Day 1 11th July 07 -- 16:58:03hrs on 11.07.2007, The ABORA III cast her moorings and set off on her epic odyssey to attempt to proved that pre-historic peoples could have cross the Atlantic- west to east.. Distance Covered: 19.2 nMiles
Day 2 12th July 07 -- ABORA III entered the open sea and made a very respectable top speed of 5 knots,. Distance Covered: 60 nMiles.
Day 3 13th July 07--- No reported problems. As the ABORA III leaves the relative comfort of the continental shelf and heads out over deep water , conditions will become more testing. Distance Covered: 83.4 n/Miles
Day 4 14th July 07 -- As an area of low pressure containing strengthening winds and squalls moves towards ABORA III position, she will face her first real test of sea worthiness. Distance Covered 43.7 nMiles
Day 5 15th July 07 --- Rain showers & strengthening SW winds marked Day 5. Distance Covered : 39.4 nMiles .
Official Diary------ ABORA III Makes Good Headway Towards the Gulf Stream So far, the trip has been eventful. Waves have been reaching 10 feet and winds have been blowing up to 17 knots per hour. Handling the fragile boat demands conservative judgment. Last night, Görlitz had no choice but to partly lower the sail in order to temporarily reduce the speed of the ABORA III. The boat performed well in the challenging conditions, but left many a crew member sleepless as ABORA III rolled heavily in the waves. Helmsman and former Mount Everest-skier, Tormod Granheim, worked the rudder through the night.
Three broken lee-boards may prove an additional challenge for the team as they approach the Azores. The damage also provided a more immediate challenge for the ABORA III's diver, Sabrina Lorenz, who had the task of diving beneath the boat and untangling a mass of ropes which had become tangled due to the damaged lee-boards. Of a total of 14, 11 lee-boards rest intact, and Görlitz has decided to decrease the draft of his lee-boards in order to ease the stress on these items. The lee-boards are an essential part of the ABORA III's design; without them the vessel would only be able to sail downwind................. Rest of Entry .
Day 6 16th July 07 ABORA 3 continues to make good progress, however stress on the lee-boards are causing some concern. The lee-boards act as the ships keel and are vital to the stability of the vessel. ABORA reduces her speed to ease the stress on the lee-boards.
Day 7 17th July 07 10:10:22 Concerns about cracks in the lee-boards now delay the project. ABORA 3 turns about to meet a chartered boat leaving Montauk in Long Island NY. The chartered boat is to rendezvous with Abora 3's last know GPS coordinates & deliver replacement lee-boards from the ABORA 2 . The spare/extra lee-boards enable Abora 3 to continue her journey, safe in the knowledge that these vital components can be replaced.
Day 8 18th July 07 Continued to hold position, awaiting rendezvous with support vessel heading out of New York. Rendezvoused with support vessel early afternoon.. Took on the spare lee-boards from ABORA2 as a precaution against damage to the existing boards. After the 2 day enforced lay-up, late afternoon sees ABORA 3 once more heading east towards her goal. Distance: 15 nM by days end*.
Day 9 19th July 07 Day 9: ABORA3 making steady progress eastwards. Now approaching the edge of the continental shelf, sea-conditions are likely to be more testing.
Day 10 20th July 07 Day10: Back on course ABORA 3 is now making an average of 40nMiles/p/day. Now approaching the Gulf Stream , ABORA 3 speed is expected to rise to 4 knots/p/day, with a daily progress of around 70 nautical miles.. The team has spotted a Grey Whale as well as several dolphins.
Day 11/12 21st/22nd July 07 ABORA 3 speed as dropped over the last 2 days, making an average 20nMiles/p/day. Her track as changed from an easterly to a south/south westerly direction. This may indicate a problem with the boat, a search for more favorable winds or a move to intercept to Gulf Stream. The latter possibly , we know is ABORA 3 stated aim. A definitive answer will be posted when known. We all hope that the boat is bearing up to the vigors of the Northern Atlantic.
