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October 2014

What's Sauce for the Gander is Sauce for the Goose

IMG_7964Does it make me a goose that I inveigled EW to cut my hair?

Evidently not.

It takes the best hairstylists (like Darleen in Maine and LeeAnn at sea) a few cuts to learn my hair. As we cruise the islands of the Atlantic I only give each professional one shot at it before moving on and getting another cut in six weeks or so.

Faithful readers will know that I have given EW two horrible cuts in years past, but he still agreed to let me try again and I’m now cutting his hair – and learning his cowlicks – to his satisfaction if not to perfection. After my last professional haircut in the Azores, I suggested that EW should take scissors in hand and save us some money.

P1220009First, I had to seriously absolve him of all guilt if things went bad. (This is where the inveigling came in. I know that means “persuading someone to do something by means of deception or flattery”. Of course you would have heard if I hated my haircut! Of course you all would know that EW did it.) But, after all, I did this to him, so how much worse could he do to me?

Don’t answer that.

I wet my hair, clipped it up in sections that could be lowered for cutting at the appropriate time, and arranged a crate and cushion salon chair in La Luna’s saloon.

We began. He has no idea how to cut hair, and I only have a little bit of knowledge (which can be a dangerous thing.

  • I knew that if I parted my hair in the middle for the cut, that when I styled it with a part on the right, it would naturally have shorter strands framing my face.
  • I knew that if we cut the first under layer a bit shorter than the rest of it that my hair would turn under naturally. (How much is a bit?)
  • I knew that cutting straight hair straight can be a challenge. (My mom gave me crew cut bangs when she kept evening them up until they were so short they stood up straight. I was only five, but didn't let her take scissors to my hair again. Ever. Oh yeah, it would be fine if EW screwed it up. I don't hold a grudge. much.)

The rules were as follows:

  1. I’d take the clips out when the time came.
  2. I’d agree on the length to start with.
  3. EW would try to make the top layers a half inch longer than the first layer.
  4. EW would not keep snipping to make things even. Crooked was better than too short.
  5. And (most important and a partial lie) I would absolutely absolve EW of all blame for a bad haircut.

IMG_7968It went quite well. He actually offered me a mirror – which was both good and bad, I tried not to micro-manage (but it is my hair), and we kept our sense of humor. We learned what to do next time. It ended up much shorter than what I had wanted. (EW learned NOT to hold the strand of hair tight while cutting as it springs up afterward. About a half inch.) However, it isn’t shorter than the cut I had in St. Lucia, or when I asked LeeAnn to cut it short so I could go for 8 weeks without a cut.

I like it shorter, and may keep it this way now that I’m living with my hairstylist.

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Afterward, I cut EW’s hair, giving him the mirror and I did better than the last time. 

Neither LeeAnn nor Darlene, nor any other professional stylist have to worry that I’ll never get another professional cut. Nor do they need to be concerned that either EW or I will take their clients.

However, I look marvelous, don’t I?


What's a Number?

IMG_7804Let’s talk birthdays. A few nights ago there was a marvelous cruisers’ cockpit party with many musicians, great food, and stimulating conversation. I joined two of the ladies when they were discussing birthdays and ages. One is a few years younger than I, and one is three years older. Well, two years older as of today.

Sigh.

Anyway, one of them had received an email from a friend who opined that age and time are relative. The idea was that 365  days equaling a year is arbitrary. If a year were 450 days long, we would all be considerably younger.

Sort of.

I didn’t totally buy it then (as I remember something about the earth and the sun and some very finite revolutions in space) but it did sound good. If a year were 450 days long, I’d be just a tad over 47. For some reason that sounds way better than 58 (which is so close to 60!), but if a year were 450 days long, I wouldn’t right now be in the midst of an awesome birthday celebration.

We are docked at Marina Lanzarote in Arrecife, The Canary Islands. Marina Lanzarote is a new marina – or a newly improved marina complex. There are many new docks, a new office,  stores, a bakery, a restaurant, and more to come. Today, October 18, is their grand opening. I’m pretending it’s all for me. 

EW woke early (having gone to bed early the night before) and I got up at eight. We had planned some major boat cleaning while on the dock and he was raring to go, so the first two hours of my birthday were spent cleaning the heads, the blasted companionway, the shower curtains, the cockpit, and the shower grate. EW scrubbed the decks and cabin top.

