Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 8
22 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
It's still a wild ride here in winds of 25+ knots and seas that are now over 3 meters- but not due to get any bigger, thank goodness. Yarona is coping magnificently and blasting along- these conditions really bring out the best in her. We had another visit from Dolphins yesterday- giving us some moral support. Last night the front came through at midnight on my watch. The squall line looked very pretty on the new radar plotter, and I got Barrie out of bed in good time. The wind shifted from SW to NW so we jibed, and are still just about maintaining our due east course. We will probably turn towards Flores tomorrow morning, once the worst of this is over. At least the sun is shining now, but it's cold- thermals and warm hats are needed at night. The interior of the boat is a shambles- heaps of clothes everywhere, as putting them away is just too much like hard work and it's essential to time the opening of cupboards with the roll so as to not have contents flying everywhere.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 7
21 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Half Way! The only problem is we are now 150 miles south of the direct route, galloping due East on latitude 34.30N. This seems to be succeeding in getting us away from the huge storm north of us, and winds are only 20-25 knots, with 3 meter seas and growing. But all is coming at us from behind, so nothing Yarona can't cope with. With only a well-furled head sail we are making 7 knots over ground. When not on watch the best option is to lie stuffed into a bunk with pillows, listening to podcasts and music on Spotify. The bad weather is all forecast to be over by noon on Tuesday, and we can turn north east towards Flores. The irony is we may be faced with three days of motoring in no wind.. So we are are using as little power as possible, turning off the chart plotter, turning up the fridge, and allowing the Hydrovane to steer the boat rather than the electric autohelm- old-skool sailing. The less diesel we use to charge the batteries, the more miles we can motor. It will probably be emergency foil-packed curry for dinner tonight- it's been on the boat a year so needs eating anyway.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 6
20 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Commander's Weather have given us an updated route to minimise the worst part of the storm that is developing between Bermuda and the Azores. Unfortunately that has meant heading south east and east for a few days. It adds a few hundred miles onto our route; perhaps an extra day or so to our passage. Even so, we still expect the wind and seas to build during the next 3 days so we have been getting the boat and ourselves prepared. I've just baked some flapjack ...nothing like getting ones priorities right!
The conditions today are fabulous! We have clear skies and and warm sunshine. The wind is around 14 kn from our starboard quarter. Our big blue sail and some mainsail is pushing us along at a steady 6.5 kn.
We keep getting large pods of dolphins playing in our bow wave and there are quite a few sea birds (Shearwaters?) gliding just feet above the waves and swell. The only evidence of human life is the odd big merchant ship ...... and the disturbing number of floating plastic bottles! I could get all philosophical about it all but I will save that for another day.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 5
19 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Last night the wind was from dead behind, and not really enough of it, so Yarona ghosted along wing-on-wing at barely four knots. The sea was calm, so I managed movie hour in the cockpit on my night watch. Neverland with Kate Winslet and Johnnie Depp was even more surreal mid-Atlantic. We both slept soundly off watch for the first time this passage. Today has been an excellent day, sunshine and a bit more wind. We have dropped the pole that kept the headsail from slatting, and are now creaming along on a broad reach at almost 7 knots. We have change course to head slightly more south. There is a really bad storm forecast for Tuesday, with its centre to the north of us, so we want to put more miles between it and us. We downloaded GRIB files and synoptic charts as usual this morning, gulped at what they showed, and sent a request to Commanders' Weather for an updated forecast and routing advice. They haven't sent it yet, but I suspect they are very busy with a lot of worried sailors out here. We are averaging a sighting of one ship a day. They all divert around us, the default CPA being about four miles. So far we have only seen one other yacht. On each of the last three days we have had a visit from a large pod of dolphins, always around the same time, late afternoon. We treat this as a good omen.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 4
18 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
It's time to head back to Europe! We've just enjoyed 3 weeks in St. Georges Harbour, Bermuda, exploring the island in between some very windy spells.
We left Bermuda at mid-day on Monday. Thirty plus boats in ARC Europe were scheduled to leave yesterday so it will be interesting to see how many catch us up.
We've had 3 fast days so far with good wind and fairly kind seas so we are well on track. The wind has dropped today so we are ghosting along at 4 knots using our genneker with a pole to stop it collapsing in the roll caused by the swell. I'm just starting to find my sea legs and beginning to feel human again! Distance to go is 1260 nm. With luck we should arrive in about 9 days.
Cuba. Sailing Day 14!
01 March 2017 | Cayo del Rosario, Cuba
Cuba is a big country. We're just over the half way stage of our cruise round the south coast of Cuba. Its all quite challenging but at least the wind is behind us. The anchorages are pretty amazing. More to add as soon as we have internet.
