Aisling I

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Whales, Dolphins, Ships, a Fish and Landfall

02 August 2007 | Baiona Spain
Rob
Our last day at sea turned out to be our busiest day yet. The day dawned clear, with a beautiful sunrise. Later in the morning, while contemplating his navel on the foredeck, Rob was startled by the blow of a big whale. He rolled over just in time to see its long back descend into the waves, but, alas, it never re-surfaced.

As expected there were a lot of ships last night and today, going in all directions from every quarter. With some deft maneuvering from Captain Rick, we managed to avoid them all.

Today must have been Dolphin Fiesta day, as we were entertained by several schools of dolphins, splashing around the boat, and surfing the bow wave till sunset. Around noon, a small pod of (Pilot?) whales passed behind us, and then Snap! the fishing rod took. Al jumped to the reel and after some expert fishing landed a small 7 lb Tuna. A bloody crime scene then ensued in the cockpit, as it took several whacks of the winch handle to dispatch the poor thing, spraying a major blood spatter in the cockpit (and on us) in the process. After filleting, the cockpit was scrubbed down with seawater to remove the evidence, and we had the best supper yet, with fresh tuna, fried potatoes, carrot and yam puree, and the last of the vino verde (prohibition has been repealed). Bonnie's clusters on the cooking medal now have to be shared with Al for the excellent job on the tuna.

Rick was the first to cry land-ho! but we don't think he had his contacts in because none of us could see it. After convincing none of us he descended, muttering, to look for land on the laptop. The mountains of Galicia were finally spied around 3:00pm UTC, just above the horizon through the haze.

Just after that, about 30 miles offshore, we were visited by a large back sea helicopter, who came up behind us and hovered alongside for a minute or two. We waved cheerfully but got no response, and later figured that they must have been customs or drug police, since apparently Galicia is a major narcotics smuggling area. Luckily they didn't search the boat, as they would have found large quantities of illicit All-Bran stuffed under the fore-berth.

After supper we cleared the decks in preparation for arrival in Baiona. It was a beautiful calm night and our charts did not deceive us as we motored into Baiona Harbour under a welcoming full moon. We tied up at the dock at 12:50am local time, with high fives and hugs all-around.

514 years ago, in 1493, Christopher Columbus also made his first landfall at Baiona after returning from the new world. While our voyage was not quite so epic, it certainly felt that way standing on the dock, finally, in Spain.

All the best from Aisling 1

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Safely in Spain

02 August 2007 | Baiona
Bonnie
We are here! We arrived in Baiona, Spain late last night and are basking in the glow of arrival. We will be on line with more details soon....

Anticipation

31 July 2007 | 110 miles West of Cape Finisterre
Rick and Rob
Hello All: Land is close. The traffic has picked up coming from the English Channel and the mood on the boat has changed to anticipation. We are all looking for solid ground, tapas and vino! It looks like it will be a night time approach to Bayona, in about 20 hours, which is a little nerve wracking itself. The passage from the Azores to here was eventful only in that there was no wind. We have motored virtually all the way, 800 miles so far. All caused by the Azorean High...Rick

This morning dawned with showers, before clearing off to a pretty fine day. Winds are still light, and from the stern, so in the afternoon Rick and Al rigged up the pole on the yankee, and we sailed wing to wing for a few hours, rolling and pitching on a following sea. Still not enough wind to get us to six knots, so the engine has been running most of the day. We had a fish on the line, but it managed to get free after my inexpert handling of the fishing tackle.

We are crossing the shipping lanes this evening and tonight, and should make landfall in Bayona tomorrow (Wed) night. We are all looking forward to it. I was pining for salad today, and lo and behold Bonnie made one! From the heart of the lettuce and the last few salvageable tomatoes. Superb! Bonnie should get some kind of cooking award when we get to Spain.

Just before supper the fishing line took off, and it was all Al could do to hang on. After a couple of minutes, and by the time we got around to slowing the boat, whatever was on the line snapped it like a string, and carried away our best lure and 150 yards of 50 lb test. Tuna? Shark? Whale? Submarine? It never broke the surface. Whatever it was, it was bigger than Al, who couldn't even raise the rod. It may be just as well that it was the big one that got away....Rob

All the best from Aisling I

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A loaf of bread, a jug of wine...

