30 June, 2007

A bunch of Bull!!!

Location: s/v Liberty, port of Angra Do Heroismo, Terciera, Azores
Position: 38 32.039 N 028 37.525 W

Back when we were getting ready to leave Flores for Faial, we mentioned to a local that were going on to Terciera for the festival. He said "Oh - Terciera - they love their bulls. They do everything with their bulls!"

We now know what he meant. During the 10 day festival of St John almost every day has an activity related to bulls, sometimes two! As well as the usual bullfights in the ring, we could not bring ourselves to attend any of these, they also have a 'sport' which involves a bull attached to about 100 feet of thick rope. At the other end are 7 or 8 men dressed in grey pants, white shirts, and black hats. It looks like the guys with the rope try to control the bull a bit, but it honestly seems like more of a "suggestion" than any kind of control!

An area of the town is blocked off by buildings, trucks and sheets of plywood and the bull runs around, being taunted with umbrellas, blankets and waving arms. Anyone macho enough to try it can run with the bull. The rope guys get dragged around while the bull goes after whoever he sets his sights on. Once in a while the bull turns, looks at the guys with the rope, and goes after them. They drop the rope and scatter, then when the bull gets distracted by someone else running across his field of view, they run back and grab the rope again.

During the festival there were 3 of these events, two of them were located on a town street that was blocked at both ends by trucks. We missed the first one involving adults. We translated the second one loosley from the festival program using our trusty Portugese - English dictionary to something like "Procession of the Bulls and Children". This turned out to be young bulls and adolescent boys. The macho culture here obviously doesn't approve of females participating in this sport.

Or, Julie interjects, "could it just be that females just have more sense?"

These events in the street are not too easy to view as the only way to see what's going on involves standing on the bed of the truck at either end or hanging from one of the balconies that line the streets here.

Yesterday, the third bull event was held right at the marina. When we arrived by water in our dinghy there was a solid wall of boats - these Tercierans really ARE crazy about their bulls. The walls were lined with spectators, the roofs of all the nearby buildings were covered, it was standing room only and really something to see. We didn't think we'd be able to see anything, but then two fishing boats right in the middle of the raft saw us and started yelling at us to join them. They grabbed poles, pushed their boats apart to make room for us, and we slid on in and had front row seats about 80 feet from shore!

Crowds of guys would come into the "ring" when the bull was at the other end, and as soon as he started toward them, would run away and climb the barricades. Some who were more brave (or more professional?) than others actually managed to get the bull running around in circles chasing them with one hand on his horn! Luckily no-one got badly hurt. The bull scuffed his knees, a man got bounced off the horns of the bull and over it's back, but he jumped up and ran off, and a dog got tossed up in the air.

We don't really understand the finer points of the "run in, then run away" theme or the role of the "string handlers", but the bulls put on a pretty good performance.
One local told us that last year a bull broke through the plywood barrier that had been erected in front of a butcher shop and totally trashed it before it was removed. Ironic, eh?
Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel

28 June, 2007


Location: s/v Liberty, port of Angra Do Heroismo, island of Terciera, Azores
Position: 38 32.039 N 028 37.525 W

We really like the Azores - at least what we've seen of them so far. They're not widely known to Americans (yet) as a "destination", but they're really high on our list of places to revisit!

We left Horta at 7 am yesterday and sailed and motored just over 60 miles to Terciera in light winds. We saw several more pods of dolphin and Julie spotted a small whale - we're not sure what kind it was yet, but we're going to do some more research. We anchored at the harbor in Angra Do Heroismo (Creek of Heroes), spent the night, and moved into the marina on Wednesday.

Angra has been designated by Unesco as a World Heritage City - here's a link if you'd like to learn more about this program: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heritage_Site. It's a beautiful city with cobblestone streets, white and black stone sidewalks, and wonderful architecture. It was of great importance during the opening to the new world, and arguably the largest fortification ever built by Spain still stands from the 16th and 17th centuries. More on Angra: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angra_do_Hero%C3%ADsmo

It's been festival time here for the past week. The Sanjoaninas (celebrations in honor of St. John) start on the Friday closest to 24 June and run for 10 days through the second Sunday. It's full of historical and religious events, running the bulls, folk music, and lots of other events.