La Luna looks marvelous. Once we finished our assigned tasks, I took a much needed shower and trotted up to the newly opened Panzaria and purchased two fruit tarts and six tiny muffins for our late breakfast. There were many people already on shore, mostly locals, probably investors, owners, and officials and their families, on hand to celebrate the grand opening. They were very well-dressed and obviously not boaters (many spike heels on the ladies).

IMG_7761We had heard there was a “parade” at noon, so I told EW we had IMG_7769to get up there by 11:50. Of course the parade was late, but the officials were done with their speeches and on to beer, champagne, and little bites of food. Waiters went around offering all of the above to all present – including those of us not in suits, dresses, or heels. For. The. Win.

IMG_7773So at noon, my birthday celebration began with free champagne and little chocolate bites, followed by a very short but exuberant “parade’.  Then, EW, Helga, and I wandered into the shops. Helga is on theIMG_7777 boat, Hash Papi, which did spend a few years in the Caribbean, where she says she met many wonderful cruisers. In January, they are going to Brazil – well Hans and two crew are going to Brazil. Helga will fly over after Hash Papi completes the crossing.

IMG_7779IMG_7783Afterward, EW and I had to go to the IMG_7819Supermarcado Grande today for a couple of things. Along the way, we found this wine store, and they offered us samples. Oh! Before that, there was free Heineken beer near the main stage at the marina. So we each took a glass. Then we found the Vinoteca, and  had samples of three different wines. (We bought two.) The lovely lady who owns the wine store directed to the Hiperdino supermarket, and told us where we should have lunch, just down the street from her store.IMG_7800

 

 

 

 

It was a long and late lunch, and the owner of the restaurant should have had a New York – perhaps Brooklyn  --accent. This is Spain. They invented tapas.

We kind of had our hearts set on various tapas and calamari. The owner seated us and asked us if we liked fish. We said we did. He mentioned a fish “especial” he was offering and we thanked him and perused the English portion of the menu, deciding on a potato tapas thing, gazpacho, and the calamari. When he returned for our order and we told him. He frowned. “I thought you said you liked fish!” We mentioned the calamari. “That isn’t FISH!”

IMG_7820Again, he told us about the “especial” for two. Now you need to understand that this gentleman speaks only a bit more English than we speak Spanish. We knew that he had a platter for two for 31 Euro that included tuna, sardines, potatoes, salad, and other fish. We caved and ordered that with a bottle of white wine. (I’m not a Seinfeld fan, but I do know about the Soup Nazi. This guy was a Spanish Fish Nazi. But nice.)

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Oh. My. This meal had five different kinds of fish – all cooked to perfection – potatoes, a beautiful salad, bread, and the two sauces of the Canaries. What a meal. We couldn’t finish it and brought the rest home for lupper tomorrow.

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(Above is the “before”. At left is the”after”.

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IMG_7873We wandered (slowly) back to the marina where the celebration included a Zumba “demonstration” which had enticed a number of local Zumba aficionados and some sailors to participate. (The sailors are the ones with the beer.) We watched. I have never seen Zumba led by men – particularly tall, handsome men – Zumba has not been my thing, but maybe I’d do better at his classes …IMG_7866

And yes, he rode that microphone stand as if it were a horse. The song called for it. (Happy birthday to me.)

So, it’s just before 7:00 PM here and we are resting on the boat. That means I’m writing this and EW is sleeping with his book in hand. Helga wants to have drinks later, and at 11 tonight there will be fireworks.

For my birthday.

Kind of makes turning 47 (er-hem) sound OK, doesn’t it?

 

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Ti-i-i-ime Is On My Mind! Yes It Is.

IMG_7527To recap, we arrived on Friday night, we couldn’t check in over the weekend, we had a music night on Saturday, stayed on the boat on Sunday, and on Monday we finally went ashore. In the meantime, we met Gill and John, sailors from Britain who have a 40-year-old steel Joshua – the kind of boat sailed by Bernard Moitessier – who are sailing to the Caribbean after four years in Turkey. (Gill feels about Turkey as we do about the Azores. As members of the EU they get to stay in the country of their choice nearly indefinitely. This is not fair. But I digress.)

