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July 2014

Signs of the Azores

EW and I are amused by small things. In Faial, I neglected to take a photo of a powerboat berthed near us. The name, It’s Fay-Al was obviously intended to help visiting sailors pronounce the name of the island. The Portuguese people here have a sense of humor and like clarity.

We've noticed that while all other signs are in Portuguese, every stop sign is an octagonal red sign with with familiar letters: STOP. Victor, the co-owner of Patio Stables said that STOP signs can be found all over Europe. Some friendly guys from the mainland told us that they have created an acronym that uses Portuguese words meaning something along the lines of don’t move if you have eyes. (Rough translation is that if you can see, stop the car.)

Exit signs are unambiguous and found above every door and some floor to ceiling windows in public spaces.

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This one is also a no-brainer: IMG_1497

 

Even some of those whose first language is Portuguese find this sign to be humorous.

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Think about it. If you enjoyed your  last cigarette four hours ago, can you shop here?

 

Seems a little harsh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1694These signs confused EW and me when we were driving around the island.

That diagonal slash usually means “NO” making this a “No Passing” sign.  However, these signs were posted after curves, on what passes for a straightway here on Sao Jorge.

The sign below was always posted before curves.

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 We figured that the diagonal slashes were “Pass With Caution” and the red car signs were “No Passing”, simply because you’d have to be an idiot to pass where those signs were posted. We got confirmation of that the next day with our new friend Leo. (More about Leo in subsequent posts – lots of subsequent posts.)

(After reading the linked article about European road signs. we learned that the slashed sign actually means "The end of No Passing". Still find that a bit confusing, but as you'll see below, "The end of ... " is a common sign.) 

Growing up in Maine, I was used to vertical signposts at the town borders announcing “Entering Newport” or “Leaving Newport”.Here on Sao Jorge, they are much more succinct. When we entered Norte Grande, we were greeted by this lovely tableau.

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We left Norte Grande with a laugh, but missed the photo. EW made sure he was able to stop as we left Santo Antonio.

 

 

 

 

 I started the hunt for signs, but EW won the prize. We were enjoying a cold beverage one afternoon at a dockside bar. After a trip to the men’s room, EW asked for the camera. This sign needs no translation.

 

 

 

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Cheers!


If I Had a Boat, I'd Go Out On the Ocean. If I Had a Pony ...

IMG_1178With all due respect to Lyle Lovett.

We didn’t ride our ponies on our boat, but we did ride Lusitanos on Faial. Unlike the Caribbean, though some islands have bus systems, none appear to run outside the major towns. For example, in Faial you can ride a bus through the city streets and out to the hospital and that’s it. Some of the best sights on each island are in the interior, and one must either take a taxi or rent a car. We’re on a budget, so choices have to be made. We could rent a car and see the two apparently amazing volcanic craters, or we could go for a horseback ride and enjoy a typical Azorean lunch at a country home. We figured that other islands would have craters, so we opted to ride.

There are family members reading this who are stunned. I don’t know nothin’ about riding no horses and they know it. So did the horse. EW has had slightly more experience than I, but not in the past 30 plus years.

Still, we decided to treat ourselves to something different and this seemed to be a good idea. After we had made the appointment, Barbara from Great Britain said that she had tried to go for a ride two years prior, but had backed out when she saw the stable and horses. Barbara is a real horsewoman, who could ride her pony on her boat, and she thought that stable did not treat the horses well, so declined to ride. We went up to the tourism office and talked with a helpful but non-committal clerk who did tell us that this outfit, “Patio Trekkiing a Cavalo”. was new, and that they had started their business after the other stable had closed. We decided to go for it, and if we were concerned about the animals and business, we would also decline to participate or pay.

Lisa, a young German horse-woman picked us up at the Marina. She was delightful and told us that she had taken this job after graduating from university, and would return to Germany in the fall to start her career. In the meantime, she was learning Azorean Portuguese, riding every day, caring for the horses, and guiding German and English speaking tourists. The majority of their riders fly in and stay at a nearby guest house for a week, taking 25 and 30 kilometer rides every day and eating dinner at the farmhouse owned by the stables. We day trippers were extra income. EW and I were the only ones that Sunday.

