Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fowey, Cornwall

July 22nd-25th Fowey,  A pleasant, scenic coastal, 25 mile sail away were the wee villages of Fowey and Polruan.
Polruan looking inland
Throngs of holiday-makers along the quay
It's a busy little place
Polruan shipyard
Pretty stuff afloat
pontoon neighbors

round cockpits?
yep, round
This one's square.  Just another cruiser passing thruogh, like many others from the Brest Maritime Festisval on their way north
and ashore
overlooking the entrance

Falmouth, Cornwall England

July 11th-20th
Falmouth, at the mouth of the River Fal, was a beautiful sight, lush and green, full of sailboats, ancient gun forts (King Harry XIII), friendly people and mild weather.  We loved it.
Falmouth basin

Karl took the train back to Paris from here.  It was ridiculously convenient.
St Mawes Town Regatta
Tied to a mid-river pontoon, we met some friendly cruisers
While waiting for a replacement autopilot, we spent a few days up the Fal River.

Low tide...

Truro Cathedral

Friday, July 29, 2016

Passage from the Azores to Falmouth, UK

July 4th - 11th,  ~1200 nmi, straight downwind, 7days, very little motoring.  An amazingly quick trip.
There was lots of food, fuel and water left over.   We actually did some handsteering for something to do. 
Karl on the helm

Since it was downwind in dry, sunny weather, so why not?   Otherwise, it was a normal trip, same watches, same menu, dolphins visited morning and night most days.

Falmouth Harbour and town were a beautiful sight when we arrived.  
Gun Fort, (but King Harry's Castle sounds better)

Pendennis Castle and HMCG station

Beautiful countryside marred by large motor yacht Aquila.  She required a pilot boat to go to and from the fuel dock, where several fuel trucks were also required.
Another curious sight: an oil drilling ship

Karl left us the next day.  It was  a short walk to the nearby train station.  With a change to a Chunnel train in London, he was home in Paris for dinner that night...  Thanks Karl!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Azores - Terceira Island, June 30th - July 4th

On June 30th, we left Faial on a pretty day sail past Sao Jorge and Pico islands to Terceira.
Sao Jorge
The little marina in Praia da Vittoria was less crowded and easier to get around than at Horta where we were the 4th boat rafted off the wall.  It had nice facilities and even bathtubs in the shower rooms!  Terceira is small than Horta, but is more densely populated.  Praia is also a much smaller town.

 We took a bus ride to a beautiful UNESCO protected town of Anchra do Heroismo  one day.

Karl Schulmeisters had joined us a few days before.

Karl and a cannon
on the waterfront

Neat cafe
looks like a giant Christmas tree, doesn't it

Everywhere, was beautiful pavement.
Mosaic pavements everywhere

On July 4th, there was a good weather window to start off for England, so we took off.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Azores - Faial Island, June 24th-30th

View of Pico from Horta

Faial is larger and more populous than Flores.  And the port and marina at Horta are much larger, it is truly a yachting crossroads of the Atlantic.  There were boats from everywhere, bound for the UK, Europe and the Med.
There are hundreds of painted yacht signs around the marina

We had a few days before Karl arrived to clean the boat, make the inevitable repairs, and play tourist.

In the mid-1980s there was a major volcanic eruption at one end of the island, so we went to have a look.  It was a moonscape.

On the 28th Karl arrived. A couple days later we set out for Terceira.

Azores - Amazing! Flores June 20-22nd

The Azores Islands are composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean about 850 mi west of continental Portugal, and are part of Portugal.  They enjoy a mild, subtropical marine climate and seem especially suited to raising livestock and other agriculture.  And they are about the cleanest, most orderly place we've ever seen.  People were very friendly and easygoing.  The language is Portuguese, although some speak English.  We learned a few words of Portuguese and got along fine.

The islands have been populated by Spanish or Portuguese for 600 years, and like Bermuda, there were no indigenous peoples present when the Europeans arrived.  So there's a single modern culture, unlike the islands in the Pacific and the west coast of north America. The food and wine are wonderful and moderately priced.  So provisioning and eating out were good.

Flores is a rugged, lush island that seems like a remote outpost in the Atlantic.  It's a steep volcanic island, covered with thick forests, vegetation and flowers, hence the name.  They are especially blessed with hydrangeas.   Sometimes, while walking on a country road , the only sound would be birdsong.

[Unfortunately, I didn't get any good photos of the vegetation on Flores.  But there will be some from the other islands in later posts.]

There are several small towns on the island and a modern airport.  
Jarana in the marina
The marina holds about a dozen yachts, from all over Europe. We saw just a few American and Canadian boats. 

We arrived a couple days before Alan's flight out.   The day before Alan's flight, there was a short weather window to sail 150 miles to the island of Faial. So we left him at the bus stop and he stayed in a hotel by the airport on his last night.  Alan was such a help and good company on the two legs from Florida to Bermuda to Flores.  We were sorry to see him go.

Leaving Flores for Faial

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bermuda to Azores Passage

Bermuda to Azores  1170 n mi, 11 days, not bad
Late in the afternoon, on June 9th, we made the rounds of the St George anchorage to say goodbye to some of the other boats and we set off eastbound.  We arranged with some of the boats to participate in an informal cruisers HF net at 1800 UTC everyday, but we had trouble finding them on the air.   Bill and Alan slapped on the scop patches and took some dramamine, Kathi served dinner. 

Bermuda blocks the SE swells, so at first, seas were pretty flat.  Then they start coming together after wrapping around the island making things a little bumpy.  But that gradually dissipated.  And because it was so late in the day, we had a quick dinner and the 2 off watch crew went below to sleep.

Our usual watch system for all 3 legs, was 3 hours watches.  We were all up for dinner and radio weather from 5pm to 7:30pm or so.  Each evening around 5pm, 3-5 dolphins would often make a few passes.

Kathi usually started preparing dinner around 5:30 and tried to have everything cleaned up and put away for the night by dark (which varied as we went east in a time zone, and north in latitude).  That helped reduce clanking dishes and pans.  Then I set up whatever snacks or drinks people would want when coming on watch during the night, to minimize effort and noise.  The motion of the boat and the noise of wind and waves, makes sleep a little difficult.  And the crew sleeps in the main cabin, ie, near the galley.  So we try to minimize unnecessary additional noise.

  • Bill 9pm-midnight, he would often reef before the next watch there seemed any chance it would be needed overnight,
  • Alan or Karl - midnight-3am (Thank you both!!!!)
  • Kathi - 3am-6am
  • Bill - 6am-9am
  • 9am everybody up for coffee and brekkie
  • We were all usually up until after lunch and tried to get good naps in the afternoon.
Wash, rinse, repeat.

Fortunately, we had little rain, and winds were fairly steady in direction and speed, so no drama.
It was good sailing, not too bumpy.  Still, it's challenging to function onboard because the boat moves in all directions and not as predictably as you would hope.

As we neared Flores (pronounced "Floresh"), we had fog and clouds, so the rugged island was barely visible as we approached the morning of June 20th.

Harbor wall up ahead
Jarana at anchor

The tiny walled marina was full, so we had to anchor in the small bay outside with several other boats.  That night the wind really piped up and a couple boats had to reset anchors. Several boats left the marina the next morning, so we were able to get inside and tie to a dock for around $20/night.  Ahhhh, peace at last.