IMG_7536Gill had swum by the boat on Sunday and invited us for “nibbles” at six on Monday. Now that we had our social life taken care of, we had to get to town and check into Spain/the Canaries. This island is a natural park and there are only two settlements, and only one town. The other settlement just has homes and no services. IMG_7545Most of the differences between the Azores and the Canaries are easily apparent: the Azores are lush with green leaves, cactus, gardens, hydrangeas, and stone walls, while the Canaries are largely shades of blue and brown in sea, sky, and sand; the streets and sidewalks of even the smallest island in the Azores are paved with lava stones, and the trails are well-marked; on this island in the Canaries, one walks or drives on deep fine sand or packed sand; and of course, the Azores are Portuguese and the Canaries are Spanish. There are more differences, including one that eluded us for the first 90 hours of our visit.

(At left, EW on the way to town. Yes, it is that desolate. At right, town.)

First of all, we can’t check in here and will have to go to Lanzarote. We have sent an inquiry for a reservation as they are often full due to all the boats getting ready to cross alone or in various groups, such as the ARC or the Odyssey. That done, we had lunch in one of the three cafes that have Wi-Fi, shopped for a few provisions, and talked with a tourist representative about things to do on the island. We were running later than I wanted, and the walk back was more arduous due to the heft of the provisions (wine and beer weigh more than lettuce and tomatoes), but we arrived at the boat at 4:00 with plenty of time to mix up another batch of cheese biscuits, chill them for an hour and bake them prior to rowing over to Petronella. Gill and John were great hosts, she had prepared a wonderful variety of “nibbles”, and we all decided to take a hike together the next morning, agreeing to turn on the VHF to channel 69 at 10:00. When we arrived back aboard La Luna, EW promptly entered an alarm in the iPad for 09:55.

The next morning, the iPad started whooping at 08:55. I’m not a fan of the iPad and I despise iTunes, so I was quick to discount the time discrepancy as a problem with the iPad. Both laptops and the ship’s clock told us it was just nine. Shortly afterward, we heard Gill hailing us from the bow of their boat, telling EW to please turn on the radio. I did so and hailed them on 69 – of course at that exact moment, EW and I realized that perhaps our journey from the Azores had taken us into a different time zone. The iPad, now known as the “Time God” was right. For three days, we’d been operating an hour behind everyone else.

Of course, that means we were very late for music night aboard Sephina on Saturday. (Something that wasn’t as apparent since they had other guests and we were essentially the “plus two”.) More appalling, we realized that when we had been the only guests on Petronella the night before, we had been an hour late! I am never an hour late. I am never sanguine about being late. I’m a nasty wreck when I’m late. Gill and John had ignored our breach of etiquette as only the British could/would do. (Even our Canadian friends would have said something, gently.) Of course, they had figured it out when we weren’t on the radio, but on the evening in question, they had looked over to our boat shortly after 6 and noticed that we were on-board, calmly going about our business (i.e. reading on deck while the cheese dough hardened), and actually assumed that they must have asked us to drinks and nibbles at 7.

This also explains why the store that stays open until 2 was closed when we stopped by shortly after 1 on Monday. I have no idea what time I called my sister, Pat, in Maine. No wonder her husband, Jerry suggested I give her a half hour and call back. I kind of wished Gill and John had been American or Australian. Either of those nationalities would have been more likely to at least synchronize watches before parting on Monday evening. On the radio Tuesday morning radio call, we agreed to pack lunches and meet ashore at 11:00. I made sure we arrived first, and we had a great hike, and a good laugh over the whole time thing. We invited them to join us and Rob and Jen for dinner on La Luna that evening. When we suggested they show up at six, John quickly asked, “The real six or the hour one-hour-later six?”  We deserved that.

Our hike:

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Gill (pronounced “Jill”),  John with EW, EW and John checking out the marker at the top, with Jill taking a photo for her blog, view of the anchorage, and photos of the two couples.


A Desert Isle

IMG_7383The obvious movie quote as we approached Graciosa in the Canary Islands was, “I don’t think we’re in the Azores, Toto.”  In eight days and just a bit over eight hundred miles we had gone from the arid but lush AzoresIMG_7401 to a desert on the sea. We were heading for the anchorage on the southeast end of the island, which is nestled close to the larger (and evidently very slightly more urban) island of Lanzarote. As we rounded the end of Graciosa, we were greeted by a heart on shore.  All together now, “Awwwww.”  As has been mentioned, we successfully anchored just at dark on Friday night.

