FROM HORTA, AZORES TO PALMA, MALLORCA
The island of Faial in the Azores was a cracker island, very unspoilt and certainly worth a visit. Meals cost in the region of 15 Euros a head and a round for four costs no more than 5! We would recommend anyone flying out there and booking a simple B&B and travelling around the islands by ferry.
Walter the engineer arrived with the starter motor and came good on Thursday 31 May so we cast off lines at 1700 hrs after a prolonged stay (an extra 4 days). We left Pico to starboard and hurtled off at 10 knots on a broad reach, passing San Jorge and Terceira. Leaving the last of the Azores behind 60 miles later we once again headed out into the Atlantic, taking our Stugeron until we got our sea legs back. We managed to hold onto fair winds for the next two days clocking up to 240 miles in 24 hours. Winds died a little, so we motor sailed but very gently since we hadn’t had a chance to refuel in Horta due to a ‘cash only’ setup to pay for starter motors etc. So – if you go to the Azores in a boat – bring cash!! During motor sailing Ian put out the rod and to his great delight was awoken to the (truthful) cries of “fish, fish”. A beautiful 6 lb tuna was caught and promptly eaten for lunch.
As we approached landfall at Cap St Vincent on the southern tip of Portugal we started to come across a lot of shipping. At one stage there were 23 ships on the radar! Thankfully the boats are pretty well behaved and stay in their lanes, so we had no near misses. The weather started to get much warmer and sunnier so the shorts came out and we all looked forward to Gibraltar which was only 180 miles away – a 24 hour sail. Sadly, as sailing goes, things did not go according to plan – we were pasted by a gale on the nose. For 18 hours we were ‘strapped to the wheel’ making a mere 2 ½ miles per hour towards our waypoint. We decided to get inshore to the Spanish coast to get out of the big seas as we headed through the Straits of Gibraltar. We short tacked (I hear you say “K8 does not do short tacking!” – DH take note – we carefully furled away sails on every tack to save damage!); through the Bay of Trafalgar and then went to join the wind and kite surfers on the short. A couple of windsurfers came out to say “ola” to us and one of the kitesurfers came and gave us a display of his skills in 35 knots of wind – he even jumped over the back of the boat! The wind started to die as we approached Gibraltar so we arrived into Gib too late for fuel so dropped anchor, got sussed out by the good looking Customs guys and had the last of the Antiguan Mahi Mahi in a seafood chowder. On Thursday morning we got onto the fuel dock at 0800 hours, refuelled a mere 1800 litres and had scrambled eggs for brekkie. Sadly we didn’t have time to go shopping at M&S nor any fresh milk since we were not allowed ashore. We are now motoring into the wind, doing 8 ½ knots, the sun is out and we are all happy!
Wildlife spotted (apart from the good looking customs guys) – plenty of dolphins, allegedly a shark fin spotted by Gillian; a Hawks Bill Turtle which we spotted whilst motoring, so circled round and got some cracker shots of him/her? S/he wasn’t too fazed and gave us a wee wave and then dived. Whilst offshore a very tired sparrow like bird flew like billyho to catch us up, eventually did, landed on the mainsheet then nestled down into a nest of wet jib sheets beside the wheel. By next morning the bird had flown (or else we stood on it during night watch!). Two pigeons tried to land on the spreaders but couldn’t balance so flew off. Ian woke up one morning to find a gi-normous moth stuck to his shirt, Gill and ET reckoned it came out of his wallet! Our best and most exciting sighting was a school of whales – one blew off its blowhole right beside the cockpit and scared ET out of her wits. The others ran up on deck and we saw a few humps rolling around and a magnificent spout of water approx 21 ft into the air! What a great memorable sight.
Do an aeroplane and a warship count as ‘wildlife’? During Nia and Les’s watch a small plane circled the boat well below mast height – definitely out to suss out the talent. On approaching landfall we were circled by a Portuguese warship. We eventually looked through the binoculars we read her flag, code flag Lima which told us to “Stop your vessel immediately” – Ian decided to mistake it for a code flag Quebec (both yellow) and steam on in (not so ignorant) bliss! They obviously thought we looked like a dangerous bunch and would be no match for our military strength and chose to back down!
We are all missing Sally who jumped ship in Horta and went back to the world of work. She still keeps us updated by sending us emails on updates from the Archers and follows our progress on the plotter whilst supposed to be working (along with all the rest of our friends who are supposed to be working!)
From Captain Hook (Ian), Tinkerbell (Nia), Smee (Gillian), Peter Pan (Les) and Crocodile (Elaine ); and not forgetting Wendy (Sally) in abstentia.