IMG_1166Lisa asked a number of questions to determine our experience. I told her to consider me totally inept. I hadn’t ridden since riding Charlotte Gray’s ponies in Corinna when I was in fourth grade. It had been a long time. She gave me the most handsome boy horse ever,Trevo, which is short for “four leaf clover”, meaning it is the lucky person who rides Trevo. He is ridden without a bit because he is just such a good horse.(With one minor exception.) Essentially Trevo has the personality of an outstanding black lab: food, love, and attention are his three fondest things. Prior to leaving the boat, EW and I had armed ourselves with carrots and Trevo likes carrots. Trevo also likes bamboo leaves, but that’ getting ahead of the story.

IMG_1189While EW and I may not be outstanding/experienced/any kind of horse people. We know horse people and have been in well-managed stables. These horses are kept outdoors in numerous fields, always with at least one or two other horses, because they are sociable animals. They were well fed, clean, and eager to go on a jaunt. The stable owns eleven horses, and we saw six. All were lovely, well fed, had ample water, and friendly. The stable and tack were clean and kept that way. Caring for the horses came first, caring for the tack second, and we were third on the list – as it should be.

We helped Lisa bring “our”  horses from the paddock to the stable area, then were given two grooming brushes and told to groom them so nothing would chafe under the saddle and gear. Lisa checked their hooves and our grooming, and saddled the horses with saddles she said had been designed for military horses. She said the saddles were comfortable for the riders, and – clearly most important to her – were comfortable for the horses. The day was billed as a 90 minute ride through the Faial countryside on trails, farm tracks, and the occasional paved road. Following that, we would have lunch al fresco back at the farmhouse. There are few no photos taken of the ride, as I was paying attention to Trevo. He is a terrific horse and I fell for him (remember, he’s like a Labrador retriever, of course I fell for him).

It’s a beautiful island. We were on the eastern shore, where weIMG_1209 could see cattle, corn fields, quaint farm houses, and the Atlantic ocean. Lisa said that when she has led groups out along the bluff they sometimes see whales spouting offshore. There is no more beautiful place to ride a horse. The lovely mare EW rode was at first upset her girlfriend was left back in the field, so EW and she had to come to an understanding. He handled her and praised her and did so well that after the ride, she transferred her affections to EW and gazed adoringly at him while we ate our lunch. Evidently she’s a fickle filly. My sweet boy really liked to pick bamboo leaves and have a snack while we walked down the farm tracks. They aren’t bad for him, but he was supposed to be paying attention and not dining. I started keeping score of when I could “head him off at the pass” before he got his teeth on a choice leaf. I lost 14 times in the 90 minutes. I think I probably only won 10 times. Most of my losses occurred when we were going downhill or along a group of loose stones. I wanted to “give him his head” so he’d maintain his footing. After all, he knew much more about the terrain and how his feet worked than I did. He caught on fairly quickly that those moments were the best for grabbing a wayside snack. It was all in good-natured fun and neither of us got in trouble with Lisa .

Back at the stables, we met Victor, who owns the business with his wife Anja, who was on vacation with their son. Victor had retrieved the week’s guests at the airport. Now he was able to join us for lunch and a chat. IMG_1206He is an economist who traveled all over Europe in his career, and who wanted to live a quieter life. They moved to their vacation home, renovated it to provide for public and private rooms, and turned a passion for riding and horses into a lifestyle and income. Three of the horses, including my best boy, had been their own animals and had moved to the island on a cargo ship; a six-day trip the horses and Victor endured. After a wonderful lunch including wine, cheeses, meats, bread, and melon – all from the Azores – Victor drove us back to the marina, making sure to take a different route, with a couple of stops along the way.

It was a wonderful day. We were a bit lame on Monday, and my sit-upon was particularly indignant. We aren’t going to start a new life on shore with horses. In fact, I’ll continue to quote (misquote) Lyle Lovett’s song:

“Kiss my (sore) ass, I’ve bought a boat, I’m going out to sea.”

 

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Every good stable has a good dog. This is Nina. She joined us on the first part of the ride, then went back to relax in the shade and wait for lunch. Smart dog.

IMG_1179EW and Lisa, after the ride. There is a farrier on the island, who uses “cold” horse shoes. Lisa says it’s better for the horses.

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See, I really did ride a horse. We went forward, we stopped, we backed up.

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Lisa and EW’s horse. She’s new to the stables and Lisa doesn’t like the cut of her mane, saying it doesn’t protect her eyes from flies.

 

 

 

 

 

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The countryside of Faial. Tough to take.

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One last shot of my boy.  Lisa said he is equally good with experienced riders who want to gallop. Probably doesn’t get as many bamboo leaves with them.

