To Azores Day 29

Tuesday August 22 Day 29 and Faial is in full view! I can see details on the entire western face of the island. We traveled 39.4nm over the last 24 hours and we are now 39.2nm to Horta…the wind finally came around to the west giving us a much better and faster angle. We are now, as the albatross flys, 2773.4nm from Marathon, Florida! Dena’s 4-5 pm watch The chartplotter tells us the distance and ETA to our destination and today, for the first time, it’s not a joke. It only give the time of day, so we’d read it out to each other and laugh. “Yeah, but 2:45 pm of which day?” Now, we’re approaching Faial and it’s so very real out there. It’ll be today or very very early tomorrow morning.  Whew. Dena’s 4-5 am watch Landfall 0500 Horta, Ilha Faial, Azores, Portugal…29d16h40m

Read more

To Azores Day 28

Monday August 21 Day 28 slow moving on an awkward beat to Horta…Day three of a frustrating nor’easter that won’t let go. Dena’s 7-8 pm watch 7:36 pm: We just trimmed the staysail and got a bit higher into the wind. A little more speed too. I’m still hoping for a wind shift so that we don’t have to sail northwest and spend time backtracking, but this will get us close enough that it won’t be the end of the world if we do. I’m going to take another long overnight unless the traffic picks up and I have to spend too much time awake. Last thing I want is to be exhausted while doing the approach and either anchoring or docking on the wall for the officials who will clear us in. Especially if it’s dark when we arrive. The entrance couldn’t be easier, but looking out for other boats and picking the best spot for anchoring will be harder in the dark. Dena’s overnight watch Tuesday August 22 2:39 am: Wind started getting extra flukey around 2 am and I am now nursing hope that this is a wind shift to the west. Meanwhile I have to babysit the steering so we don’t end up bow into the waves because it’s too light to keep the mainsail full. Oh well, I was going to be up to set the 3 am breadcrumb (we’re doing waypoints so we don’t run the chartplotter all the time). May as well do some stargazing. The night isn’t perfectly clear…dark streaks cross the Milky Way like new dust lanes…but there’s a lot to see with the waxing crescent well set for the night. 8:10 am: Northwest, baby! We’re finally sailing for our destination and it feels good. Since everything is so changeable, I[…]

Read more

To Azores Day 27

Sunday August 20 Day 27 starts on a beating to port. Dena had a lot to deal with last night with actually getting the boat on a tack that wasn’t going backwards…she succeeded but at a restless expense. Dena’s 4-5 pm watch 4:42 pm: Damn, this is frustrating! A hundred miles from our destination and we can’t head within 60° of it…and even that is so slow. Unless we have major growth on the bottom again, I don’t know why we can’t point any better than this. Ugh. It’s not even that being out here is bad. It’s not that much different than plenty of the other 27 days we’ve been on this leg of the journey. It’s the proximity of the sojourn point that creates the tension. At this point, there’s no way we’ll be arriving overnight tonight. That’s a null possibility. We may still arrive the next night. All the maybes I want to think about involve a wind change, which will either happen or not. Nothing I can do. So yeah, we’ll keep on keeping on and wait to find out what’s in store. James’ overnight watch My long overnight…we’re within a hundred NM of Horta and still plowing the close haul into the same nor’easter we’ve been trudging along all day…but, we’re going in the right direction and the boat is preforming admirably with a single reef and a slightly reduced staysail only…1.8-2.5 knots, can’t complain. Monday August 21 James’ 10-11 am watch 10:20am Land Ho! I (James) sighted the island of Pico off the port bow…now if only we could get a break from this fucking Nor’easter. 10:23 am: I (Dena) got a good night’s sleep and we did get quite a bit closer overnight. That helped my mood. I’m still maintaining a mellow attitude,[…]

Read more

To Azores Day 26

Saturday August 19 26 days of living here… We eat, we sleep we read we write we love on each other we pet the cat and we sail the boat through our world. The marching rain cells have descended…they started just before 6 this morning and have been rolling on by all day. I got soaked…grrr. …And Cetacea performs her survival trick with us aboard. Dena’s 5-6 pm watch 5:13 pm: After so much dead air (it went absolutely still in the morning) and yesterday’s blazing fast average of 1.5 knots, it’s a sudden and welcome pleasure to have real wind to sail with. It’s only been coming up for about a half an hour, but is already about 10-12 knots.  5:35 pm: Back out in the cockpit. I finished that last sentence right as it started raining. The clouds are moving quickly, though and that one is done. Out here, we can so attentively watch the clouds build and then tatter at the bottom and finally unravel scarves or whole blankets of rain into the sea below. We watched earlier while an arrestingly solid cloud bank emptied its entire being on the surface, salt water welcoming fresh, and became whatever you have when a skein of yarn is all used up. While that drama, miles high and wide, played out, a hunting party crossed our path. Lots and lots of dolphin, as many as 50, circled, darted, and breathed. Some ce closer to check us out but most kept working until…leaping! Right out of the water! One left two body-lengths of clear sky visible under its tail before summersaulting to descend, as though it were just one of its many options, and cleave the water without a splash.  I’ve seen documentaries about dolphins corralling the prey fish and then[…]

