Underway Still and Again

We left Praia da Vitória on Ilha Terceira at about 1400 Wednesday the 23rd of April, 2024, and two days later (well, about a day and three-quarters) put the hook down off the island of Santa Maria, our final stop in the Azorean chain and not exactly a planned one. After five months of (damn-near) static living aboard, we silently glided out of the marina and back into that one big ocean. It was incredible! It wasn’t kind, it wasn’t calm, it was fucking awesome! The winds were a northeasterly 18-30 knots with a 2-3 meter chop across our port beam leaving the lee of Terceira, so a reef went in the mainsail just outside the harbor breakwaters with a full staysail and no yankee. The gusting got worse and the staysail got smaller, but that didn’t last long. We rocked and rolled…and I’m talking from sunset on! The full moon was devoured by a thick gray-shield of cumulus that never gave us a peak of our local satellite. An ambient sky-wide light kept it from feeling like a new-moon night and made it easy to get around the little we moved on that first night of watches. That first overnight was hard but doable simply because we were both so stoked to be underway again. The cat not so much. As the sun rose, the winds abated and moved abaft so we furled the staysail and went mainsail alone for the rest of the adventure, clipping along at a respectable 3-5 knots. Shortly after leaving Terceira, I (James) got a text from my brother informing me that my sister had had a heart attack and was in a third-world Texas hospital with a grim prognosis. Just after that text, our internet went dark. We decided to sail as close[…]

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Terceria-Santa Maria Day 2

Dena’s 1700-1800 watch  We got close enough to São Miguel to get some new weather forecasts. Now it really does look like we’d be better off stopping at Santa Maria tomorrow, waiting out Saturday’s bad swell, and then taking off again Sunday or Monday. I am underway! I would prefer to stay underway! Also, I don’t like the idea of 4 meters at 9 seconds any more now than I ever did.  It’s hard to believe it’ll be that bad. Right now, we’re motor-sailing in F2, downwind. The sun is bright overhead after an overcast morning and it’s sensationally beautiful.  We’re running the chartplotter, the tiller pilot, all the regular house loads (fridge, a couple lights, chargers), and the motor, and we seem to have enough power that we could maintain this pace (about 3 knots) forever. Once the sun goes down, we’ll be using from the banks rather than from the solar panels. We’ll make sure we leave a good safety margin and just wash along gently under main only if power gets low. Dena’s 2100-2400 watch São Miguel and the capital, Ponta Delgada, are receding more slowly than the last light. The only thing I would have gone there for? The only Indian food restaurant in all the Atlantic islands. The moon will rise a little before 2230 and I’ll be watching for it. (And other vessels, of course!) There’s a thick cloud later ringing the horizon so it might happen a little late, but I can be patient.  All the clouds are an ominous reminder that we’re doing something we try to avoid…racing to safe harbor ahead of storms. Since we’ll never be the fastest boat on the water, we arrive for good planning and I think we have plenty of time. Dena’s 2100-2400 watch The moon[…]

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