Home again

After Horta, Erik and I sailed back to France. We decided to sail via Spain, La Caruna. That way we avoided a strong North Easterly wind. It took us eight relaxed days to arrive in La Caruna. For sure it was nice to have companionship again. Time flies when you have fun together.

Our passage across the Golf of Biscay was very swift with good sailing conditions. We met the Dutch Golden Globe Race contester Mark Slats, just in the begin of his race. We had contact about his position, he was not allowed modern navigation equipment. Later we crossed one of the Volvo Ocean boats.

In Brest, after Erik left, I celebrated four France events in one week. The football match with Belgium, the world final when France became world champion, the passage of the Tour de France and finally the Quatorzième juillet on Saturday. One big celebration! Not all though, my Furlex broke in pieces. If that happens with strong wind I could have lost the mast. But now, a gentle wind and two extra strong pair of hands took care of taking away the front sail.

After repairs I sailed via the south coast of the UK to the renowned sailing grounds of the Solent. Much to busy for my likes end of July. However, I did enjoy Portsmouth. Not so touristic and a size that fitted the amount of boating there. I finally hurried on to known sailing grounds of the east coast of the UK, Ramsgate, Harwich and Lowestoft, from where I sailed back to Amsterdam.

Finally after 15 months with a pause in the winter I was back from my Atlantic Islands sail. September was the month I had to start working again and I took August to adapt to normal live ashore. How did I experienced my whole sailing trip? How was it to be back again? These are the most asked questions and also I have ask myself those questions. I did really enjoyed the sailing. However, south is apparently not my direction to go. This sail has been pleasurable, but less memorable. Spitsbergen was not beaten by high temperatures and much sun in the Atlantic. Most memorable parts where sailing to El Hierro, and the Isle Desertas. The hiking on La Gomera was great. Most enjoyable moments was with my wife, sister and friends. The other awareness was that I was looking forward to start working again. Apparently, time to sail is nice if there is also time to work. Well, good for me!

Next time…I’ll go north!

Horta

One of the most iconic places for sailors on the Azores is the port Horta on the island Faial. Thousands of sailors arrive here for decades from Europe to cross the ocean to the Caribbean in November or return from the Caribbean in June, together with yachts from the US, just for my to see the arrival of many yachts.

On Horta is the famous Cafe Sport where all the yachties meet each other for drinks and food. Cafe Sport is run by the third generation owner bidding a great welcome to all sailors. Of course, I also enjoyed food and drinks with friends in cafe Sport, which was celebrating its 100 years anniversary.

Once arrived at Horta it is a tradition to leave a painting on the wall with the details of your ship, crew and destinations. So popular the tradition grew that hardly no space can be found to add a new painting. Nowadays paintings from crews can be found all over the place.

Due to the popularity the harbour is overcrowded and on the docks crews are busy with preparing and repairing lot’s of gear to be ready for the next part of the voyage. Next to ships ready to leave, there are ships never to leave. Apparently their crew have abandoned their ship after the desolution of a voyage not bringing what there where expecting.

Anyway, my friend Erik artived on Horta to sail with me to the Isles of Scilly. We did our own preparing and of course enjoyed the spirits from Cafe Sport to boast our confidence. However, just after one day sailing a depression came more west than anticipated, leaving us with the prospect of bearing 25 knots winds for days our divert our course to La Caruna.

The start of our voyage we had to motor couple of days to sail away from the Azores high pressure area with just light winds. Later we where able to sail, and sure enough even had to shorten the sails to beat the hard wind. During our sail over the ocean we both ran our watches of four hours up or down, looking forward to five a clock in the afternoon, where we celebrated our sailing existence with an alcoholic beverage, only one!

After eight days of sailing we arrived in Spain, La Coruna. Ready for a great shower and good food. We did some repairs for crossing the Golf of Biscay. Our sail towards Brest was a fast one with good wind. Unfortunately, but happily close to our destination in light winds, our Furlex, to roll in and out our genua, broke down. We where able to lower the sail and stuff it in the bag and went for anchor worrying how to fix this essential piece of equipment.

