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September 2014

What Would You Have Done?

Here are some multiple choice questions for you sailors and cruisers out there.

1. If you need to repair the dinghy, using various forms of toxic substances and goop would you..

A. Wear quality shorts – the kind that have zip off legs and become pants?

B. Change into work shorts that have been stained and torn?

2. If you opted for B and gotten white 5200 Fast Cure on both legs of the shorts, would you?

A. Ball them up and place them in the sun in the cockpit in a manner that does not allow the 5200 from adhering to the wood?

B. Tell the half of the crew that is adept at removing stains so that she may work on them?

Note, in both cases, B is the right answer.

As you may have surmised, EW opted for A. In both cases. At least he prevented anything else from getting gooped.

I was nearing the end of my laundry morning, and was heading up to put the final load into the drier, when I discovered the shorts. Truthfully, EW had mentioned that he’d gotten stuff on his shorts and “should have changed before starting this job.”


He also said that he was planning on throwing out those shorts on his next trip ashore. First, he was going to make and eat his lunch.

I, being the consummate sailing partner stopped everything, got out some work gloves and towels, and used toluene (proffered by EW between bites), to get almost all of the goop off the shorts. (In fact, if he had been able to answer “B” in question 2. I might have been able to remove all of the goop. Then I put them in my small bucket to soak in a lot of water and a bit of Amazing Roll-Off.

I am reminded of when Favorite lived with us. Early in his high school years he opted for the low-hanging, three- sizes-too-big, and six-inches-too-long pants. As girls became more important, he developed a desire to not look like an idiot and chose a great pair of jeans that actually fit. (His three parental units were thrilled.) Unfortunately he wore them to work at the chandlery (not a bad choice) and spilled a can of bottom paint on them (An accident, but not a good move), went home and called me immediately. (Excellent choice.)

I directed him in soaking the pants until I got home from work. It took three washings and a huge amount of an organic cleaner we had on hand, but those jeans looked like new when I was done. Favorite did it right.  EW knew all about it, but apparently didn’t learn from Favorite’s example.

Good thing I love him.

There are three reasons I wrote this post:

1.  It seems on this cruise that we have been getting along so well and acting so in tune that I find little to complain about in my usual funny manner. I miss that – and I can think of a few friends who miss it, too.

2. When I nominated Neil Strenge and his blog Mishaps and Memories for the Liebster Award he was very kind in mentioning my book and blog, saying: Barbara is living the dream, and set off from Maine for  life aboard. Barbara writes with a witty, easily read style that will have you laughing our loud!.. and has a book, Harts at sea, that I highly recommend. Her descriptions of the obviously, ever so patient, EW are entertainment in their own right!

That “ever so patient” description of EW is a lie. EW is loving, talented, and good-looking; he has a great sense of humor, has only once ever complained about a blog post, and is resigned to being “the topic.’ He is not patient. (Neither am I but I haven’t been described as such in a popular blog.)

3. I forget the third reason – guess only two were important.

I’m not sure whether the shorts will be entirely 5200-free, but they will be wearable in public and will not yet become boat project only shorts. That’s the important thing.

Well, that and I still love EW.



Waiting out Edouard in Sao Miguel

Our stay in the Azores has been complicated/extended/punctuated by two consistent themes: 1. We have to stay in marinas due to weather or lack of anchorage, and 2. We stay on each island longer than intended – due to weather, repairs, or (more usually) a love of the island.

In Sao Miguel we opted to wait out the passage of Hurricane Edouard, even though he wasn’t a hurricane by the time he arrived. All weather reports promised 9 foot seas from the west. We stayed put because we wanted to anchor at our next stop, and didn’t want to anchor in 9 foot seas. (We’re picky like that.)

This is a view of the seas that day  --- nearly flat calm. We thought we couldn’t check out of the marina on the weekend (and we can’t unless we are going to check in at the next harbor) so we stayed a few extra days for no reason.  P1000830

At first,we both pouted a bit, and then the Magic of the Azores took over and we decided to walk west along the water. We ended up turning left at the marina and following the road along the water, past industrial parks and fish plants, along a typical Azorean drive that included a wide sidewalk, art, view points, and picnic tables. We’ve decided that the Azorean motto is “When in doubt, make a park.” 

We walked around the airport.

We walked past a small village, where I heard a rhythmic mechanical sound coming from a “garagem”. (That’s what they call garages here. We love that.) The “garagem” door was open so I walked up, smiling, to project dumb tourist/no threat. P1000846

A young woman and her grandfather were inside. They spoke no English but indicated I could certainly take photos. He was making wine, and crushing grapes with a ratchet system. The sound I’d heard was when he turned the rachett. Note the barrels of wine from previous years along the back wall of the “garagem”.

P1000865Ultimately, we encountered cows, because there is one cow for every human living in Sao Miguel – and Sao Miguel is the most populated island in the Azores.

The pastures butted up against a block of buildings that faced the sea. Note the cross walk. I asked the gentleman in the window at the left whether this was a guest house or tourist center. No, it was merely a group of three or four homes, surrounded by pasture on three sides, yet they rated a cross walk to the sea. I love the Azores.