Friends we met in Flores were already here and stopped by in their dinghy Tuesday evening after we arrived to give us some pointers, tell us what they'd found and seen so far, and to talk us into going into town with them at 9:30 pm to see the parade. We were pretty tired from the trip over, but decided to suck it up and go. We are really glad we did.

Since none of us know Portugese, even though we had a copy of the schedule and a Portugese-English dictionary, we still didn't really know what to expect. It turned out that the parade consisted of several groups of folk singers and musicians in traditional garb all arranged in a similar order. First, a flower girl or two and a couple of boys with wooden thingys - we don't know what the significance of them are yet. Then came the peasants, the farmers, the rich people - landowners, merchants, etc., and most of them had a woman in black that looked a bit like Darth Vader - we discovered later the she was 'a woman in early settler costume'. The musicians brought up the rear of each group.

They all sang traditional songs - men one line, women another line, then all together. Many of the spectators sang along, too, the men and women singing their parts. They have wonderful voices, sang lovely harmonies, and gave us a wonderful welcome to this island. Apparently all the songs are the same but each village has their own troupe and the dances are all different, some dramatically so.

The parade was followed by individual performances by each group on one of several stages set up around town. They did some complex country dancing, much like contra dancing, to music provided by the group's musicians and singers. What a great evening's entertainment, we stumbled into bed around 2am.

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

25 June, 2007


Location: s/v Liberty, port of Horta, Faial, Azores
Position: 38 32.039 N 028 37.525 W

We had a nice, uneventful overnight sail from Flores to Faial and the port city of Horta. We've been here for just under a week and will leave for the island of Terciera tomorrow morning.

We just heard yesterday that, despite the cruising season being only a couple of months long here, Horta is one of the busiest yachting centers in the world. Seeing the number of boats that arrive and leave every day, we can believe it. It's a primary destination for West-to-East Atlantic crossings, and is also a very popular sailing destination for Europeans on vacation. When we first pulled in here we saw a boat we know from Deltaville! Unfortunately, they left before we had a chance to stop by and say hello.

Always on the lookout for new ideas, we've enjoyed walking the docks and looking at how other ocean cruising boats are set up. Invariably, we've been met with cheerful good will whenever we've knocked on a stranger's boat to ask questions. Most of the cruisers seem to speak at least some English, and we've met several very helpful folk who have given us some great ideas and even tipped us off to some local knowledge we hadn't heard yet.

Horta is quite different from Lajes, although still not as metropolitan as one might expect from reading the tourist guides. We had expected it to be quite touristy and were surprised that there were hardly any souvenir shops. Most of the businesses we've found so far occupy a single street, a block back from the sea. The sea front is mainly houses with a wide cobbled promenade.

We had to get a slip at the city marina because anchoring out is not allowed unless the marina is full. The harbor is fairly small so that is understandable. We're rafted up 4 deep (that means there are three other boats between us and the bulkhead and we have to cross all of them to get ashore). On the one hand it's a bit of a pain to have to walk across the other boats, but on the other hand, we don't have a bunch of strangers walking across our boat, either.

We had a nice walk yesterday. All the way around the harbor and then around a spit of land to a lovely beach and some old fortresses and an old whale processing works built into a cliff. We then walked back through the back streets of Horta.

There's a well-known international sailor's hang out named "Peter Cafe Sport" that's been in business here since the early 1900s. Some of the most famous boats in cruising history have stopped there and left a burgee or an ensign or some kind of memento tacked to the walls or ceiling. Of course we had to go and have a few drinks while checking out the decorations, an added bonus being free wireless internet access.

Another requirement when passing through Horta is to paint your boat name on the sea wall, to ensure a safe passage home. We have spent quite a lot of time walking around admiring some very artisitic and unusual paintings. we have seen an anchor, several T-shirts and other pieces of clothing, and some burgees epoxied to the stone and concrete. We also recognised the names of some boats we have met. John & Carter will add Liberty to the wall after we leave, but have assured us that they will add our names along with theirs (and send us photos to prove it ).

