Thursday, 12 August 2010

Azores to Scilly Isles

Leaving the lovely town of Angra de Heroismo in Terceira was a wrench as it is one of the nicest towns we have seen. And what is more the marina was only 10 euros a night. Oh and must add that the Azores cheese and butter is the best!

We plan to head for Cameret in North Brittany, France, around 1200 miles away to 10-12 days sail.

When we left there was absolutly no wind so we only motored for 2 hours before putting into a little town of Praia de Vitoria at the end of the island to wait for wind before heading across the ocean.

Day 1
Following the rumb line (that is a direct line between the Azores and our detination Cameret) put us in the Azores high which means no wind. So we had to make as much north as possible initially to pick up the SW winds which will take us towards home.

Going north for 250 miles off our track seems wrong, but if we find wind great.....if we don''s going to be along passage!

Running north goose-winged under hot sunny skies.

Day 2
Horrible drizzly day, keep sailing north west (wrong way but that is the advice from Herb the weather guru we listen to on SSB radio each day). Good wind today but a bit lumpy.

A big ship is coming at us, we call him up on the radio to check he can see us. He said (foreign person with not the best English) he was going to alter course......the monster is getting closer but still hasn't. Called him again and he finally altered, a bit close for comfort.

The monster ship too close

This reminds me of an incident earlier on in the trip:

Keith: Good evening sir, we are the sailing yacht Rapau on your starboard bow, do you have us on your radar?

Ship: Yes sir I see you (Indian type of accent)

Keith: May I ask your intentions please? (usual request meaning, as we have the right of way under sail, which way are you intending to go)
Ship: Yes, I am going to Africa!

Made a curry with our remaining fresh meat (no fridge when sailing so have to eat up meat in first couple of days).

Day 3
Bright day today but noticeable cooler, can feel that northern climate kicking in!

Put on engine as winds gone very light.

Dead calm sea under light winds

Haven't caught any fish today, but caught a Brown Boobie (it's a sea bird...everyone knows I can't get a real tan). It went for our fishing lure near the surface. Keith managed to reel him in slowly and unwrap the line from his wing whereupon he flew off seemingly unhurt thankfully.

Brown Boobie on fishing lure

During afternoon tea (oh ah) we heard the whooosh. Yes whales. About 75m away was a pod of 3 0r 4 pilot whales. We watched in awe as they passed us just wishing they had come a little closer.

Pilot whales

No fish again so tinned meat pie for tea! At least the beer was cold at sundowners as we have been motoring so can put on the fridge.

Had to put socks on for night watch! Sad.

Day 4
Coming up for my watch early this morning Keith was looking a bit spooked out. We had just hit something on the bow, then he heard a metal type of ping on metal. We couldn't see anything and there was nothing on the radar. But then a very large target appeared about 1/2 mile astern of us on the radar. We peered into the black dark moonless night but could see nothing and no lights. The target then disappeared off the radar, only to reappear again about 5 mins later! Still nothing to be seen astern and the thing finally disappeared from the radar again.

We pondered this, could it have been a sleeping whale, a container, or some other such object. But then realised that as it would have been mostly submerged it would probably not have shown on radar. A mystery. Someone suggested maybe a submarine??

Keith did some first aid on Old Harry's wind vane cover. He seems to be more patchwork than original material now. He is still our best crew mate and stands all watches on the helm without complaint.

Keith giving Old Harry some TLC

Old Harry looking like patchword

During sundowners (double because we crossed another line of latitude, 44 degrees north), a number of pods of bottlenose dolphins joined us. Some had babies beside them and they gave us an impressive show for about 20 mins. Must have been getting on for 100 of them!

A great Dolphin show

Day 5

We have to get up to 48 degrees north or we will have no wind as the high spreads out this way so continuing north. But the wind kicked in during the early hours and we are spanking along now at over 6 knots.

Now wondering if we may be so far north that we would be better heading straight for Falmouth instead of going to northern France. Will see where we end up in a few days time.

Meanwhile studied the charts for free anchorage on the south coast of England......not very many at all!

Day 6
Horrible rainy misty night, viz down to around 50m at most. Continued during the morning, still trying to make to the north to avoid the high pressure.

