Good Bye Antigua-Hello Horta
We set sail from Antigua on the fifth of June 2009. With high hopes of strong winds, in the best direction, for a speedy crossing to the Azores@@apos@@.
There were three of us on board so we stocked up on all the food needed for what we thought would be an easy two week voyage. After several days we soon learnt about the Azores@@apos@@ highs. Wind? No wind and if it did blow the breeze came from the North East. So we tacked, tacked and tacked again all the way to the Port of Horta on the Azores@@apos@@ Island named Ilaha Do Faial.
It was a memorable voyage for again I sailed with two Russian friends Igor and Andrey. Fantastic guys with a great positive outlook on life and I can say this helps very much when you are laying in the doldrums.
The temperature dropped significantly during this trip leaving Antigua in sweltering heat to arrive near the Azores@@apos@@ with a blanket needed to keep warm at night.
At times the winds were kind to us but of course our yacht performed as fast as she could with maximum speeds of ten to twelve knot. Mostly however we sailed slow with our average speed for the voyage of just five and a half knot.
As we came close to Horta, as it always does, the winds became stronger with our fastest sail of twelve to fourteen knot as we approached the harbor. Quite a spectacle for those on land to see resulting in a welcoming party on the dock when we arrived. When we did get into the marina area it was late at night so finding a pen that had been reserved for me was difficult. A group of people called out for me to come alongside another yacht. A nervous little adventure I must say because the yacht I was to raft up alongside was a brand new Oyster. As you would be aware these yachts cost millions so I maneuvered very carefully making absolutely sure I didn@@apos@@t scratch our yacht.
The Port of Horta is one of the most beautiful towns I have seen. Beautiful architecture dating back centuries. The old fort buildings and the many many century old stores. The streets are laid with cobble stones and it was not at all hard to drift back in time, thinking of who would have passed by these streets over the centuries.
Our stay in Horta was only for a few days but is a place that I would very very much like to return to. Memorable for the architecture, its history but most memorable for the great people who live there.
The people of Horta were so magnificent. So very friendly and to our great pleasure the immigration and customs authorities were efficient, courteous and very professional.
For me personally it was also a time in my life I shall never forget. My birthday was on the twenty second of June and being in another time zone I was very privileged to celebrate turning fifty two on two days.
On the morning of Tuesday the twenty third we decided to set sail for Falmouth in the UK. After doing a little shopping, collecting some postage stamps for my darling daughter Kate, who has a fantastic collection, we fueled up and cast off our lines at 1600GMT. Bound for England!
Skipper - Mark McRae
Our departure from Horta was rather uneventful although within a day our "new" crew wanted to have every piece of sail up I could find. So "as usual" the eager to sail fast crew were taught the lesson of watching out for rain squalls. Over she healed with the starboard rail in the water, well until I could manage to scramble on deck and ease the main, the traveler, the solent "and" of course bare away. Their eyes were the size of basketballs so after this little exercise in being overpowered was experienced by the crew they decided to sail conservatively and now fully understood why this is the way I sail her. With all the sails up there is a huge amount area so in this part of the world the crew and I need to be very very observant of any cloud formations.
Other than squalls coming through every so often the winds have again been very frustrating. Although we have ha some hours of reasonable twelve to fourteen knots apparent at forty degrees giving us a comfortable speed of between seven and nine knot.
An intense low is expected within the next twenty four hours and I do hope we have winds in the twenties. Mostly with a solid cloud cover I can rely on steady winds so when the low does arrive we will be sailing with just the stay sail and number two reef in with number three reef ready, loaded on the winches in case it blows over thirty five. In these conditions we should be sailing along nice and safely at ten to twelve knot.
Falmouth is now less than a thousand nautical mile away. It is interesting how distance plays on your mind. Once under a thousand it feels like we are on the countdown, less than five hundred mile everyone is thinking about beer, steak and a nice bed. Once we get down to one hundred miles we simply have to turn the corner and we are there. Of course I recite quite a famous saying to the crews and that is "it is not over until the fat lady sings" taken from the early days of theater in the UK I believe. In other words it@@apos@@s not over until we get there and anything could happen. But we always sail safe knowing that, to quote Fedor, @@apos@@if we look after her she will look after us.