IMG_7419I spent most of our first day in Graciosa in the cockpit with binoculars and camera at my side, hand sewing the flag of Spain, and stealing views of other cruisers and the day party boats moored near shore. Our sewing machine is not working (Fixing it is on the list. I have an instructional CD. That should go well, right?) and Spain’s is a simple three-stripe flag; in my past life ashore I used to embroider, so I sewed a flag.  That actually went very well, but it did take nearly all day.

EW had announced that he was tired from the sail and wanted a day of rest, flatly refusing to get the dingy in the water. I was OK with that, as it isn’t quite kosher to hang around town before we check in to the country, and we couldn’t do that until Monday.  While I was on deck with the binoculars and my sewing, I noticed a handsome shepherd on Sephina, the catamaran anchored near us. EW thought he had heard live music wafting from that same boat the evening before. Therefore, we were both on the lookout for the crew of that boat, so when Rob (Australian) and Jen (French) and their dog Bal (German) came by in a kayak, we hailed them. I talked dog, and EW asked them if the music he’d heard had been from their boat. Oh yeah.

(We found out later that Rob and Jen had met via an on-line music site. During the ensuing months they shared music, life histories, and dreams. At some point in the early conversations, Rob mentioned he wanted to sail around the world and Jen told him he should absolutely follow his dream. When their friendship became a relationship he asked Jen to sail with him. She agreed as long as she could keep her dog and have some plants on board. They have a large, beautiful catamaran, with dog, plants, a number of guitars, a full electronic keyboard, and a box of assorted small percussion instruments.)

Of course, we didn’t know all of that when EW asked about the music, but Rob was delighted to find out that EW played and it was agreed that we’d get together at some point. I stitched away and tried to come up with some snack options in case “at some point” meant that evening on La Luna. I mentally thanked my morning self for cleaning the boat, physically mixed up a batch of cheese crackers and put it in the fridge to firm before baking, and went back to sewing the flag and keeping watch over the harbor.

IMG_7517Later that afternoon, Rob and Jen came by to say that folks they’d met in Madeira had arrived and they all wanted to get together to share music. We were invited, and EW amazingly found the energy and motivation toIMG_7498 inflate the dinghy. (Subtle, not?) I baked the crackers, we packed our drinks and other things and prepared for an evening of playing music in the cockpit of a catamaran. Of course, this immediately brought to mind our many evenings on Two Much Fun, One White Tree, and Ainulindalë . I will not cry. I will not cry. We had been invited for 6, but I purposely waited until a bit later so that they could all catch up in French and have dinner. The other guests were Marianne, Jon-Luc, and Luca from S/V. Yeo, and another family from France, Luic, Laurence, Louise, Mael, and Lucy. All are fun, talented, wonderful people and we had a ball. Louise played her violin, Lucy showed us the “Cup Song”, and Mael is a budding magician with a myriad of tricks and a winning smile. Luca didn’t play for us, but I know that he writes songs and lyrics.  Marianne, Laurence, and Luic have excellent singing voices. This was a talented group.

IMG_7430Jon-Luc knows a lot of American songs – in French. He’d hum one to EW in a stepped-up tempo, and we’d try to slow it down in our mind and figure out what song it was so they could play it together. His guitar is a travel guitar that rattled when EW tried it out. Turned out Jon-Luc had stored his reading glasses in it. Jon-Luc told us in his limited English that the guitar had been advertised as a carryall and paddle. Now that’s a versatile guitar. Didn’t sound half bad, either.

IMG_7481Jon-Luc, Rob, Jen,and EW all led the group is their favorite songs and in the songs requested by Marianne and Laurence, who had song books in French and English. We laughed, we sang, we got to know each other, and we felt welcomed back into the cruisers’ way of life as we knew it in the Caribbean. I think we’re going to like the Canaries just fine, and I’m sure that those cruising in the Caribbean will enjoy meeting the crews on these three boats, as well.

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Jon-Luc, Jen, Marianne, and Mael after a particularly effective trick. Don’t you love his magician’s head gear? It was also effective as a presto-chango scarf.

 

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Bal likes to sleep on feet. Best case – he sleeps on one foot and you use the other to rub behind his ears. We are friends.