Mark & Julie

s/v Rachel

20 June, 2007

Lajes Redux

Date: June 20, 2007
Location: s/v Liberty, port of Lajes, Flores, Azores
Position: 39 22.9 N 031 10.0 W

We've spent a lovely few days in Flores (Portugese for "island of flowers"). We have been very impressed by the unassuming simplicity and friendliness of the island. Flores is covered in flowers, mainly hydrangias, cannas and lilies but many other varieties abound. Yesterday we went for a walk out into the countryside and today we rented a car from Paula, and drove around the whole island.

It's volcanic and is only 7km wide and 15km long. The scenery is spectacular and the roads very steep and wind around the volcanic masses. We saw huge waterfalls, volcanic craters filled with water creating beautiful lakes, and dramatic coastal cliffs. Tomorrow we leave this wonderful island and sail overnight to Horta on the island of Faial, 130 miles away.

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

19 June, 2007


Date: June 19, 2007

Location: s/v Liberty, port of Lajes, Flores, Azores

Position: 39 22.9 N 031 10.0 W

Sunday, June 17th was a day of fast sailing. We had 20-25 knots of wind and were on a broad reach making 8-9.5 knots all day. At about 17 miles off, Mark won the "first to sight land" prize of free drinks for one night ashore with a hearty "Land ho!". Julie refused to concede, calling his sighting "clouds" until we could actually see the rocks on shore. Our passage from St Martin took 14 days. We made good time and we are all still talking and enjoying each other's company, so you can't ask for more than that!!

The wind picked up to 30-35 knots for the last couple of hours on our way in, but we managed to tuck in behind the seawall and drop the anchor at last light. On approach in those winds and with night falling, the island looked quite foreboding.

The cliffs surrounding the harbour are thickly populated by some kind of tern. They are very chatty birds whose sound reminds us of hyperactive portugese munchkins on crack. The entire crew was treated to a full night of uninterrupted sleep - no watches! We had also set up a pool to guess the day and time we would drop anchor. John won it, the prize being 2 bars of chocolate and a bottle of port. We had all chosen times on Monday but his was the earliest so he won when we arrived earlier than any of us expected.

Lajes (pronounced "lahdge-ess") is one of those "special finds". We immediately fell in love with it. It's a wonderfully picturesque small town with whitewashed concrete and stone buildings and terra cotta roofs built on terraces and steep hills. Everyone we've met so far has been friendly, helpful, and gracious, and seems to enjoy helping us with our nearly nonexistent Portugese. Mark did his part and listened to language tapes on his night watches but "Where is the customs office?" didn't seem to be part of his programme.

We met up with some friends of John and Carter's from another boat (Doug and Shanna from "Hobnob") and had a wonderful walk through town including a visit to the local grocery.

Leaving the grocery, a man wearing wellies (Wellington boots) drove by on a cart he had attached to a small two-wheel garden tractor engine - much like a Graveley mower or a rototiller w/o the tiller. In the cart with him were two calves, and tied to the back of the cart were two milk cows. He putt-putted his way on past us, gracing us with a toothless smile. If only we'd had our camera with us!

Paula's Place is the local cruiser hangout. We stopped there for beers on our way back to the boat and ended up staying until 5pm! We hadn't had any luck at the grocery finding fresh vegetables, but later in the afternoon Paula drove up and offered us fresh locally grown lettuce and vegetables. She's a real go-getter who speaks fluent English and is very helpful to all the transient cruisers.

We liked Paula's so much we decided to come back for dinner. Another exceptional experience. We sat outside and enjoyed listening to the locals and watching the kids play. Kids always seem to play in the same language wherever you go - it was great fun - it looked like several rounds of red light green light, giant steps, etc. An added bonus was free wifi so we all downloaded our email to check after returning to the boat. We must have spent more than 3 hours there, sipping wine, grazing appetizers, enjoying a slow, unhurried and absolutely delicious dinner out.