If you go to the Azores, the company can be found at www.patio.pt – and their brochures are prominent in many tourist locales.


Twenty-Eight Hours and Twenty-Two Miles

So. We are in Sao Jorge. This harbor is lovely and 22 miles from Horta. We however took 28 hours to get here because we were trying to get to Flores and the winds changed to on the nose. I was ready to bag it but EW said it was a "nice sail" so we kept going hoping for a wind shift. No dice ended up going around Faial back past Horta and 22 miles more to here. Lovely island will stay thru Sunday unless the winds come from the south.

La Luna Leaves Her Mark

Sometimes that’s a bad thing for a sailboat – leaving a mark such as bottom paint on a rock, or gel coat on a dock or (horror of horrors) another boat. In Horta, when a boat leaves her mark, it means the skipper or crew have added their painted sign to the thousands along the quay and docks.

And I do mean thousands.

 

Along the break wall.

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Along the road, inside the harbor.

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On sidewalk, wall, post and concrete piers.

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Some are ornate painted by folks with artistic ability.(And often a sense of humor.)

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IMG_1053Here’s a German family’s documentation of a 14 year voyage. Each of them participated in the painting as we watched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another family depicted their members and crew in a charming fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EW liked this comment.

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We took this photo for our dear friends on S/V One White Tree and S/V Ainulindalë

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Kathleen from Baltimore is on a boat that stopped off on their way to the Med. She is a designer and architect and has offered to help out a few boaters leave their mark. Here, she is doing the job for Barbara of S/V Turtle. Both Barbara and Turtle can be seen in the background.

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I met Mal who left his mark because his two crew, Preston and David, bought the paint and shamed him into it. They did not help with the artwork, which is a little better that both EW’s and my artistic skills.

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Mal offered us his left-over paints. And I accepted, but asked EW to do the work. We both agreed on small and simple and we each independently found the perfect spot – and it was the same spot. (We are that  in sync. Sometimes.)

I prepped it, and applied the blue base while  EW planned the space.

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You can’ t tell from the photo, but EW is standing on a slanted wall, that was quite slippery. I handed him the paints.

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Finished. Yes, I made him add in the “EW”. After all, that’s how folks will know it’s us.

 

The photo of the two of us was taken by Mike, a solo catamaran sailor from Great Britain. We gave him the left-over paints when we were done. It all works.


Cruisers' Midnight and Other Tales of Summer

I. Somewhere south of Antigua during our first year in the Caribbean we were introduced to the term “Cruisers’ Midnight”.  Where there are sailors, it’s always five o’clock somewhere, but when that five o’clock starts at two, three, or four, midnight comes early.

The cruising life ain’t all rum drinks in the cockpit. We swim, fix the boat, snorkel, fix the boat, hike, fix the boat, provision, fix the boat,  have rum drinks on the beach,  fix the boat, play dominoes, fix the boat, well you get the idea.  Often (not always, but often) Caribbean cruisers are ready to call it quits at nine or ten. This isn’t just due to our busy lifestyle (see above), or adanced age. You must also factor in early sunsets. Most of the Caribbean sailors are from the northern hemisphere where the sun sets later in the summer. On July 10, 2014 the sun set at 6:59 in St. Thomas and at 6:36 in Grenada. On the same night in Boston, the sun set at 8:22, and in the Azores it didn’t set until 9:17 – seventeen minutes after cruisers’ midnight.

EW and I are having a little problem with this. We still wake up at 6, we have full days of sightseeing and boat projects (see above), and we are ready to wind down at 9:00 PM when it is still fully light out. There we were on Friday night, reading in bed, ready for slumber, and cars didn’t need to use their lights. We are on the dock in Horta, because that is essentially required, so not only was it still light at 9:17, there was live music only yards away. The bar is open until 2:00 on Fridays, which is eons after cruisers’ midnight. (It would be OK, if the music were good, but it’s a private party and the very able solo musician is also very accommodating with the guests, letting them sing along – on the microphone – badly.)

But I digress. By sailing across the Atlantic, we didn’t have to work through jet lag, we just have to get used to longer days and lighter nights. In St. Thomas at nine we’d be tooting home in the dinghy, in full dark, with EW wearing his lit Tom Terrific Hat. Here, I wear my eye mask when we go to bed to block the light. On Friday, ear plugs were used.