P1000868Twenty years ago, this man had returned to the Azores from Toronto. He sells bull semen. (Really.) He frequently travels back to America on business and visits friends and family who are incredulous that he has moved back to the slower pace of the Azores. “I was lucky to see my friends in Toronto every couple of months. We were too busy. Here, I see my best friends a couple of times a week. This is better.” P1000871

We walked on, through the village of Relva, past ruined homes, newer homes, goats, and typical neighborhoods.












We passed the airport, looking down on our road along the shore, and walked back to Ponta Delgada.



As we walked through the city we naturally passed the square (praza) at the arches, and a performance of traditional Azorean folk dancers, singers, and musicians.














Many of you know that I’m not the most patient person in the world, but I’m learning. The morning was a reminder that we are where we need to be. Thank you, Edouard.

I Have Been Liebster Awarded! (Thank you, Lynn)

Liebster threeLynn Kaak – cruising sailor, hasher, hiker, runner, all around fun person, and author of The Voyages of S/V Silverheels III – nominated me for the Liebster Award. I had to look it up.

It’s an honor, so thank you, Lynn. Really.

The Leibster Award started somewhere around 2012 or 2013 and there are conflicting stories out there, so I decided to check in with Lorraine Reguly of  Since this is like a game of gossip, Lorraine’s rules differ somewhat from what Lynn sent out. I’ve taken the liberty of mashing the two together, with apologies to Liebster, Lynn, and Lorraine.  Lorraine’s rules (with two omissions) are pasted at the end of this post. (You can find Lorraine’s explanation of the rules here.)

So, I have successfully accomplished steps I and II as pasted below. Now I have to answer the questions Lynn posed. Start Photo 10-8-2012 3-59-59 PM (Here we are in Grenada in 2012.)


1) If you could do something else with your life, what would you like to do... if you are doing what you like, why is this "it"?  This is “it” for now. Why? Well, EW and are both great travelers, we love to visit new places, try the foods, and talk with residents and other visitors. (Yesterday we met Nigeria’s Ambassador to Portugal. She is awesome!)  We are both challenged by living aboard and sailing and that keeps us active, thinking, and working as a team. We both have discovered talents and interests that we can pursue while living this lifestyle: EW’s music and my writing. And finally, neither of us can think of any other lifestyle/location/home we’d want to have right now.

2) What is the one place in the world you would most like to visit, assuming money wasn't a problem.  I would love to sail in Greece on a crewed charter catamaran. Since money is no problem, we’d charter it for 6 weeks and have friends and Favorite visit us along the way.

3) If you could go back to one point in history as an observer, when and where would it be? Please give a brief explanation as to why then and there.  This is a hard one. I guess somewhere in England during WWII. Clearly I’ve read too many novels and biographies about that time. 

4) Give one quick go-to recipe for when you are in a pinch.  Popcorn for supper comes to mind, but when I want to do a bit better than I go with risotto. I always have broth, Arborio rice, and Parmesan cheese on board and can make risotto in the pressure cooker.  It works as a company dish, too. EW loves it with beef broth and reconstituted dried mushrooms. My current favorite recipe is from Cruising Cuisine by Kay Pastorius: 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 TBLS olive oil, 1 cup Arborio rice, 31/4 cups chicken broth, 1 TBLS lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. white (or black) pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese. 1) Sauté onion in olive oil for two minutes, stir in rice and cook for one minute, 2) add everything except the cheese, secure the lid and bring to high pressure. Cook for twelve minutes. Allow the steam to reduce naturally, open, stir in the cheese and serve with salad.

5) Most of you have moved a long way from where you grew up. What was the best thing about that?  That depends on the day. I grew up in Maine, and used to love the winters, but after living aboard year-round for eight years I’m done with that. I love seeing new places and trying new foods and meeting new people. Seriously, I love our lifestyle. As EW and I say on particularly good days: This does not suck. On more difficult/boat project days we say: Sailing is fun. Sailing is fun.

6) What do you miss most about where you grew up, if anything.  I grew up in a very small town in Maine and while it was a great place to grow up,  I don’t miss anything about that town. I do miss my  family; our friends; some of my favorite places in Maine (such as Portland, Allen’s Mills, Penobscot Bay, and Barker Pond); and lobsters, blueberries, and fresh corn on the cob. 

7) Name one skill or talent that you don't have, that you wish you had. Now that EW has really come into his own as a guitarist/singer, I really wish I could carry a tune and harmonize with him.

8) Red or white wine? Wine of any kind. But I tend to always have red available for my sundowner. Friends from Germany had cans of Prosecco and I think that’s brilliant! –Also any wine made by EW’s brother, Howie.

9) Why did you start writing a blog? I was pushed into writing TWO blogs back when we lived on the dock in Maine. I had been taking a business development class from Lynnelle, who became a dear friend. She was much more knowledgeable about social media and blogging and she forced me into it. I started a blog for our life on the boat, and one for my business, Hire Well. Never regretted it, and never stopped.

10) Will you forgive me for nominating you and giving you homework? Absolutely, Lynn. This is an honor and I thank you. However I suspect you couldn’t think of another question and that’s why you asked. (Hugs.)

