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Atlantic Islands

Table of Contents

Angra do Heroismo, Tercera in the Azores

Cape Verde Islands

26 August 2004

We went into town today with Umberto looking after our tender for us. We cleared in with the police but could not find the man from immigration (after several attempts). The town is really interesting - a mix of African and Portuguese influence and the people are very attractive and friendly. It seems odd to see women with large baskets of food for washing on their heads wandering beside someone chatting on a mobile phone! We found a little supermarket where the price of one egg was $US1. Needless to say we will go without the eggs..The anchorage is great with good holding and it is very flat. Also it is very windy which has the double advantage of keeping the boat cool and keeping our batteries topped up (via the wind generator). Last night and tonight we visited the lively Club Nautico where there is very good live music. It seems to be the hub of the town’s nightlife. We have met a couple of other cruisers there which has been fascinating as they have all been to so many different places. Wh have noticed also that within two minutes of meeting, they all want to solve the world’s problems and discuss politics! (That is before the beers start!)

25 August 2004

lobster Arrived into Mindelo, the capital of Sao Vicente this afternoon. We were immediately greeted by Umberto and Eu-eu who showed us where to anchor and said they would "look after us". They took our rubbish away and offered to help us clear in. Shortly after anchoring two fishermen came alongside selling live lobsters. We bought two (and think we were fleeced). We had absolutely no idea what to do with them - or even what they were (they had no claws). In any case we successfully cooked them and enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh lobster with the last of our fillet steak! (Who said that a cruising diet is dull?)

22 August 2004

running2 We did over 150M through the water today. This is our best day's run yet. The flying fish have continued to interrupt my star gazing with their smacking into the boat. Over lunch we saw what we thought was a large dolphin, which was unusual as it was on its own. We realised that it was in fact a small whale. The creature crossed about 3 metres ahead of our bows. The wind increased today to a force 6 which has helped to cool the boat down a little.

21 August 2004

We had another good day's sail with winds force 4-5 from directly behind us. We crossed the Tropic of Cancer (23.5°N) so we are now officially in the tropics.During the night I was on watch by myself, enjoying the quiet and trying to see the constellations in the stars. All in all it was beautifully peaceful when I was on the receiving end of a hard and sharp slap in the face (in my right eye actually). I nearly died of fright; I had no idea what had happened. Then I realised the horrible truth. My face was covered in fish scales and fish slime and I became aware of a flapping noise beside me in the cockpit. I had been assaulted by a flying fish! I came howling down the companionway to tell Kevin- he agreed that the fish was out of order and decided that as there was nothing he could do, he rolled over and went back to sleep! I spent the next hour with my torch trained on the intruder (actually too scared to go near it, after all it was all of 20 cm long!). Eventually it died and was unceremoniously tossed overboard. The following morning I did the rounds of the boat and found her littered with fish scales, dead flying fish and pieces of flying fish. They had battered the boat all night and their imprints are all over the windows and hatches. None hit the boat during the day so I don't think they can see at night.

Canary Islands

18 August 2004

Took receipt of the SAT C today AT LAST. We are both really ready to leave Gran Canaria! The whole DHL process has been a total nuisance but Roy Morley from RM Electronics in Hampshire has been great. We were put onto him by Kiko who was the skipper of one of the OCC boats in Horta. Roy sent us a reconditioned antenna which works! He also had such a go at DHL for slack delivery that they waived their fee. I washed the boat and got very sunburnt. We did some food shopping in preparation for leaving tomorrow.

10 August 2004

bridgeflowers In anticipation of our planned departure on Thursday we hired a car today to visit Las Palmas, the capital, in order to stock up on food, fishing gear and other provisions. We did buy a nice rod and reel. As the next couple of passages will be fairly long we hope to catch some fish. We then needed to get a gas bottle refilled. This turned out to be a bit of a mission as we had to do this at some sort of refinery! Quite a lengthy process. We also took delivery of some vacuumed packed meat for the next couple of legs. Unfortunately / or fortunately (depending on your view) we did not communicate properly what we wanted and ended up with a few kilograms of very fine (and every expensive) fillet beef! If our antenna arrives as we hope tomorrow (and works) then, weather permitting, we will leave here on Thursday.

6 August 2004

Since our arrival in Gran Canaria it has been very hot and as a result we have not done much, particularly during the heat of the middle of the day. I took a series of buses today to Las Palmas, in part to see more of the island. I reached the conclusion that Puerto Mogan is one of the nicer parts of Gran Canaria. After having sent our faulty SATCOM C unit back to the UK we were informed that the antenna was indeed faulty. So now we will be here until the replacement unit reaches us - we hope by mid next week and then we can be off again. I contacted Francesco Costello, the OCC port officer for Gran Canaria and he has helped me source a company who will vacuum pack fresh meat for us. That should make the culinary delights of the next leg a little more interesting. We do not expect to be able to find much in the Cape Verde Islands so we plan to stock up here until Brazil.