Mark & Julie

s/v Rachel

16 June, 2007

Day 13 - Eating our way across the Atlantic

Date: June 16, 2007
Location: s/v Liberty closing the Azores
Position: 37 23.651 N 034 48.552 W

The opportunity to crew on Liberty fell into our laps and we are glad we took it. The good company and easy atmosphere, the private en suite cabin, and the opportunity to learn a lot from some experienced cruisers who are eager to share their knowledge about all facets of cruising have all contributed to making our innaugural ocean passage pleasant and educational.

But the food.... oh my.

What can we say? On a passage, when the horizon looks much the same from one day to the next, and watches tend to run together, one tends to look forward to mealtime with the rest of the crew to provide a break in the day. It's generally "catch-as-catch-can" for breakfast but we all usually eat lunch and dinner together in the cockpit.

Lunch is often a salad, sandwiches or wraps, or some delicious creation made out of leftovers.
Dinner is always delicious. We have mainly eaten Carter's pre-prepared meals - chili, ham, chicken and peas, piccadillo (a yummy concoction of meat, spices, peppers & raisins), meat loaf.
When it's not too rolly, she'll cook something a bit more daring such as sauteed wahoo, fish salad, or her scrumptious wahoo stew.

We are quickly closing in on Flores, the Westernmost island of the Azores and our landfall. Today the wind gods are with us allowing us to beat a straight path to the island. Barring unforeseen wind shifts we may arrive tomorrow.

Mark gets the wildlife prize for the day: several pods of dolphin and a big turtle. Julie got to pilot through her first squall and wins the coveted floating carpet scrap sighting prize.

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

15 June, 2007

Days 8 to 12 - Lows and Lee cloths

Date: June 15, 2007

Location: s/v Liberty, nearing the Azores

Position: 36 07 N 037 26 W
Miles to date - 1739.1 nm ( about 350 left to go )

We have spent the last few days trying to miss fronts, lows, ridges, troughs, and convection. Sometimes we aren't always sure which we are avoiding when, but we do know we have been trying to detour around them for the past couple of days.

We've had mainly rainy and cloudy days, sometimes stormy and almost all of that time has been spent 'rocking and rolling'. We luckily have not been sea sick but our time has been spent on watch or in our berths, the only place that you don't get flung around. Our meals have consisted of anything we can quickly retrieve and eat without it or other stuff going flying. Cereal, peanut butter, bread and cheese etc. One day we were really brave and actually warmed up some chili and managed to eat it without spilling it all over.

A boat at sea is constantly moving. Walking around below requires prolific use of handholds, non-skid carpet, and things to lean against. We all look a bit like a bunch of drunks as we crab, pull, and scoot ourselves around down here.

Sleeping presents its own issues. It would be fairly easy for an errant wave to boost one out of bed in the middle of the night and into a pile on the cabin sole. Far back in maritime history some enterprising soul (named "Lee"??) devised a way to prevent this - lee cloths.

A lee cloth is simply a piece of material (canvas, denim, whatever) that is fastened to a berth below the mattress (so it can be folded away when not in use) and attached by lines to hard spots at either end - in essence, it forms a soft partition between the edge of your berth and the outside world.

Lee cloths are pretty much essential to getting sleep in a seaway, especially if you've been bouncing around like we have for the past few days. Hats off to Lee.

Charlotte and Alex: we saw your dolphins this afternoon and thought of you! Five or maybe six of them swam along with us for a few minutes. It was hard to tell how many as they kept switching sides.

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

10 June, 2007

Day 7 - Half way point!

Date: June 10, 2007
Location: s/v Liberty
Position: 31 32.18 N 051 07.18 W

Just before taking our noon position we realized that we'd crossed the 1/2 way point of our trip. So far we're right on schedule. Trip so far 890.8 nm, today 155 nm. If everything continues to go as well as it has been, we'll be making landfall at Flores, the Westernmost island of the Azores, in another week or so.

We are continuing to get good winds and are covering about 150 miles per day. We could push it a bit harder if we wanted to but there's no need for us all to be unconfortable just for the sake of an extra day or so. Still getting the occasional squall but have not seen any other boats for 2 or 3 days. We were in radio contact with a boat that is in our general area, although we haven't seen them. They said they had seen a couple of whales swimming right next to their boat. We are now in whale sighting mode. Nothing to report yet though.