Next week we moored the boat in Brest and started to call for repairs, which was offered through a rigging specialist who replaced the Furlex with a new one within one week. During this week, France was celebrating! First the winning football match on Tuesday against the Belgians, Thursday the passing of the Tour de France in Brest, Saterday the national day of celebration of the 14th of July, and finally on Sunday the winning of the WK football! But I was sailing again! Erik went home and I started my journey to the south coast of England.

Såo Jorge

One of the largest islands of the Azores is Såo Miguel. A long stretch island where I am moored in the small and tranquil marina of Velas. I sailed up with the Chimera2 and enjoyed good company.

 

Såo Jorge is a very green exotic island where we had a car ride to visit several places. Where most of its coast have cliffs, some parts on the north side have very low lying areas which some houses and little lakes. We had a nice lunch among the people who lived there.

Even though the marina is small, there are enough people for a good pontoon drink in the afternoon and meeting up with people I have met earlier during my trip, even back to last year. I even met an old racing friend from the 200 miles solo race in The Netherlands, being held each year end of September on the IJsselmeer and coast around Holland. Often with more than 80 competitors.

Right now I am wrestling with WeVideo and YouTube. Suddenly I can not upload to YouTube anymore and lost all my videos stored with WeVideo. Sometimes I wonder how ordinary people can keep track to all the digitization of our world, while me, not completely illiterate in computer science also get lost. Also my outgoing server has been hacked again, last time several times on Cape Verde, now here in the Azores. Hackers used the server for spam. Luckely my provider blocked my server until I had new passwords all over the place. Time for a password manager probably, but with what do you trust a password manager. Surely not the entrance to your bank account!

Next week Friday my friend Erik will join me for crossing the ocean to the Scillies Islands. A 1200 mile sail which can take between 8 to 10 days without extraordinary events happening. Like no wind for more time than I can store diesel. The Azores high is large and little wind can be found on the shortest track. Another challenge is Horta. You have to been there, particular when cruising in the Azores. However, the popularity is such that the marina is deflecting hopeful cruisers due to lack of space in their otherwise largest marina in the Azores. It is hopeless busy. We will see.

Terceira

After my wife left, I sailed for Terceira together with another friendly Dutch yacht. The trip was about 90 miles so we decided to leave in the afternoon to arrive in daylight next day. It was beating once again but our landfall on Angra Do Heroismo was more that worth it.

Angra Do Heroismo stand for heroic bay. Not only was this the best bay to anchor, it was also best defended in the early days against pirates or foreign adversaries. Partly shielded by mount Brazil, full of forts for protection, Angra Do Heroismo was kept save and became very prosperous.

The small but well kept marina is situated at the foot of the centre. A beach nearby, artificially constructed with sand not from the Azores, made sure I enjoyed my daily bath.

San Miguel

Two weeks I have enjoyed the company of my wife on the island San Miguel. We had a great time in Ponta Delgada with Fado music, good food and many hikes.

Ponta Delgada is a nice city with many historic buildings. Small streets with decorative pavements and many nice restaurants. What we not good find was a good bakery for bread. Perhaps a good business proposition?

The marina is very open and spacious hence a lively birth now and then.

 

An impression I like to give you of a hike Vanessa and I did to the Devils window. The hike took us through tunnels, up and down ladders and from rolling green country hills to unexpected jungle like forest all the way to the Devils window.

San Miguel as the other islands have a volcanic origin, but at San Miguel quite vividly apparent. Two hikes brought us I area’s where the volcanic origin was very much present. Just see the short impression.

 

 

 

Santa Maria Azores

Finally the weather gods have decided that spring has started with associate weather. So far I lingered along in the Canaries because going north was out of the question. One depression after the other passed the Azores and Madeira, making it very foolish to venture north of the Canaries. But finally I was able to sail to Madeira and now the weather was ready for my sail to the Azores.

A most acceptable northeasterly wind of about 15 knots would make a pleasant sail. However, it turned out to be just a little more and later on a sail a bit close to the wind. Nevertheless, it was one of my fastest 500 miles covered so far. Not all that comfortable, but good sailing nonetheless. Just have a look at a small impression of my sail to the Azores.