Day 13 /14 23rd / 24th July 07 ABORA 3 continues to hold station. Without any firm news;- I can only speculate on the reasons. If she restarts her easterly track towards Spain in the next few hours? then a rendezvous with a supply vessel would account for her slow, circular course. If ABORA 3 heads west, back towards New York, then we can surmise a more serious problem is afoot. News will be posted as soon as it arrives.
Day 15 25th July 07 Still no firm news. ABORA 3 still holding station. Covering only 6nMiles yesterday, the speculation continues. Are they waiting for a vital piece of equipment to be ferried from New York ?. Is a crew member ill? Are they trying to repair the boat before heading deeper into the Atlantic? ABORA 3 route is circular, very slow and occasionally stationary. We eagerly await any news & will post it as soon as it come through. In the meantime - We wish them good fortune and hope the voyage can get back on track very soon.
Official Diary------ ABORA III is not moving because of calm winds--- Day 15 - July 25th, 2007 ------- On July 11th the ABORA III started its voyage over the Atlantic. In the first week we were able to sail 330 sea miles towards east. The wind was coming most of the time from a southern direction. The main aim was to reach the American shelf. This area is known for its strong relation to tide. The strong current out there was a hindrance for the ABORA III because a raft is more defeated to the current than any normal modern sailing boat. ..................................................... ..................................................... Weather data from the last ten years show southwest and northwest winds during the summer months in this area of the North American coastline. But unfortunately these winds are missing so far. The ABORA III has the capability to sail crosswise to the wind. So we could use the south winds and could make good progress. ..................................................... ..................................................... Right now it seems that the element is completely against us. For six days we have been sitting in front of the Georges Bank waiting for a change in wind. For the last few days we've had some easterly winds which meant we could sail only north or south in order to stabilize our position in front of the American shelf. The weather forecast does not bring hope for an improvement. Until July 26th we will have no wind! ..................................................... ..................................................... The ABORA III is proving itself to be a very manoeuvrable vessel. The courses already driven attest to this fact. We've lost three leeboards but this has not influenced the steering ability of the boat. With the help of Michael Grünert and our American partner Aqua Survey, we got eight reserve leeboards delivered. Now we can fall back upon our regular leeboard strength. On a prehistoric reed raft you cannot switch on the engine and go off to the next area which has favourable wind and set sail again. We have to wait until the wind comes to us. This is part of the experiment of the ABORA III. When a leeboard cracks or the wind stops moving for days on end, useful data is collected that ultimately contributes to our understanding of Stone Age peoples. With our collected data it is now possible to explain how historical seafarers survived in such conditions. ..................................................... ..................................................... The mood onboard is excellent. We've been using our free hours to read books and go swimming. We also made some small improvements to the boat. Our only concern at the moment is the age of our vessel. Because the Totora reeds with which the ABORA III is constructed are now nearly three years old, the vessel will not be able to float for a full 18 months as originally projected. We will have to make sure that we do not loose too much time in accomplishing our goals. At the moment we remain confident in the ABORA III's seaworthiness and believe that we will reach our final destination long before the age of the reeds becomes an issue. ..................................................... ..................................................... In the mean time we just need wind to sail to the Azores.......................................... source
Diary Entry Day 16 - July 26th, 2007
Quote: Official Diary------ Low Pressure Area Holds Back ABORA III
Sailing is bit like a game of chess. Wind, current, and changing weather conditions need to be recognized in time and require foresight in planning. All of these factors become even more important when you are sailing across the Atlantic in a prehistoric vessel that doesn't have the help of an engine. Modern sailors can use their engine to escape calm winds; that is an option we simply do not have.
Right now we are positioned between a high-pressure area and two low-pressure areas and this is the main reason for our current situation. It looks like our luck with the weather will a be continuing a while longer as a third low-pressure area is moving in from the south side. These conditions are impeding us from sailing east for the moment. It is possible to evade these problems by sailing southwest, but if the tide is too strong we may end up actually sailing west for a short period of time.