Life at Anchor on a Desert Isle

Graciosa in the Canaries is nothing like Graciosa in the Azores, although it is equally as beautiful in its own way. The eight hundred miles we sailed to the south has taken us to a brown island nestled between a bright blue sky and a darker blue sea. The bay is a stopping off point for boats preparing to cross the Atlantic. Here the boat can sit safely on anchor while the crew hikes the bare hills, swims,treks into the small town, and visits with other sailors.

We are delighted with Graciosa. EW talks often about a time in the 60's when he and his friends drove first to Texas and then to Mexico to surf -- long before the resorts were built. I imagined yesterday that this is similar in some ways to being in that area of Mexico at that time but on a boat: a long walk to the only town, limited groceries, more bars than shops, beaches and sand dunes between the boat and the town. There were no burros, but Spanish is spoken here and a few of the bars have wifi.

Yesterday we needed groceries and opted not to trek in with the laptop. My back and legs were grateful for that decision, but it didn't allow me to post the story and photos of our first two days here. They will come. I'll write up multiple posts and trek to town with the laptop, order a beer or wine at the hamburger shack that serves excellent fajitas, and send up our news.

In the meantime, I was able to read the comments on Facebook and the blog, and decided to answer some of you here -- in public.

Jimmy -- I laughed until I cried and assume you forgot to enter West instead of East in the Longitude, placing La Luna on the other side of the world. My school held a science fair when I was in junior high and the choir teacher found science songs somewhere. One of the songs taught Longitude and Latitude. Really. I can still sing bits of it.

Dave in Yarmouth -- I feel your pain. We lived aboard for eight winters in Maine. I am very good at shrink wrapping a boat in the water, but have no experience doing one on land. I also hope to never have to use those skills again. Perhaps this winter, while you are hunkered down in a snow storm, you will read in a post that we are south of the Cape Verde Islands, turning write because the butter has melted. We do plan to use those old sailing directions for this trip -- supplemented with actual navigation and the GPS.

Neil on Phoenix of Hamble -- this island is charming and there are some few tourists here for the quiet. We hope to rent bicycles and tour the other end while we are here. Before that, we will spend a day sailing to Lanzarote -- where we have been told they have marvelous stores -- including an IKEA. Oh my. So far, life is good in the Canaries.

Cathy K -- Loving you and missing you. Sorry we didn't get to talk, but we will from here. In the meantime I'll look for parakeets in the canaries. Haven't seen any -- nor any canaries either. Of course there isn't one tree on this island. Not one. That may have something to do with the lack of small colorful birds. Hugs.

Mike -- Thank you for your kind words about the Orion post. I don't have photos of the stars, but will share some of the moon and our passage as soon as I am able.

Rhoda, Kathy, Chrissy, Fred and Mary -- and all the rest of you who followed, commented, clicked like or shared the posts, and shared news on Facebook. Thank you. The technology helps keep me grounded with friends and family while we travel the Atlantic. It warms me.

And now a preview of upcoming attractions: So far we have enjoyed a music night aboard a nearby catamaran, hiked to town and back, and had nibbles and drinks with a British couple heading to the Caribbean. Today, we will hike up the nearby hill from which we've been told there are fantastic views. Photos of all will be posted. I promise.

Safe at Anchor in Graciosa

Good morning, everyone! After just eight days, we have arrived in the Canary Islands, under power, on a beautiful though windless day.

When she has 8-10 knots of wind, La Luna is faster under sail than she is powering with no wind. As navigator, I kept an eye on our course, speed, and projected time of arrival. Just 800 miles south of the Azores, the sun sets much earlier here in the Canaries. During my morning watch I pushed the throttle up on the engine and learned firsthand what EW had told me years ago: A boat will only go so fast, and La Luna will go faster under sail. When we are powering, once we have reached a certain speed, more throttle wastes diesel and works on the engine without pushing us any faster.

Of course I remembered that, after I had added thrust for 15 minutes with no corresponding reduction of projected arrival time. I powered down and relaxed for what could have been another night at sea, running back and forth north of the island. Later in the afternoon, EW was on watch and we were still working at getting in before dark. We were just over two hours from our mark north of the island, and would have had to motor another 8 miles from there to the marina, getting us in after dark. Well, that wouldn't work. Finally, I had the bright idea of seeing what would happen if we approached the south point of the island, instead. (It's a pretty small island.) It would take two hours to get there, as well, but the anchorage is just a mile from that point -- so we decided to go for the anchorage.

