Santa Maria to Madeira Day 4

Thursday 5/2 Dena’s 1300-1400 watch A sudden increase from F3 to F4 needed another reef in the main and about 50% of the staysail rolled in. Feels good and balanced again, but the increased winds are starting to show in increased wind waves.  A directional change accompanied the increase, though, nicely southwest and now we’re not on a hard beat but a beam reach. I do prefer this, or a close reach, to a beat. In this amount of wind, a broad reach (with the wind abaft the beam) would be even more comfortable but weather can’t be begged or bribed. I’m eying a spot to the south where I can see it’s raining. I wouldn’t mind skipping that lashing. Dena’s 1900-2000 watch Since that last front passed, we are back to southerly winds, one reef in the mainsail and a full staysail. It seems to be the only way to power through and over the waves. We rarely drive the boat this hard and rarely allow it to do so much heeling, but we also rarely sail on a beat. The wind is supposed to turn further west and I hope that we will be able to broaden out then. It would be nice to get into a broad reach with the main sheeted out and the yankee rather than the staysail. It’s a strong point of sail and enough downwind that we’re not fighting the world. With the waves slightly abaft it can be a little bit wetter in the cockpit.  Speaking of wet, it did not rain on us. The weather passed by very near but we barely got any sprinkles. Friday 5/3 Whew! What a night. James broadened us out a bit to keep us on course, which put us a little bit more beam to[…]

Read more

Santa Maria to Madeira Day 3

Wednesday 5/1 Dena’s 1200-1230 watch Starting off so calm, the wind has nowhere to go but up. Go up! There’s a haze keeping us from full potential solar production but we’re doing okay. We’re planning to motor on until we get some wind or get down to 50 amp hours remaining. Dena’s 1500-1600 watch Raised the main just before 1400…definitely a hopeful move. Not enough to use, though, so still using the motor. James’ 1900-2000 watch The wind has really come up! It’s from the south, about F3, and we’re full sail on a beat. I’d be totally happy if we got this strength, from somewhat more west of south, for the rest of the trip. That’s the direction in the forecast for Thursday through Saturday or Sunday, but stronger winds…F4 with higher gusts. I didn’t get my naps in last night so I’m pretty beat. I’m looking forward to going to bed and staying there unless James needs me. Thursday 5/2 I slept through the night, but James had a hard time. The wind did build before dark and we went into night with one reef in the main. James ended up doing a lot of reefing and unreefing the main and rolling the yankee in and out. It would have been better for him if we’d done 3 hour watches, so we’re back to that in any conditions that need a lot of sail handling. Back to F3 for the late morning and sailing along quite nicely. Noon position: N 35° 40.127’ W 022° 00.647’Distance noon to noon: 76.2 NMAverage speed: 3.18 knTrip distance covered: 182.1 NMDistance to destination: 319.2 NM

Read more

Santa Maria to Madeira Day 2

Tuesday 4/30 Dena’s 1500-1600 watch I love leftovers. While we were off Santa Maria, James made pasta and enough delicious red sauce to fill a reused salsa bottle. Today’s lunch was a packet of creme da marisco (seafood cream soup) with those leftovers for chunky cream of tomato seasoned just how I like it. Lucky me! Marvelous and easy, whereas the original sauce would be hard to manage with the way we’re moving. Yep, winds are still light. I’m glad the swell isn’t any bigger than it is, but the fact that it’s coming from the port quarter while the wind is off the starboard quarter…when the wind sighs to a stop, we’re rolling from side to side.  James was laughing about how we should have made a video of us eating…at the table hip to hip, each gripping a bowl with one hand and a mug in the other, waiting for perfect moments to let go in order to use a spoon or dip a sandwich (totally unnecessary pbnjs). I laughed too because I don’t know if it looked stately and skillful or bumbling and built to spill. Very little sky entertainment last night. Cloud cover was profound. We just discussed our overnight plan and I’m going to take the first whole night, 2100-0900. I’ll treat it like a singlehander with naps and alarms and, if the sky is clear, the endless wonder of the universe. Dena’s overnight watch, 2100-0900 It’s 2200 now and the wind has died so completely that I can only feel it when we’re rocking back and forth. And then it’s just a brief touch on whichever side I’m being rocked toward. It’s pretty early in the night to be on the electric motor, but I’d rather keep moving in the right direction during the[…]