Regardless of these setbacks, the ABORA III has been performing excellently. For the first time we were able to sail 77 degrees on the wind. We have been able to stabilize our position against changing winds and currents for days on end. This is an improvement from the designs of Thor Heyerdahl's RA I and RA II which where not able to sail against the wind. This is among the first real evidence in support of our theory that it was possible for Stone Age peoples to navigate effectively against the wind.
The weather forecast shows no weather changes in the next two days. It looks like we may be sitting here until the weekend.
Things could be worse. The break has given us a bit of time to relax as we repair and optimize our vessel. One thing is for certain, the weather won't stay like this forever and when the wind does become more favourable we will be better prepared than ever to complete this journey.
Official Diary------ Good-bye America - the ABORA III Sails into the Open Atlantic
After some very long days of calm and turning winds the ABORA III has set sail again. Last night we sailed 35 nautical miles. The wind was coming from the south and allowed us to sail crosswise to the wind. At the moment we are enjoying our first day of sailing with a favourable wind. Tomorrow we expect wind from southeast. Wind from this direction will not hold the expedition back but it will mean that we'll be traveling at a reduced speed. We are making further eastward progress as I write this.
In the last few days we've seen some news articles paint a bit of dire picture about the ABORA III and it's suitability to complete the journey with which we are now engaged. I must respectfully disagree with much of this criticism however. A lot of research went into the design of the ABORA III. I personally spent many hours working with the researchers at Stevens Institute as we performed extensive hydrodynamic studies on a scale model of the ABORA III in order to determine her seaworthiness. These researchers, many of whom spend their time studying the hydrodynamics of cutting-edge vessel designs, were impressed by how well the ABORA III preformed. Our trials at the Stevens Institute were concluded by creating the largest wave that had ever been made in their circulating water channel. Our model endured this wave excellently, attesting to the ABORA III's stability and safety.
Despite our strong confidence in the vessel, it is clear to all of us that this will be no pleasure cruise. We are involved in a living experiment of a type that no modern person has tried before. Every day, the crew collects new experiences and observations about what it would have been like for a Stone Age sailor to navigate the open seas. With the results from the Stevens Institute and the experience of ABORA I and II behind us, we are sure that we will overcome all difficulties and complete our trip over the North Atlantic.
Good News--After 7 days holding position, ABORA 3 is back on track & making good headway towards The Azores. ABORA 3 has entered the warmer, fast current of the Gulf Stream ( download overlay -- source ). The last 36 hours has seen ABORA 3 averaging 50 n/miles/p/day - a sure sign that she has now entered the Gulf Stream. The last diary update speculated on the effect the Gulf Stream would have on the ships overall progress "" Once entering the Gulf Stream, Görlitz [ Expedition leader ] expects the boat's speed to approach 4 knots, with a daily progress of about 70 nautical miles. "" We can expect the daily total rise over the next few days.
EDIT Finally news on the delay. A German news site reported today :--
Calm seas brings ancient expedition to a standstill "" in spite of the calm at sea, Goerlitz's crew are not getting bored. The crew spend their time swimming, sunbathing and fishing, They have also devote time to repairs,"" source
The becalming may prove to be a blessing in disguise, allowing the crew time to undertake running repairs and recharge their energy levels.
Day 22 2nd August 07
The team have posted a very interesting entry on the Online Diary describing last weeks becalming and the worry that: if ABORA 3 is delayed for too long, the reeds may absorb too much water and reduce her ability to float! ..................................................... .....................................................
Day 23 3rd August 07 Once again it looks like the vagaries of wind and currents seem to be getting the better of ABORA 3. The last 24 hrs has seen her make a S/SSW track away from her intended E course. Lets hope favorable winds appear soon and allow her to make some serious headway towards her goal.
Quote: Day 23 - August 2nd, 2007
Official Diary------ ABORA III Overcomes Stormy Seas
Life aboard the ABORA III has recently taken a turn for the exciting as we've hit some rough seas. We've reduced the square of the sail in response to the tropical storm Chantel and the force six winds she brought with her. We've been riding waves up to 18 feet high and have measured the wind speed at 27 knots.
