Category Archives: Status Update

Going Ashore in Camaret sur Mer, France!

6 Aug, morning. We awoke when we were good and ready. Nice to have a good night sleep and not to have to wake up for a watch or to deal with some sail change or problem. We made some hot chocolate, and just lounged collecting wits and planning for the day. The plan was to go into the marina in Brest to clear-in.

There was a large Coast Guard Cutter anchored in the middle of the bay. Sometime around a noon a patrol boat came calling. La Douane, French Customs officers wanted to come aboard. I had the yellow Q flag up so they knew we just arrived. They climbed aboard and were very nice. They went through my paperwork first, then wanted to inspect the boat. They seemed to be looking for drugs or anything out of order. They didn’t delve too deeply, but took a close look at the log. Marlein, apart from speaking excellent French, had done a nice job of organizing the log, and here it paid off. They seemed pleased and could see where our position hardly changed when we were hove-to, or had to change course based on high winds, plus barometer, water temp, etc. I think they felt for us, and commented the storm was bad and not common. Not uncommon either, but they appreciated what we went through. They cleared us in and departed.  We no longer had to go into Brest! Great service, and friendly for Customs officers.

After that we had a nice lunch, lounging on the foredeck, with a great view of this classic port, with mole, fort by Vauban, and pillboxes on the point. Then we put the dinghy together for the trip in to shore. We walked around a bit and finally found wifi at Cafe Stephen, where we stayed for dinner, to celebrate our successful trip!

Marleine Presto-Chango- salty sailor to dainty belle femme
Marleine Presto-Chango- salty sailor to dainty belle femme
Classic Spritsail rig in Camaret sur Mer
Classic Spritsail rig in Camaret sur Mer
Camaret sur Mer
Camaret sur Mer


Decisions, decisions…

5 August, 1907 UTC:  About 20nm from Brest, France. The winds finally moderated a few hours ago. Forecast was 20-25 kts, occasionally 30, but we had a lot of 25-30 and higher gusts…lots of ships too. I had to call several to change course- harder when some were approaching traffic separation zones. Last night again it was too rough for the autopilot, so a lot of hand steering needed.

Luckily we weren’t running down the huge waves of a few nights ago, so my crew was able to steer during their watches. I still would have liked to have hove-to since we were expecting heavy weather, but Marlein and Simone need to get back and we have been out several days longer than I expected. As we approach Brest we still see nothing but a few dolphins, dropping seas, several ships, fishing boats and one sailboat.

Marlein and Simone just after the strong winds subsided, nearing landfall in Camaret sur Mer
Marlein and Simone just after the strong winds subsided, nearing landfall in Camaret sur Mer
Marlein and Simone just after the strong winds subsided, nearing landfall in Camaret sur Mer
Marlein and Simone just after the strong winds subsided, nearing landfall in Camaret sur Mer

The sun has made an appearance, but it’s still cloudy. We can get in before dark, nearly 11pm at this latitude, but the tide is just about to ebb as we near. This boat is a little slow to fight a current. It looks about 1.5 kts, so I still have two options:

1: Fight the current and enter an unknown harbor and marina in the dark after midnight


2: Anchor at Anse de Camaret, if there is room, sleep well if it’s not too rough, and move to the marina to clear immigration in the morning.

I’m really glad the wind has finally died down. I was worried we’d be trying to get into an unknown port in 30 kts. Not fun.

Funny thing; I have called several ships on the radio either for weather forecast or to request they change course. A sailing vessel has right of way as long as they are not in a channel or have some other encumbrance.

It should be the officer on watch who responds. So far I think it’s been 5 Russians, 2 Indians, and 2 Indonesians. The Russians are over-represented and all have very deep voices and sound bored. One very rude, one pretty helpful, the others so-so. The Indians just tell me what the weather is currently; yes, I know it’s blowing 25-30 from the south, How about tomorrow? …”It’s OK tomorrow”. OK on a 600ft freighter may be different than for a 38ft sailboat, and not terribly descriptive. I think the Indonesians were most helpful, but it’s a small sample.