This extra rocking and rolling is causing a little queesiness for Mark & Julie but nothing too bad yet!! We haven't lost out appetites, although that may not be such a bad thing!!

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

09 June, 2007

Day 6 - Squalls!

Date: June 9, 2007
Location: s/v Liberty,
Position: 30 20.38 N 053 47.2 W

We were obviously getting much too comfortable so the weather gods decided to give us a little excitement. During Julie's night watch she noticed quite a large area of weather activity dead ahead on the radar. She kept tracking it as it got closer and closer, finally she decided to wake up Carter to come and take a look. It's always good to get a second opinion. Luckily we ended up sailing right through the radar 'mass' with no rain or high winds.

Later on this morning we noticed a huge area of dense black clouds closing in on us, 'Action Stations'! Batten down the hatches!! Furl the head sail!! John and Julie were in the cockpit they just had time to drop the enclosures when the winds really picked up, the boat healed over, then a wall of rain hit them. Squalls are intense but usually not very long lived. Within a few minutes the wind died down but the rain continued for a while. John and Julie looked like drowned rats but nothing got broken and there was no lightning so we came through unscathed.

We've had a bit more wind and rolling today and the forecast is that we'll get more of the same for the next few days. The only problem with this is that there is increased rolling and pitching of the boat making getting around down below a bit wild. One tends to get thrown around and develop a lot of bruises on hips and shoulders.

A "squall" is a short lived rain storm occuring often in the trades. They are preceded by strong winds and produce heavy rain and sometimes lightning.

Trip so far 890.8 nm (nautical miles)

Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel

08 June, 2007

Day 5 - Daily routine

Date: June 8, 2007
Location: s/v Liberty,
Position: 29 05.93 N 056 26.53 W

We don't have much to talk about today so we thought we'd update you on a few features of everyday life aboard Liberty.

As none of us are big weather experts, we are using a radio net to follow Atlantic weather. The net controller is Herb Hilgenberg, a.k.a. South Bound II. He is Canadian and for years has donated his time to give weather advice and routing to sailors in the Atlantic. The net is on 12359 KHz every day beginning around 3:30 pm EST, if any of you have the want to listen in.
First, everyone checks in and Herb groups them into locations. Then he steps through the list of boats and gives advice on routing. We had been heading NE since leaving St Maarten as this was good for the wind that we were seeing.

Yesterday we checked into the net and Herb suggested we change our course to due East because there was some storm activity to the North East. We have been heading east for 24 hours and are now ready to change course to the NE and head straight for the Azores.
Oops - belay that - Carter just got off the radio w/ Herb and he's advised us to continue due east for another day or so to avoid some front-generated higher winds.

We may need to make more deviations depending on the wind and weather fronts but we've made pretty good progress so far and not had much rain. We've spent the last 2 days motoring as the wind has been too light for us to sail but that should change in the next day or so, we hope.

We were a bit concerned before setting off on this trip as neither of us has been off shore for long periods of time. We weren't sure if we would be a bit scared, sea sick, or just flip out. Luckily none of this has happened (Editor's note: well, one of us DID see a moustache shop...).

Every day all we see is sea out to the horizon and then sky. I know that sounds like it would get old but so far we are enjoying it. The waves and swells are different every day and we've been studying the clouds, trying to make some sense of the weather. We are not going stir crazy, we've settled into a zone, mentally, and we are feeling very relaxed and laid back.

Of course the weather could change or a ship could appear on the horizon at any time so we do not slight our watches or disregard our safety procedures. We all wear harnesses at night when we are doing watches alone and noone ever goes out on deck without alerting someone.
Something that has really struck both of us is the colour of the sea - it really is a lovely Royal Blue. We never get tired of looking at it.

Half the time we don't know what day it is and only know the date and time because we are making log entries every few hours and changing watches every three hours.

The temperature and humidity have moderated a bit - for the last couple of days we haven't had that hot, muggy weather we'd been having in St. Maarten and since we left.