Some of my nominees don’t know I exist. I found their blogs, enjoy them, and want to share them with you. My nominees for the Liebster are the following five bloggers:

First, two who are preparing to cruise.

1. Neil Strenge currently rehabbing the S/V Phoeix of Hamble. Neil’s blog is  The boat is in the yard and Neil talks about his projects and his progress in short, descriptive posts. This is the nuts and bolts of preparing to move aboard and cruise and there are mishaps. I can so relate.

2. Melissa White and her husband also are preparing to cruise. Melissa’s blog is delightfully titled Little Cunning Plan, after a quote from a BBC series. Their boat is in the water, they are still working, and getting their house ready to rent. Again, a very truthful blog about beginning this lifestyle.

Next, two food related blogs.

3. Carolyn Shearlock, author of The Boat Galley, cruised for many years and has a plethora of ideas about outfitting the boat, useful products, recipes, and more. Plus, she knows cool sailors and bloggers and is a great resource. Carolyn has published the excellent Boat Galley Cookbook, but her blog isn’t just about cooking.

4. And one from Maine – Kate is a Master Food Preserver, teaching classes at Cooperative Extension, an author: Portland Food The Culinary Capital of Maine, and a blogger with a title I can get behind, The Blueberry Files. (See above. I miss Maine Blueberries.) When I miss Maine, especially Portland and the food there, I read Kate and feel worse (and better).

And my last Liebster award goes to:

5.Emily Fagan of  Roads Less Traveled. Emily and her husband Mark were cruising sailors, then split their year between a boat and an RV and are now full-time RVers. In addition to the blog, Emily’s articles and Mark’s photos have been published in a number of magazines. If you itch to travel, but sailing isn’t your gig, check out their blog for inspiration.

Now, here are your eleven questions. (That’s right, Lorraine says I only have to find 5 bloggers, but do have to ask eleven questions. I can do that.

1. Do you have a favorite word? (Mine is “plethora”. I try to use it once a month in the blog and love the way it rolls off my tongue.) What’s your favorite word and why?

2. Dogs or Cats?

3.  What new fix-it skills have you learned since you started boating, RV’ing, preserving?

4. Real books or ebooks?

5. All of you lead (or have led) somewhat unconventional lives, on a boat, in an RV,  in Portland cobbling a living together out of a love of food – does your family support those choices?  Do they “get it”?

6. Describe one of the best moments you had while doing what you love.

7. What’s your favorite place – around the corner or around the world, what place always makes you smile when you think of it?

8. Most memorable meal? (It doesn’t have to be good to be memorable.)

9. How many languages do you speak? What are they? What language would you like to learn?

10.  I know it’s all fun, but when  you aren’t  writing, working on the boat or RV, driving, sailing, or cooking – what do you do for fun?

11.  What country or state would you most like to visit and why?

There, I have fulfilled my obligation. Again, I want to thank Lynn for the nomination. This was a fun exercise, and an honor.

If you accept the nomination, here are (most of)  Lorraine Reguly’s Leibster Rules for you to follow. While some have said that the Liebster Award is like a chain letter – there are no penalties for ignoring the nomination, and no deadlines. This is meant to be a compliment, not a complication. Cheers!

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award.

5. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

6. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

7. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

Edouard 15.50 9.16


Seriously? All last summer I haunted this NOAA website, worried about Hurricanes in St. Thomas – and now we’re stalked by Edouard?

Grrr. While we adore the Azores (you probably figured that out, already) the locals have continually apologized for the unseasonable rainy weather, and we are once again stuck in a marina waiting out wind and waves. Or that’s what I thought yesterday. In reality, we may get some wind on Monday, but not only of the 34 knot variety – no hurricane strength -- and there’s only 5% chance of that. EW and I are ready to be off the dock so we’ll be sailing a few miles down the coast to Franca do Campo. We can anchor in that bay, near the marina there and scoot into there if we need to. We’re getting good at that in the Azores.

IMG_5021This anchorage has been on my top ten list since we planned to cruise these islands. There is a little islet near the town (see left). One anchors just outside on a day stop and swims or rows in to “the best natural swimming hole in the Azores”. How can we miss it?  The plan is to finally leave the marina in the city today or tomorrow, anchor off the town and visit the little island on Saturday. Then, depending on the weather, we will tour a bit on that end of the island before heading to Santa Maria – the last of the Azorean islands for this cruise.

While here in Sao Miguel, EW and I took the minibus (0.35 Euro per person) to the big grocery store where we can get things like real mozzarella and parmesan cheese, motor oil for La Luna, and salad dressing. (They don’t use salad dressing in the Azores, offering oil and vinegar with every salad made.) In honor of EW’s 50th reunion and the Bills trouncing of the Dolphins, we had decided to have Buffalo Chicken Wings and for that one needs blue cheese dressing. It wasn’t good blue cheese dressing, but the wings were great. (We served them with carrots and cucumbers, because they don’t usually have celery here, either.)

Oh, hey! You haven’t heard about my most recent blond moment. It’s a biggie. Our American neighbors asked us how close we were to our 90 day limit, and how we were going to handle it. I, however was clueless. “What 90 day limit?” It seems that almost all of the EU countries, including Portugal, are part of the Schengen Agreement. They allow Americans and others to visit without a visa for 90 days in a six month period. I thought we had 180 days in the EU. Turns out we have 90, ending on October 4th. Oops.  Evidently, this is a fairly new issue and one that I missed because I was relying on research undertaken when we planned to cross in 2013. Big oops.