After three months in the Azores, where most boats don't even try to anchor, at six in the evening we entered a small bay where twenty other boats were already on the hook. (Once we have daylight on Saturday, I intend to compare where we are to the charts. This bay looks nothing like what EW and I expected.) The bay shoals up to three feet pretty quickly, and we were both a bit confused and concerned coming in so I swung way to the east, before turning north into the anchorage when we would be moving among other keeled boats. I figured if they had enough depth, we would as well.

We decided to try for a spot in 20 to 25 feet of water. We anchored, felt we were too close to the bow of another boat, lifted the anchor, moved ahead and to port about 30 feet, and re-anchored. Perfectly. With calm voices, working as an excellent team, in total agreement. We were safe at anchor just after sunset; I set the anchor alarm; EW hung our anchor light; I made granola for tomorrow's breakfast, and a light tapas dinner; EW made gin and tonic cocktails for two.

Sitting in our cockpit, we gleefully high-fived, and both of us confessed that we had been thinking about how much better we were at anchoring than we had been nearly four years ago in the Bahamas. We anchored in a lot of crowded bays in the Bahamas, and I wasn't used to it. We'd had a very rough anchoring experience in a crowded bay in Maine -- when we had my niece Hazel on board -- and let's just say I lost a bit of confidence in EW's anchoring expertise at that point.

He readily admits he made an error in anchor scope that night. The result was that I began to second (and third and fourth) guess him whenever there were a lot of boats. In the Bahamas, he wanted to throw me overboard; we did not work as a team; and we did not use our best voices. We (I) would drive the boat through an anchorage. EW, on the bow, would point out spot after spot, each of which I would reject as being too close to other boats. It was not a shining moment in our marriage. The contrast between those days and last night was remarkable. I pointed out a spot -- one that EW had already identified. I drove the boat slowly to that spot calling out the depth. When we reached 25 feet, EW dropped the hook. Even though we had to raise and repeat -- in fact perhaps because we had to raise and repeat and did so in perfect agreement --- this was a stress-free and perfect anchoring moment.

We congratulated ourselves over cocktails and reminisced about anchoring in the Bahamas, when EW said, "You've come a long way." I was nonplussed. "Really?" I thought about it and began to laugh. "What's so funny?" EW asked.

"You know, Honey, I've always thought that we had met in the middle when it came to anchoring," and I held my hands up in front of me, moving them to meet together just south of my breast bone. "Right," he said, not meaning "right" at all. "Oh no, you're right," I said. "I got better at this anchoring thing and joined your point of view." I held my left hand out on my left side, and "drove" my right hand over to meet it in a swooping motion. "Yeah," said EW. "My hand didn't need to move."

He admitted to his mistake in Maine, and I grinned and acknowledged that except for that one time, he'd been right all along. Sometimes marriage is about compromise and coming together in the middle. Sometimes it's about getting over yourself and learning what your spouse can teach you. I can accept that.

Afterward, we moved our bed back to our cabin and cuddled together, falling asleep in each others' arms for the first time in eight days. So far life is good in the Canaries, too.

We believe that no one works at the marina over the weekend we can't check into the country until Monday, so we will stay here on the hook until then and will probably not try to get ashore for real WiFi. Time to relax, get to know our neighbors, swim, and enjoy being in a cruisers' anchorage for the first time since Sint Martin.

Our position: North 29 13.10 West 13 31.74

Targets

We are less than 100 miles from the island of Graciosa. I have the midnight to six watch and motored for a half hour, now we are sailing in 4 knots of wind. Sailing very slowly. There are no seas, and the sails aren't flapping -- much. EW is sleeping, and I'm glad he seems to have dropped back into slumber after I woke him up with,"I need need an extra pair of eyes."

At the change of shift, we had been watching a target eight miles to starboard, and he assumed that was why I woke him. No, I was certain that we had been on a collision course with a sailboat. Well, almost certain. On one of my periodic gazes around the sea, I identified the mast light of a sailboat, heading for us. I was so sure it was a sailboat that I tried hailing them on the VHF radio, to no response. Many sailboats don't have a transmitter for AIS; we don't. It's more expensive and when we purchased our receiver pleasure boats weren't encouraged to transmit. So not having an AIS signal for that sailboat didn't mean there wasn't a sailboat. Since we've have very light winds, I started the engine to move us more firmly to starboard so we'd pass safely port to port. Still, I wasn't sure that I was seeing a sailboat, and if so, in which direction it was sailing. That is why I woke EW.