Of course, I could not wait to see Santa Maria. So next day I rented a car to explore. Now, Santa Maria is not a big island, only 17 kilometres long and not yet 10 kilometres wide. So I covered a lot of ground. I hiked around the highest mountain Pico Alto, 587m high. Perhaps more a large hill, although with a dramatic history, about which I will tell you later. However, I had a beautiful hike there, I’ll show you later as well.

But the biggest surprise was my visit to the Gonçalo Velho lighthouse. I saw a beautiful picture is the tourist guide, so as a sailor, I found that I had to visit this lighthouse. Have a look at this small impression.

Earlier that day I started with hiking around Pico Alto. A hike of two hours well described in a leaflet of the tourist office in Vila do Porto. A small impression follows here.

Arrived at Porto Santo

Arrived at Porto Santo and already planning to leave for my next destination, the Azores. I am writing this on Thursday evening May 3rd. Tomorrow I will leave Porto Santo with destination Santa Maria, Azores. About 500 miles, wind 15 knots from starboard quarters about 60 to 80 degrees. Not to bad. I hope that all the saints involved will grant me a save journey. The weather forecast is reasonable, no strong winds, probably quite some hours motoring at the end. I’ll keep you posted.

More on Madeira

So back on Madeira I first anchored in Bahia de Abra. I been there last year as well. This time the weather was very pleasurable. Little wind, nice temperatures and lots of sun.

After three days I sailed to Ilhas Desertas. See previous blog. Although more of the same weather was forecasted for the next two days, a fresh wind picked up from the south, making the anchorage untenable. So I sailed two miles west to the marina of Quinta De Lorde. I have been here too last year.

I prepared the boat for my sister Carla who visited me for the whole week. Although the weather changed into much rain, lower temperatures and lots of wind, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It is long ago since we spend one whole week together. We visited Funchal, hiked a few Lavadas and coastal walks, a had a lot of fun,

incomprehensible for others. Just siblings language.

Carla being back in cold rainy Holland, I am preparing for my sail to Porto Santo, while keeping an eye on the ocean weather for a favourable window to sail my next big leg to the Azores, 500 miles North West.

Next video gives you an impression of me visit to Madeira, partly with Carla.

Ilhas Desertas

Last week I finally was able to sail back to Madeira. Although the wind not being optimal, it was a choice between beating against the wind for three days or wait and motor two days without wind, or wait even longer and being caught into the next depression with strong near gale winds. I left to battle for three and a half day to Madeira. Luckily the last half day the wind settled and relaxed I anchored in the bay Baia de Abra in all peace and tranquillity.

I needed the next day to recuperate from the sail to Madeira, but the day afterwards I was ready to sail back a 20 miles to the isle of Desertas. I pasted the isle on my way but was to tired to venture around. Today I went back. The video gives you a small impression.

Back at Arrecife

I did not expect to sail back to Arrecife but when I dived in the water at La Graciosa to remove the algea from the water line of the hull, I saw my new anode of my propeller was missing! Very bad thing, because the zinc anode has to prevent erosion of my bronze propeller.

Apparently I had to secure the three bolts, which I did not know. Since the anode will dissolve, the way to secure those bolts is to use some kind of glue. Very difficult to apply under water. The other thing I noticed was that my anti fouling was not working any more. The algea where growing not just on the water line but over the whole hull. Problem is not only loss of speed but also damage to the hull.

Since I had seen La Graciosa more or less and still had to wait for at least a week for better weather to leave for Madeira, I decide to use my idle time better and return to Arrecife where they have a wharf to take the boat out of the water. Talking about the weather, for two weeks we have seen high pressure systems in North Europe, pushing the low pressure systems or depressions with a lot of wind South. That is where I am. Instead of the normal North East trade wind I get North West winds, often 25 knots or more.

Anyway, good to do some repairs. But time is pressing. Before this month is past I need to be on Madeira. End this week, week three, it seems to calm down. Perhaps than, with a clean hull and shining boat, I can sail up to Madeira.