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.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


May 28th - June 9th, St George Town and Hamilton
Bermuda is a lovely, civilized and very expensive subtropical outpost in the ocean.
Our first stop was St George, an enclosed bay, with about 20 other cruising boats at anchor from all over.  There was a Dutch boat we last saw in the Marquesas in 2010.
Sailing club Opti fleet

one of many wrecks 

St George is a small village, so there's not much to do there.
St Catherine's Fort
Bermuda's main population center is Hamilton, the capital farther along the string of islands  So after a couple days recuperation from our passage, we took the bus to Hamilton to see what was there.   While we were gone, Giffords' Totem arrived from St Martin and we had a quick visit.  We hadn't seen them since New Years Day in Sydney, 2012!

Kathi & Behan
We both moved our boats to Hamilton.   Jarana moored at the very expensive, but very convenient and hospitable Royal Bermuda YC.
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
Paul Bieker of Seattle kindly gave all of us a tour of the Oracle Americas Cup campaign base.
Artemis and Oracle were out practicing daily, so we got a good look at them streaking around.

A few days later, we took the boat out and watched the fitted dinghy races. Bill loaded a bunch of pictures on Flickr.  Click on the image below to go to the Flickr page.

Bermuda Fitted Dinghies
After a very pleasant time in Bermuda, our wallets were running dry and the weather window opened up, so it was time to put on our scop patches and go to sea again.

Next stop:  Flores Island, Azores approx 1800 n mi NE.

Passage to Bermuda

Dates:  May 20,2016 - May 28, 2016  Distance: 970nmi  But we sailed:  1027nmi Doh! 
On May 21st, after 6 weeks of hard work preparing the boat in Florida, we exited Port Everglades out into the Gulf Stream.  Alan Johnson from Seattle was on board to help us get the boat to  Bernuda and the Azores.  We were really glad he had the time to come with us.  Fortunately, the passage started out with moderate winds and low seas.  It had been a long time since we'd done an ocean passage, so it was a big adjustment to get our sea legs again.  As usual, Kathi had prepared some hot meals in advance, but the weather was so warm, she didn't want to turn on the stove.  So we ate a lot of salads and sandwiches at first. 

Alan at the helm
To start out, we all used scopolomine for seasickness, but both Bill and Alan continued to struggle with it.  Once Alan added Dramamine to the mix, he could function better.  It's most difficult being down below in the cabin, so he spent all his waking hours out in the cockpit and stood very long watches.  Thanks Alan, it was a great help.
Bill relaxing
And, we caught a big wahoo, with lots of big white teeth.  Unfortunately, the battery in my camera was dead, so no photos..

This turned out to be the hardest of the 3 passages across the Atlantic.  For a couple days, we sailed upwind (ugh!), somewhat unnecessarily, and seas were rough and confused.

But, eventually it was over.  St George Harbour, Bermuda, was a welcome and peaceful anchorage.  Whew! We were glad to put that all behind us.  And, we were looking forward to a rendezvous with friends.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Back to Florida

The Abacos were our last hurrah, with lots of great anchorages, beaches and villages to visit.
It was really hard to leave.
 It took two long days passage through the gin clear waters of the Little Bahama bank from the Abacos, and a rollicking reach across the Gulf Stream, we returned to our new home at Lighthouse Point in Florida.

Bill adjusting the propeller

It's great to be ashore again.  There was lots of mail waiting for us and lots of boat jobs to do.  Fortunately, we had time in January to get the lay of the land, so we can get settled quickly.  Linda left the apartment beautifully furnished and well set up for us.
and air conditioning!

Elegant furniture and a super comfy bed.... so happy    

With the boat moored nearby at LHPYRC, we're getting lots done and making new friends quickly.

A nice place to come home to after a hot day in the boatyard.  Thanks, Linda!

And a quiet place to prepare our tax return and compile the many documents needed to apply for a French long stay visa.

More on the Bahamas

To catch up on our travels.
For two wonderful months in the Bahamas, we cruised with the Werners on Schatzi, the Kuhners on Tamure, the Goldweitzes on Egret and even connected with the Peases on Willie Dawes.  We were able to see the the Berry Islands, the Exumas, Cat Island, Eluethera, and the Abacos.  What a yachting paradise.

 Exumas Arrival - Dotham Cut.  Yowsa, after a wild reaching ride from Eleuthera

hmmm, a common sight

The bay at Black Point Village

The landing quay

Anchorage at Great Exuma Park, can't see the roaring current in this shot

the parking lot
Schatzi and Bolero crews - Last Supper....

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Moving Along

Hatchet Bay was more secure than we imagined.
Then we moved down Rock Sound. At this point we started getting acquainted with other cruisers going the same way.

A few days later, we left Eleuthera Point

for Little San Salvador where Holland America Lines has a Potemkin Village.  It was rolly, so we tried a side bridle to the anchor chain to set the stern into the waves,  with moderate success.

It was a wild ride over to Cat Island,  finally we were exposed to ocean swells and wind.

On Valentine's Day,  we tucked in wee Fernandez Bay in front of a small resort. We had a nice but very expensive dinner ashore.  The real fun was meeting the other guests from France and Switzerland.  We had a great time. 

Fernandez Bay is open to the south and west,  so coming wind changes pushed us onwards to the Exumas.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On to Eleuthera

Soldier Cay was lovely, but the weather changes every few days, and the protection at Soldier Cay was limited.  So we set out for New Providence Island, just east of Nassau.  For a change, this took us out over deep waters.  

Nassau has a good port, but is a busy city that doesn't interest us.  So we found an anchorage just east.  As we approached, the wind strengthened a lot, but we nipped in the pass in time to find our way through the shallows to a safe spot for the night.

The next day, we set sail again eastward to the big island of Eleuthera and well protected Hatchet Bay.  It's unusual for the Bahamas, as it's almost completely surrounded by high limestone banks with a narrow opening.  All day we sailed over 10-20 ft depths, which is mind boggling to us, since the boat needs 7ft of water.  After a really windy start, the wind died completely to a glassy calm.  The water is so clear it was like motoring across a giant swimming pool.  We could see starfish on the bottom as we passed.

[unable to upload photos now. will try again later]