We think we may be able to get a 90 day extension. Three immigration officers told us we could, but won’t do it until we are within a few days of our October 4 deadline. Fingers crossed that we can get this done in Santa Maria (if Edouard allows us to go there) or the Canaries. We’ve decided not to worry about it. We will absolutely meet with immigration and talk with them as not doing anything will result in higher penalties. Part of  the issue, of course, is that we crossed Morocco, Senegal, and Gambia off the cruising route, which would have given us time outside of the EU. In reality, we just liked the Azores too much to leave until we were done.

IMG_4868While we were wandering side streets looking for the immigration office, I saw a guard sitting inside a small doorway at City Hall.  (That’s City Hall, above.) The guard’s post was the entrance to the bell tower and one can climb to the top at no charge. How cool is that? Even better, they play organ music with speakers at every level. Creepy. 

Yes, EW did say, “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”

The stairs freaked me out as the stone slabs had broken at the edges creating open risers. I’m used to that for Maine porches and camp steps, not so much when climbing a stone tower accompanied by creepy organ music. I kept waiting for them to collapse. The last bit of the climb was inside a tiny circular stairway – so tiny that EW’s backpack and he nearly didn’t fit.  The view was awesome! This is the marina, looking toward where we will sail next; just around this point for a distance of 12 miles.


IMG_5647Even in the Azores’ most populated island and largest city, we are still very close to country, pastures, and cows.















IMG_5673 And finally, in this potpourri of a  post. I cut EW’s  hair today for the  third time since    we left Maine in  2010. The first  time, I used  scissors only and  cut his hair on the  beach in the  Bahamas. The  second time, at  his express  request, I used  the clippers he  had purchased  when left alone in  a mall in Puerto  Rico. It was  horrible. I wrote a  post about it, and Favorite visited shortly afterward. He looked at his dad, he looked at me, and he said, “The photos didn’t do this haircut justice. It’s the worst haircut I’ve ever seen.”

EW is a brave man and he agreed that I should try again, using scissors for the cut and  the trimmer just for his neck. This is not a horrible cut, though I hope to do better next time. There was one issue however. The electric clippers look harmless and as I was doing his neck I thought I’d just touch up a long spot in the back.

It didn’t help that I laughed so hard I cried. So glad this man is a good sport. Except for the spot, he likes the cut OK.



So, we’re off  to Franca du Campo.

And then to Santa Maria. We’ll let you know if we end up in an Azorean jail.

EW already has a prison haircut.

Otherwise, things are good.

EW's 50th High School Reunion

IMG_5510He couldn't attend, but many of his good friends and classmates had a great weekend in Niagara Falls and we were sorry to miss it. (I had a ball at his 30th!) In lieu of visiting we sent a brief description of our travels and a bunch of photos from the past three years.

Instead of dancing to 60’s music on Saturday, EW and I toured an amazing garden, the Jardim Antonio Borges. I can’t find much about the history of this garden; everything briefly states that there are numerous “rare vegetal species” but no article discusses the stone work, caves, or tunnels. We were enthralled.












IMG_5596As we left the marina that afternoon, we talked with men who were setting up a stage and sound system and found out that local Portuguese folk music would be presented at 10. The primary performers were two brothers, one who played the typical Azorean 12-string guitar (at left and at right), and the other who accompanied him on a regular 6-string. IMG_5602They were also joined by a bass player and a violinist. The brothers were charming, with one frequently providing a lengthy introduction or explanation – in Portuguese – after which the other would look at him and say, “English”. The lead guitarist would then smile shyly and say (for example) “We now play Foofa.” Trust me, he said way more than that in Portuguese.



IMG_5604The music was outstanding, but nothing we could stroll to. (Those of you my age and under will have to talk to someone much older to find out about the Stroll. I learned it at EW’s 30th reunion.) (Also, I am obliged to point out that they all "strolled" in Jr. High, they are not old enough to have "strolled" for the first time in High School, unless they were reminiscining.) 

Looks like we’ll be on the dock here for most of this week. 25-35 knots of wind most days – more if Eduard does something stupid.

Cheers from Ponta Delgado, Sao Miguel, the Azores.


IMG_5470Here’s Antonio Borges. Any of you Grenada cruisers think he looks like someone? Perhaps someone who plays the guitar? From Maryland? He has the mustache but will need to grow a curly goatee.

Also, on the way back to the boat we saw this billboard advertising a Ballet company. Do those tree roots look familiar? (See the second photo in this post.)


Holy Cow! Daddy, This One's For You.



The above photo from Sao Miguel is a typical scene in the Azorean countryside. As is the one below from Sao Jorge.IMG_1671

Note that the cows are grazing in distant pastures. If the “cows” are beef cattle, steers, or too young to milk, then it’s not an issue. From our first glimpse of the pastures in the Azores I marveled at how they milked the cows on these tiny islands.