It wasn't a boat. Here's the thing: Every cruising sailor has been fooled by the moon. That sucker can rise out of the sea and scare you half to death because you are sure that you're going to be run down by a ship or hit a lighthouse. Trust me. I've also been fooled by planes. Along the US coast whenever we passed near an airport at night, I would invariably think that a plane taking off was the mast light of a sailboat -- heading directly for me.

Tonight's escapade wasn't a plane. It was a star. A very bright star rising on the eastern horizon. To make me feel even more stupid, once EW went back to bed I remembered something he had told me today. "When you're on watch tonight, look for Orion's belt. The brightest star in a straight line below it is Sirius."

He knew I'd be interested because we named our first boat Sirius. It was a compromise name, suggested by EW, who said that Sirius was the "dog star", and that naming our boat Sirius was a sneaky way of naming it after our dog, Coffee. I melted and agreed. Last we knew, Sirius was still Sirius and happily sailing in Casco Bay.

Tonight her partner in the sky made like a sailboat and got my adrenalin pumping so I'd stay awake on my watch. I'm awake. I'm very awake, and I'm climbing back on deck every few minutes to make sure I look for other boats not on AIS. I'm on watch and EW is deeply asleep, just as it should be.

While I've been writing and watching, the wind dropped to 2 knots and I've turned the engine on again. If we keep the engine running, or if the wind picks up so we can sail 4-5 knots, we'll be in late on Friday afternoon. If the wind picks up just enough to sail at only 3 knots, we'll make our mark after dark tomorrow and will have to hover or sail around until daylight on Saturday.

Whatever.

We are at North 30 04.94 and West 014 34.383, under a full moon and a bright star. Who could ask for more?

Cruising and Traveling and Dreaming of Traveling

Good morning from 150 miles northwest of Graciosa in the Canary Islands. This stream of consciousness post is brought to you by 5 hours of deep slumber and at least two very interesting dreams.

I've been up for only eleven minutes now but, as dreams will do, they are already getting a bit muddy. When EW woke me for my watch, my dream featured Portland, Maine (though it didn't look like Portland), a lion wandering around town, a festival, a yoga class, and me giving a real tourist an impromptu lesson in Maine Lingo. In my dream I was I was delighted with and proud of Maine, though we were no longer living there.

Since we are no longer living there I took that as a sign.

Here's the thing: I loved the Azores, and as much as I loved the Azores I loved who we were when we were at the Azores. We were filled with wonder. Every single day something delighted and amazed us. Generally, EW acted normally, but I smiled constantly. And I bounced. I bounced like Tigger.

We took the time to see everything we could see -- and I don't mean we spent time and money going to every part of the island, eat at every acclaimed restaurant, or participate in every hike or adventure. I mean that when we were in the Azores we fully appreciated where we were in the Azores. We walked; we observed; we interacted, we noticed everything; and we participated fully. Even when we got lost (and a bit testy about it) in Sao Miguel looking for the immigration office (for visas, people, we aren't moving there) we still noticed a one-way street we hadn't yet walked, a bell tower that was there for the climbing, a plaza with a tree whose branches were lovingly supported by strong posts. We marveled at the tree, and went back to walk that street and climb that bell tower. We embraced the Azores.

We participated. We ate their special foods and their cheap lunches. We tried their wines, their cheeses, their agua dente. We bought their produce, meat, snacks, and sauces for our provisions. We began to learn their language, noticed the ways things are done differently, and adapted our ways to theirs.

We opened our arms to the Azores and they hugged us back.

I love Maine. I love being a Mainah and am so blessed to know nearly all of my home state. I may not have traveled along her roads or sailed up her many bays and rivers cloaked in the same big-smile wonder that I've worn in the Azores, but I imagine the right travelers to Maine will find the same exultation there as I have done here. The recipe for successful travel must include an open mind and heart. I have enjoyed all of the countries and islands we've visited since we left Maine; I've come to realize that cruisers are travelers, not tourists; and I have to believe that while I may not adore the Canaries, Cape Verdes, Brazil, Uraguay, or Argentina as much as I adore the Azores, I might do so, and I certainly plan to enjoy and embrace the experience just as fully.

And that will make all the difference.

