Monthly Archives: June 2015

6/28: Breaking Bread and Wounding Whales

0820 UTC. Last night the wind dropped away and I was faced with two choices: 1- sail at 2.5 knots and wait another day to get to Horta, or 2- Turn on the Iron Genny, the D-sail, or, as I prefer, the Sailors Lament.

I have grown to love my engine as it has gotten me out of a few scrapes, yet I always feel a failure as a sailor when I have to turn it on. I ran it until about 0730 when I got a decent puff and set the spinnaker. Engine off and I’m making about a knot more than with engine (@1700 rpm).

10-11 kts wind from the stbd quarter is giving me 6.2 kts of boat speed. Much better. I do see some tears in the reinforcing patches at the clew and tack so the spinnaker also needs some repair. Let us hope it lasts the day.

breadI think I’m getting a little better at baking bread underway. One loaf split between 3 men is just a wee snack, so I baked two loaves last night. Now that’s a bigger snack! It still didn’t make it past the peanut butter/jam or hazelnut spread phase, but was much enjoyed.

1450 UTC. Wow! We hit a whale!
Don’t know what kind. Not taking on water as far as I can tell. Will have to check for damage when there. He looked dazed and was surrounded by a big brown patch, perhaps krill. The patch was there before we collided. Big bang.

Felt like a very big wave, though a little more solid. Of course it was Anders on watch.
Wow! Glad we’re on a tough boat!

1855 UTC. Cleared in Horta. Painless.
€13/night at the dock. €2/ shower
Then off to the bar!

6/27: Next stop…Horta


1616 UTC. Yesterday was day 14! 2 wks in and 1543 nm from Bermuda, so we are doing a little better than the standard 100 nm per day. That put us within 247 nm of Horta.

Now we are less than 140 nm from Horta. If our speed keeps like this we may make it tomorrow evening. It’s still light until about 9 pm. We’re counting on that.
We saw a pod of Pilot whales today! They were heading the opposite direction so we barely saw them, and no time to get cameras,, but the first whales we’ve seen.

The autopilot hiccoughed again and I had to go into the locker to fix it. Glad it waited until we are so close. We could hand steer the rest of the way if needed. I tightened it back up. It’s due for a major look-see in Horta.

Like Captain Ron says: “if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there.”

6/25 – Rockin & Rollin

DSCF4220 copy6/25: 2011 UTC. We are moving a pleasant 5 kts NE to find wind just N of Horta. It’s been all over the place, light, bursts of stronger wind under a heavy cloud, light rain, and changing direction. This morning we set the spinnaker and it was so light, and rolly from the long swell it kept collapsing. We took down the mainsail to get clear air and I sheeted it to the boom end. Better.

Finally it picked up a little and now with maybe 10 kts true wind we are doing 4 kts boat speed and 5 kts over ground! We are very happy with that.

This morning about 0500 Bermuda time I saw a pod of dolphins that played for a little while. Always appreciated.

sprouted-potatoesI fried up the last of the sprouty potatoes with scrambled eggs for lunch and we gorged. Fresh produce coming in a few days! Exciting!

We are less than 370nm from Horta. High pressure and light winds are expected as we approach, I think we’ve motored about 8 hrs so far. Plenty of fuel left.

We have been moving so fast lately we were hoping to make Horta Sunday, so we’ll angle north a little to get the most wind we can, and may have to motor the last bit – hopefully, not too far. But now it’s looking more like Mon or even Tue… soon, though.

We just passed a big fishing boat and I think it was from Azores!

Lat 38.192393 Lon -36.395903

12cheech10240322 UTC. We are about 330 nm from Horta. Last night just before my watch we all had to scramble because the boat wouldn’t stay on course with the spinnaker. It seemed to be gusting and changing direction a little. I’m always leery of running with spinnaker at night. We got the spinnaker down with some grief, and the genoa up. Still the Auto Pilot was not working at all now.

I had to pull oodles of gear out of the locker to get to it. I found the AP quadrant had loosened and slid down the shaft until I no longer gripped the key.

I got it tightened and we’re back in business.  Anders steered all the time. All the fun stuff / weather happens on his watch. Heading ENE and rolling like a joint in a Cheech and Chong movie!

Lat 38.508797 Lon -35.735135

2220 UTC. 223 nm to Horta, and ETA less than 40 hrs at our current 5-6 kts!
We’re starting to get all excited.

Got a lot of forecasts for light airs, but I guess we stayed N of them. We have shifted the clocks to UTC time, which happens to be Azores Daylight time. Saw Spotted Dolphins about 4 times today.

They still don’t stick around long, and are less predictable to photograph than Bottlenose, but sometimes they do some wicked jumps.

The Race Begins…


1200 utc. Saw a sail! First one since bermuda. It’s It’s a solo sailor, François aboard Espador, a blue hulled ketch. He asked me for a forecast, which I gave him. He sailed direct from St Martin bound for Horta, so we’ll see him there.

Nice to see another boat, especially because we passed him. Not that we were racing. ����


Wind clocked to NW or NW and dropped to 16-22 1200 UTC, so it’s a much more comfortable ride. Last night was pretty hard. It is still not comfortable by any means, but not so horribly noisy with the genoa filling and collapsing.

We finally dropped the mainsail completely in the dark, which helped keep down the outrageous yawing, proceeding under genoa alone. We made great time though and still are doing well.
We are making 6.5 kts boat speed toward Flores (pictured above), just north of Faial, our destination.


Lat 37.122748 Lon -39.009618

6/23: Status Update

6/23: 2124 UTC. We are making good great time again today. Wind from W 18-20 kts. The miles are melting away. Waves have been building to 2-3 m.

Sets come through that are pretty big and we surf down them. The autopilot is keeping up fine.I made Tortilla Español for dinner and a whole pot of sliced potatoes ended up on the floor.

When the harmonics build up even the non-stick mat can’t keep a pot on the counter. Cooking takes a lot longer!

No more dolphins and still hoping for whales. Only critters we see are occasional birds. Even the flying fish have not followed us here.

One Month Anniversary

6/23: 1151 UTC.  Wind clocked to west last night so we slowed a bit but it’s a much better ride. Still about 18 kts true wind making 5.5 kts boat speed on a broad reach. Funny how the wind speed and seas, 1-2 m, are the same, but it feels so much more pleasant.

So yesterday we made 155 nm! The 1-2 kt current going our way made a huge difference, but anyway you look at it that is excellent. The previous 24 hrs we made 52 nm. That is why I keep using 100 nm as my 24 hr average. If this keeps up we’ll make 120 nm today.

With the storms to the north, they should keep the wind blowing. 650 nm to go, reckon 5-6 days. Day 11: Yesterday was our 1 month Anniversary! I wondered if Anders and Simon were going to give me a ring, but no go. I’m sooo disappointed.

Lat 36.812332 Lon -42.295197

Now this is sailing!

6/22: 0500 Bermuda time after a beautiful sunrise saw a pod of spotted dolphins. They didn’t hang around long, but 2 jumped about 12 ft out of the water! We were moving about 5 kts, but still too slow for them, I guess.

We motored about 4.5 hrs when it was truly dead calm, but when I came on watch at 0300 we were seeing 7 kts, all from one direction (as opposed to all directions). Bestill my heart! I started setting sails and got 4 kts of boat speed out of that. Close – hauled we get more apparent wind, then it increased a little near sunrise giving us 5 kts of boat speed with 10-12 kts of apparent wind, about 8-10 kts of true wind. That may not sound like much, but it’s a very pleasant way to get somewhere. That’s 120 nm / day, which would be a dream if we could do it every day! 1937 UTC, we are screamin’! The wind has been slowly picking up during the day and now it’s 14-18 but feels much stronger. We are making 6.5 kts boat speed plus a 2 kt current are doing 8-9 kts SOG  (speed over ground). If we could keep this up we’d be there in 4 days!

We double reefed the mainsail but the genoa is hard put. I’d rather have the Yankee jib up, and will decide before dark. We are trying to work south a little, farther from the “buzz saw” storm to the north. As the pressure is dropping, more south would ease wind a little. Though I can’t help but like our speed. So glad again I bought that brand new hank-on genoa!! This is sailing!

Reefing took a long time. 1st reef line got sucked into the 2nd reef sheave and jammed pretty badly. I got to show Simon how to use a midshipman’s hitch to clear a jammed line. Fun with knots!

Lat 37.088008 Lon -44.28855









On Alton and Neptune…

6/21: 2138 Bermuda time. (UTC-3)

We passed the halfway point between Bermuda and Horta, Azores this morning. I made stir fry chicken for a celebratory dinner! We’ve been eating a lot of pasta lately and the natives are getting disgruntled. I have a book “365 Ways To Eat Pasta” and Simon and Anders are slowly working through it.

By the way, Alton Brown on “Good Eats” says to salt water for pasta “about the same altonbrownas seawater”. I’m here to tell you that is way too salty. In the Bahamas 50% seawater was good. I think Virgin Islands was about the same, though I didn’t use seawater much there. Here in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean about 1/3 seawater is still too salty. Sorry Alton, you missed that one.