First a bit of background, Daddy (yes I know I’m too old to call him Daddy, but you will just have to deal) worked for H.P. Hood for over 25 years. He started in Skowhegan, Maine when he was a young widower with three children, and needed a job that would allow him to be home every evening. His first job at Hood was to haul the full milk cans off the trucks, and put the cleaned cans back on for the next trip to the farms. I assume he also hauled those cans into the plant and dumped them into vats for processing.

When Hood wanted to modernize, Daddy was promoted to field-man (that was the term then, and they were all men) and became the company’s liaison to the farmers. His first task: to convince the farmers to build new, cement floored milking parlors and to purchase and install surge-milkers. I was his youngest and the child of his second marriage, so I just heard about this. I was also the only one of his kids not to live on a farm at some point. I was his “city kid”. Still, he took me to visit “his” farmers and told me many stories. (I remember a coffee mug from the era (one of two that Mom considered “off-color”) depicting a happy farmer with his arm around a sub-standard cow. The caption: “If I had only one cow and she had only one teat, I’d STILL used my surge-milker!)

The point is that I’m not entirely ignorant about milking cows and knew that these generally modern islands ---with WIFI, hybrid vehicles, wind and steam power generating plants, and jet ski races --- were milking cows and transporting milk the old fashioned way. We saw trucks with milk cans and small remote milking parlors, some portable, on every island, but I hadn’t seen them milking the cows until Jose took us for a drive.

We met Jose in Graciosa when we were at anchor and when he and his wife were on vacation. They had one of the very few transient slips in the marina and sailed past our anchorage one evening, jib and main full and heading for the sharp turn into the marina. I took photos of their boat under sail and stopped by the next day to exchange emails. Jose was delighted with the photos and to learn that we were planning on visiting Sao Miguel. He came to our slip after our arrival and offered to spend his last vacation day taking us for a drive. (Have I told you that I love the Azores?) The weather is frankly lousy this week with a huge nasty front to the north, low clouds over the mountains, and a constant threat of rain. IMG_4981

Jose drove us further east along the southern coast to Vila Franca de Campo, where he was born, and where we wish to visit via sailboat before we leave.









IMG_5004Along the way, we stopped at fishing villages, viewpoints, and beaches. He told us to let him know whenever we wanted him to stop, but he did just fine on his own.















After Vila Franca, Jose drove north over the hilly/mountainous/crater-filled middle of the island on increasingly smaller roads, taking us deep into farming country. We rounded a bend to see this: IMG_5045

“Oh, please, can we stop here?”

Jose pulled over, disregarding the smell, the wet road dotted with cow leavings, and what I am sure was an unusual request. The farmer was cheerful, but indicated he didn’t speak English. I was bouncing, and EW was resigned to a Barbara Moment. (That’s how we roll.)

Here comes the milk can!                                                      Here’s the milk can!











IMG_5057Cows everywhere know when it’s time for milking, which usually means increased comfort (think about it) and food. They wander on their own to the milking parlor to meet the farmer. In some cases, the farmer must unlatch a gate to let them wander along the road to the parlor, but this shed seemed to be inside the pasture. The lady at left had been milked, released from the surge-milker, and decided to head back to the herd.


The farmer set the can at the entrance to the shed, took care of another cow, and then picked up the can and moved toward us. (Even in my excitement I had the presence of mind not to go beyond the paved road to the muddy/xxitty area outside the shed. That’s what zooms are for.)






He set the can down, looked at me, and said, “Taste?”

“Oh yes, Please!”  My mother was was a clean freak and I have just enough of her in me to have looked around for little cups, or a ladle.

Nah!  The farmer took off the lid, tilted the can, and filled her up, offering me the first sip.


I passed it on to EW, who drank deeply, and passed it to Jose, who is a really, really good sport and who got milk on his nose. IMG_5051








We didn’t drink all of the milk, so the farmer simply dumped it back into the can. I’m sure they pasteurized the milk at the processing plant, right?

Here’s something I didn’t know – EW had never had fresh milk, and he’d never ever had warm from the cow milk. He was almost as delighted as I was. IMG_5059

The farmer seemed happy, too.

EW and I endeavored to clean the bottoms of our shoes before getting back into Jose’s car.

Jose took us over rutted washed out roads, past magnificent views, pastures, and volcanic craters.

He drove down one into a valley with a stream where there had been a spring water bottling plant when he was young.

We visited Ribeira Grande on the north shore, and returned over the mountains through the clouds, stopping at other sites along the way.

Back at the marina we invited him to the boat for refreshments, where he wanted to try some Caribbean Rum. Go figure. We were, of course able to comply. We had offered to pay for gas, but he had refused. Once on board we offered him a bottle of maple syrup. He has family in Canada and he knows and likes maple syrup. We were all happy. It was a happy kind of day. And I got to cross “See a milking parlor” from my Azores Bucket List.



The old spring building for the bottling plant.IMG_5124

One of the views from inside the crater. That pole on the left side is one of the seismic monitors.









IMG_5136Do you know what this is? It was always conveniently placed at a crossroads or near a small group of homes – if  the ladies were fortunate.









Three ladies at a time could gather near the stream and wash clothes. The slanted stone at the left of each “tub” was for scrubbing. We had seen one of these in Terceira where they had cut grooves into those stones for better scrubbing power. This evidently was easier than toting water back home for laundry – and certainly more social.

