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!
Atlantic Day 8: It only took 8 days to catch a fish
We have started turning to the east, and in general are making great progress to the Azores. So far we are very happy with the window that we set off in, as we have had rather flat seas the whole way, and mostly enough wind, though we have been motor sailing through some lighter wind spots.
During some of those lighter wind spots, we jump in the sea, have a cool down and a little wash, before rinsing with fresh water onboard Hannah with the solar shower.
We (one by one) hang off the back of the ladder at the back of the boat while sailing, with an extra line also out the back in the water. We wouldn’t be doing this if we were in lighter winds and flatter seas. This time, we also jumped off the bow to try and get a picture of Hannah sailing past before grabbing the line, but you can’t get very far away
During our peaceful sailing times, we keep getting more and more birdy visits. The larger of these birds kept swooping down right next to the cockpit on the look out for scraps of food.
Also recently up for dinner was pizza. Little did we know before setting off, we accidentally bought cashew milk mozzarella. It’s okay, but looking forward to opening the real pack of mozzarella we have soon.
We were not very successful in fishing coming east to west due to all of the seaweed. The rods have been out the back of Hannah during the day time since day 3 of this crossing. We had one bite, that came off while being reeled in. Another bit that took the whole lure and leader. But finally today, we reeled in a little tasty Amber Jack for our dinner. We cooked it with some tomato, onions, courgette, lemon juice, dill and butter.
Another evening draws to a close aboard Hannah, as the magic autopilot continues to steer us on.
Tomorrow might be quite a low wind day, and we may end up motoring quite a bit, after which the winds should come back and allows us to continue sailing on toward the Azores.
Still no sign of the other boats we are near, but hopefully we will catch up with them in the coming days.
This time the sail was much easier and the motor was not needed at all, although the crossing was a little rough and took its toll on Andrew’s stomach!
We once again met up with Danae and Artemis who had now overtaken us in our adventure since we hopped back south for a few days.
They let us know that some Carnival celebrations would be happening in St Anne, so we went to investigate with them! Little did we know this would be the start of a month of carnival for us.
We couldn’t ignore the amazing supermarket that was Leader Price, so once again headed there for another trolly full of supplies for the coming week.
We probably bought more Brie than we would normally eat in a year during our short stay in Martinique.
Our next stop was Marigot du Diamant, a less visited anchorage in Martinique, according to reviews it can be a little tricky to navigate and anchor in, but we had no problems.
As we approached the anchorage, Kathryn managed to catch a Cero Mackeral which made for a perfect sunset dinner cooked Mediterranean style in the oven for three. This is the biggest size fish we can fit whole (minus head and tail) in the oven 👌
In this anchorage, we got Andrew out on the water for his first-ever SUP experience, and we all (one by one) explored the bay ourselves, including to try and catch a few small waves that were breaking on the central reef.
Next, we aimed to try and find some mangroves and headed all the way into the Fort du France Bay to Petit Ilet.
We anchored just in the lee off the island in mud. Researching the island we knew there were some picnic benches and knew that people came on little tours here so there must be some things of interest over there.
After cooking up some pesto pasta, we headed with the pot in the dinghy to eat on the island and then have a little walk around. The first bit of wildlife to come to our attention were the 2 friendly chickens that wanted some of our pasta. But there was more to see too.
The following day we moved anchorage to the other side of Petit Ilet to be slightly closer to the entrance to the mangrove-sided river, just on the edge of a no-anchoring area.
We took both the dinghy and the SUP up the river to see the mangroves and wildlife that lived in and around them. To our surprise, the most common animal here were the mangrove tree crabs, which are normally bright yellow and seemed to cover every single mangrove we could find, even way up in the canopy, and always hiding on the other side of the branches.
We had to move back to our previous anchorage as a local came passed in his boat and told us that apparently, we couldn’t anchor overnight where we were even though the chart said it was fine. We moved mainly to avoid any further confrontations 😲.
Before we knew it, it was the 12th of February, and Andrew had less than a week left with us.
First on the tourism list for Saint Pierre was the zoo which was literally a stone’s throw from where the boat was anchored, the zoo’s landscape and environment were lovely, based within the ruins of the oldest habitation in Martinique, the main house and its outhouses, including a small hospital and waterwheel were put to ruin by the volcanic eruption which we found out more about in the museum we went to the following day.