1 August 2004

virginboat arrive_Morgan Today is the Fiesta de Virgin Del Carmen! All of the fishing boats here are dressed overall and packed to the gunwales with beer, food and young ladies from the village. Puerto de Mogan was (and still is) a fishing port. It is surrounded by very high rock cliffs and so before the roads were constructed, it was virtually inaccessible, unless by boat. Sometimes this worked to the advantage of the port as the people here escaped the black death when it struck the island. Isolation did bring its problems though, particularly when it came to marriage as most of the locals were related! To solve this issue the locals used to send the town's virgins off to the neighbouring fishing village of Arguineguin to meet potential partners, and the virgins from Arguineguin we sent here. This was combined with asking the blessing of the Virgin Del Carmen over the fishing fleet. The tradition remains now insofar as the fishing boats processed our of the harbour for Arguineguin. They all followed one boat that was carrying a decorated statue of the Virgin Mary. They returned a few hours later, well into the fiesta spirit. There was a lot of music and fireworks and loads of food. Myles took us out for dinner in the evening as this was to be his last night with us. We had a really good night drinking sangria and enjoying delicious food.

31 July 2004

GranCanaria We had an incredibly fast passage and arrived in Puerto de Mogan, on Gran Canaria about 52 hrs after setting off. We remained on the same tack for the entire trip and even had to take the genoa down today because there was so much wind in the acceleration zone between the islands. Kev did 9.2 kts under main alone which is well over our average speed. Sapphire performed brilliantly. We were joined in Porto Santo by Myles, Kevin's father who made this his first offshore passage with us.

Madeira

24 July 2004

portosantobeach Since our arrival at Porto Santo we have not seen much of the island but we have managed to catch up with some of the now very overdue boat jobs. The island seems very dry and so far the weather has been HOT. Luckily there is a beautiful beach immediately by the marina. That has come in handy each day - including today - as a great place to cool off. We woke today to find that Sapphire had turned orange. During the night the wind had really picked up and covered the boat with red dirt from the surrounding hills. We cleaned the boat and added new tell-tales to the genoa. We were both really overheating so went to the beach for a swim. The water is incredibly clear. Then off to the yacht club for a couple of well deserved (we thought so) icy cocktails!

19 July 2004

tuna madeirainmaderia So far we have had very little wind during this passage after the first two days, so we have been mainly motoring. We spotted several turtles and even flying fish. Kev has been practising his astro navigation and took a noon sight today - which when checked against the GPS was accurate within a mile. Last night he shot Polaris, Jupiter and the moon and this fix was accurate to within a mile or so. (If our electronic systems fail, guess who will be in charge of getting us safely to land!) The most exciting event today was the hooking of our first fish. I had rigged a hand line, secured to a piece of bungee to trawl behind the boat. During our lunch we noticed that we were dragging a fish behind the boat and had been doing so for some time. I think we had nearly drowned it. We managed to get the (now semi conscious) fish alongside but as the great white hunter was preparing to strike with the gaff our dinner-to-be made a rapid recovery and jumped off the hook. Our confidence in our fishing ability is demonstrated by the fact that we took a photo before trying to land the fish. I saw many fish literally jumping out of the water - but no more jumped onto our lure. We caught sight of Madeira and later Porto Santo this evening. During the night there were more dolphins swimming by the boat. I could hear them breathing and the brilliant trails of phosphorescence streaking past the boat were a dead give away!

Azores

13 July 2004

dolphins_at_bow dead_calm Set off from Horta at about 11.00. As we motored between the islands of Faial and Pico there was very little wind and we were seen off by a large pod of dolphins who played by the bow of the boat for about 30 mins. The lack of wind meant that the water was crystal clear and we were treated to a real display of underwater acrobatics by our visitors.

8 July 2004

horta_occ_boats sapphire_painting We dressed Sapphire overall along with the other OCC boats - this was to celebrate the 50th birthday of the OCC. . We walked up the hill to the home of the man who makes the scrimshaw. The artist was not home but we met his wife. She explained that scrimshaw is the generic term for working with whale bone. We bought a lovely piece. Prior to this we visited Cafe Sport to look around their museum - there are some really beautiful pieces in there. During the evening we attended the OCC dinner which was great. The food and wine were fabulous. (Prior to dinner we had Brian and Dawn (Captain's lady) and the crew from Sorcerer for drinks with us.

7 July 2004

cafe_sport Neptune As new members of the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) it was wonderful for us to meet up the boats in Horta who were participating in the OCC SAT Rally. We were made to feel very welcome and picked up some valuable advice from people who have sailed to places we hope to visit. Most of the day was spent with the OCC on a tour of the island. We saw some spectacular views and visited the caldeira as well as the site of the last volcanic eruption on the island. This had all been arranged courtesy of the tourism office. We then attended the official reception (again courtesy of the Tourism office) - it was great with lots of delicious food and drink and a small presentation to each yacht. We finished with a night cap on Sorcerer.