On Our First Day in Sao Miguel


EW and I were tired when we arrived in Sao Miguel on Saturday afternoon. It had been a good 30 hour sail, but neither of us has slept well when we were off watch and I hadn’t slept the night before we left. Madalena in Pico is a very small anchorage with ugly volcanic rocks and breaking waves on the south end. We had strong winds from the north and the sound of waves crashing against the rocks was not soothing. So – when we arrived in Sao Miguel we were punchy tired. We also didn’t have a key card for the docks and wouldn’t be able to get one until we checked in on Monday. I envisioned Sunday as a day on the boat and decided to scoot to the store while folks were around on Saturday so I could sneak back to the boat with help from kind strangers. (That was actually easier than I expected.)

Just an hour after we tied up to the dock we stinky, punchy duo were visited by Rodrigo, a handsome young man from Brazil. It turns out Rodrigo was delighted to see an American-flagged vessel as he needed a bit of assistance. Fortunately, he found the right boat.  Hold that thought.

IMG_4868Last week I discovered a book on my Kindle – “When You Catch an Adjective, Kill it” by Ben Yagoda. I’d tell you how much I love it but I’d have to use a adjectives. To give you an idea, know that I read passages of this book to EW – and that he enjoyed it. (Seriously, I can think of maybe four people who would welcome someone reading from a book about grammar.) One of the points my new best friend, Ben, made is that our irregular verbs and our adjectives make it difficult for those learning English as a second language. Rodrigo speaks four languages; he earned his bachelor’s degree in France, and his masters in Germany, and is currently preparing to earn his PhD at an international university with English as the primary language.  His proposal and grant request must be written in English and he had been looking for a native speaker to read and edit four documents for him.

IMG_4878Cue La Luna’s arrival onto the docks. Of course I agreed to help, but suggested we wait until Sunday when my brain would be operating at full capacity. That worked. Three of the documents had only a few problems, the grant letter needed more work, and  just as Ben predicted, most of the problems were with adjectives. For example, while a child or a dog or a girlfriend may be “precious”, the study of education and inequality is not --though it certainly may be important. “Especial” is a word in English, but it is not one used often and “special” worked just fine. (“Especial” is very common in Portuguese.) I told him make the open quotes up, instead of at the bottom of the letters, but let him keep the comma for decimals. The documents were excellent, though in that higher education style that uses words like “incentivize”. I commented on that but advised him to keep the pedantic tone as it was (unfortunately) appropriate for the venue.

IMG_4875Rodrigo was effusive with his delight and has invited us for cocktails later this week. He had given me my true reward (not that I needed one) just after we met on Saturday, when he returned to La Luna with his key card for the gate, saying that he and the captain could share a card. How nice was that?

So EW and I wandered the town just a bit on Sunday, being surprised and delighted that the tourism office and some shops were open. We got maps for hikes and began to plan our week. A crew was setting up a sound system on the street overlooking the docks and we found out that there would be a music performance beginning at 9:30 that night. (Everything starts later in Europe.) Sure enough, dinner and the dishes were done and we were both on-line when I heard drums. “That sounds like a parade!”. We grabbed camera, shoes, and the key card and scooted to town. (A short scoot. We could see the back of the stage from the boat.)


Performing in the street:  a 20 person (mostly young women) drum team! I love the Azores. They marched away, and a mandolin and guitar player  and singer were introduced;. They were followed by a jazz band complete with torch singer who nailed “Summertime”, and they IMG_4956were followed by a choral group accompanied by strings and woodwinds. This was free, on the street on a Sunday night – and we were able to enjoy it because Rodrigo had given up his key card.

Is it any wonder that we love the Azores?





NOTE: I have a video of one song by the guitar and mandolin duo – just don’t think I should upload without permission. Trust me, it was wonderful.


You know you are on an island that has a cruise ship terminal when you see a Burger King on the dock. (And that is one reason why I have little respect for most cruise ship passengers – they would actually want to visit a Burger King.) (Yes, I know that’s snarky but this is my blog and I allow some snark.)  (Yes, some of my best friends have been cruise ship passengers. I sincerely hope they didn’t look for a Burger King when they got off the ship.) (Finally – I am sure all you grammar geeks/nerds who may have loved the first part of this post are trembling at my use of successive parenthetical phrases. Think of it as art.)


At least it was a small cruise ship. It certainly was close!

We Finally Met REAL Tourists in the Azores

IMG_2904We have been delighted to visit islands that aren’t visited by cruise ships. In fact the folks who vacation here are not like most of the tourists we met in the Caribbean.When discussing the islands with a local gentleman on Terceira I remarked on how friendly everyone is, including the tourists. He said that the tourists were friendly because they were different from the normal resort or cruise ship tourist. He’s right. Remember, there are three kind of tourists in the Azores (See this recent post for a refresher) and in the first two months, we hadn’t met an American who didn’t have Portuguese heritage or who wasn’t on a boat.IMG_2818

On our recent quick visit to Horta for sail repair, we went out for a light lunch and realized that the folks nearby were speaking American English. Turns out Terry and Martin are from Rhode Island  and have no ties to the Azores, aren’t on a sailboat, and don’t like to hike or surf. What were they doing in the Azores?