II. IMG_0935The islands of the Azores have fertile volcanic soil and a long history of farming, produce, fruit, dairy, beef, grapes for wine. This is not tough to take. We have already sampled and enjoyed two wines and three cheeses. The other day, I discovered the local market and this morning they had .. wait for it  .. wait for it… corn on the cob. The real stuff, not Maine’s sugar and gold, but not the fodder they grow in the Caribbean either. So EW got a surprise for Saturday lunch, fresh corn on the cob, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and bread. Oh my. I can definitely get used to these islands. IMG_0927

IMG_1076IMG_1078III. Finally, time for me to eat a little crow. Long time readers may remember my superior attitude way back in Fort Lauderdale in 2010. We were walking around in shirtsleeves, enjoying the Christmas Boat Parade, and the locals were bundled up – some in fur trimmed hooded jackets. Now we are “north” for the summer, there is a stiff on-shore breeze, yet locals are walking around in shorts and t-shirts. We dug out long pants and fleece. Really. Fleece. I no longer have a fur trimmed parka, but I did have my hoodie up in the cockpit the other night. I wore a fleece vest for my walk to the farmer’s market this morning, and note that EW is wearing a sweatshirt at high noon in the cockpit.  While we are dressed like this, four teen boys are in swim trunks jumping from the dock into the water. (Gasp!)

I am a snowbird or worse. I am no longer a Mainah in thought or deed. In addition to my Florida drivers’ license, I have acquired thin skin and thinner blood. My father would be ashamed of me. It almost makes me feel guilty for dissing those folks in Fort Lauderdale – but I still think the parkas with fur collars is a little much.


Comments!

Finally, I've been able to read the comments on our crossing. Loved Kate regarding the wind vane/auto pilot confusion. Loved Darlene's worry and best wishes. Loved that Pam got Rabbit Rabbit.  Regarding the whisker pole, we were well off the wind, not quite down wind for much of the last week. We were able to have the jib poled out and that was especially effective in the light winds as it kept it from flogging as much. Actually, I loved all the comments and delighted to have so many friends, family and new friends following along.

I would love the whisker pole if it hadn't bound up. EW spent all of day three on land trying to fix it. I'm trying to convince him that the morning is for boat work and the afternoon is for sightseeing. 

Wifi at the marina is so spotty that it is useless. EW and I are at a nearby cafe where he is inhaling cheesburgers and fries and checking email and news on the iPad and I am posting a 3 day old blog post, writing a new one and checking email while eating a light soup. Last night we watched the first part of the World Cup semi-finals and wondered if our cousin John missed the hoopla, work, and excitement that comes with a career at Fifa. 

Today, we plan to wander this small city, take photos and enjoy life as a tourist. We still need to take in the volcanos and do a bit more boat work before heading to Flores. I'll keep writing, and now that I know where I can actually post what I write, I'll get it up more quickly.

Cheers and hugs!  

 


Land Ho!

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That headline is the closest I got to shouting Land Ho, as EW was asleep when I first saw Faial through the clouds at sunrise. The wind gods played with us during our last 24 hours at sea, skunking us for much of the time. EW resorted to using the motor for about 6 hours, then we drifted, then we sailed very slowly, and finally, EW put 5 gallons of diesel from the jerry cans into the tank and we motored for the last three hours. (We can tell how many inches of diesel are in the tanks, but not how many gallons that represents. We had fuel in the tanks, but put in extra so there were no fuel management issues while docking in a crowded marina.)

We checked in, took a slip, took a walk, and returned to La Luna for champagne, snacks, rum, cake, and sleep. We had arrive-ed (to quote Peter Sellers as the Pink Panther).

This morning we took another walk, had two cups of coffee with milk, and returned to get a bit of work done. Our IMRAY cruising guide was written in 2003 when the marina did not have free Wifi at the docks. I was delighted to discover that it is available on the boat – though I am having trouble getting it to work for any length of time. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to resolve the issue and will be here, live and in color while we are in Horta. There is much to write about and I have two articles that I must get to Gary at All at Sea, so here are first impressions of Horta and the Azores, with just a few photos.

First, serendipities:

  • We left Maine in 2010, shortly after our 25th wedding anniversary. In fact, our going away party, hosted by Kathy and Cathy was a combined going away and 25th anniversary celebration.
  • We arrived in the Azores, one day after our 29th wedding anniversary. (Here’s our anniversary photo at sea.IMG_0735
  • The trip took us 21 days to the day – almost to the hour.
  • The strongest winds were 25-30 knot gusts that lasted just a short while, and we were becalmed twice – the longest time at the end of the trip. The weather was a gift.
  • EW’s brother, Howie, provided his own-made champagne for the head table at our wedding 29 years ago. He also provided champagne to toast our arrival in Horta.