Detour: Brest is Best

4 Aug, 1106 UTC.  Last few days have been pretty storm system sat on us for long time and another coming in tomorrow.

We have changed destination to Brest, France. Northof there, toward Falmouth is where the new storm will be.

Yesterday we thought the storm was moving away NE. It stalled and we sailed right into it as it was getting worse. Seas built back up and winds up to 30-35. Surfing down waves, (hit over 13kts),we nearly broached and was very hard hand steering. Crew didn’t have enough experience so Hoy did until arms became rubber, then we hove-to again for last night.

Conditions have eased and the autopilot can steer some of it, but still have to be ready to take the wheel when a wave starts to broach us.

The next storm is coming sometime tomorrow, but dont know the particulars. Forgot to mention, in the first storm we lost the rope and propeller for the towed generator. Looks like a shackle came unscrewed. I am very disappointed. With all the clouds the solar panels aren’t putting out enough. So now we are low on power, and it’s going to cost several hundred to replace it.

imgresJust running along now at about 6kts under genoa alone towards Brest, on a slightly angry sea.

Lat 47.650817 Lon -9.736933










Too tired to cook, too hungry to sleep…

1 Aug, 1253 UTC. We are coming into a day or so of stormy weather. Winds are S over 20 but feel stronger. Genoa down, beam reach under 2nd reef main and staysail. Its a little wet, but since its from the south its not frigid!

We are forecast to see 35 knots sustained about 2 hrs and 25-30 for about italian-flag-162380824 hrs. Not terrible, but not pleasant. We are coping. Simone is below trying to make Minestrone. Why didn’t I have an Italian on board before?

Now we’re hitting 25 kts of wind. Also good, we’ve had light winds lately, so waves are not huge to start with. They’ll build fast, but nice to start small. Now they are just 1-2 m.

2 Aug 1130 UTC. OK, we kinda got our butts kicked. The storm was stronger and slower than expected. We sailed along as E as we could as wind picked up from S. Somewhere over 30 the autopilot couldn’t handle it and we started hand steering.

1535 UTC.  Storm has stalled on us. Still getting our butts kicked. Ouch. Just got slammed by a big wave that threw every around the cabin and jammed the head door. I hope it didn’t damage bulkhead. We’ll probably heave to again soon. Nasty pc of work

1630 UTC. Hove-to again. Bugger! so our big impact, we dove or fell off a big wave, thru another one and water shot thru every orifice! Not a pretty picture. The impact was horrendous and it did some damage, but i don’t’ know what yet.

Trying to rest up. Too tired to cook, too hungry to sleep.

Lat 48.080227 Lon -12.13116


Rollin like a Cigar

cigar-14415661536 UTC. Less than 500 nm to Falmouth.
We just had some excitement. I recently jibed and switched the whiskerpole to the port side. We had about 12 kts of apparent wind on a broad reach when suddenly wind speed increased, the bow shot up into the wind, and the whisker pole poked thru the loop in the sheet and ended up dangling as the boat heeled dramatically.

We got it back under control and are making 110deg T at 6-7 kts. Wind has settled to about 13-20kts.

Last night and earlier today we were sailing downwind, wing and wing and rolling like a cigar on a Cubana Chica’s thigh. We’re doing about 120 True now. Winds up and down a bit but still 15-18 W more or less.

Just had risotto, belgian chocolate, azorean wine, and I’ve been giving knot lessons.

Not a bad lifestyle.

Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales






Pilot Whales
Pilot Whales

1951 UTC. Another treat! Pilot whales! A pod of pilot whales followed us for most of an hour before sunset. About 15 whales, maybe more. Very spread out. Playful ones jumping higher near the back. I hope I got some good pics!

Lat 48.244153 Lon -17.082173





On Uncooperative winds

0658 UTC. OK, this is starting to suck. Usually when I look at weather in this area, it has systems, often cyclonic, that move through relatively fast and the wind seldom blows from the same direction. We have had this ENE wind for over 24 hrs. Sometimes it eases and we can fly the genoa, but as close hauled as we can get, we cannot move toward our target.

Plus it getting cold! Water temp is 49F and dropping. Air temp is biting and I’m searching for extra bits and bobs to keep the chill off.