Read more

Santa Maria to Madeira Day 1

Monday 4/29 Dena’s 1600-1700 watch James was hauling chain at noon and we were underway 20 minutes later. The mainsail hung slack until we got a little ways out of our protected anchorage, and the electric motor whirred at a calm 650ish rpm…10 amps of power giving us 2 easy knots. There wasn’t any wave action until we got south of Ponta do Castelo, and the little bit we have now sends the sails fluttering in lulls. The wind varies from F1 to F2 and we have all plain sail flying to catch what we can. It’s frustrating to reef because the wind is too light to keep the sails full, but we will if we have to. Dena’s 2000-2100 watch The wind backed to westerly on my last watch and I rolled in the staysail. It went that little bit farther on James’ watch and now we’re bowling along under full main alone. It’s the kind of wind that a big genoa would be great for, but there’s too much roll to fly the asymmetrical spinnaker. We’re 20 NM from our anchorage, making pretty good time! I’m peacefully happy about being out here starting another passage. The rhythm of it is already feeling natural. I’ll get the sunset and the sunrise tonight. Three 200m cargo ships passed us south of Santa Maria, and all of the Mediterranean is on a path that crosses ours. I think we’ll do full-night shifts eventually, but there’s too much activity to start that tonight. Tuesday 4/30 Dena’s 0600-0900 watch The wind died badly at the end of my last watch and James ran the motor throughout his. We’re just under 78% now on the propulsion pack and we have two days of very calm weather before the other side of this system overtakes[…]

Read more

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[…]

Read more

Terceira-Santa Maria Day 1

4/24, James’s 1700-1800 watch We’re averaging about 4.5 knots on a beam reach, port tack, in a F4-5. The seas are busy but not terrible. It’s definitely something that’ll take getting used to again.  All hail meclazine! I got a little unsteady in my stomach in my first off-watch, below deck. The last hour had been fine in the cockpit and now I’m lying on the starboard settee without queasiness. Beluga Greyfinger is a tense little lump under the covers in the forepeak. Poor kitty will be okay, but I’ll worry about him until he drinks, eats, and uses the litter box. I took the boat out of the slip and, wow, that couldn’t have been easier. Cetacea is handling well despite not being able to clean her bottom. The new paddle for LoveBot is doing its job, and the rest of it seems no worse for a winter of disuse. The sails look good and set well. So far, so good on the gear. James’s 1900-2000 watch I’m already getting stiff from bracing against the boat’s motion. It’ll be ibuprofen for dinner, I guess. On the other hand, I’m glad to be away…underway. I still hope we get propane in Lanzarote or Gran Canaria, but we may not be able to make enough east in the conditions that are coming. I’m not averse to the idea of skipping it for Cabo Verde except that running out of cooking gas partway to Brazil would be…bad. 4/25 Dena’s 2400-0300 watch I’m beginning to get a little more poetic but I’m still pretty focused on the practicalities. The moon is full but the sky is cloudy, so it’s not fully dark but there isn’t that interest point in the sky.  We’re rolling along pretty fast, still on the beam reach. The waves[…]

Read more

27 years of joy together, yesterday

James and I met in Seattle, Washington, in 1996. We’ve been together ever since and we continue to establish how well matched we are. Some of the stories are told in previous years’ blogs, so why reiterate when I can link back? But… The way I (Dena) was attracted to James in the beginning was a solid foundation for where we’ve come together. Smart, focused iconoclast with a strong fuck-it tendency and a stronger give-a-shit? Sign me up. Here we are, that much closer year by year to our best selves in great part because James and I work together. My ethical bright lines and James’ energy for getting to the right side of history; James’ deep and thorough musical knowledge and appreciation and my scattered and strong tastes; my hunger for his presence, his body and James’… And Dena, the person on this planet I (James) love the most! Her clarity, her passion, her hunger for adventure. Her willingness to learn and experience everything as it comes makes and keeps me the person I have always wanted to be. Her joy, intelligence and presence are my inspirations and have been for almost three decades now! …And then there’s the music we created together. Not just the harmonies of the bodies and the swells of our emotions but the actual notes from things that inspired us. We bought a digital recording studio on the Big Island of Hawaii at a garage sale for a few bucks (that we could have bought some food with…talk about poor in paradise, word!), we taped the lyrics we loved to the cinder brick walls and marine-grade plywood bulkheads and wrote a bunch of songs around those words, then we made up some more words and adopted those that Dena’s dad had been writing and[…]

Read more