2 July 2004

cows Having sailed from Terceira to the smaller island of Graciosa we spent the day exploring the island. Graciosa is the second smallest of the Azorean Islands and receives fewer visitors than most. Upon our arrival we found local women spreading seaweed over the quay to dry - this is exported as a delicacy. We walked for a few kilometres up and then down into the caldeira to look at the sunken volcano crater. There is still boiling mud inside bubbling away. On our walk back to the town of Vila de Praia we heard a lot of bellowing. The source of this shortly overtook us. As we were admiring the view a large herd of cows rounded the corner as they were being herded by local farmers. We climbed up onto the bank beside the road to avoid them. We had to follow the cows for a kilometre or so and the mess they made of the road made the walk all the more interesting! During the evening we enjoyed an absolutely delicious meal of fresh "large scaled scorpion fish" in a local restaurant.

29 June 2004

baia_de_vila_maria kiss A fabulous day today. Kev and I spent most of the day wandering around Angra do Heroismo before making our way to the top of Monte Brasil, an extinct volcanic crater. This place is magnificent and I wish we had more time here. This island is simply stunning and the town of Angra do Heroismo, which has always been an important meeting place between Europe, Africa and America due to its central position on the old trading routes has been classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The people are very friendly and seem to be very proud their island - it is easy to see why.

27 June 2004

angra_montebrasil After leaving Sao Miguel yesterday afternoon and sailing through the night we arrived at Angra do Heroismo in Terceira at 0830 this morning. After clearing in and catching up on a little sleep we joined Brian and Geoff from "Captain's Lady" for a HUGE meal in one of the local hotels. We seem to have arrived on the festival of Sanjoaninas and after dinner enjoyed the most impressive fireworks display I think I have ever seen. The town was bustling with families watching this and it was great to see so many very young children who were fully and very happily involved in the celebrations until well after midnight.

24 June 2004

ponta_delgada We hired a car today to have a look around the island. Unfortunately the weather was useless and we saw very little as there was a lot of fog and low cloud. It has been like this since we arrived! We drove to the twin craters which are supposed to be magnificent but couldn't see a thing. We did go to Furnas to have a look at the boiling mud pools which were interesting (the Atlantic Islands are volcanic) but we headed back early to Ponta Delgada. We took the car to the hypermarket to stock up again on food. I was glad to return the car as I found it tricky driving on the right hand side of the road without running Kev into the gutter! We finished the day in the marina pub and saw Portugal beat England in the football. The bar and indeed the whole island went berserk! Many of the locals celebrated the Portuguese victory by driving around the islands blasting away on their car horns.

17 June 2004

Sao_Miguel_in_sight Arrived Ponta Delgada at 7.30 am. After breakfast Kev set off to complete the customs / immigration formalities. This was funny in itself as without understanding Portuguese he had no idea what was going on. Still having successfully cleared in we tied up alongside another yacht in the marina which is very crowed with ARC Europe rally boats.We spent the day washing the boat and ourselves - then headed into the town for a few drinks and a celebratory meal out!

16 June 2004

whiskey.grin wine_smile Only 60 miles to go and the wind has deserted us but we are both too excited to care. We saw Sao Miguel in the distance at dusk and had a celebratory drink in the cockpit.

11 June 2004

downwind_at_last A lovely day! During the night the wind changed for a north easterly so we have been reaching ON COURSE for the first time since leaving Jersey. We had one little dolphin playing near the boat but we were not fast enough to keep him amused. During the afternoon we saw 3 or 4 whales surfacing about 200m off the starboard beam. We are halfway to the Azores.

10 June 2004

We are still beating hard on the wind and are both feeling very tired. It has taken a little while to get used to the "watch system" sleep pattern. While on watch this afternoon I saw my first whale which was amazing, he just surfaced about 100m from the boat to breathe. Kevin saw a whale when he was on watch after me. We think they might have been sperm whales.

7 June 2004

hyundi We have enjoyed a good day's sailing today though most of this has been beating - the wind seems to be coming straight from the Azores! We have seen lots of dolphins and just before dinner they decided to come and play in the bow wave which was fabulous - though they won't stay still for long enough to get a good photo! There has been a huge amount of commercial shipping, I have been really surprised at the constant stream of huge tankers passing either side of us. The dolphins have stayed close to us all day and night. During the night I couldn't see them but I could hear them breathing beside the boat.

5 June 2004

We left St Helier yesterday evening and spent the night at anchor in preparation for an early departure today. We have had very little wind all day and night today and so have been motor sailing to clear the French Coastline, the night lights of which have been sparkling in the background as we are only a couple of miles offshore.