This is one down-side of leaving the Caribbean. It may be a few days before we make it any closer to Falmouth. Saturday we may see the highest winds on the voyage so far, so keep watching!

Lat 47.144393 Lon -21.637617

3 chefs…1 meal

26 July, 1337 UTC. We made 113nm the last 24 hrs. Pretty strong winds and seas mildly uncomfortable. Food: very simple. Nobody had much desire to cook or eat a lot. Lots of little sandwiches with ham and cheese, raw carrots, trail mix, chocolate. You know, … health food.

Today winds eased and we made fried potatoes, bacon and eggs. Yum. Kind of a community effort, as the first cook got queasy and laid down, then the second cook got queasy and went back up to the cockpit to watch the horizon, then the third cook finished it off as the winds picked up and utensils and plates began sliding more and more vigorously about the counter. Very tasty, and a greater sense of accomplishment than on land.

1520 UTC and 825 nm to go.

Lat 43.668992 Lon -23.183877

Underway again, New Crew…Need more speed!

7/25: Day 2, 1417 UTC. We finally left the dock a little before noon Thur. The first 24 hrs we made about 98 nm…surprisingly good since it was very calm in front of and behind the island. I motored several hours to get out of the wind shadow. I prefer sailing, but 1/2 kt of boat speed is just not enough! We sailed off and on around the E end of Sao Miguel, then pointed N as much as possible.

The best way to catch wind is to sail directly N until latitude 45 N, then turn NW toward England. We had to go a bit E on a close reach until wind backed west and we were able to point N. We made a nice easy 5kts much of Friday thru Sat morning. About noon the wind started to increase to 18-22 kts apparent.

Now we are making 7 kts under 2nd reef mainsail, staysail, and 20% reefed genoa. Seas are picking up 1-2 m and it’s getting harder to move around. Mal de mere has visited the boat. Lucky it was so calm to start as the crew is getting acclimated. Now it’s getting rougher we are re-acclimating. In other words, the grand meals we hoped for with all our lovely, fresh Azorean ingredients are not being made. That’s the catch 22 of a sea voyage; ingredients are best when you are able to cook them, let alone eat and enjoy them. The ham, cheese and rolls are coming in very handy though.
Yesterday a freighter was on a collision course. Madeleine and Simone were pretty excited to hear me call them on the radio and ask them to change course. The man on watch sounded Russian with that deadpan Russian drawl. Pretty routine, and I love my AIS. It doesn’t take much to entertain one out here, even only two days out.

Nice bioluminescense at night. A few birds, otherwise just water, clouds, stars, sun. Hoping for fish and whales, except I hope I don’t hit another one!

Lat 41.224222 Lon -23.985622










22 July 2015, Ponta Delgada, time to depart

I picked up my new crew a few days ago and they have been getting acclimated to the boat. Dreary weather at first but yesterday and today have been beautiful. Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel is a much bigger city than Horta, and most flights to Azores come in here. It doesn’t quite have the charm of Horta, but i haven’t gotten a chance to explore very much.

Simone and Madeleine are a couple from Belgium. He is Italian and she is Dutch. We’ve been having a great time sampling the cuisine and wine, and they are learning the English names for the parts of the boat and I’m trying to teach them what to expect on the voyage. They have great attitudes and I think it will be a very nice trip.


5 July 2015, Horta Sailors Artwork

One of the unique things about Horta is that it’s a waypoint at which many boats stop for a respite on their way from N. America and Caribbean, to Europe. Very conveniently located, especially if you are bound for the Mediterranean, Gibralter, Portugal or Spain. As sailors pass through, it’s a tradition to leave some graffiti; a memorial of your trip. Here are a few. Pixie Dust, is that of a friend that stopped here just a couple weeks ahead of me this year. Joe and Dawn and their crew. Joe is a friend of my sister, Krista, and I met him when I was looking for my first boat back about 2008, plus we met up in the Virgin Islands. They are in Portugal now. It’s a small world for sailors!


Pixie Dust painting, Horta, Azores 2015
Pixie Dust 2015 in Horta, Azores
Horta Graffiti
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015
Boat Paintings, Horta, 2015