It is an awe-inspiring feeling to stand on a vessel which is pushed into the air by the waves when all you can see is the foam on top of the waves below. Our boat has slowly pushed onward over these waves and has performed quite smoothly in these rough conditions. Last night we dealt with hundreds of high waves. Only one wave managed to come overboard; it had happened to break just as we were beside it. It was only the foam, however, which slipped over the deck amongst our feet.
Yesterday we were able to sail 72 nautical miles. The design of the ABORA III has proved itself quite stable and manoeuvrable in rough wind and sea. Our cabins have been quite useful in keeping both the crew and our supplies dry.
Now that we've made it out of the worst of this rough weather, the ABORA III is continuing her journey without any wear and tear for the worse. We remain in high spirits as we make up for lost time. We hope that Gulf Stream will soon aid us. However, after looking at the weather forecast, it looks as though we may soon again encounter hindering winds from the east. Dealing with unfavorable conditions like this is just part of the nature of the experiment, and we'll just continue to manage these challenges as they arise.
Day 26 6rd August 07 Day 25 saw ABORA 3 set her largest daily mileage total of 87.4nM. Unfortunately- it was in the ' wrong ' direction !. A moderate N/NNE wind pushed her south for 36 hours away from her intended easterly track. However- as the saying goes- ' Every cloud has a silver lining & this lining comes in the shape of the easterly current of the Gulf Stream (G/S). The current will greatly assist her track and nullify -to a degree- the effects of adverse wind. The last 12 hours ( up to 13:19:12hrs UCT ) has been her cover 41.3.4nM in the 'right' direction!. Thats great news--lets hope these winds and currents continue & allow the team to get some miles under their belt.
Day 33 13th August 07 The last 7 days has seen ABORA 3 sail an impressive 438nM, setting a new daily record of 72nM on Day 28 . She has made consistent headway North/East crossing over 8 degree's of Longitude since 06.08.07. Its imperative the ABORA 3 remains within the boundaries of the Gulf Stream, her current position places her just within its southern edge ( see below ). I would not be surprised to see her making a more Northerly track over the next 7 days in order to position herself well within the stream.
Day 41 21st August 07 The Gods are smiling on ABORA 3. The winds and currents are at last all with the expedition. The decision to spend 2 days repositioning herself north has paid off handsomely ( see Map 2). Now sitting pretty in the middle of the Gulf Stream, she is making fantastic progress. The last 5 days have seen her cover +270nM, setting a new daily distance total of 94nM on Day 38. ABORA 3 average speed is now risen to its highest mark of 1.7knots The team now need these good conditions last as long as possible if they are to make up for lost time.
Day 44 24st August 07 The latest diary entry ---- Reaching the half-way point to the The Azores & surviving a Beaufort Force 10 storm**.
Quote: August 18th, 2007 Surprised by a Beaufort 10 storm [see below] Mid-Atlantic skipper and experimental archaeologist Dominique Görlitz faith in his prehistoric reed-boat has been verified. The storm challenged the now experienced crew of the vessel. Here is Mr. Görlitz recollection of the events:
"The weather forecast predicted only a strong breeze, and as we negotiated near gale just the previous day we all felt much at ease as we maintained one reef in our 60 square meter sail. At shift change at 2pm a situation developed that put the whole crew at its toughest challenge so far. I gave the order to decrease sail area immediately. Four sailors pulled on the sail to get it down, without being able to move it as much as an inch. I monitored the wind increasing to 37 knots, our plan on putting in the second reef at 30 knots wind already outdated. The winds kept growing, now with gusts of 48 knots - we are in a storm, was my first thought!
I looked to the yard and masthead, glad at least that we had one reef in the big sail, but saw at the same time something I had never expected: The sail starting to tear apart in several places. "Cut the sheet", I screamed to Ingo, who immediately cut it and we finally got the sail down.
We quickly reefed the sail to a small cloth, which enabled us to manoeuvre the boat. As waves grew to small mountains of water I tried to estimate their size. They were clearly the biggest I have ever seen, some of them rose higher than the 11,5 meters of the mast. Some started breaking, surfing ABORA 3 along, and we could all appreciate the reed-boat-effect as the vessel floated nicely and flexible on top of most waves. Any water that landed on deck sipped out true the non-waterproof hull. I would never trade that effect for any other vessel in a storm on any ocean.
