Sailing to Sao Miquel Island: Challenges and Opportunities
12 June 2013 | Ponta Delgada Marina, Sao Miquel Island, Azores
We had changed our plans for the hundredth time. First, we were going directly from Horta, Faial Island to Gibraltar, but the weather gods are fickle, and they kept on changing the weather forecast on us. Then, we were going to another Azorian Island, maybe Terceira, maybe Sao Miquel, and from there to Gibraltar. Backwards and forwards we changed our plans with each download of the weather gribs. Finally, Tuesday evening and we are on our way to Sao Miquel. It is 150 miles or so, an overnight in Por Dos. Our first sail since we arrived in Horta three and a half weeks ago. Yes! Hard to believe! Mark and I had to check the calendar because neither of us thought we had been here so long. This is the longest that we have been in one place since we left Salem, MA.
We passed the protective breakwater wall of Horta and we all started to feel queasy [Marta won this leg of the contest John initiated 12 months ago with 3 throw-ups, Roan was second with 2, Alec and I with none. Mark]. Confused waters and 20 to 25 knots of wind did not help. Soon after leaving port the outside VHF radio started to malfunction, cycling through all the channels. Lucky we are big on redundancy, and the inside VHF radio was working perfectly. We switched the outside VHF off, a repair to be done at Sao Miquel. Then, we discovered a puddle of fresh water in our cabin, a mystery! We switched the water pressure off and decided that we would investigate in Sao Miquel. I thought of our friend John who crossed from Bermuda to Azores with us. He said to me - as the list of Por Dos repairs and upgrades kept on growing and growing during our 13-day crossing to Azores - that he sees things breaking or malfunctioning as an opportunity for thought, a challenge to be enjoyed. I crossed my fingers for no more challenges and opportunities on the sail to Sao Miquel. It was not to be.
The wind was astern and light, thus, when our speed dropped to under 4 knots we switched the engines on and motor-sailed under jib only. I did a short watch while Mark caught some sleep. At 11 PM he came on watch while I turned in, hoping my seasickness would go away with a long sleep.
There was a change in the engine's sound. It was 3:45 AM on my wrist watch and I was feeling a bit better. I went on deck to find that both engines had been fouled with what it looked like a long sheet of plastic. Mark was trying to get the propellers disentangled by going forward and reverse, but, no luck so far. It was pitch black. We would have to deal with it in the morning. The wind was now closer to a broad reach and the waves had calmed down some. Perfect for sailing. We raised the main, but something was wrong, the tack had come loose. Mark found a pin for the tack shackle - thank for all the spares that we carry; I can't believe I am saying that!. We raised the main and I started my watch in great sailing conditions with the exception of trailing some plastic sheet from the propellers.
No more challenges after that :-) We sailed all the way to Sao Miquel. Mark jumped in the cold water when we got under the lee of the island, and the conditions were mild. He cleared the starboard propeller from a thin line (the big plastic sheet was gone some time during the day). The port propeller had a bunch of thick rope trailing. Mark got most of it out, enough to use the engine for maneuvering once we got to Ponta Delgada Marina.
It is 6:30 PM and we are tied in the new section of Ponta Delgada Marina. It is not as picturesque and inviting as Horta, but Alec and Roan found two boats with boys their age. We'll see what tomorrow brings, but now it is time to do some school.
Marta [still recovering from sea-sickness]