slow cruise, due to the frequent,
long stopovers to wait for the weather to improve. The fuel
consumption figure is interesting, definitely low but obtained at a very low
speed, generally between 4 and 4.5 knots.
Continue reading at the "expenses"
Last Update: 07/09/2017
Shaula4 website (text and images) by Gianfranco Balducci is licensed under a