After the storm the crew could again enjoy the adventurous life at sea; surrounded by killer whales, mantas and sea turtles bound for the same destination: The Azores. During the weekend they all celebrated that they had reached the mid point between New York and the Azores, with 1050 nautical miles (ca 2000km) to either destination. The party meal consisted of fish soup accompanied by a single magnum bottle of white wine, with canned fruit for dessert. Fish being a familiar part of the nutrition on board were as the wine was a rare luxury."
Mr. Görlitz expects to reach favourable winds within the next 100-some miles as the ABORA 3 approach the stable anticyclone of the Azores and its stable westerly winds. A welcome change for all crewmembers who has spent the first part of the journey facing mostly unfavourable wind-directions, proving the ability of the pre-historic vessels to sail against the winds in the process.
The ABORA III is the prehistoric reed boat skippered by botanist Dominique Görlitz. Based on the expedition, Mr. Görlitz investigates a need to re-write naval history in his Ph.D. at the University of Bonn, Germany. His thesis is that intercontinental journeys happened thousands of years before both Columbus and the Vikings.
** Graphic to show what a Force 10 storm looks like.
A Mid Atlantic BS/F-10 storm was the most severe test any Reed Boat has ever gone through. Our hats go off to ABORA 3 and the team
Day 49 29th August 07 ABORA 3 passes the 2000nM mark. That's some achievement in itself. The last 5 days has seen her making a SSE track towards The Azores Current. This current , a branch of the Gulf Stream, (see Map3) will help push her the last 800nM to the Azores. The current ETA in The Azores is 18th Sept.
A few technical Gremlins have managed to sneak on board. The electronic log used for calculating speed has been fouled by algae. The team have had to resort to the age old method of throwing a Chip-Log overboard and counting a measured knot on a length of rope over a given time. On the one hand, this makes it a more authentic experience. Pre-historic man would not have has access to such hi-tech navigational aids. When ABORA 3 arrives in the Azores, we can expect the faulty equipment to be mended or replaced.
.............................................................................. The Azores Current .............................................................................. Map 3
Day 50 30th August 07 August 27th, 2007 ABORA 3 badly damaged by storms Dramatic events have overtaken the expedition. The crew battle for 3 days to save ABORA 3 and their lives as 2 severe storms lash ABORA 3. Whilst still afloat - ABORA 3 has been heavily damaged, The storm badly damaged the portside rudder & broke the stern end off the vessel in its entirety.----Read Diary Entry
Quote: August 27th, 2007
Six hundred miles west of the Azores, Dominique Görlitz and crew are trying to rebuild their vessel after being battered by two heavy storms, the last of which was a large cyclone lasting over three days. These storms caused a good deal of damage to the portside rudder and broke the stern end of the vessel off in its entirety.
At the moment, the multi-national crew has stabilized the situation by tightening the spiral-ropes that hold the reed-rolls together. The sailors feel confident that the ship will neither sink nor disintegrate further.
Görlitz has developed designs for a new rudder and a different trim of the mast, both based on ancient Egyptian rock drawings, in hopes that these modifications will allow them to continue in their journey to the Azores.
The work will progress further during the day, and Görlitz expects to keep working for another day or two before being able to sail his vessel. His comments are: "First of all, I'm very proud of the crew who has all done a marvelous job during our crisis. Second, although saddened by what happened to our proud-looking ABORA III, I'm glad to confirm what I always believed: Reed-boats are incredibly safe. Even after loosing 25% of the ship we are still floating safely. No other ancient watercraft than a reed boat would have this kind of seaworthiness.".
The weather in the area has improved since the incident, at the moment all forecasts predict the prevailing anti-cyclone surrounding the Azores to return and stabilize, bringing favorable mild northerly or westerly winds to the sailors of ABORA III.