Further into the town was a fairly nice and modern museum covering the history of the island, particularly the Saint Pierre area which was dramatically impacted by a volcano eruption.
Saint Pierre was once the thriving cultural and economic capital of Martinique, known for its bustling port, vibrant arts scene, and luxurious lifestyle. However, in 1902, the town was completely destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Pelée, which killed almost all of its inhabitants. This tragedy left an indelible mark on the town and its people, and today, the ruins of Saint Pierre serve as a powerful reminder of the town’s rich history and the devastating impact of natural disasters.
Andrew loves a good meal out, so once again we headed to find some delicious food after the museum.
Keen to start heading back toward the airport (a short taxi ride from Fort du France) we started heading south once again, choosing to anchor at a place called Four a Chaux.
There wasn’t a whole lot to see snorkeling this time, but there was a wonderful Hawksbill turtle! (We do love them, especially when the visibility is great!)
Hawksbill turtles are sea turtles found throughout the world’s tropical oceans including the Caribbean and are known for their beautiful shells and important role in maintaining the health of coral reefs by feeding on sponges and other reef organisms. Unfortunately, they’re critically endangered due to threats such as habitat loss, pollution, and over-harvesting, so it was a blessing to see a young one.
Continuing south we entered the Fort du France bay but once again headed deep into it to anchor somewhere new at Les Trois-ilets.
We had already prepared to have a couple of BBQs toward the end of Andrews’s time with us. One just the three of us and another with Extress as once again as they would be catching up with us.
With plenty of BBQable food aboard, Andrew set about making burgers and we lit the BBQ which hangs off the back of Hannah.
Sausages and bacon went on first while the burgers were being prepared. The burgers came out and looked delicious and gigantic, and on they went. Unfortunately upon flipping the burgers, the weight of them had bent the inner BBQ (which is just a disposable BBQ), and the entire thing slipped into the sea.
It’s probably one of the saddest moments so far aboard Hannah, seeing 4 delicious and gigantic half-cooked burgers drifting away downwind to become fish food. 😭 At least the sausages and bacon were already cooked and off the bbq so we got to eat those.
Anyway, the next day we headed back to Fort du France to anchor once again. Extress arrived a few hours later and we brought a bag of BBQ supplies to BBQ aboard Extress so as to avoid any more BBQ disappointments.
Our sailing with Andrew was complete, with Martinique part 2 being the final set of hops.
Andrew decided to spend his final night in a Hotel to freshen up on stable dry land before his cross-Atlantic flight back to Europe. 👋👋
Carnival struck once again, and although the big day would happen once Andrew had left, there were some pre-carnival carnival events to go and see.
The first being the introduction of the carnival queen.
And the second that evening being a show of floats and cars.
Before the two of us could contemplate continuing on to Dominica and then to Guadeloupe where we had arranged to get hauled out in a boat yard for some repainting, there was a little more carnivaling to do. But that will have to wait until the next post, as its quite intertwined with the crossing to and being on Dominica itself.
The Grenadines were a beautiful group of many islands that we managed to explore for just over 2 weeks, although the same amount of time again would have been even better. There were lots of Islands that we didn’t manage to see. This post is only the beginning!
On the way from Union to the Cays we caught a barracuda, and I genuinely didn’t think I’d ever eat barracuda but it was one of the tastiest fish we’ve caught so far!
We had the barracuda for two main meals including tempura battered fish tacos with couscous and peach salsa.
Fully reefed sailing towards Tobago CaysAn excellent Baracuda catch, we tie a string through the tail when filleting so we don’t lose it overboardBattered barracuda tacos
We picked up a mooring buoy in the channel just north of Petit Rameau island, anchorage fees here are the same as a mooring buoy so we thought it best not to risk damage to the underwater ecosystem and get a mooring. On arrival, we saw Danae had already got there and Artemis came in just behind and to our excitement, there were 3 buoys all in a row which Danae got an excellent picture of with their drone.
We got in the water to discover what couldn’t be seen from above, right under the boat we had turtles and more barracudas and further away we saw turtle after turtle after turtle, all totally relaxed about us being in the water with them, then came sting rays, Eagle rays, and beautiful fish. Anna even spotted a reef shark!