Well, a lot of their friends and neighbors have roots here and the islands seemed like a good place to go for a different kind of vacation. We met them on their last day at Faial before their short flight to Terceira. We talked about our respective kids, our homes, our jobs, and the Azores. Once we heard they were off to Angra, we couldn’t wait to tell them about some of our highlights on EW’s favorite island (so far).

We had stayed longer in Angra than planned because the dinghy motor wasn’t working and we thought we could get it fixed there. If you have to be stuck in the Azores, being stuck in Angra is not a hardship. On our first day ashore, we found ourselves in a bookstore chatting with the only employee who spoke English. “You will like this island,” he said. “We know how to party here.” They do, and it is certainly a livelier island than Sao Jorge, but it’s not party central, either. Angra is a Unesco IMG_2743World Heritage Sight with beautifully restored historic buildings (except for one unfortunate new hotel). In addition they have lovely parks;  touradas da corda daily;  a colorful mercado with fresh produce, fish, and meats; world-class events; restaurants and shops; a children’s science center’';friendly people; and an outstanding museum. IMG_3667

The friendly book store clerk told us that there would be a touradas da corda in the street the next day. He gave us directions and told us we could easily walk there. As we thanked him, he warned us to “Go early. Find a place inside a wall.” That was rather cryptic, but we promised to do so (and are glad we did). On our second day in Angra we found out just how small these islands are, why being behind the wall is important, and finally stayed up late enough to say, “Boa Noite” – which is pronounced exactly like the familiar Maine last name of Benoit. During the next couple of weeks we walked trails, visited a volcano, took the bus to Praia de Vittoria, had a gin & tonic bar-hopping night, watched a parade of folk dancers, shopped for boat parts, and improved our Portuguese.

We loved Angra and tried to share the best of it with Terry and Martin. I don’t think we overdid it – at least their eyes didn’t glaze over – and I hope they enjoy the island as much as we did. We told about most of our favorite things, and to make sure to get to the touradas da corda early so they can get behind a wall. They’ll have to learn how to pronounce Boa Noite on their own.



Sailing in the Azores

Let’s talk about sailing. After all, we’re on a sailboat and many who follow are sailors.

There is wind here, and sometimes it’s from the direction they’ve predicted and we’ve planned for; sometimes it’s not and we get skunked. We got skunked when we left Horta with the intention of sailing to Flores, and ended up in Sao Jorge, instead. The trip from Velas, Sao Jorge to Angra, Terceira took many hours longer than it should have and required us (well EW) to motor back and forth outside of the bay, waiting for daylight.  I discussed this with Felipe, Harbor Master at Angra who suggested a local source for weather. He told me that Passage Weather and other such sites aren’t as useful here because, “We are just a tiny speck in the ocean, and they look at the whole ocean.” Using “tiny speck” weather sources, we left Angra for Graciosa on August 22nd and again ended up motoring much of the way with light winds and swells from the south.

I was down below when EW called, “We have a big problem! Get up here!” I got up there.

Our jib was furled, but the main was out to reduce the sea motion, and the outhaul had parted from the sail. IMG_4357

NOTE to non-sailors. Our sails are right triangles. The point at the top is the head, the bottom is the foot, and the edge of the sail that goes from the top of the mast to the corner out on the boom is the leech. That corner where the foot and leech meet is the outhaul. Our sail is “loose-footed”. It furls into the mast, and is attached at the bottom (foot) only at each end of the foot: at the mast (clew) and at the end of the boom via the outhaul.  A plastic and metal contraption designed to hold the sail out on the boom is attached to the outhaul via strong fabric tape that is threaded through slots in this contraption and sewn to the sail. OK? (Here’s a photo from another boat with the outhaul tapes exposed.)

All of the stitching on those tapes ripped. All of it. The outhaul mechanism and the tapes were attached to the boom and the sail was flapping in the breeze.

As problems go, it could have been a lot worse. In the light winds we simply took the sail down and piled it on deck, then we stuffed her below in the forward cabin. Repairing the sail waited a few days until I was  mentally ready. The sewing machine had problems at the start, and got progressively worse. At the outhaul, the sail is a sandwich of sailcloth, a hard plastic “board”, more sailcloth and a very old sun cover. The webbing was stitched through these layers. I took some sailcloth we had on board and made patches over the old sun cover, struggling with the recalcitrant machine. By the time I was ready to actually sew the all-important tape, the machine quit stitching altogether. Praia in Graciosa is a beach/fishing harbor town on an island with just over 5000 people. We didn’t even try to find a sail-maker there, and decided instead to sail back to Horta, where we knew there were at least two sail repair/canvas shops.

This post is about sailing, remember?

I used Felipe’s preferred weather site and we learned that the winds were again going to be light and maybe in the wrong direction.With only one sail, we were resigned to motoring to Horta. Unfortunately, I missed Cristobal. You know, that recent named storm in the Atlantic? The day we sailed from the island of Graciosa to the island of Faial, was the day that our little speck in the ocean was under attack from two fronts. (Is it because they attack that they call weather systems fronts? I just thought of that.) We pulled anchor at 8:15, motored around the southern tip of Graciosa, and by 9:30 were sailing in flat seas in S/W winds of 5-8 knots. We were averaging 4 knots which would allow us to get to Horta before dark.This was going to be a good day at sea, despite the injured mainsail.