Our hopes and wishes go out to the team. What they are attempting is no pleasure cruise. Its right out there on the edge. One can only imagine what might go through your mind battling a cyclone for 3 days in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Whilst seeing the vessel you rely on disintegrate.
Day 51 31th August 07 ...................................................................... Goerlitz calls in Escort Boat ..... ..... The crew continue to make good the damage to ABORA 3, the boat is considerably shorter, having lost its entire stern end. Now without a toilet & rear deck, Goerlitz is confident that she will not sink & its safe to continue the expedition. After dismissing claims that it was too dangerous to attempt to cross the Atlantic without a support vessel, Goerlitz. has had a change of heart. A back up vessel has been called in. It's expected to rendezvous with ABORA 3 in 3 days. ..... .....
Tormod then describes the moment the ship began to break up "First went the rudder, and then went the boat.. Joe (Cuba), Ingo (Germany) and I had been on watch for about an hour early Saturday morning. I brought out my video camera to do some filming. A quick glance back revealed that one of our rudders had broke." "No one knows exactly when the breakage happened, I take it must have occurred shortly before dawn. Soon after, a straight crack in the aft cut through the boat." Bit by bit, the ship began to fall apart. All crew was ordered up, and began to fix the only remaining working rudder and rearranging the rig to hold the remains of the boat. Ingo commented, "now it's the rig holding the boat together, not the other way around." Dominique Goerlitz said, "Any other boat would have sunk after being split in two - and look at us - still floating." "But our enthusiasm was dimmed by the sad sight of our proud dream reduced to a pile of beach wood in only 24 hours," ..... ..... With the boat now stabilized, the guys will redo the rig for a more forward position. This will maintain the balance of the boat. There will also be a new, permanent keel. Göerlitz has developed designs for a new rudder and a different mast trim, both based on ancient Egyptian rock drawings, he hopes these modifications will allow them to continue in their journey to the Azores. "We hope to fix the ship good enough to at least be able to sail with the wind in our backs." ..... ..... After emptying out the damaged rear cabin, the crew voted themselves double rations in anticipation of fresh supplies arriving - This provided some welcome relief & led to a major feast. Norwegian Tormod Granheim said "Ingo ( German) made the best pasta sauce so far on this cruise - out of walnuts, parmesan cheese and bacon!" source Goerlitz added by saying , "With a bit of luck and with good weather, we ought to be able to reach the Azores." The estimated date of arrival is still mid-September.~ ..... ..... The events of last week have brought home what a serious undertaking this voyage is. Again we wish them -God Speed and a safe passage to The Azores
Day 54 03rd September 07
After the dramatic events of the last week, ABORA 3 stopped sailing to await the arrival of the support vessel. This decision not to stress the newly configured ABORA 3 until back up arrives looks like wise safety precaution. The dynamics of the hull and how she handles will have altered. We can expect the cautious build up of sailing times until Goerlitz is confident of her new characteristics The team have joking renamed the repaired boat ABORA 3 B. I trust this is not the new official name? -- seafarer's ( a superstitious lot at the best of times) generally believe its bad luck to rename a vessel mid-voyage!. As soon a pictures emerge of storm damages ABORA 3 --they will be posted here.
Day 55 04th September 07 The enforced sea-trails continue. The last 48 hours has seen ABORA 3 sailing a circular route around Grid Ref 36.951667, -42.355833. Racking up consecutive days of <30nM. The sea-trails are vital to allow the crew to gain confidence in the re-configured boat before they head off for the final 700nm to The Azores. . The support vessel will be arriving in the next 24 hours.
................................................................................................. Video Update Dominique Goerlitz recently spoke via satellite phone to Aqua Survey about that storm, ABORA 3 current condition and his hopes for the coming weeks. ................................................................................................. WATCH VIDEO UPDATE ( thanks to BBS member explorer320 for the head's up)
Day 56 05th September 07 ABORA 3 rendezvous's with support vessel. Dominique Göerlitz has some big decisions to make. Has the storm damage fatally compromised the expedition ? Is it safe to continue the voyage ? <b...