Khorrection: In an earlier Khronicle we said the doldrums were also known as the horse latitudes. Nay! (neigh?) Not so. All the time we've been spending reading has finally paid off. Though our earlier assertion is a very common mistake, in fact the doldrums live around the equator and the horse latitudes live around 25-35 degrees North - where we are now. We figured we'd best "pony up" to the bar and admit our error.

Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel

07 June, 2007

Day 4 - Wahoo!

Date: June 7, 2007
Location: s/v Liberty, about 380 miles SE of Bermuda
Position: 28 03 N 059 13 W

Mark received some nice fishing supplies (line, lures, swivels, spool, etc.) for his birthday. He and John have been trolling various lures at various depths and distances behind the boat ever since to test them out. We don't leave the rig out overnight, so when Mark came on watch at 6am, he dropped the lure in.

This morning's offering was a simple "silver spoon" on about 15' of Monel wire leader. A couple of hours later, he had a strike!

Much excitement ensued involving the entire crew.

"Play the fish. Let it run some, but bring it in when you can. Without breaking the line!"
"Get my gloves!"
"Where's that gaff?"
"Clear the after deck!"
"Get out the cutting board!"
"Get out the washdown hose!"
"It doesn't look all that big."
"Oh. It looks bigger now."
"Walk the fish forward so I can get the net under it!"
"It's too big for the net. Get the gaff."

Soon we had a nice wahoo aboard - our guesstimate is that it was about 3 1/2' long and weighed around 25 lbs.

Julie is aleady in the galley whipping up a mango salsa with available ingredients to go with it. Carter is figuring out the best method to cook the wahoo, she's a great cook and we are enjoying many wonderful creations from the galley. So it looks like our team work has paid off again and we'll be having a nice fish dinner this evening.
By the way - we may never want to eat store bought mango again, the fresh ones in the Caribbean are AWESOME.

Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel

Day 3 - Water spouts

Date: June 6, 2007

Location: s/v Liberty, somewhere in the Atlantic

Position: 25 30.19 N 060 23.18 W

It seems some of the most exciting stuff happens on Mark's watch. He's actually seen several bottles, a few fishing floats, some birds, and a packing crate on his watch! This morning was no different.

We'd been playing tag with squalls through the night with occasional rain and a bit of lightning, but no big wind to deal with.

John, Carter, and Mark were all on deck at watch change at 6 am, scanning the horizon periodically, when John said "Will you look at that!"

All eyes East. A waterspout. A tornado on the water. From the deck of the boat, the horizon is about 8 miles away in any direction. We could clearly see the base of the thing spewing out mist, so we know it was less than 8 miles away. Mark ran below, grabbed the camera and woke up Julie so she could see it.

John: "I don't think we want to be anywhere near that"
All the rest of the crew: "Uh...okay."

It lasted about 10 minutes and began to dissipate w/o getting very much closer - understandably to our great relief. As it began to dissipate we noticed more of them along the entire eastern sky - some long and stringy and touching down, some more like cones pointing down from the cloud cover. The whole show lasted about 25-30 minutes.

We spent the next couple of hours trying to guage whether we were going to outrun that particular ominous line of clouds and finally did leave them behind without incident.

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

06 June, 2007

Day 3 - The Horse Lattitudes (a.k.a "The Doldrums")

Date: June 6 2007
Location: Atlantic Ocean – Day 3
Position: 25 30.19 N 060 23.18 W

The weather has been almost ideal for the past few days. We have enough wind to sail most mornings, but by around 2pm it drops us down to around 3 knots so it makes more sense to motor - if we ever want to arrive in the Azores, that is .

As we move along and the weather is being kind there really is not much to do in regard to boat jobs. One person is always on watch but that just means they are in the cockpit looking out, checking the sails if we are sailing or the engine if we are motoring. All of us seem to spend most of our time in the cockpit reading, chatting or just sitting. We are all getting into a pretty laid back state.