Fog became very thick during the afternoon so a good watch is being kept on the radar as we can't see anything coming at us any other way.

Keeping a good watch on the radar

Days 7/8/9

Fog is persisting day after day, strangely is is often accompanied by some wind. The passage is very slow.

At sundowners Keith is getting a little worried as he only has 14 cans of beer left and this passage is proving very slow, and as we normally find an excuse for a double sundowner that does'nt leave him many days worth of supplies!

Day 10
Less fog this morning so put out the fishing line, but not long afterwards we found that the whole of the 200m of line has disappeared. The rachett is broken so we did'nt hear it go, it must have been something big that got it (don't think we would have wanted to wrestle that beast in anyway).

Day 11
Fog again during the night and morning, but the afternoon was lovely and sunny so got the inspiration to clean out the boat and do some salt water washing.

Motoring as there is no wind but when the wind kicked in at a mighty 8knots we managed to sail again, if only slowly!

Found some new fishing line but no fish again today. Potato and pea curry for tea.

Day 12/13

More fog and miserable weather, but finally on day 13 spotted Bishops Rock Lighthouse off the Isles of Scilly (forgot to mention we had long ago given up the idea of reaching France and are now too far north).

Bishops Rock Lighthouse off the Isles of Scilly

Finally motored into the lovely harbour of St Mary's, Scilly Isles, on a misty afternoon after 13 days (less 1 1/4 hours). Our mileage being 1360 nautical miles. Opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate reaching British soil again (No big panic as Keith still did'nt run out of beer).

Scilly Isles

Looking over St Mary's Harbour

The Scilly Isles are beautiful,very unspoilt and great walking without lots of hills etc (which was great for us as we were far from fit after we worked out that we had been sitting on the boat at sea for 7 out of the last 11 weeks. While we there a rowing boat with 4 rowers came in who had just rowed across the Atlantic from New York in a new record of 44 days beating the record by 2 weeks!

The Atlantic rowers coming into St Mary's

The graveyard in St Mary's were Harold Wilson is buried

We spent a couple of days on St Mary's the main island, then on an unusually lovely sunny 3rd day we anchored between St Agnes and Gugh which are seperated by a sandy spit. We had a lovely walk around St Agnes and ate in the only pub in the evening (the Turks Head).

The anchorage at St Agnes seen from the sandy spit

Falmouth, Newton Ferris and home to the Solent

We had a 12 hour sail to Falmouth on a miserable drizzly day then a couple of wet days in Falmouth where we visited the same curry house, British Legion and usual haunts we had done a year ago when leaving Falmouth with the same kind of weather for our transatlantic trip!

Leaving Falmouth (yes it's August!)

We called at Newton Ferris (just east of Plymouth) on our journey east. A picturesque place (but for the weather again). Then it was home to the Solent with an overnighter in Studland Bay were we got another surprising sunny day and walked over the hill to Swanage.

View from hill over to Swanage

Old Harry Rocks

Back in the Solent we spent a couple of days cleaning and sorting the boat in Cowes so we could bring her home looking her best. It all felt very strange to me that it did'nt seem strange being back in Cowes after roaming the hot Caribbean for a year. It was as if we just popped over last week. Is'nt life funny like that??
Great homecoming!

We motored back up Portsmouth Harbour and past Portchester Castle and the sailing club reaching Port Solent outer waiting pontoon just after 2pm on Saturday 14 August 2010 (we left on 7 July 2009). We can't thank our families and friends enough for the fabulous welcome that awaited us.
Homecoming banner

There were about 30 of them walking down the pontoon with a banner and countless bottles of bubbly to greet us. All very moving and emotional, seemed a little surreal to see so many people we had been dying to see again all at once!

Drinking bubbly with friends and family in marina

My son Dean and his wife Michelle had organised a big BBQ in their garden and we partied into the night with many of our friends and family. The next morning I felt as I needed to do it all again as much of it ended up a blur!!

BBQ in Dean's garden

So what's it like to be back many have asked...............still can't believe we really went!!!

Friday, 9 July 2010


Island of Flores, Azores

Looking over the harbour, Rapau is against the wall 3rd boat from the left.