30 July 2007
Rob and Bonnie
Hello All:

The last few days we have been alone on the ocean, save for the few sea creature sightings. Our watch routine is settled now, and quite mundane given the light conditions. I think I was expecting to be battling the ocean: wrestling the wheel, lashed to the mast, and washed over by the waves. But with the reliable engine and auto-helm, our watches so far have consisted of sitting in the cockpit, and getting up every 10 minutes or so to trim the sails, check the meters and scan the horizon for traffic.

We have seen only a few ships since leaving Sao Miguel - one large container ship and a small oil tanker on its way to Come-By-Chance, Newfoundland of all places. The Aisling 1 is kitted with Radar, VHF radio and a MaxSea system which not only shows the vessels in the vicinity, but also shows their particulars including weight, cargo, heading and destination, and nearest point of approach. They come up fast, night & day, and if they get within one mile we need to evade. As we get near the coast, traffic will increase.

After some initial sun it has been overcast and cool for the past few days, with showers visible on the horizon. The full moon has peeked through the clouds on a couple of occasions, to illuminate the night sea. We have been rolling quite heavily throughout the trip, and are now pitching a bit as well, however seasickness has not been an issue (so far), thanks to seasick meds (Stugeron) good food and plenty of rest. Speaking of food - not only has Bonnie managed to make the best bread we've ever tasted, today she also made the best biscuits!

P.S. after the complaints raised in the last blog entry, the Skipper has lifted prohibition and we had wine (one glass each) for dinner last night and tonight, to celebrate both sides of the half-way point. Hallelujah! ..Rob

Now a note from Bonnie With the light winds placing so few demands on our sailing skills, we have more time than usual to dabble in other pursuits. Baking onboard is great fun, especially when your friends have kindly provided pre-measured ingredients. Thank you Thelma, your biscuit mix was wonderful! I mixed up a double batch this morning, intending to serve them with chili for dinner tonight, but I'll have to dig out the mixing bowl again because they tasted so good that we wolfed most of them down before they had even cooled. Lesley's bread has also been a big hit and, as predicted, quite addictive! Then, the piece de resistance- a foil container of Martha's pecan squares, found deep in the bottom of the freezer- there were lots of sighs of contentment after dessert tonight. Strange how food-obsessed we become on these long passages -Rick is already reading up on Galicia's culinary specialties in preparation for our arrival there!.... Bonnie

It s now 3:00am and the sky is gray and the sea is gray. It's a beautiful steel gray. The sea is basically flat except for these big rollers that come by every 10 minutes or so. Who knows how far they have come. We have 250 miles to go! I have a few emails to send and then I better get back up top. ...... regards, Rick

All the best from Aisling 1

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Vessel Name: Aisling I
Vessel Make/Model: Slocum 43
Hailing Port: Halifax, NS, Canada
Crew: Rick and Bonnie Salsman
About:
Crew from Halifax to Horta: Bonnie and Rick Salsman, Dave Morse, Wally Fraser Crew from Horta to Spain: Bonnie and Rick Salsman, Al Salsman, Rob Salsman We left Halifax, N.S. in June 2007, sailed to Horta, and explored the Azores for a month. [...]
Extra:
The info below is a copy and paste from some literature about the Slocum 43. Please excuse the platitudes. Although I may like them , they are not truly mine. Aisling I is a 1987 Slocum 43, designed by Stan Huntingford. She has been designed to satisfy the sailor who wants the blue water, "get [...]
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Aisling I's Photos - Aisling I (Main)
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South coast of France looking West from La Ciotat
La bec d
Aisling leaving RNSYS for Europe 2007 -1 (2)
DSCF2584: In St Georges, Bermuda after our first Ocean Passage 2002.....
Memories............. the Beach. From the front door of my parents cottage at Evangeline Beach, Nova Scotia, looking towards Cape Blomidon. The highest tides of the year. 43 feet twice a day. It
P4022273b: The Mary B Brooks
214 Tons. Built 1926 at Plympton, N.S., Canada. LOA 99
 
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