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[…]

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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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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[…]

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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[…]

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Enjoying Horta

I (Dena) just folded a long grocery store receipt and had one of those thrilling moments that is so very prosaic when it comes down to it. The receipt is in Portuguese. To figure out what it says, I have to apply my understanding of Romance languages (though English is not exclusively, well…that’s a long side conversation…and my grasp of Spanish is significantly un-fluent but definitely helping) for terms like alho (garlic) and queijo (cheese) and frita (fried). But then, there’s all the rest. I love this moment, this way of being, this foreignness as a comprehensible puzzle. This level of engagement with people and places and, yes, even receipts. I thought about avoiding the most highly trafficked sailor’s destination, in the mindset that we’re least likely to meet interesting locals there, but the family that created and runs it shares my maternal family name, Azevedo, so we went to Peter’s Sport Cafe, had a couple of the famous (and cheap) Gin do Mars, and ate a stunningly meaty grilled tuna steak that balanced on the edge of enjoyment for these two mainly-not-meat-eaters before tumbling decisively onto the side of relishing the flavor and appetite-fulfillment. The roasted sweet potatoes were also surprisingly pleasurable and there was almost enough sauce for these sauce-hounds. We took our first walks somewhat cautiously since Bermuda proved that atrophy at sea was a thing. Now, I don’t want to spend too much time talking/complaining about this part. Look for a Boat Projects post about how it all went. It all started with a rich fuck who fucked up, though, and ended with us being forced to raft on the marina wall through a contrary wind that eventually tore a section of our teak caprail apart. But…the beauty. From Horta’s harbor, the ever-changing, constantly engaging scenery[…]

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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

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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[…]

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