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Second, the crossing:

“Our” Whales. If you missed the post, the calf checked us out, up close and personal, until mom rose to the surface and essentially said, “You get away from that boat right now!”. He did an about face about 15 feet from La Luna and they swam away behind our stern.IMG_0688

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Finally, Horta:

One is told to tie up to the reception quay and go into the office to check in. The only spot available was in front of the fuel dock and the harbor master seemed fine with that. I stayed with the boat and EW took care of the formalities. Now remember, I haven’t talked with anyone except EW for three weeks, and most of the locals don’t speak English. I stayed on the cement dock, adjusted the lines and moved a few fenders, when I saw a large inflatable head to the dock. It was a member of the marine police and he wanted gasolina. He spoke no English. I tried to convey that he could tie to our boat and I’d get the fuel to him, but he declined, and continued to circle. About 10 minutes later a tall gentleman arrived from the parking lot with a couple of jerry cans. Evidently he was with the marine police as well and they had planned on meeting on the dock. He spoke English and I told him it was OK for the inflatable to raft to La Luna. The dock attendant and the tall gentleman were both amused and a bit surprised that I was insistent and helpful, so I said, “We just arrived today from Sint Maarten. I’ve been three weeks at sea with only my husband  and am delighted to talk with anyone else for any reason!” He laughed – long and hard and then had to translate for the policeman in the inflatable, who also got a kick out of it. I toted the fuel hose over the deck and returned it when he was done, and accepted warm hand-shakes and many thanks for my help.

IMG_20140708_044800This morning we went in search of the marina facilities and found a coffee shop that has been in business since 1926.  They knew how to build a coffee shop in 1926.

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We have truly arrive-ed.


Practically Perfect

July 3rd and this is a great day.

We have fewer than 400 miles to go.

We are under sail and aiming exactly for Horta.

We saw a pod of dolphins jumping and diving for breakfast.

We have water and I am clean.

EW thought about the water issue and decided that we must have 30-40 gallons of water in the port tank. Unfortunately, the water pump doesn't pick it up when we are heeling to port. I knew we had water in that tank as that is the tank with the hand pump and I've been getting water out of it for dishes and such.

This morning I put the 30 gallons that were in the jerry cans into the starboard tank, which is very close to the water pump, and once that task was completed the water pump provided water on demand. So we probably have at least 50-60 gallons of water in the two tanks, plus nearly 4 gallons of drinking water that are part of our provisions. We'll be in on July 7th or 8th, do the math, and I could get clean today.

So I cleaned the boat a bit, cleaned me a lot, washed my hair, and life is good.

EW is on watch in the cockpit playing his guitar. I'm below out of the sun, reading and writing. We are surrounded by sea and sky, and evidently dolphins and whales, though we haven't seen more dolphins or any whales yet. Right now, this crossing thing looks pretty good. Yesterday we had pasta with some of my pre-made frozen meat sauce and a salad of canned veggies and Italian Dressing. Tonight we have leftover Schooner Rice, and I told EW that since I have two watches off tomorrow, I'd make pizza.

EW is happy. I am happy.

This cruising/voyaging life doesn't suck.

As of 14:09 UTC on July 3, we are located at 39 31.64 North and 36 51.91 West.

July 4th and an even better day. The wind died yesterday so we traveled only 50 miles in 24 hours and some of that was just current moving in the right direction. EW got fed up and motored for a while, but reason and fuel management prevailed and we ghosted along under sail all night. Now we have 4 - 7 knots of wind (Whoo Hoo!) and are moving under sail at 2.5 knots. I made oatmeal/raisin scones for breakfast and was rewarded with our first whale sighting. Sitting on deck, chatting with EW, I looked to port and saw a large dark body about 30 feet out from the boat. It was a small whale and we couldn't see the shape of its head, but saw the back and saw it blow as it swam, not quite parallel to us, angling towards us for a closer look. It sunk under the water and we watched the depth sounder for a close encounter, looking from it back to the water. EW noticed a light colored area under the waves, again 30-35 feet off the boat, and wondered what would cause that as our whale was dark in color. Then "our" whale surfaced still closer to La Luna, but this time clearly swimming away from the boat -- towards Mama. Mama was lighter in color, twice the size and more knowledgeable about the polite swimming distance from sailboats: close enough for photos, far enough away for safety. Mama led Jr. well around our stern and off to sea. We did see Mama's head, and believe them to be pilot whales, but she was lighter in color than I would expect for a pilot whale, so we'll have to do some research.