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Oh, about that sailing thing we're currently doing. We had times in the past 24 hours when there was no wind. Also during the past 24 hours we have raised and lowered the whisker pole twice. Currently we are sailing right down our rhumb line to our goal, on a close reach in 5-7 knots of wind. We are moving along at 3-4 knots, comfortable and happy. I've promised EW a full breakfast with bacon when he gets up from his sleep.

Our location: North 30 54.402, West 015 47.831.

Embrace your day!

We Found our Course

We have too much stuff on the boat, despite what I had thought was a massive purging back in St. Thomas. One of the things we liked about La Luna is that she has room for lots of books. Even though we both now mostly read on a Kindle (me) or iPad (EW), all of the book shelves are full. I've taken to going through those on my side of the bed, reading some before putting them in the book swap bag, and putting others into the bad directly.

Of course, some will be kept as I just can't part with them. Before we left Maine, I purchased a newly published non-fiction paperback by Simon Winchester. That was in 2010. I just this week began to read it. The book, "Atlantic Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories".

I'm glad I waited until I was more familiar with the Atlantic before reading her biography. Because this is a biography of the Atlantic Ocean. The Washington Post review is perfect: "Simon Winchester is one of those maddeningly gifted British writers who could probably write the history of mud and make it fascinating. In fact, he sort of did ... A rollicking ride .. No one tells a better yarn than Winchester." We will purge some books over the next few weeks, but not this one. Not yet.

So, here's news: On October 7, 2014, after a bit over 5 days at sea, we actually got back on our projected course to Graciosa. Sailing is like that. You plan a course, and sail where you must to catch the wind, avoid storms, go around rocks and islands, or to simply keep moving in mostly the right direction. When we left the Azores (sniff) and sailed from Santa Maria we were not able to sail southeast and had to accept that we were going to be west of the line for a while. Whenever the wind allowed us to make east, we made east. Yesterday we sailed due east and touched the line. Well, the little red boat-shaped cursor on the chart plotter touched the big green course line that goes straight from Santa Maria.

We celebrated with a kiss, turned La Luna to the southeast, set the sails to wing-and-wing and aimed for a point just north of Graciosa. We could use a bit more wind, but are still making 4 knots towards our goal. I'm OK with that.

We have used up the last of the Azorean bread, (Wipes away a tear.) so yesterday I made bread, a skillet cake, and a pasta dinner. EW liked dinner so much he put it in the log; isn't that sweet? We may not be making quick headway directly to our goal, but we are eating well.

As of 0154 on October 8 we are at North 32 09.39 and West 17 44.954 and fewer than 300 miles from our goal.

Turtle!

In this vast, huge Atlantic Ocean, we met a turtle last night. We correctly passed each other port to port, and much more closely than I would have allowed any tanker. I was delighted to see her (I'm going with her. She was smallish. Could be a young one of either gender, but I'm going with her.)and wished her safe passage. If she's going to the Caribbean, perhaps we'll swim together one day.

We haven't experienced the turtle hatching expedition in Grenada, but we did visit the turtle sanctuary in Bequia, and we did swim with turtles most of the time we snorkeled in the Caribbean. At anchor in St. Thomas, I loved greeting them from the cockpit as they headed for greener bay pastures, calling out a soft, "Hello, Baby." (I called out. They were silent.)

In Santa Maria there is a small museum founded by an amateur naturalist. He passed away three years ago after a long and fulfilling life, and left a legacy and love of the natural history of the Azores. Decads ago, when Florida scientists wondered where the turtles disappeared to after hatching, this gentleman and his young volunteers tagged adult turtles in the Azores. He teamed with one of those Florida scientists and they discovered the long cruises undertaken by the infant sea turtles, and their return to breed. This man was one of fewer than 6000 residents on a tiny island in the Atlantic. He was from the mainland, but moved to Santa Maria for his job as a air traffic controller.

Both this man and the air traffic control office deserve and will get a bigger blog post. I just wanted to honor that turtle, and the people of the Azores this morning. I wish them both well.

We have light winds and a bit of rolling seas. Upon arising from 6 hours off watch, I have vowed to never again rock a baby in a cradle. I don't find it comfortable or comforting -- at all. At one this afternoon, we'll begin our 5th day at sea, and are already more than half way there, so the 8 -12 day time range is good.

Our location is North 32 23.64 and West 019 19.71.

All is good.