A week in Cienfugos
24 February 2017
Life here is interesting but frustrating. The shops have eggs one day, potatoes another, and I can't find any crisps or peanuts! The shop interiors are like Britain in the '50s. We gather our wits in a café on the square, entertained by this excellent group of musicians. The garage on the walk back to the marina is the best source of beer. But everyone is friendly, and a lot more patient than we are. It's been a choppy two days in the anchorage due to westerly winds, but tomorrow the Trades set back in, so we are heading out to the cays again.
Trinidad by Chevrolet
20 February 2017
Internet is new to Cuba, so no posts for a while! After two lonely weeks in the Beautiful Cays of the Jardín de la Reine, Yarona is anchored off the marina in Cienfuegos and we have come to Trinidad for the day in a Chevy that's older than us! We passed more horse-drawn buggies than cars on the way here. The town is fascinating and we are looking forward to lunch in a paladar. Cubans are allowed to have small private businesses now, to everyone's advantage.
HAM Radio Camp gives Isla Beata a Boost!
30 January 2017 | Isla Beata, Southern Tip of Dominican Republic
This is supposed to be very isolated, with a few fisherman spending a month at a time here, and a manned coastguard station. But as we were setting the anchor last night, a voice came over on the VHF. There is a Ham Radio camp here, 15 guys from the mainland establishing the first connection for 28 years, just staying a week. They run three HAM radio stations round the clock, and enthusiasts make contact from around the world, to 'collect' the island. 8,000 calls logged so far and counting! They are also doing community service, leaving behind some solar panels and organising a beach cleanup. We know this because we were invited ashore for dinner- very simple, grilled fish and plantain. Not the evening we were expecting!
Photo to follow when we have internet.
A morning at the market
27 January 2017 | Barahona, DR
We are anchored in a small basin at Barahona, our last town in the DR before Cuba. We know shopping in Cuba will be restricted to whatever is left over after the farmers have handed most of their crop over to the government to be issued back as weekly rations, so it was time for a big fruit and veg shop. We also know there is a large market here, so this morning we took the dinghy over to the town commercial wharf loaded with shopping bags, money safely zipped away. The first challenge was climbing out of the dinghy, using an old black tyre we assume had been suspended for just this purpose. The market was huge, crowded and filthy. We resisted the meat stalls, where everything was hacked up on a bloody board and covered in flies, avoided being run over by motorbikes loaded with bananas, and tackled the fruit and veg avenue. About six stalls later, we ended up with this lovely haul, shown drying in the cockpit.
For the first time ever, I have washed everything in bleach solution. At least it will keep well, being local and never having seen a fridge until today. There are no air-miles here.Total cost- about $10.
23 January 2017 | Las Salinas
There isn't much to do here- one hotel that has certainly seen better days and a few dusty streets. The most interesting things are the salt pans which are photogenic and still operating. We arrived to find two other yachts in the bay but both only stayed a day, so we have been on our own here for four nights now.
The job list is going down, including fixing a small mystery leak we have had for a while and a repair to the jib. The water here is lovely and clear, so we can run the watermaker and keep the tanks full, with plenty to spare for showers after a swim and to run the washing machine.
At last we have good internet to keep us amused, as one success in Boca Chica was buying a Claro data sim which is working well on board.
The Dominican Republic - A country of contrasts
21 January 2017 | Las Salinas
Kath - Sunny and warm with a light breeze
The Dominican Republic is known for it's vast all-inclusive resorts- but they are a long way from our route in both distance and experience! I knew from my research this was not going to be an easy country to visit by yacht, and so it has proven to be. Its the norm for officials here to supplement their very low salary by expecting a significant 'propina' (read tip, or bribe) for every service. We checked into Marina Zar Par at Boca Chica on the south coast. The official fees for entry add up to about $120, but the marina has done a deal with immigration to charge every boat arriving a flat fee of $250, to include everyone's little extra. Despite this, we still had three officials in the cabin with their heavy boots on within an hour of our arrival, and suffered the routine intrusive but pointless search. We are now only allowed to travel from one named port to another, with a new 'dispacho' for every journey. Lovely anchorages on route are off limits for overnight stops, and as you have to leave within an hour of getting your dispacho its almost impossible to complete each passage in daylight. When we arrived here yesterday the coastguard was alongside demanding our paperwork before we had even set the anchor. They need a bit of customer service training!
But rant over, here we are at anchor in Las Salinas, a beautiful sheltered spot where we are planning to spend a few days, chill, and get stuck into the jobs list. Having paid up, we may as well stay a while!