IMG_4324By noon, we had 8-10 knots of wind and seas that were 1-2 feet. I thought about baking something and decided instead to make risotto for a hot lunch. We dined on deck with Casey the trusty auto-pilot steering the boat. (This is Sao Jorge and the lighthouse at Rosais Point. That’s that little tiny stick up top.

At 1400 (2:00 PM for the landlubbers) we had 10-15 knots of wind and life was fantastic. (Our phrase for such moments: “This does not suck.”)

One hour later, we had SSW winds at 25-30 knots  and were screaming along at 6.7 knots under the jib alone. It was still a good sail. As we rounded the northeastern end of Sao Jorge,  we had seas at 3-5 feet with the occasional wave breaking on the hull and splashing the cockpit. We reefed the jib, EW decided to hand steer, and I grabbed his lightweight water-proof jacket and our tethers.

It was never dangerous. We had visibility, we had control of the boat, and she wasn’t heeling much. For most of the afternoon, we were able to beat on our actual course, in 20-35 knots of wind and 3-6 foot seas. The winds abated at one point and we shook out the reef. An hour later we put it back in. EW hand-steered, I handled the sail, and we both got a workout. Before 1700 (5:00 PM for the LL’s) the winds turned more on the nose and the waves rolled over the bow and down the decks. We were less than 10 miles from the passage between Faial and Pico when we reluctantly decided to furl the jib and start the engine. For the next two hours we plowed into the wind and waves, on our course to Horta in 25-35 knots of wind with 40-knot gusts.

IMG_4588Two hours later we anchored inside the first break wall in Horta, had a snack and went to bed. By no means had this been the perfect sail, but it hadn’t been a horrible day and we certainly made good time for most of it. The next morning, a Friday, we checked in to the marina, walked up the hill to Ralf’s sail “loft”, and made an appointment for 10:00 on Saturday. He returned the fixed main at 10:00 on Sunday. He had cheerfully worked around my amateur repairs, and even suggested that I had done well with the patch. As he had suggested, he covered the outhaul tapes and my patch with Sunbrella, to protect the stitching. (He said he has no idea why all sail-makers don’t do that. Now that we’ve spent three years in the Caribbean, neither do we.) We had asked that he look at a section of the leech that needed to be re-stitched. (I hadn’t gotten that far.) Instead, he took about an inch off the entire leech and remade it, then he covered that with Sunbrella, as well. Finally, he gave us the good news that this was a sail in good condition and should last a number of years.

Let’s go sailing!

At left, La Luna’s  repaired mainsail.


Here’s the lighthouse on Sao Jorge – rather unimpressive. We much preferred the view from the point.


What Do the Azores and New Bedford Massachusetts Have in Common (Besides Whaling)?



But first, let’s talk about tourism.

There are three kinds of tourists in the Azores

  1. Folks and their families who emigrated to the US and Canada and who return to visit their homeland.
  2. Germans, Portuguese, French, and a few other nationalities who fly over from mainland Europe for a couple of weeks.
  3. Sailors, also largely from Europe, who tour the islands by boat.

IMG_0942Since many Europeans speak two or more languages and since their first extra languages is usually English, most tourist areas, maps, and signs offer information in Portuguese and English, which is quite handy for we ignorant-one-language Americans.

In addition, each town of any size has an excellent information office with maps and booklets for every island in the Azores as well as additional information for the special activities and excursions available on their island. We visited the information center in Horta, Faial at least four times while we were on that island. We were in the Angra office every other day while in Terceira. I love their tourist information offices.

The hiking maps are presented in the two languages, and they charmingly provide a guide to the blazes on the trails. We quickly grew fond of the cryptic but succinct red and yellow marks along the Numero Um trail in Sao Jorge and have been delighted to decipher similar trail markers on the other islands.

IMG_1072In Horta, we discovered that the bus has only a couple of short routes from the city center to the Hospital and other important points fairly close to town. However, the signs at each bus stop are ingenious. On one side, you’ll find the route and schedule; turn the sign on the post and you’ll find a charming description of a nearby feature, building, or historic site.

IMG_0938That’s how we found out what certain islands in the Azores have in common with New Bedford, former whaling capital of the US.  Though the buildings on these islands are the typical masonry buildings with bright trim, red tiled roofs, and little balconies, many in the coastal town centers have New England style dormers and bay windows. According to the bus stop sign post (if you can’t believe a bus stop sign post, what can you believe?) these elements were made of wood, often with overlapping boards salvaged from shipwrecks, and were painted in colors that contrasted with the whitewashed, and basalt stonework buildings.


IMG_3910IMG_0992Once we read that bus-stop signpost, we looked for and found bits of New England in the Azores. Or to put this whole post in Maine Lingo: We’ve discovered that tourists in the Azores are not ‘sum-mah complaints’ and ‘They’ve got doh-mahs ov-ah hee-ah, dee-ah. Ay-uh.”