This morning we are 39 22.59 North and 35 47.61 West

Happy Independence Day to the U.S.! Four years ago EW and I spent the day in Portland, and enjoyed our last 4th of July in Maine with Portland Symphony Orchestra on Munjoy Hill. It's a great memory. Today, we made another great memory. It's lovely to be sailing slowly towards the Azores.

July 5 Still having trouble getting on Sailmail. Seems to be a lot of traffic out there, so I'm stacking these up.

Yesterday evening the wind and weather changed. We had a rain squall late in the afternoon, then clouds. There must have been more wind north of us because we had a shift in wind and waves about 7 PM. Since then we've had 10-12 knots of wind from the northwest -- perfect for putting us right where we need to be. Unfortunately that wind was partnered with very choppy seas, 3-5, maybe 6 feet, causing bounce, and rolls, and rattles, and bangs, and lack of sleep for both of us when we were off watch. Later, during EW's midnight to 6A watch the wind direction changed enough to at least make the sails behave better. I worked to make all inside noises stop and was able to sleep some. EW is out like a light now for his four hours off.

These conditions have excellent timing. We were ready to turn southeast to the Azores and are aiming directly for Horta. Also, I had the two watches off schedule yesterday and got a lot of cooking done in the morning and early afternoon when the seas were 0-1 feet. I made scones for breakfast, served with bacon and fried apples, and in the afternoon I made a new batch of granola, a loaf of bread, and pizza for dinner. (Friday night is pizza night.) For the normal "movie" version of our Friday we watched the clouds roll in, adjusted sails between bites of pizza, and basically ate quickly and cleaned up quickly as it look as if a big squall was moving in. We haven't had a big squall on this crossing (knock wood) and didn't get it last night, either. All is good.

We also moved "La Luna" time up one hour so we are just one hour away from Azores or UTC time. We'll change another hour tomorrow morning and be ready for shore. Just in time. Currently it's 0919 UTC and we are located at 39 00.46 North and 033 46.04 West. We are 243 miles from Horta and should land in the morning of the 7th as long as the wind holds. Yes, I'm getting excited.

July 6

Twenty-nine years ago we were getting ready for our wedding. Now we're getting ready to go ashore tomorrow. It's 10:48 UTC AND La Luna time and we have fewer than 100 miles to go. We are motor sailing in order to charge the batteries, but can sail along directly to our goal at about 4-5 knots. If we go too fast, we'll have to hover near shore until light, so I'd rather go slowly. This afternoon I'll clean a bit, and put Howie's champagne in to chill. We will celebrate our anniversary and our arrival tomorrow. We will have made it in 21 days -- three weeks to the day of setting out, probably a few hours earlier than when we left. Smiling. This really doesn't suck. I'd do it again.

The Last Leg

We are less than 600 miles from Horta, heading 82 True directly to the island of Flores, the northernmost island in the Azores. From there, it's just 135 miles to Horta, where we will check in and stay on the dock a few days. Unless things have changed since our edition of the cruising guide the marina is reasonably priced and water is free. Many of you know how much it pains me to say that EW was right and we have nearly emptied our water tanks. Today is a shower day, but I'm not getting a shower. We do have 30 gallons in jerry jugs on deck and 6 gallons of drinking water down below, so we have plenty of water for a week, as long as we conserve. No more bucket laundry and perhaps only one more shower before we land. Since we don't want to offend the officials, that shower will be on our last day at sea. (Shudder)

We certainly have enough provisions and could go back across the Atlantic right now except for our lack of water. I haven't followed all of my meal plans, but have enjoyed reading recipe books and trying new things. Before we left St. Thomas, I was gifted a copy of "The Best of People and Food" edited by Barbara Davis. The title is from the "People and Food" column in Cruising World, and this book is a compilation of recipes released in 1983. As you may imagine, things have changed since then when most cruisers didn't have refrigeration, margarine and Vienna sausages were considered real food, and recipes for things such as ceviche suggested that you not tell your friends you have served them raw fish until they have tried it and liked it.

