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Horta, Azores: A Quick Explore and Paint

Horta, Azores: A Quick Explore and Paint

Off we set to Horta in the morning. When first getting out of the marina it felt like the wind was really going to work in our favor, and we were making good progress to Horta. The forecast was for the wind to totally swing around and come from Horta, and for it to drop quite some before we were scheduled to arrive.

In reality, the wind swing happened much earlier, and there was no real period of light winds, so after a few minutes of sailing, we found ourselves tacking to Horta through changeable wind directions and choppy swell. This turned into one of the wobbliest curvey tracks we have sailed to date (see below and don’t judge!).

On our journey to Horta, we also crossed paths with Artemis, who was heading from Horta to Velas. We managed to come quite close to each other as they were gull-winging downwind and both got some good snaps of each other.

Arriving in Horta we anchored on the edge of the anchor field. We counted another 30 or so boats at anchor, and it’s crazy to think a week before during the low pressure that passed over the Azores there were around 80 boats at anchor, things must have been tight!

We had already talked to Saga on Whatsapp who were in the marina already, so we took the dinghy over to see them. They were in a raft against the harbor wall that was already 3 deep, also alongside the German boat Beagle who we actually met in Cape Verde just before our East to West crossing.

After checking into the Azores finally, we headed to Peter Sport Cafe, a rather iconic and long-standing (104 years) cafe/bar in Horta that has been frequented by many a sailor over the years.

For people sailing the Atlantic, Café Peter is more of an institution than a café. With its bright blue facade and orange sign, it serves as a currency exchange, yachting club, hobby, post office, tourist attraction and even as a charity on many occasions. (…) “

in Travel Section of “El Monde” San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1982

Upstairs they have a small whaling museum with a large focus on whale teeth, bones, and also the history of the cafe. Of course, not just whale teeth, but rather art on and with the teeth and bones of whales that has been performed for many years, a tradition called Scrimshaw.

Our next job was to explore the area around the harbor a little, and we were recommended a hike up to the closest point which was also next to a local Caldera. Here we also walked past some old whaling factories, now turned museums, and you can see the ramps that they would have used to winch whales onto land from the sea.

We wanted to explore as much of the Azores as possible but were also aware that we needed to be back in the UK for July, and time was starting to feel tight. So rather than sail to Pico (the island next to Horta), we got a rather cheap ferry one morning to bus around and explore with Saga.

Here we went to another whaling museum that included a short film we could watch as well as quite a few rather graphic pictures from the time of whaling still in the Azores, which only came to an end in the mid 1980’s.

Originally we wanted to also sail to Terceira, but as the weather continued evolving, we decided we had better head back to the UK sooner rather than later to avoid more motoring and arrive with plenty of time so as not to rush the last few days of our adventures.

This meant leaving directly from Horta early on the morning of 15th June. But before departing we wanted to partake in the tradition of painting the harbor wall with a small mural for our crossing ahead. This is something we have seen in many other ports, but haven’t found the time to get painting to date.

We managed to have one more night of food, drinks, fun, and conversation before really starting to prep for the crossing back to the UK.

As part of this night, Sam from Blue Note was going around Peter Sport Cafe trying to get people to dance. In doing so, he found someone else in the bar from Devon, UK, and brought them over to our table, as we are also both from Devon. The world is a small place, and this turned out to be someone Kathryn personally knew through horse-related living arrangements!

We will gloss over our winch fix the evening before leaving, as well as restocking the boat with fuel and food, as you readers must be bored of this by now.

Needless to say, the Azores was great fun, but the next step is the rest of the Atlantic crossing West to East, back to the South coast of the UK.

Atlantic Day 9: A change in the weather

Atlantic Day 9: A change in the weather

Up until day 9, the weather has generally been quite pleasant.

And in fact in very recent days we haven’t had much wind at all, and the seas have been lovely and flat, we have been getting in the sea and also doing lots of cooking.

We managed to catch another fish, our first Mahi Mahi.

Somehow we have never caught the same fish twice on this entire adventure.

We roasted it with some veggies along side some fajita filling that we had made earlier.

However this morning the clouds started to appear and the rain started to fall, with the wind speed picking up again.

Before 9am we had our first 2 squalls of the passage, with further increased wind speeds.

At the time of writing this, we are actually in 20+knts of wind with a reef in the main (first time since setting off), and with the cockpit covers closed keeping the rain out, averaging 7.1knts SOG (speed over ground).

Also as writing this, we are crossing the 1,000 mile mark.

A bunch of us that are crossing at the same time are in communication daily, reporting our positions to each other and generally chatting about what’s been going on on each boat .

This now includes plotting all of our routes on a single map.

You can see clearly the 2 different groups that set off a few day apart. We are in group 1 which has headed further east initially, and the second group initially headed further north.

As we start to approach the final 10 days we start to have a better idea of what the weather will look like as we approach the Azores.

The weather routing by predict wind above shows us sailing beneath the Azores high in an area of lower winds for the coming days, before taking up to the Azores. And it look like this might be the route most of us follow.

With any luck (and according to the forecast) this rain should subside as the evening draws closer, and the winds should also stabilize. Otherwise sleeping tonight might be a bit of a challenge.

Until next time!

Night sail to the BVIs

Night sail to the BVIs

We restocked in Saint Martin before heading off, also doing laundry on land, collecting some full gas bottles and filling up jerry cans with water a couple of times. We were having so much “fun” doing these chores that we almost missed the bridge opening on the French side to let us leave the lagoon.

Just a few minutes before the bridge opened we made it into the queue, though it felt list a lot of rushing around on land, and we didn’t manage to tumble dry any of our laundry like we wanted to.

Not the most exciting of pictures, but with all of the rushing around we didn’t take many.

We headed out through the bridge at 5pm and anchored just outside so that we could start getting the boat ready including stowing the shopping, and eat some dinner before starting to sail.

The plan was to mostly run (straight downwind) all the way to the BVIs.

Ideally, we would do this with 2 headsails up, our genoa and larger ghoster, so before the sun set we also prepared the poles to keep these sails more stable and stop them from flapping around on the crossing.

There are no pictures of this amazing setup that night, however, there are some from the following morning but with the ghoster already lowered, and also some great shadow puppets on the sails from the middle of the night.

The sail itself was a breeze, setting off at around 7pm once away from the weird wind that was happening near the shore of Saint Martin we put both head sales up and wouldn’t need to adjust until after sunrise the following day.

Overnight we once again tried our 6 hour watch cycle which also worked a charm and we both managed to get plenty of sleep.

We headed straight to Spanish Town where would do all of the normal formalities checking into the country. and spent the night in the Spanish Town anchorage.

Just south of Spanish town there is a tourist attraction called “The Baths” which we were keen to explore.

The Baths are a popular tourist attraction and are known for their unique geological formations, including giant granite boulders that form natural tidal pools, tunnels, and grottoes. The area is also home to white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring.

We moved Hannah slightly down the island, anchoring around what felts like hundreds (but actually just 10s) of catamarans and swam over to the beach from which you could enter the baths.

It was great fun exploring the boulders, walkways, sandy beaches and little pools.

Off we went again, to a gathering on a beach we had organized with some other boat freinds.

In total 5 boats and 10 people were in attendance on a beach on Peter Island (Hannah Penn, Danae, Blue Note, Extress, Escapade)

Once again, there was lots of catching up to do as some of us had not seen each other in some weeks, or even months.

We did a potluck, which is where each guest brings a dish of food to share with everyone. In a potluck, the dishes are usually not coordinated or pre-planned, so guests may bring anything from appetizers to desserts. The idea is to create a shared meal where everyone contributes something, and there is usually a lot of variety and abundance of food.

There was bread, dips, pate, cheese, a cheesy spinach bake, potatoes, tuna salad, pasta and more.

And of course, there was a fire!

Much more to come from the BVIs, and we are happy to report that the night of the fire was 20th April, and at the time of writing this it is the 2nd of May, so we are nearly caught up. We might even be setting off back across the Atlantic in as little as 3 days, but only the weather can determine that!

St Kitts & Zora

St Kitts & Zora

From Pinneys Beach where we experienced some very interesting weather, we headed all the way to St Kitts.

The weather still wasn’t perfect, but in this anchorage, we made another boat friend that we would spend the next few days on St Kitts with. Sailing Yacht Zora.

Interestingly while we had some severe westerly winds the night before, they had some severe easterly winds that had actually caused them to drag anchor out to sea a little. We can only assume that the small stormy system passed right in between St Kitts and St Nevis, causing the swirling wind on both islands.

In theory, there was a wreck in the anchorage to snorkel on, so we headed out together, but couldn’t locate it. But the snorkeling was still pretty good.

This seems as good a post as any to say that you can actually follow along with most of the nature stuff that we see on a site called iNaturalist on adams profile.

From this snorkel session, for example, we have all of these observations, and more, recorded…

Anyway, enough nerding out about fish…

We sailed with Zora to a new anchorage, had a walk around a town, did some shopping, and had some lunch. The anchorage was horribly rolley giving us memories of Montserrat, so we all agreed to head somewhere else to allow for a better nights sleep.

Here there was actually a wreck, but in the 2017 hurricane, it got washed up onto the shore.

One of the best parts of this snorkel session was the small group of Caribbean reef squid that seemed to like hanging out near the rudder of Hannah.

We had some sundowners aboard Zora where we also met 2 other boats and chatted about all of our very different travels through the Caribbean.

Wanting to move on to St Martin so that we could also move on to the BVIs we headed to another anchorage a few days later so that we could check out and set sail.

As often happens in the Caribbean there was a festival of some sort going on as we were walking through the town, which included some plank walking! Who can get the furthest?

The anchorage was even more rolly here than we had had in the previous week or so. So we decided to spend as much time on land as possible, using up our remaining XCD currency which we would no longer be needing in a nice restaurant. We made sure to have some leftovers to being back to Hannah for our night sail on to St Martin.

Here you can see how rolly the boat was, no chance of sleep on that.

Martinique, take 1

Martinique, take 1

Last time we left you in Saint Lucia, now we are off to Martinique, for more fun shenanigans. Get ready for 5 onboard again!

Located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, Martinique is a picturesque island paradise that’s a must-visit destination for sailors. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and year-round tropical climate, Martinique is the perfect place for an adventure. From the charming coastal towns to the lush rainforests and towering peaks, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to discover.

We sailed from the marina at Rodney Bay, leaving slightly later than planned as we couldn’t check out at immigration over lunchtime, so after a slow morning we set sail after lunch. We were beating hard into wind and waves, slowing progress significantly, and decided to motor sail most of the way so we didn’t get in at midnight. It was still after dark by the time we arrived but having read the reviews on Navily about the Saint Anne anchorage we knew it was going to be safe to do so, it is by far the biggest anchorage with the most boats we’ve ever been to, it still had loads of room and the whole bay was a perfect 5m deep with a sandy bottom. In the morning we looked out onto the sheer scale of boats we were anchored amongst, hundreds and hundreds on sailboats.

Our search for a cheap food shop finally came to an end when we found a ‘Leader Price’! So we went to town on stocking up the boat, It’s perfectly aimed at cruisers with a dinghy dock right next to the shop which you can take your trolley down to. Martinique is a French island so it’s well connected to mainland France with all its great cheese and wine, after this we had the fridge full to the brim, well for the next week at least as we ate through all the fresh produce pretty quickly with lots of people on board.

We knew one of our boat buddies Vela was going to be sailing into the same bay, Saint Anne after crossing from St Lucia that day so we decided to invite them over for a lasagne dinner, they loved the invite after a long day’s sail. Cooking for 8 on a small boat is always a laugh, I think we ate 5 lasagnas with no leftovers 😂

As a gift in the morning from Vela we got a delivery of croissants and fresh bread from a bakery on shore.

On XXX we went snorkeling on the reef at the channel entrance into Le Marin, this was one of the first times we got to try out our new dinghy anchor which we bought in a Chandlery in Rodney Bay. The anchor was well set and we all jumped in to explore the underwater world, not long later I looked up to check on the dinghy which turned out to be much further away than expected! I yelled to Adam “It’s floating away!!” Adam quickly jumped into action and swam after it, only later realizing he still had his snorkeling weights on which made it hard work, luckily he made it to the dinghy and the kill cord was still in the kill switch, so not long and he was back. Turns out the knot had come undone between the dinghy line and the anchor line, after that, we tied it together with bowlines, not reef knots, and haven’t had a drifting dinghy since!

Despite this, we all managed to have a great look around.

We wanted to explore something land-based so we climbed the hill in St Anne up to a religious shrine/ outdoor church and got some lush views on the way (including the picture of the St Anne anchorage earlier in this post)

In the evening we found a very popular beach bar and got some drinks, when the sun started to set we found out why it was so special, the view of the anchorage in front of the setting sun was spectacular.

Daisy makes a cracking carbonara so she whipped us up a quick dinner that evening with copious amounts of pasta 🤤

The mission the following morning was to pick up our 5th crew member, as Andrew flew into Martinique later that day! We sailed out of the lovely protection on Saint Anne and around the southwestern corner of the island to Anse Noir where we did a quick shuffle around of people and got his bed sorted and then picked him up from the pontoon in the little bay in the late afternoon.

Having 5 onboard, where not everyone knows each other/ only one couple was a new experience, it meant Kathryn and Daisy shared the double in the saloon and Adam and Andrew shared the double in the front! Anna got a good deal in keeping the aft cabin to herself 😋

We had organized to go canyoning near Fort Du France the following day so after a very early start we sailed across the bay which only took about an hour to the busy anchorage at Fort du France. Just to add to the time constraint we found the holding to be rubbish so we ended up setting an anchor 3 times which never happens, finally happy that Hannah Penn was not going to drift away after we left, we all hoped in the dinghy and went to land to get a taxi

Andrew had a relaxing day café-ing whilst the rest of us put helmets and wetsuits on and jumped off some waterfalls, abseiled down bigger ones, and climbed and swam through deep canyons, the rainforest all around was gorgeous, so green and vibrant and full of life. It was a welcome change to be in fresh cool water and we all had a blast.

In the afternoon our canyoning guide gave us a lift down the mountain to a shop where we could get some bbq supplies, we met up with Andrew again and went back to the boat for a good old-fashioned BBQ in the sunset.

We heard from some friends that the best snorkeling in Martinique was in a bay called Anse d’Arlets, so we headed there.

On a bouyed-off area (to stop boats from getting anywhere near) there is an amazing little reef, like an oasis of life in the middle of a deserted ocean floor.

We saw all kinds of fish including some super-friendly angel fish.

And we managed to snap this great video swimming behind a Turtle!

I’m the evening we went for cocktails, Adam and Andrew got to talk in-depth about work and the girls chit-chatted in the golden sunshine.

Snorkeling isn’t something Andrew had done much of before so we left him, Anna, and Daisy to go back one more time whilst I checked us all out of the island in preparation for our sail back to Saint Lucia.

It’s now the 1st of Feb and we had an easy downwind sail back from Martinique to St Lucia, so took this opportunity for some boat shenanigans.

We jumped off whilst sailing and you had to swim to a rope dragging behind the boat to get back on board, thankfully everyone got back to the rope in time so there were no MOB maneuvers necessary, getting dragged behind the boat whilst sailing is a fun experience and it lets you feel the power of sails, even when only going 4 knots (any more and you’d struggle to pull yourself back to the steps!)

We did some similar towing earlier in our trip.

We later arrived back in Rodney Bay.

There was no space in the Marina for us this time, so we anchored just outside.

We headed to a pizzeria we had been eyeing up the last time we were at the marina, it was so tasty we ordered a 6th pizza halfway through our meal!

Next, we hire a car and explore the island for a couple of days before Daisy and Anna head home, but that’s for the next port.

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Day 60-62: The chase from Porto to Aveiro

Day 60-62: The chase from Porto to Aveiro

It looked like it was going to be a windy sail on leaving the safe harbour of Porto so we went with one reef in the main sail and the genoa had a little furl in, and the mizzen up in full.. the perfect set up really as we shot along at 8.5knots with a following swell that got us up to 9 or even 10 knots on occasion.

The race was on to catch up with SV Blue Note! Who we could see on AIS, we were catching up with speed.

A couple of hours or so in, the wind had dropped off just a little so all of the sail went up to try to maintain our speed, and we managed a very modest 6 or so knots for a few more hours

Half way through our sail we were on track to catch Blue Note just as we entered Aveiro.

The excitement however, started to diminish as our speed got slower and slower, the wind was really tailing off as the day drew on and we realised we were not going to catch up 🙁

Instead we finally got to the anchorage at about 11pm and we passed Blue Note on our lap of the anchorage trying to find a space, looked like they had packed up and gone to bed! The race will have to continue another day

The anchorage was packed out with sailing boats and we actually had difficulty finding a good spot so we ended up very close to a car ferry channel

In the morning after a few boats had left we were able to move to a better spot and not feel like we were in the path of all the little fishing boats coming and going

SV Blue Note went on their way and we said goodbye to them as the customs police came along side to check our documents, they were nice and chatty and liked our new paint job and told us about a good bakery, we also asked the story behind the giant wrecked trimaran that we were anchored next to.

Apparently some years ago it was being sailed by its French owners not far offshore from the harbour we were in when it was dismasted, it came in but the insurance didn’t pay out so it lay there dormant slowly being picked at by thieves till all that was left was a hull (or three really!) and it’s engine which the police said only hasn’t been stolen due to it being too heavy to get out of the boat!

The small town was interesting, it used to be purely made up of a naval base and ship building yard, and everyone who lived there worked in one or the other, over time the ship building yard became derelict, we walked around the dilapidated buildings trying to figure out what it used to be, for some time, eventually after translating some signs and finding some paperwork from the 1970s we realized it was a ship building yard

Nowadays it looks like some people use the spaces to hang out and there were some cool looking graffiti sprays on the walls.

We moved on to find some fresh veg and then headed back to the boat for an early night ready for our sail to Figueira da Foz the following day.

Day 58-60: Porto

Day 58-60: Porto

We arrived in the early morning of the 16th of August (the day of Daisy’s flight). @sv_bluenote were anchored in the river, as we cruised in and headed toward the marina, planning on staying there for a night or two.

Even though it was early there was someone at the marina to show us to a berth, and we ended up being pretty close to sv_zoe.

It was Daisy’s last day with us, and we made the most of it by seeing some sights in Porto, eating a very yummy Francesinha, and having some drinks on the river, then much to Daisy’s excitement, we rode electric scooters back to the marina along the river side all before it was time for her to taxi to the airport. There was only some minor running involved to get her and her bags to the taxi on time!

I’m glossing over the fact for the longest time Daisy was convinced her flight was on the 17th (next day). Glad we checked, otherwise she would have had a rather sad arrival to the check-in desk.

The next day the remaining 3 of us spent most of the day working, battling with the pretty slow WiFi at the marina.

The marina did redeem themselves from the WiFi though as it came with a free port tasting for each of us at Churchill’s, which we made the most of in the afternoon. €45 worth of free port tasting in fact, with a tour of the various port cellars and giant 55,000L port barrels, which was essentially the price of one of the nights stay in the marina! We did of course try a few more ports than came in the free tasting!… 15 tasting glasses later we stumbled home.

After our second and final night in the marina we spent much of the day working and doing laundry before heading to anchor in the river with sv_bluenote who had invited us for dinner.

It was so delicious I forgot to take a picture, but it was a lovely creamy risotto with asparagus.

But we did snap these pictures of Hannah in the sunset from Blue Note.

We planned on doing a night sail all the way down to Figuera da Foz that same night, but shortly after arriving back from dinner Andrew said he wasn’t feeling so good.

We hunted around to find the thermometer, only to find it was out of battery.

On a whim we got Andrew to do a covid test, and quite surprisingly he was positive!!!

Needless to say, we didn’t start to sail, instead staying anchored for the night.

Come morning Andrew decided it would be best to head to a hotel for his first covid experience rather than stay on small old Hannah, so we shipped him to shore in the dinghy.

Andrew headed to a hotel, and Kathryn and I prepared to chase Blue Note down…

We quickly pulled up anchor once we had the dinghy back on board and scoffed some food down whilst motoring out of the river, trying to chase Blue Note down who had left a couple of hours ago, but let’s save that for the next post!

Day 50: Tack, tack and tack again

Day 50: Tack, tack and tack again

Waking up in our anchorage, we found ourselves rocking violently from side to side after 10am. (This was due to all of the large ferries speeding past the area).

We had a little bit of this the night before, so we’re already expecting it. A quick spot of breakfast, and off we went.

We let captain Warren take command for the day, which lead to quite an interesting initial route. (Hence the name of this post).

A few wiggles, and a few accidental tacks, and we were out in the wind again, heading south toward Vigo.

Dolphins were quite a feature for the sail.

As was fishing, but once again no fish were caught (not having much luck this past week).

We headed to an anchorage on the north side of Ria de Vigo that we had spotted both Zoe from day 43 and Blue Note from Day 48 at on Marine Traffic.

We made a tasty egg fried rice on the way into the anchorage, so we’re eating moments after the anchor dropped

Zoe invited us all over for some drinks with Blue Note also attending.

We chatted late into the evening, even popping back to Hannah to continue until around 3am! All in all a very fun day, night and into the early morning!

Day 48: Feelin foggy

Day 48: Feelin foggy

We all woke up a little late, and a little tired after our previous long day of sailing.

But wanting to make the most of the morning wind, we set off within the hour.

We wanted to move anchorage to avoid the changing swell and wind, and had also recently acquired a navigation permit for the nearby islands that are nature reserves, which we wanted to get a little closer to. (Guide for how to get this permit coming up soon).

As we sailed we applied for an anchorage permit which was approved instantly, so our anchorage was set :). (Also guide for this coming soon)

We considered looping the island, but this may have taken too long, so instead sailed across the top and back again.

We lost sight of the island half way through the sail due to the fog.

But thankfully as we neared the beach we wanted to anchor at we were actually in a nice and sunny hole in the fog. So after anchoring we headed to the beach.

Warren was cooking for the night, and we had a delicious Fabada cooked in the pressure cooker.

Suddenly, a knock a knock on the hull! Our neighbours from Blue Note had come over to see if we fancied a drink.

We took them up on their offer, suggesting they come back in 45 minuites after we had finished with food and packing things up.

A drink, or 4, were had.

We exchanged stories, and it turns out they had seen us at our previous day’s anchorage, and watched us picking Warren’s hat out of the water prior to anchoring.

Hopefully we will see them again soon as we all plan on being in Vigo on the 9th.

Day 43: From Zoe to Nude in a day

Day 43: From Zoe to Nude in a day

Many more jobs were done in the morning, more shopping, stowing, cleaning, deck scrubbing, washing etc.

From Zoe

We made some friends on Instagram who we then also met in real life as they were moored just a few boats down. Introducing @sailingvesselzoe. Also planning on making their way toward Canada on their Hallberg Rassy 36 called Zoe. We should be continuing to sail around the same area for the next few weeks, so hopefully we will cross paths again.

To Nude

As we said yesterday, we are now aiming for Vigo for the 3rd of August (2 days time), so want to progress down the coast a little more.

We already looked at some anchorages a few days ago, so continued down to the south, and headed to the last on the list.

We both also managed to squeeze in some time for work during and just after the sail. (Adam will talk about the internet setup in a blog post soon)

We arrived at the anchorage surprisingly early given our track record for the last few hops. So we headed on to the beach (Praia de Barra).

Oh wait, it’s a nudist beach!