Sting ray with trunk fish all around
Same sting ray!
Spotted Eagle ray foraging
This little one had an itchy face as he swims away! Rather cute
Whilst at the Tobago Cays a boat came by to talk to us about a place with free moorings (not a common thing around here) at a resort with 3 pools, multiple bars, and a lovely beach, we decided to take them up on the offer of free mooring and pool use when we were definitely in need of a real shower!
On the way to Mindelo we stopped off at a few other places.
Firstly Ilhéu Branco, which is an uninhabited 278-hectare islet. And secondly an anchorage on the south of Santa Luzia
We then headed to Mindelo on the day that they ARC+ would start, but our arrival and the chaos at the anchorage and start line will follow in another blog post!
We didn’t need to think much about our anchorages or how we were getting there, as at this point we were mostly just following Extress and their route on the way to Mindelo.
We stopped in at Ilhéu Branco for lunch, which fortunately we caught just as we approached the anchorage.
We didn’t hang around for long after lunch. When pulling up our anchor though, it wouldn’t come, and was stuck on something on the bottom. We quickly dived in to have a look at what was going on, and it turned out to be slightly caught under a lip of rock. We dragged it out and it came up with ease.
On the way to the next anchorage, we hit a fairly big acceleration zone between the islands leading to some fun heeled-over sailing.
Here you can see Extress ahead of us.
At the second anchorage, we ended up eating aboard Extress once again with some BBQed pizzas 🙂
These little BBQs are pretty awesome. They some with pizza stones, and you can easily pick them up and move them while they are BBQing as the outside doesn’t get hot!
This was our final stop on the island of Sal after leaving Palmeria.
As you can see, we didn’t make our way directly to the anchorage, instead sailing around the bay a little.
What were we doing you might ask?
Playing around on the SUP behind the boat we would answer!
This anchorage ended up being a lot of fun. The exception was the seemingly hundreds of flies that would fly through the boat every single day…
The snorkeling was pretty good, the water was clear, and warm enough to comfortably stay in for hours if you wanted.
We kept seeing turtle heads pop up above the water, but no matter how often we tried to see them under the water, we always failed.
While at anchor we did a little fishing off the back of the boat after seeing the tasty-looking fish swimming around the boat, and we were actually quite successful.
We caught a couple of little tiny fish which we used for bait, as well as a set of small fly lures which landed us a tasty little sea bream
The live bait did get a bite, but unfortunately, the line broke and we never found out what it was.
This prompted a little BBQ aboard Extress with Danae too where we all got chatting more.
We discovered that Danae had a wing foil setup, and the next day we were invited to have a go! On the whole, we were pleased at how well it went! Maybe this is the next toy we should buy? 😉
As the swell picked up, it curved around the headland corner that was protecting us and started to bring swell directly into the beach.
This led once again to another little SUP surfing opportunity, this time within paddling distance of the boat (though it was straight onto rocks)
As the swell continued to build, it also started reaching the beach which made for some better surfing (but we didn’t get any pictures). The following day multiple surf schools showed up to surf this break.
This also lead to some quite interesting swell rolling straight through the anchorage.
By this point, Danae had left to head on to the next island, but alongside Extress we stayed for another night. Extress threw out a stern anchor and we moved further off shore into some deeper water to lessen the effecter of the swell.
Although this swell rolled right through the anchorage, it didn’t end up being an uncomfortable nights sleep for us.
We hadn’t decided if we were going to stop at Tangier or not, as we had heard from some friends that it was going to be full, so also had a plan to head all the way to Rabat.
Not long after setting off we quickly got the rod out as Kathryn saw a giant tuna leaping out of the sea. Within a few minutes, there was a bite, and we spent the next 15 minutes (it felt like) reeling in our catch whilst underway.
A tuna! Our first catch since northern Spain (we think).
As we approached Tangier we saw a whole bunch of boats leaving. This was the moment that we started re-evaluating weather options as well as considering how long customs can take in Morocco.
Rather than stop in Tangier, as we were a week behind our plan, we decided to keep going to either Rabat, Essaouira or the Canaries.
Very quickly we found ourselves 3 days into a 5-day sail.
Throughout our sail along the coast of northern Morocco, there was quite a lot of sand in the air, making everything very hazy, kind of like fog.