Off the Beaten Track!
27 December 2016 | Esperanza, Isla De Vieques, Porto Rico
We've enjoyed a month in the British and US Virgin Islands, but the time has come for us to start our journey west to Cuba. We've said goodbye to our friends Tom and Susan, met on the rally, who are heading south down the island chain. Yarona is on a mooring in Esperanza Bay on the south coast of Vieques, one of the Spanish Virgin Islands and part of Puerto Rico. This is a lively place with a hippy vibe. The photo is of Sun Bay, round the corner from our mooring, and a perfect Caribbean Beach with clear blue surf lapping onto golden sand.
ARC Caribbean 1500
31 October 2016 | Portsmouth VA
We are heading south for the winter with the Caribbean 1500 rally, next stop the BVIs. At some point over the next couple of weeks we will be swapping fleeces for shorts, and packing the duvets away. Our good friend Kate has joined us, so life should be easier than on our Atlantic Crossing.
10 August 2016
Photo to follow....
Liscombe Lodge is a hotel owned by the Province, and is in a beautiful spot six miles up the river. There is water and electric at the dock, and the $40 fee includes use of all the facilities, including the kayaks and indoor pool. The hot-tub was very welcome after yesterday's 40 mile cycle ride to Sherbrooke Village Museum, a restoration of what was a bustling lumber and shipbuilding town in 1880.
It's harldy Center Parcs here, and the museum is definitely not the same league as Beamish, but it's still been a very pleasant stop.
The Cabot Trail
03 August 2016
Jack has hired a car, and the four of us spent today on a long drive around the 300km Cabot Trail. This is a Nova Scotia "must do", and sweeps around the Cape Breton Highlands with spectacular views. We found time for a two hour walk along the Skyline Trail, where it's quite common to see moose, but we were out of luck.
An easy Week in Baddeck
24 July 2016 | Baddeck, The Bras D'Or, Cape Breton
Where is everyone? It's hard to believe this is high season. Our first night on leaving St Peters was spent at anchor in a harbour a mile wide, which we shared with just two other yachts. We are now in Baddeck, the main town in the Bras D'Or, famous as the home of Alexander Graham Bell. We have taken one of the dozen mooring buoys provided by the marina and plan to spend a while here. This cute lighthouse is on the island across from the town, giving us good shelter. Baddeck is small but has everything we need. The town is proud of it's Celtic heritage, but we have had enough of the bagpipe player on the end of the pier! The water is only half as salty as the ocean, and warm enough for a daily swim. A steady trickle of yachts come and go, of all nationalities, many on their way to Newfoundland.
Entering the Bras D'Or
20 July 2016 | St Peter's Canal, Brad D'Or
St Peter's Canal connects the Bras D'Or Lakes to the Atlantic, and is National Historic Site. It is calm and beautiful now, but has had a long and disruptive history. The area had long been known to the M'kmaq people, who carried their canoes over the isthmus. In 1630 French merchants arrived and built a small fort, lead by Nicholas Denys who traded furs peacefully with the Indians.He built a log roll-over road so bigger boats could be dragged across. A town developed as a major trading centre, but the fort and settlement were destroyed by the British in 1758. The British did not treat the M'kmaq well. However, the settlement and volume of shipping grew and in 1854, work on the canal began. It took 15 years.
Now only pleasure boats pass through, and locks control the 1.4 meter tidal drop.
Sailing in Company
18 July 2016 | Fishermans Harbour, County Harbour, Eastern Shore, NS
In 2013 we were anchored off an island in Croatia when Windleblo sailed in. This was how we first met Jack and Jocelyn, on Yarona's baby sister, a Hallberg Rassy 40. They had bought her three years previously in Sweden and were sailing her back to the US. Last year our paths crossed again in Camden, Maine. Windleblo spent the winter in Maine, but with an earlier start they have caught us up and we are spending a few days sailing north east together, along with their friend Karolina.
The Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia is a very empty and lonely place, and we are glad of the company. We have three days sailing of about 50 miles each to reach Cape Breton. For two days we have not seen another yacht. And this is a fine weekend in July! The photo shows them about to anchor in County Harbour. Although it is a lonely shore, we are are spoilt for a choice of sheltered anchorages.
Heading North at Last
16 July 2016
At last, we are on our way to Cape Breton and the Bras D'or Lakes. This is our first night at anchor, tucked behind an island in Halifax Harbour; hard to believe it can be so peaceful only three miles from Downtown. yesterday Karolina and I visited Pier 21, the excellent Museum of Immigration. Several million people have arrived in this harbour in their quest for a better life.