The Azores is a group of 9 islands belonging to Portugal spread over about 300 miles in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

When we arrived in Flores on a misty foggy morning with Pete and Dan we tied up along the wall of the stone jetty. This was a little jerky but the next morning we were told we had to move as a tug was coming in.

The anchorage at Flores

We went out into the anchorage which was really too deep for the scope of chain we have, but we managed to find a shallower spot closer in to the shore. Unbeknown to us it was an area of rocks which reaching up to 6m from the 10m seabed and the anchor became lodged.

Anchor lodged between 2 boulders

Donning my diving gear I found that it was lodged between two large boulders and try as I may, even tying lines to it etc I could'nt budge it. With a heavy heart we prepared for me to undo the shackle from the chain and abandon a £300 anchor! While crying into our cup of tea (cos I was freezing in this colder water) the wind changed direction, the boat moved round and we tried pulling from a different direction on the line I had tied on, and hey presto it came clear!!

We decided to hire a car as it was cheap and the island is said to have wonderful scenery. Flores means the island of flowers and it was certainly very pretty (well what we saw). The day we booked the car there was a low mist over all of the high ground!

Lovely flower lines roads of Flores

Our hire car in the clear weather of the coast

From the window of our hirer car when we reached the higher ground!

The roads are lined with hydrangas, very pretty

We also went for a nice walk another day and probably saw more than we did with the car!!
Pretty walk

Resting during our walk
We stayed 5 days and left for the 30 hour trip to the island of Horta in the Azores chain.

Horta, (Island of Faial), Azores

Arriving in Horta
The 30 hour sail to Horta became a 30 hour motor as there was no wind. We had a lot of dolphins visit us and had never seen so many of them on one trip.

Some of the many dolphins

Looking over Horta

We did a bus tour around the island which was very green and reminicent of the English countryside (can't say how much Keith enjoyed it as he had the reminents of a hangover from the night before in which we got tied up with the mad singlehanded Dutchman from the boat next to us!)

Rapau from the top of the mad Dutchmans mast (I went up his mast to check his rig etc)
The island of Pico and its volcano which is the highest land in all of Portugal (the Azores is Portugease) is more often than not covered in cloud. But one evening the cloud was half way up and sun was shinning on the top, it was an amazing sight as it glowed red.

Pico at sunset

We visited the old whaling museum which only stopped processing the whales in 1974. Quite sad to see the pictures of these magnifcant creatures being dragged ashore up the ramps.

The whaling museum

Many many yachts visit Horta as a stopping point across the Atlantic, it is supposed to be unlucky if you don't leave your yachts name on the jetty or wall of the marina (You have to go in the marina in Horta as not allowed to anchor). As we had no paint and neither of us are very arty we put our Rapau T-shirt on the jetty and covered it with epoxy so it was sealed to the floor.

The graffiti over all of the jetty, a tradition amongst sailors who visit Horta

The teashirt graffiti we left on the jetty

Angra do Heroismo (Island of Terceira), Azores
We left Faial at 4.20am one morning to try to reach the island of Terceira (still in the Azores group) before night fall. Pico looked great in the morning glow and there were some fascinating water features flowing from the rocks of Sao Jorge as we sailed past towards Terceira.

Pico in the morning

Passing Sao Jorge

Angra do Heroismo, Terceira

Angra Do Heroismo is a world heritage site for architecture, and the buildings were stunning, it was lovely to walk around the place. Much more going on than in the previous 2 islands.

One of the highlights was going to the bull run which is a traditional pass time here. The bull runs down the street with loads of stupid men and youths taunting it and running away. We found a spot on an elavated step in front of a row of terrace houses with a railing in front. We were a bit unsure of the postion as other places had full boards in front of the people, but were we were the bull could get at us between the railings......we just hoped he did'nt fancy us!

The fellars in red were the showmen who taunted the bull and dodged it mostly

The there were mad tourists who tried to get closer video.......

The tourist lost his trainer getting away, the bull looks fed up!

So he walks towards us in disgust.......Scary.........

Then another mad man catches his attention........

But he came to grief!!....(he got up and walked away though).

We also went to a bull run in a field we we were safely behind a wall. Not quite so exciting as the street one, but still glad we were not in the bulls-eye!!!
We are leaving tomorrow for northern France which will take us around 12-13 days depending on the weather. More news then.