Read more

To Azores Day 25

Friday August 18 Day 25 to Horta…we read the Azores Islands section of the Atlantic Islands guide again this morning…only, this time we read it together on the starboard lee settee. A hot steaming bowl of craisin oatmeal, a calming sea, and a change in wind direction got us (me, James) in the right frame of mind for our explorations…it’s breath taking out here. LoveBot, the Yankee, the mainsail and the electric propulsion has got us pointing directly at the anchorage in Horta Harbor. 177.8nm away. Hehe… James’ 5-6 watch 5:16 pm: The wind really died on us. We have a total goldilocks problem lately, with too much or not enough wind. The Azores themselves are famous for summer calms and there’s no guarantee we’ll get any more wind than we have right now between here and there. These last 170 miles could take 3 days or more. We had gained a lot of charge back on propulsion battery, so we’re okay for now. It’s peaceful, though, and I made a coconut peanut curry for lunch since it was such good conditions for it. Saturday August 19 On the way to Bermuda from Fk. Lauderdale I I(James) had A Day…a hard day that made me not want to be here! Yes, meaning here in the middle of the Atlantic flow…well… Yesterday I had another one…the seas were huge for no apparent reason…the sky seemed angry and everything was making me mad. Dena, she listened and sympathized but bit right into it and let it all slide on by like a Cetacea through the verse. She’s cool like that. The long overnight…doldrums, ships and rain…oh my. Sunrise was a spooky affair with a big bright orange hole in the sky with no sun in it and purple rain to left and[…]

Read more

To Azores Day 24

Thursday August 17 Day 24 starts at 244.9nm from Horta 1673.2nm from Bermuda. The sky is the clearest blues only the seas won’t give us a break…giant I’m IJames) finding it harder and harder to focus on anything…it almost seems as if my balance is shutting down…it isn’t of course but I am feeling the fatigue of this leg of the adventure. Lovebot has become almost useless on a port tack. We’ve been managing that tack by over balancing on everything…sails, control lines and cheating to lee at the tiller. It doesn’t work really, it just points the boat in a line. Really looking forward to rebuilding that machine with the utmost care. Well deserved after the beating we’ve given it the last year and some change. I still believe that’s testament to its design. Dena’s 1-4 pm watch 1:37 pm: We going downwind with just about half the staysail out. With the yankee, it was still holding too much air. When the northern swell…some big mean almost-breakers…would rise from nearly on our port beam, she’d trip on her keel and heave to starboard. The yankee would keep us heeled over too long, long enough to dunk the starboard rail in the upwind side of the wave, or for the next wave in the set to hit us on our exposed port side. Now we’re bobbing over them more upright. If it weren’t for the fact that those are the odd waves, coming only every few minutes or less, we could steer differently. We’re set up well for the real average waves, which are more west-southwesterly. James didn’t sleep well last night, but it’s probably for the best he’d rather nap than write. I didn’t risk my computer yesterday either, so these rough days have more than one negative effect.[…]

Read more

To Azores Day 23

Wednesday August 16 Day 23… 323.8nm to Horta. We traveled 91.3nm in the last 24 hours blowing our 72nm average out of the water…so to speak. Did a full inspection of the rig and she looks good. Despite the stresses we’ve been pretty gentle on this leg. The Yankee roller furling needs repairs again…same problem as last time. The seas kicked up on Dena’s long overnight watch last night. And she dropped that second reef sometime in the night…I was not awake for that. 1581.1nm out of Bermuda, I don’t miss it a bit. James’ 1-4 watch 1:14 pm: It’s that time again! Or, it’s a new longitude again. We’ve gone more than 1500 nautical miles (the last 24 hours, we made 91 miles which is good for us) and so it’s time to do the last round of advancing the clocks. We should now be on Azorean summer time. We’re almost down to 300 NM remaining, and it’s a 4-6 day trip now. It really does feel like we’re approaching something. Partly because the first of the islands is a hundred miles closer and partly because we expect to start seeing fishing vessels. In another day or two, we’ll have to return to a higher level of vigilance. We’re going almost directly downwind and the waves are causing a certain amount of havoc. We’ll be lined up for a few and then get a couple that toss us back and forth as they pass. This isn’t anyone’s favorite way to sail, especially Beluga Greyfinger. James’ overnight watch The winds kicked up overnight making my long watch very, very long. The sky was perfectly clear for most of the night with lots of the usual satellites and meteor action but the seas are still in the 18-25ft range…fuck that! 8:16[…]

Read more