Finally! Ilheu de Vila Franca
The Call of the Azores

Shoot Low Harry

Back in Maine there used to be a racing boat with the name, "Shoot Low Harry, They're Riding Chickens". The graphics were appropriately interesting. That's a fine name for a racing boat, particularly one that is too small to take out of Casco Bay, and which will never go through the Inland Waterway or locks or cross any oceans. These are the kind of things I think of when we are at sea, and we are at sea again, having left Santa Maria in the Azores at 1300 on October 2.

The first couple of days at sea (now that this is my third time leaving port for more than 4 days, I can pretend to be experienced) are a little unsettling. It takes nearly three days to get into the routine and sleep well when off watch. I was able to let EW sleep (or try to) when I had the 1800 too midnight shift, but I had to get up during my shift to help adjust sails. I did get some rest though, and feel much better than I had done on my first night watch.

The east winds have not appeared and the east-southeast winds have caused us to sail 50 miles starboard of our course. It's shortly after 0800 and I had to get EW up for a close encounter, so we tacked before he went back to sleep. When I had gotten up two hours ago to take my watch, he told me we had a "target" -- a ship on AIS that would come within a half mile of us. We don't like it when big ships get that close to us. According to our AIS report, they were a tug the MTS Viscount and were heading for Brazil. We especially don't want a tug too close when they have something under tow.

EW reached them on the radio, the gentleman was nice, they had nothing under tow, would maintain their course, and would watch for us. An hour later, I called them again as their CPA (Closest Point of Approach) was less than 300 feet and I really don't like that. He asked our boat name (we don't transmit on AIS, just receive).

I replied, "La Luna". He didn't understand. So I reeled off, "Lima Alpha Lima Uniform November Alpha."

"Would you please repeat more slowly?" I get that a lot. Even when speaking to someone for whom English is their first or only language. No surprise that some called me "motor mouth" in high school.

I repeated much more slowly, reflecting that I was very glad that we named the boat in only six letters. Can you imagine entering a lock and having to say, "Sierra Hotel Oscar Oscar Tango Lima Oscar Whiskey Hotel Alpha Romeo Romeo Yankee .." Well, you get the idea.

This is Lima Alpha Lima Uniform November Alpha signing off from North 35 29.957 and West 024 29.889. We are heading for the Azores, but our current course is 005 - going the wrong way for now. Sailboats are like that.

Oh! It was a small tug. Can't believe they are going to Brazil. They crossed our bow in daylight at about a half mile out. No worries.

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