09 June 2022 | Ponta Delgado
We finally arrived in Ponta Delgado, Azores on Sunday 29th after a generally event free passage and with just a day to spare before a nasty depression was forecast to cross the island.
We'd been watching the weather for some time before departure after seeing endless north easterlies too early in the spring for our cruising plan. We finally slipped the mooring in Falmouth on 19th May with a favourable forecast involving a circuitous route to avoid the calm spots.
The passage started off in glorious weather beating westwards skirting north of Scilly out to a point 70 miles west of the Bishop to catch the promised westerlies before two fairly nauseous food free days beating south in a fresh WNW'ly.
No pain-no gain they say, and so it turned out with the pain followed by three solid days of boisterous beam reaching across the rhumb line to catch the next and final conveyor belt well out to the north-east of the Azores to dodge light conditions down the rhumb line and take advantage of settled NE'lies as we got closer to our destination. It didn't go totally to plan with one 24-hour period of calms but still managed to keep a birthday party appointment on arrival!
The boat went well with only a couple of problems, one being an earth fault tracked down to the SSB DSC aerial (earth faults on an aluminium boat are always a worry). The second was a failed ball joint on the autopilot ram. I'd felt very smug after finding the problem knowing I'd just taken delivery of a spare joint before we left, only then to find the system has two slightly different threaded joints. Yes, my spare was the joint on the opposite side of the quadrant. Fortunately a bodge kept the show going.
On the wildlife front, there wasn't anything particularly unusual apart from perhaps the huge numbers of small Portuguese Men of War in floats as far as the eye could see. I can see a sensationalist tabloid press headline now if any of them make it to Newquay this summer.
We had a pit stop from a couple of bees off Scilly who were replenished with honey before heading on their way.
Whale sightings were in short supply although one of the 3 was possibly a Sperm Whale by the shape of the spout. Closer to the Azores we had a visit from a couple of passing Rissos Dolphins and a spectacular feeding display from some pretty big Tuna but again no whales.
The first signs of land approaching Sao Miguel were a moth at 300 miles, a pod of dolphins at 250 mile (who appeared within about a minute of starting the engine for the calm patch) and then the island Shearwaters at around 200 miles. Sadly, various flotsam also started to appear with increasing frequency at about the same time.
On the stats front:
Rhumb line distance Falmouth to Ponta Delgada 1225'
Distance sailed 1425'
Sailing time 10.4 days
Engine run for charging 1 hour (the wind genny and elderly solar panels did a great job)
Engine run for motoring 24 hours
Fish caught nil (3 bites)
We are now in Ponta Delgada for a couple of weeks cycling before heading on to Santa Maria and then the central island group later in June.