The weather dropped and shifted, making it look unlikely we could make it to the Canaries before getting caught in the worst of some horrible swell. As the weather continued to develop we were weighing up Essaouira, Agadir or Lanzarote. Also, playing in the sea 😉
The wind shifted back to something more desirable, as we went for it, all the way to Lanzarote!
While talking about how we might be able to go faster with the wind almost directly behind us, we realized that we had not yet used the mizen staysail.
It’s meant for use when the wind is from the beam to almost dead behind the boat, so perfect!
We spent some time figuring out how to hoist it for the first time, and up it went.
We kept the mizen staysail up for at least 1 day, and it managed to keep our average speed at above 6knots. Epic!
This was the point where we saw a large navy ship behind us. Adam also realized that we weren’t listening on channel 16 (we had switched to listen to some weather, but never heard the broadcast).
Upon switching back to channel 16, the navy ship was hailing us (they might have been for some time…).
They wanted to know the details of the boat, how many people were aboard, and if we had any kids of pets. After a lovely little VHF conversation, they said to have a nice sail and then continued on past us.
The wind and swell continued to build, the staysail came down, and we continued the rest of the sail with a reefed main and a working gib.
In the last 12 hours the swell was probably somewhere between 2 and 3 meters, and quite mixed up. There was a primary swell from the north at 2-2.7m, but also some other swell from somewhere east or south ish that made things quite interesting…
The worst of this came at night, but here is a short video from the daytime before, where we capture the swell size quite well we think.
We came in between Lanzarote and the northern island of La Graciosa at about 5am on Saturday, before getting to our anchorage at 6am ish.
The moon was quite full, but unfortunately obscured by clouds so it was quite dark.
The anchorage was full of boats, but we snuck around all of them right to the front next to the beach and dropped anchor in what we hoped was sand according to the satellite view. We held well and headed for some well-deserved sleep! (pictures of where our anchor landed coming in the next post)
Our pre planning of heading to Cascais rather than heading further into the Lisboa river served us well on day 81, as the 27nm journey took us 10.5 hours due to light winds (we only adveraged 2.5 knots).
We managed to get the fishing rod out due to our mostly slow sailing. We tried a mixture of single deep diving lures, and also the paravane with feathers and a spinner.
As Adam was making dinner Kathryn started to reel the rod in, but is felt suspisciously heavy. Upon getting the paravane up to the surface Adam walkd away thinking that job was done., before Kathryn said “wait we caught something”.
Normally the paravane should come to the surface when it catches a fish, but either there was something wrong with this fish, the paravane, or perhaps it just bit at the last second?
We caught our first Mackerel scad (thanks Mark for helping us identify).
Anchoring in Sesimbra wasn’t ideal, we arrived just after the sun had set, and the anchorage remained rockey for most of the night, but there were not many alternatives.
We were planning on hopping to another anchorage down the coast but decided to have a day of exploration and relaxation instead.
The beach was lovely and long, and the sun was out. Needless to say we didn’t manage to walk the multiple kms of the entire length but instead got distracted trying to make our very own TikTok… (yes we know we are behind the trend but it’s still hilarious!)
Next stop, Póvoa de Varzim, a 37 nautical mile venture south.
We needed to time leaving the river at the point of least tidal flow which happened to be early in the morning.
I’ll avoid putting the exact time here, as to be honest I’m not sure. We had tide schedules in Azores summertime while being on the border of Portugal and Spain.. confusing, to say the least!
The tide dictated our exit from the river, and this put us out to sea without much wind. This led to a very wiggly and slow venture out to sea, before the wind swung and started to pick up guiding us toward our goal.
The sailing part of this hop was rather uneventful.
The fishing however was very interesting…
Catching a lobster pot
In the hour after leaving the river mouth, we came very close to a lobster pot buoy that was also connected to 2 other small buoys. We managed to mostly avoid the small buoys with the boat, however, the fishing line that was out at the time got snagged on a line between the 2 smaller buoys.
To retrieve our tackle we had to tack around, turn on the engine and approach the buoys with the motor on, managing to grab them out of the water and cut the needed bits of line.
Upon untangling the mess of line from our own lures, we found that we had acquired another hook with some line attached that must be from another boat that had got snagged on the same small buoys in the previous days.
Catching a seagull
About halfway through the journey, the line started reeling out a little then stopping. Almost like a fish bite that didn’t get hooked. It happened again and at the same time, Daisy said “What’s that seagull doing”.
Our lure must have caught some weed and surfaced, only to have a seagull dive on the lure thinking it was some tasty fishy food.
The engine went on once again, and another tack back to reel in this seagull without actually reeling it in and causing too much damage. We managed to pull the seagull out of the water, cover its head with a towel and slowly remove 2 hooks from it, one in the beak and one in its wing.
The caught seagul
After giving its wounds a rinse down with some sterile eyewash we put it on the foredeck and it quickly took flight heading for land, poor seagull, luckily we think it will be fine.
We wandered around the festival, bought some cake and generally had a look at what was going on.
But the main attraction would be the fireworks, which were being set off from the middle of the marina. In the picture below you can see the pontoons for the fireworks very close to the catwalk of the marina where the photo is taken from.
We decided to watch the fireworks from this calm and quiet marina location, and it’s one of the largest, loudest, and best firework experiences we have ever had.
The fireworks were so close you really couldn’t fit them all in your field of view at once.
Here is a little snippet from near the end of the show.
Journey to Leixões
The next hop on our way to Porto was Leixões.
One of the things that we had been worrying about in Portugal was the police possibly kicking out of anchorages, but we had no such problem in Caminha, so could only hope that the reviews we had seen on Navily were the exception rather than the norm. Leixões had a similar review saying that a boat had been told to move at 3am from the anchorage in the Port.
Our journey was another short hop down the coast. We probably should have left a little earlier as we arrived in Leixões after dark.
We anchored right in the corner of the anchorage, near 2 other boats and had no issues for the night.
When entering be aware that large ships may be entering or exiting the port. The anchorage is in the corner of the main area of the port, just the other side of the marina wall in a shallower area 2-4m chart depth. We anchored easily, close to the wall and out of the way of any ship movements and spent the night with 2 other boats (a Tri and another monohull), probably would have been room for another 4-6 boats without getting in the way of things. Good protection, though you will get some wake from pilot boats occasionally. There is some noise in the port, but we had a good sleep. Very muddy bottom when pulling the anchor up, lots of mud came up. No sign of the police, I can imagine if you anchor too far out they might ask you to move, we dropped anchor at 41°11.102N, 8°42.335W with the other 2 boats to our NW
We primarily anchored in Leixões so that we could be as close as possible to Porto without actually being in Porto.
The sail the next day was only around 4 nautical miles and we were in Porto before 8am!
But let’s leave everything about Porto for the next post!
As well as being full of food, day 49 was also still full of fog.
We woke up in the anchorage after a fairly rockey night’s sleep. Although the swell was from the west, and we were well protected from any direct swell, it seemed to rebound from the land and hit us from the other side too. This was particularly noticeable from 6am onwards. And after our late night, we were all quite hoping for a lie in.
I enjoyed this morning, but I could have slept longer.
Pancakes were the first order of the day. (They were all as healthy as the one below, honest)…
Kathryn and I decided to let Daisy captain us to the next anchorage, we set the target in Navionics, sat back and watches the chaos ensue.
With Daisy at the helm, Warren and Andrew were left to pull the anchor up on her command and get us moving along.
We were motoring until we came close to the mainland due to lack of wind, but it was enjoyably flat, and fun getting others to do all of the work.
Warren and I started fishing part way through the hop, ultimately unsuccessful, but Warren did snag the world, resulting in us doing a little loop to get uncaught from the bottom.
Shortly after, we headed to the anchorage.
We finally got the relaxing day we wanted as Warren read us 3 chapters of The Hobbit.
Warren reading some of The Hobbit
Dinner followed, and we used leftovers with many additions to make some cheesy enchiladas.
Following that we had a delicious meringue victoria sponge with hand whipped cream.
Mmmmmmmm aahhhhhhh mmmmmm oohhh yeaaaaa mmmmmmm oh god it’s ssooo good
Adam, after eating Warrens cake
This really was a day of food…
Time for an early night, finally. Let’s just hope the ferries that keep driving past causing chaos wake do actually stop at 10pm.