The book, with the stories and suggestions from each contributor is a delight. Last night I made Schooner Rice -- with kielbasa instead of (ugh) Vienna sausages -- and EW was delighted. I think I'll try Holding Ground Mud Cake this week. One can't go wrong with chocolate.

We've started a list on things to fix, adjust, purchase; what worked and what didn't. EW has quite a long list and he has no idea how many things I may add, but La Luna has done very well. I say this despite the fact that the fog horn/loud hailer broke off the mast this morning. We have no idea why it chose to commit suicide at sea, but that's the way it goes. Thankfully, it completed its mission and I didn't have to go up and cut it down. We are philosophical in that though La Luna is a 29 year old boat, she was made to cross oceans, and we think she is delighted to be here. If she chooses to make a small sacrifice to Poseidon, who are we to question it?

I assume there are "propagation issues" with SSB radio this week, as I have found it much more difficult to get an open channel. When I do get one, receiving takes so long that I have been cut off before it's complete. My apologies to those who are awaiting personal emails as I know some things are still in my in box ready to be sent to my laptop.

We are currently at 38 53.3 North and 40 08.52 West. It's a beautiful day at sea. We have surely been blessed by incredibly good weather. As EW has said, "We've done really well." EW is happy, I am happy and La Luna is happy.

We stink, though.

The North Atlantic

For the past two days, we have been sailing the North Atlantic that we came to know, love, and respect when we sailed in Maine. The seas have been slate blue, with 6-8 foot waves (and some larger), often contrary, slapping the hull, the stern, and the rudder with no rhythm, rhyme, nor reason, and depositing spray, water, and one rather large flying fish onto the deck. Winds were 15-10, then 20-25, with 30 knot gusts. The boat rolled and banged, we and unsecured items tumbled about, and our sleep was fitful. Through it all the sky was clear, with a new moon and uncountable stars, or blue skies and wispy clouds. It wasn't a storm, it was just the North Atlantic. There's a reason this ocean is not called the Pacific.

Casey, our faithful Auto Pilot, has been working better than ever during this crossing, but yesterday he behaved liked a tired two-year old, pulled through a mall during the Christmas rush, and would simply stop moving without warning, but not without cause. The first few times it happened we had too much sail up for the conditions, a reduced main and full jib with whisker pole attached. Casey would battle the winds, the rudder would get knocked by a wave, and Casey would effectively say, "I'm done," and stop, just like that two-year old going limp on the floor. Without someone at the helm, the boat wants to turn into the wind, but cannot because the jib is full and held out by the pole. We must turn the auto pilot off, and steer the boat back on course before any damage is done to the sails. Once on course, Casey was re-engaged, and we were off again, blustering our way toward the Azores (or the mall exit).

Casey stopped during one of my watches yesterday, we couldn't get control right away and backed the jib and main, putting a lot of strain on a lot of parts and something snapped. EW was below and I yelled, "Something just broke!" He asked what, but I had no idea, I was concentrating on getting back on course. The doohickey holds the mainsheet to the boom broke at the welds, thankfully the main was prevented from jibing, so it wasn't banging back and forth across the cockpit, but it wasn't safe. EW was able to furl the main fully into the mast, and tie the boom off tight to the side using the preventer. (Non-sailors - that's a line with a bunch of pulleys that attaches to the boom on one end and the toe rail on the other and holds the main in position when we are going off the wind. We don't need to use it when we are going upwind.) The next morning, when conditions were a bit better, EW lassoed the boom and used that line to "sheet" it in so it was held at two points -- always the better option.

We continued along with a partial jib, still attached to the whisker pole, sailing a broad reach. Casey would have the occasional tantrum due to big nasty waves, but we'd deal with it and have things back to normal within minutes. Both of us had relatively unexciting watches and both got some sleep.

We are now at 38 00 632 North and 42 59 457 West at 1200 UTC -- That is currently 10:00 AM La Luna time, but we still need to move forward two hours to equal the Azores. So as EW now will say, "It's 10 O'clock somewhere." We are north of the Azores and need to go south east for just over 600 miles to reach our goal. EW is suiting up for deck work. We'll start the engine, let Casey drive the boat, remove the whisker pole and start beating to the Azores. EW will then work on a jury-rig for the mainsail. It's that kind of morning on a beautiful day at sea.

By the way, I actually said "Rabbit Rabbit" this first morning of July. That's easy to do when you are the only one up for miles around.