Here's a snippets of a normal day's converstion:
“You think the wind is starting to shift?”
“Maybe….no…wait.., I guess not.”
“Hmm… the swells seem to be getting smaller.”
“Looks like..”
"Did you let out the fishing line?"
"Woah. There's a packing crate floating by..... it is BIG!"
"Holy Crap......well at least it's floating 'this side up'!"
“Great dinner this evening, huh?”
“Gee. Think it’ll rain?”
“Might. Doubt it, though.”
“Hey! There’s a seagull!”
"What is the depth of the ocean here?"
"Is that feet or meters?"
"Hmm, does it really matter?"
"Wow, look at that cloud - it looks like a mustache shop"
"You are insane"
"Am not"
"Are, too"
"Oh, look - there's a bottle"

All we need to complete our “sittin’ on the front porch” picture is a bug zapper. Oh, and some bugs to zap. Now that would be entertaining. Yawn.

“Ooh! We’ve gained half a knot!”
Wha? Did you just say something?”

Mark & Julies/v Rachel

05 June, 2007

Day 2 - Chillin in the Atlantic

Date: June 5 2007

Location: Atlantic Ocean – Day 2

Position: 23 01.21 N 61 32.49 W
Total miles to date: 315.7

Today is Mark’s birthday – Happy Birthday!!

We finally did it, raised the anchor at 12:30pm on June 4th and set sail for the Azores. As the crow flies, it’s NE and about 2,200 miles from St Martin.

The weather forecasters were calling for 15 kt winds from the South East which is perfect for where we want to go. As soon as we left the anchorage we realized that this was not to be the case. The wind was more Easterly at 15-20 mph gusting to 25. Hmm. Time to switch to Plan B.
We motor-sailed and beat our way up the channel between St Martin and Anguilla. As soon as we got clear of the islands we fell off to almost due North to make the ride more comfortable and cut the engine. We were in pretty big seas all afternoon with waves of 8-12 ft and a few 15-18 footers thrown in. We made good progress and enjoyed a great, albeit bouncy sail. At the end of Day 1 we had covered 178.3 nautical miles – a pretty good run for a sailboat.

The first day we were all getting our sea legs Mark and I were learning the ship’s systems, the way this boat handles, what all the lines are for (and there are a lot of them), etc. Now that we are beginning to get a handle on the day-to-day running of the boat and our hosts are learning what we can and can’t be trusted with yet, we feel like we’re able to participate more actively and take some of the load off our friends.

Day 2

Because the winds are so consistent there’s not much work to do on a crossing like this. We set the sails and the autopilot and leave them, this enables all on board to just chill out! We read, chat and look out to sea, and take our turns on watch. We’ve been kidding around that if something didn’t happen soon we’ll have to start making exciting stuff up for the Khronicles.
We are running a watch schedule of 3 hours on and 9 off. We may switch them around later but for now Julie is on 12-3 (am + pm) and Mark is on 6-9 (am + pm).

We haven’t seen any fish and until last night hadn’t seen any other boats. Our night watch includes sitting in the cockpit do a 360 degree check around the horizon every 10 minutes and check the radar every 20-30 minutes. After not seeing anything all day this seemed almost a redundant task but that night we saw 4 boats. When you see the lights of another vessel the next job is to figure out which way it is going, and plot it’s course to make sure we aren’t going to collide. Good news – we didn’t collide!!! Now, that’s a successful night watch!

The wind has died down a bit today. We are getting closer to the Doldrums and may need to motor some later today or tomorrow if the wind gives out on us.

Mark & Julie

s/v Rachel

03 June, 2007

Sint Maarten to St Martin

Date: June 3 2007
Location: Marigot Bay, St. Martin
Position: 18 04.01 N 063 05.91 W

Yesterday we made a big move from the Lagoon at Sint Maarten (the Dutch side of the island) to Marigot Bay, an open Bay on Saint Martin (the French side of the island). While it’s a bit more touristy here, we also think it’s much nicer. Clear water in the anchorage, French food, and we’re at anchor instead of tied to a dock. We’ll add this to our list of places to visit on a return trip with Rachel.

The plan was to get up early, hit the outdoor produce market, a couple of supermarkets, and the bread shop for last minute supplies and then set off for the Azores. The shopping trip took longer than we had anticipated so we decided to get some lunch ashore then head back to the boat to stow everything and set off on Sunday. We found a great French restaurant and ate delicious French food. We all decided it was well worth the delay.

Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel