23 June 2019 | North Atlantic
17 June 2019 | North Atlantic
30 May 2019 | St Georges, Bermuda
24 May 2019 | Masonboro, NC
22 May 2019 | Masonboro NC
23 April 2014 | Caribean Sea
23 April 2014 | Caribean Sea
03 February 2014 | North Atlantic
02 February 2014 | North Atlantic
01 February 2014 | North Atlantic
31 January 2014 | North Atlantic
29 January 2014 | North Atlantic
Days 43 - 57
12 July 2019
This has been a crossing with complications, but now less than 500 NM remain to the mainland. We are hopeful.
As I told you last time, we arrived in Horta June 29. We immediately fell in love with the athmosphere on the island. Low key, low clouds, simple and magnificent. Peter's legendary Cafe Sport became our go-to place and their fishsoup (â¬2) is amazing - definitely beats the â¬50 bouillabaisse we had in Marseille on my birthday a couple of years ago.
We were going to explore the islands but everything came to a halt when I had notice of my mother dying in Sweden. I got on a flight as quickly as possible but sadly did not make it back in time. Only two months earlier we had our yearly week together in London, a precious time that we both cherished - where she was so full of life. My most beloved person ever is gone and it's been tough.
I came back to Horta last Saturday and we took off sailing again Tuesday morning. Since then we have beautiful days with subtle waves and a wind that keeps getting better. Looks like we might get to Lagos, Portugal, before Tuesday morning.
We have lots of that great fishsoup from Peter's onboard, and yesterday we flipped hamburgers from the really good meat we bought from the farmers market in Brunswick - we might not have to cook any other things during the rest of the sail unless we get bored. No fishing luck though! But we had dolphins again today - a black/white speedy kind.
I would really like to return to the Azores someday to see more. It was absolutely gorgeous sailing along the islands of Pico and Sao Miguel (with internet connection!) - there is so much to explore! We decided to speed up to be home in time for the funeral early August. And speeding we are, right now at almost 8 knots!
29 June 2019
It’s Saturday, June 29. Six weeks since we left Brunswick, Georgia to cross the Atlantic. Our last crossing, five years ago, from Gran Canaria to Martinique took 21 days and I thought that was a long enough escape from ”normal” life. That time, we had a steady and hard tradewind pushing us over. This time, we have experienced the Azores high pressure system. In the old days it was called ”the horse latitudes” - because when the ships got caught in the no-wind doldrums for weeks their horses would starve to death and get thrown overboard. With reports from other ships about dead horses in the water ... horrible stories and we definately have not seen any horses. Only thousands of the Portugese man-at-war and more dolphins.
The last few days have been a bit worrysome as we had very little fuel left but needed to run the engine to make some kind of speed. We have learned that if we run it at about 1200 RPM (instead of 2200), there is almost no fuel consumption and we still make that extra knot that the windwane needs to work.
But it has not been all bad - we actually had a couple of PERFECT days with sun, steady wind and a balanced boat. Leaning but not rocking. The only problem was that we were leaning to starboard, so I was practically standing up in the aft berth, trying to sleep.
And guess what!? We made landfall today! Finally arriving in Horta, the Azores, after a 17 day long leg from Bermuda. There are hundreds of boats here who have all made long passages so the place has a cool cruising atmosphere. After checking in with marina office, immigration police and customs we went to the legendary ”Peter’s Sports Bar” for a meal and a drink. The saying goes that if you have crossed the Atlantic and visit Horta but DON’T go to this bar, your boat will sink. So I guess we’re all insured now. We will stay here for a while, I won’t even speculate how long ;-)
PS. Another thing we have learned is that a flying fish tastes a bit like a sardine. Pan fried in butter, yum. We just had one to taste, it had recently landed on deck.
23 June 2019 | North Atlantic
Since I last wrote here, I managed to lose a long post from my ipad yesterday. But today is a new day ...
This past week, days have been all about wind and waves. It's all a big blur now, so I will focus on some of our recurring themes instead of accounting for the days gone by.
After the days of solitude we have now had pretty close encounters with almost a ship a day. We see them on our AIS system - and they see us. A few have had such scary close CPA's that we have called them up on the VHF to make sure they see us. They seemed to enjoy the conversation. The first one said: "You can pass under my bow" and the next one said: "I will take care of you". We decided to interpret their statements positively.
We have been cruisers for 17 years now, enjoying the freedom of sailing where we want to ... but the truth is, the weather is our boss. No negotiations allowed. This week, no exceptions. The wind picked up, the waves got taller and rowdier. We're floating in an everchanging seascape and are somehow getting into the routine. When we see rain approaching, all cockpit cushions get thrown below decks, we close the hatches and hide out in the salon. Our nights have been pretty rough and chilly so the person on watch stays in the pilot house while the other tries to sleep without falling out of the bunk. We have arranged a safe bunk in the salon sofa with a lee cloth - which has quickly become the captain's favorite spot. I spread out like a starfish in the aft cabin and have not fallen off yet.
No fishing - we gave that up since the prospect of having to clean the fish on the aft deck in the high waves got a little too uncomfortable. We kept seeing birds almost halfways between Bermuda and the Azores - a milestone we met last Wednesday - but they have been rare since. A huge group of dolphins accompanied us for a while yesterday, awesome!
We eat well. As weather gets tougher, it just takes a little longer to prepare - but we have managed to rotisserie roast a cornish hen, make our greek porkloin, grill beautiful Swedish burgers (pannbiff med lök) and a lovely cabbage-pork mix (kålpudding) that will last us for days. One especially rough day we resorted to a can of Swedish pea soup and I doubt it has ever tasted better.
We spent a couple of days in Bermuda sewing windbreakers for the sides of the cockpit and they have kept us remarkably dry. Otherwise, it's a bit of a struggle. Simple tasks, like chopping an onion, become a two-person endeavor - one chopping, the other holding on to the cutting board and trying to resque the pieces before they take off in the wrong direction. All this while Olivia is climbing a huge wave for a couple of seconds and falling down in the next moment. Comfortable, it is not.
6. Broken stuff
Not too bad. A glass coffee pot had to be discarded. The windwane had a knot untied the other night causing some commotion onboard but was quickly salvaged. The navigation computer had some terrifying hickups this morning but is now running smoothly again. Just a little thing every day to keep us on our toes.
The most common word onbord is "Aaaaarrrgh"! Yes, the fine old pirate calling. You think they sounded like that to scare people? My idea is that they were just trying to hold on to the ship, like we do ... and at times we're pretty cheerful too.
8\. Health & Fitness
At least we are not seasick. And this has got to be the ultimate yoga retreat! We are practicing balance, strength and mindset 24/7.
We have adjusted our watches every 15 degrees latitude - now we are on Azores time which feels very hopeful even if we have about 400 nautical miles yet to go. Only two hours from Swedish time, and no jet lag. The whole trip is just taking a lot longer than I expected and I'm looking forward to some internet connection in the Azores to get back to business. And to buy more milk, which is the only thing we're running out of. It will be a few more days before we have land in sight.
17 June 2019 | North Atlantic
By all former calculations, we should have been in mainland Portugal right now. Or at least in the Azores. But after staying almost 2 weeks in Bermuda, we are now somewhere in the middle between Bermuda and the Azores. At least one week left to go to Horta, and at least three weeks before we reach the mainland. Come along for the journey!
Day 25 - Tuesday June 10
We spent an hour (plus) getting the dinghy from floating vehicle to neatly stored package on deck (reminiscing how we used to be able to do this in about 10 minutes in the good old days) and sailed the boat to the fuel dock to spend an absolute fortune on Bermuda diesel ($1.99/liter). There was a complicated way to get it tax free for a third of the price, including a four hour passage, which we opted out from. Gah! After checking out with customs and getting permission from Bermuda Radio to clear out and pass through the narrow Town Gate, we were at sea again.
Even if we did not have the opportunity to see all that much of Bermuda, we left with a very good impression. Lovely friendly people, great public communications (the island is only twice as big as our Ljusterö and has 11 bus lines, most with 15 minute traffic! I could get into a LENGTHY discussion about this...). Sure, the prices were high, but we found some good deals - cheap engine belts for the watermaker and a great barber who shaved off the captain's hideously overgrown beard for just $8.
Yes, at sea! We hoisted the mainsail, only to discover a rip near the leach. On a brand new sail! As always, Captain had ideas on how to repair it, temporarily, and we spent the rest of the afternoon doing what we normally do. Fixing stuff.
Day 26 - Wednesday June 12.
Strange day. Nothing broke or needed fixing.
Day 27 - Thursday June 13.
We have NO wind and need to run the engine to get further. As it is calm onboard - the sea is almost flat - we decide to empty our full diesel jerry cans into the almost empty aft tank. We are heavy at work for hours and need to shower and clean our clothes afterwards. A days job done.
Day 28 - Friday June 14
Still no wind, still having to run the engine. Come to think of it, we have 50 liters of fuel in the forward tank - which has no connection to the rest of the tanks. But we find a way to pump it up to jerry cans and then carry them out to fill the aft tank ... We are heavy at work for hours and need to shower and clean our clothes afterwards. A days job done.
Day 29 - Saturday June 15
A very special day!
It is exactly 4 weeks since we left Brunswick!
We are exactly halfway between Brunswick and the Azores!
And it is exactly 17 years since we left our home dock to go cruising.
We celebrate by barbecuing spareribs, tied together in a neat package - with seizing wire and parchment paper (Greek method) around the rotisserie stick. They come out good.
At night, the wind picks up and we don't get much sleep.
Day 30 - Sunday June 16.
In daytime, it's more like "Finally some wind!" We get the windvane working. And call grandson Hampus, via satellite, on his birthday. Cooking in the oven today, safer in this weather.