We’re not measuring accurately so this is a rough guide.
Wind is dead calm now, after some pretty vigorous sailing. When the boat started to spin around and I couldn’t tell at all where it was coming from, I dropped the spinnaker and started motoring. With luck we’ll find some wind. We won’t motor more than a few hrs.

Saw more dolphins at sunset with some little ones zooming back and forth. We were moving too slow so they didn’t stick around for long. I always love seeing them. No whales yet. No fish either. I dragged lures all day. No bait so didn’t expect much and was appropriately disappointed.

Tomorrow forecast calm again, so another mellow day. The waves should drop as well so a good day to work on stuff. Today as we were putting up the spinnaker I saw a pin was just about to fall out of my genoa sheet block. The locking screw had sheared off. Very lucky I spotted it, and it was a calm enough day to easily fix it. Drives home yet again the importance of inspecting the rigging frequently.

We have a sliver of moon again, but it goes to bed shortly after the sun, so we don’t get light for long. With the clouds we’ve had lately it can be pitch black. Sometimes, a little disconcerting. Otherwise – beautiful. Great stars when it’s clear.

neptuneWe made a sacrifice to King Neptune.  Several days ago now, a mesh bag of onions tied to the bimini frame just disappeared, as if a great hand reached up from the sea. They had been a little rotten and we’re being aired out. I hope the King enjoys them. Produce in the VI is not the greatest but the onions are going bad faster than usual. The potatoes started sprouting right away too. We’ll manage.

With careful rationing, and ruthless guarding, the chocolate is holding out. That’s what’s important!

Lat 37.326243 Lon -46.233817


Away we go!

Screenshot 2015-06-19 10.22.316/19: We are moving right along making 5-6, sometimes 7 kts. Over the last day we were trying to get north to latitude 37 for good winds from SE.

That done, now we are angling back ESE to avoid ESE winds here tomorrow. We are close hauled and going to windward as tight as we can.

Apparent Wind is 45 deg on starboard bow and creeping up to 18-19 kts. Double reefed mainsail, staysail and no. 2 genoa. Heeled pretty far.

Simon cooked a pasta dish with spinach and clams. He said it is the hardest dish he ever made. That is because every time you set something down, it takes off. Lots of gravity, various other accelerations and not enough friction. I have the harness and stovetop fiddles well sorted but could use a gimbling counter and sink. The stream of water flows down and hits the counter because the sink is beside it. A constant source of frustration.

I just baked a loaf of bread and we are all looking very forward to that. Small and more dense than I’d like, but very tasty and popular with the crew.

Anders saw another pod of dolphins. That makes two pods so far, and one sea turtle. That’s pretty far out for a sea turtle!

I was expecting more light wind and spinnaker weather than we’ve had, but we have been moving at a pretty good pace toward Horta, so no complaints. Really, really glad I have my buddy John on Satellite tracker with weather routing because I’m not getting much on single sideband radio.

Overnight pretty stiff sailing. 17-21 kts wind, sailing close hauled with double reefed  main, staysail and no. 2 genoa.

Heeled way over with rail buried quite a bit. These sails really all I have to make it to windward, so away we go.

Lat 36.456242 Lon -52.295543







Eastward bound!

Screenshot 2015-06-16 12.20.45Heading east now. Winds are pretty funky. Mostly light and variable. Sometimes up around 15 kts so we make decent speed. Wind will be clocking.

Simon is on watch now. He has his own boat in Denmark and loves sailing. He just adjusted sails and course and I can hear the water sliding by the hull. Sounds like about 5-6 kts. Wind has picked up. Good to hear. Just hope we are going a good direction!

Good to have another sailor aboard trying different sails and course. Also I get to learn a little of how it’s done in Denmark.

We average about 1 flying fish a night. Not enough to bother cleaning to eat. Can’t fish due to towing gen.

Good news: when we ran the engine today the regulator worked fine. Either I cleaned a bad connection, or the batteries were fully charged and the regulator shut itself down. It’s getting cooler too. Blankets sleeping at night, rarely running fans and need long pants and jacket at night on watch.

300nm over the last 3 days. Winds expected contrary next few, so we’ll fall behind a bit. Good thing we are not on a tight schedule. Passed a 500 ft. freighter last night. “Not Under Command” according to AIS, and moving 1.8 kts. I think the current was moving about that fast so it may have been dead in the water.
Seem to be seeing about 2 ships per day, one bound for Falmouth, England.

That’s one possible landfall for me. Funny to see them cruising by and feel like I’m standing still, but would not trade places!

Lat 35.366298 Lon -59.463007


Simon thinks he's Popeye
Simon thinks he’s Popeye
Anders on watch, Simon sleeping in the cockpit somewhere between Bermuda and Azores
Anders on watch, Simon sleeping in the cockpit somewhere between Bermuda and Azores

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