Day 31 - Monday June 17
No wind, again. It's amazing how calm and flat the Atlantic can be! Today, we can even leave a full glass just sitting on the cockpit table for seconds without holding on to it - or without supporting ourselves. Water temperature has gone down from 27 to 23 degrees C, air temperature is still around 30C. It gets just a little cooler at night. No fish caught since before Bermuda, sea is too calm. The only wildlife we see are birds - which seems pretty awesome this many miles from land! -, occasional flying fish and lots of jellyfish called Portugisisk �-rlogsman in Swedish. I'm hoping one of our readers might find the correct English word in Wikipedia or something and put it in the comments! (I miss googling about 714 times a day!) Anyway, they are so pretty! They have a spinnaker like sail sticking out of the water, with a pink trim. Apparently they are lethal, so we stay away from swimming for the time being. Oh, and we were visited by a huge butterfly the other night! And today we saw a condensation trail from an airplane. So we are not completely alone in the world even though this wast ocean is pretty uncrowded. Celebrating with guacamole (avocado do great in the freezer!).
11 June 2019
Almost two weeks on this cute little island and we are probably unusual visitors as we have NOT visited the museums, the caves or even the beaches. A vacation it was not.
But we have been all over the island looking for fuel filters, engine belts and watermaker parts. And Olivia now has:
- A working watermaker
- A working engine
- A working generator
- Hot water
There has also been some clever additions made, like a lifting sling for the fishing mesh, a new veggie net (with a partition wall) and some other stuff. We’ve kept busy.
Now off to Horta, the Azores. Fingers crossed.
30 May 2019 | St Georges, Bermuda
Day 11 - Tuesday May 28
What an uncomfortable night it was, rolling like crazy! A freak wave tipped us over so water came gushing in through the sinks and pooring all over the galley - but who doesn’t want to start their morning with an intense aerobics class cleaning out the undrained bilge where we keep tins?
The irregular and unpredictable movement of the boat turns every step into an acrobatic act. Just carrying a cup of tea from the galley to the cockpit involves muscles I didn’t know I have. And remember, never carry two mugs, you always need one hand to hold and brace yourself!
I felt pretty miserable this morning - but then we had dolphins, dozens of them. There is no way to feel miserable when there’s dolphins.
It calmed down a bit during the day and we had mahimahi sashimi for lunch. In the evening we decided to try the eggs and bacon from the farmer’s market in Brunswicks. And WOW! Those of you who are still in Brunswick, make sure to find that sweet guy with the big smoker next Saturday! The best bacon I have ever had! (Mats claims fresh unsmoked bacon is better, but hey, try this!) The eggs, never refrigerated, were awesome too. Well, you can tell we don’t live quite a normal life when we get excited about things like this.
Day 12 - Wednesday May 29
I spent my night watches mainly in the pilot house this night as it was a bit raw and damp outside - and the cloudy sky hid the stars and the moon, nothing fun to look at. We had very little wind and used the engine for support. The autopilot did the steering - when we are not using the engine the wind wane comes in handy. The only times we are using the steering wheel manually is when entering or leaving a marina or anchorage - or if we quickly have to avoid disaster, like running into fishing nets, hitting another boat and other things that are hopefully detected before it happens. So, our duties during night watches are to keep track of of AIS targets (other boats that are transmitting their positions) and radar warnings, checking that we are on course and adjusting when needed, trimming the sails when needed and every now and then starring out into the night to look for objects that are not visible on AIS or radar. There is plenty of time for reading, writing, thinking complete thoughts, sipping tea ... I quite enjoy them when it’s not too crazy onboard - and I usually let Captain sleep longer than our minimum 2 hours per watch.
This morning we got off watches pretty early to prepare for our arrival in Bermuda. 30 nautical miles off the coast, we tried to call Bermuda Radio on vhf as advised but could not get a signal until we were at around 20NM. They gave us instructions about entering and wished us welcome.
What a beautiful morning! Sea calm enough - I could take a walk around deck to remove the flying fish that had landed during the night. Only a few. At times, we see hundreds of them flying gracefully over the waves.
Calling my Mom on our satellite connection was another highlight of the day, happy birthday Mamma!
Getting a sailboat prepared for docking is like changing the entire set beween scenes in a theatre. Friends who have seen us doing this actually called it “The ballet” as we are totally synched getting the sails down and tied up, fenders and ropes out and ourselves tidied up to be presentable in a customs office.
Checking into Bermuda was very enjoyable! We were greeted by Harrington Harvey III, a customs officer who seems to love his job and meeting new people. Lots of laughs - and he even performed a little happy dance when I asked about safety on the island. I think I’m going to love it here.
After leaving the customs dock, we anchored in the beautiful bay, got our dingy out and finally felt like fulltime cruisers again. We visited the only other Swedish boat in the bay and had a couple of fun hours with Kerstin and Paul, sharing horror stories from our cruises (and some lovely stories too) and then had a meal at the famous Whitehorse pub. Mats cannot recommend the fish&chips but my steamed mussels were good.
We managed to find our boat among dozens of others in the velvety darkness and slept a full night - which is the greatest luxury onboard. Day 13 is just starting and new adventures await.
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