Winter 2018-2019

As sad as we were to leave Alembic for the winter in Belgium, we were so excited to go home and see our families and friends.  So on October 24 we boarded a plane and headed home.  This would be the first time in five years Alembic was unattended for so long.  Even last year, when we came home for two months, our friends stayed aboard her, adventuring and taking good care of her many needs.

Marie and I had quality time with Sadie

Our French daughter, Marie, came to see us as soon as we arrived!

Bill followed through quickly on his plans to build a camper van.  The van he chose had been a rental cargo van so the inside was pretty beat up, but the price was right for a one year old vehicle.  He bought it in Maryland and drove it back to Maine.

We thoroughly enjoyed many nights in this awesome tree house, designed and built by dear friends Christian and Christine Slader.  

Then it was home to Camp Weigel to set up for many guests, especially our granddaughter Sadie!!

Finally my parents got to meet Sadie, their first great grandchild.  My brother Al and his wife Ann arranged the get-together at their home in Connecticut.

Early snow at camp set us up for a fantastic ski season.

Thanksgiving was at my brother Dan and his wife Jolie’s home.

Finally we had a calm few days to reroof Kenny’s garage.  Of course Sadie had to be watched so I insisted on lots of breaks from the roof work.

Erica finally took some time off.  She has been working full time in Colorado while earning her bachelors and masters degrees, but arranged to be with us in Maine for the month of December.  So of course we put her to work.  More importantly, we had plenty of time to begin the preparations for her upcoming wedding!  Erica and Wes became engaged on Thanksgiving and are planning for a wedding on their fifth anniversary of meeting, August 25, 2019. 

Lindsay came to camp to help us prepare for Christmas.  

Bill and I began our sixth year of Maine Adaptive at Sunday River.  We volunteer Mondays and Fridays to help handicapped people enjoy the joys of skiing.  Every day, we get much more than we give.  And I am still involved when the CBHS students come to ski.  I used to bring a group of almost twenty every year to our camp for the week when I was teaching there.

Mt Abram continues to thrive as a little family mountain ski area with a huge heart.  This is our sixteenth year skiing there and we can’t imagine ever missing a year.  Management always arranges the most hilarious events and talented bands to keep every weekend lively.  The village is full of wonderful folks from the newborn babies to the almost triple digit seniors.  Everyone helps everyone have a great time.  

It was difficult to leave the mountain on March 15 for a few weeks, but we were eager to get going on the van trip.  We started off by meeting Lindsay in Boston to be with her on Match Day, when she learned of her location for residency for the next 3 years.  She, and Dave, were thrilled to find out she will be at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Concord Hospital in New Hampshire after she graduates from Medical School in May.

After celebrating with Lindsay, we headed to Connecticut to begin the many stops to see every member of my original family.  First stop was to see my brother Al and his wife Ann.  Next was my parents.  They were thrilled to see the finished van and I learned that Dad had always wanted to go across the country in a van.  Too bad it’s a little late for him.

Then on to my brother Eric and his wife Sharon’s home.  They have the most delightful triplet boys. 

Next was my brother Paul and his wife Tara’s home.  Paul arranged for my sister Marie and brother Charlie to come over with their significant others Bill and Nicki.  Our final day started with a visit to brother Rick’s home and we had dinner with him and his son, Mike.  The day ended with a stop at my niece Chloe’s apartment where my brother Dan was visiting.  Two parents, six brothers, one sister, and many members of their families, all in a few days!  What a whirlwind!

Setting off for Colorado was easy and boring, with twenty-four hours of driving.  Luckily the van was working out well as a kitchen, bedroom, and lounge.  Finally we arrived in Fort Collins and were greeted by Erica and Wes. 

We spent the next week fishing in so many spectacular rivers.

When Erica and Wes had to do more University work, we set off for Moab, and stopped at the Shire on our return, a potential spot for the wedding.  An extra treat out west was to make a stop at Vail to see Lauren, a dear friend from Mt Abram.  When we met her, we were surprised to see Rob, the owner of Mt Abram!  We had already said good bye to him back in Maine and were surprised find him here!

These two, Wes and Erica, have a lot going on as they finish up their degrees, plan for their wedding and hunt for jobs.  So, to add to their tasks, they are now in charge of the van!  Lindsay will come out to use it for a week, our niece Sarah will come use it for three weeks, and then Erica will begin managing it as a rental van!  

Back home in Maine, Bill almost bought another van!  We enjoyed Sadie a bunch more, celebrated her parents’ birthdays, and skied a few more times before flying back to Belgium to be reunited with Alembic.

Van Trip to Italy and Switzerland

This trip felt like another honeymoon after 34 years!

On October 9, we set off for one last hurrah in Europe for 2018.  Always looking for the best deals, we stayed at an amazing Chateau in Brussels for less than the cost of a hotel, and set off by plane to Milan Italy for only 30 Euros each way.  The rented van would serve as rental car, hotels en route, dining room for all meals (except those we packed for the hiking).

Chateau Bedroom
Chateau Salon

The van was a fabulous way to get around and stay where you wanted.  One idea for a winter project in Maine was to build a camper van from a cargo version, so trying one out in advance was key.  

Our van for the week
Our travels

Knowing Milan was not our style, we made a beeline north to Chiavenna to find hiking and wilderness.  What a score!  We found it all here in this sweet old town and the other towns as we traveled north.  Fabulous hikes, sweet spots to camp for the night, sometimes in campsites and sometimes for free in recommended road side stops, loads of history, and simple restaurants for a beer, which in Italy means a plate of delicious tiny entrees to go with it!  Everyone we met was helpful and fun, showing us where to go next.

We visited Lagh L’Albigna, where a hydroelectric dam created a huge mountain top lake, with gorgeous hikes and views all around.

After reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan, we were eager to visit Madesimo.  So many references from the book came alive here.  

We ended our glorious trip by driving the length of Lake Como to the town of Como for a final stop.  This van cruise definitely confirmed our plans to build a van this winter!

Arriving back to Blankenberge where Alembic peacefully waited, we made final arrangements to winterize our trusty boat and head home for six months.

England France Belgium and the Netherlands in Two Weeks

Tears streamed as we left Maine, heading back to the airport to get back to Alembic in England. Holding Sadie, and watching Kenny and Jenna grow quickly and smoothly into parents, was an experience that will forever be imprinted on my heart. The three of them make parenting look easy. Sadie never cries, and they seem like a family of puppies, cuddling and nursing, and loving each other.

Sadie is a dream baby

Clearly we were out of our minds; the young man at the airport, when we asked for our boarding passes, simply said “you’re a bit early”. “How early?” “24 hours”. Oops. We forgot that the departure date was the day before the arrival date! Luckily Ann and Al always welcome us for overnights, allowing us to see them and my parents one more time. Mom and Dad were so eager to greet their first great grandchild, but willing to wait a month.
Arriving back in England just in time for a slew of events helped us get back in the sailing mode. Southampton Boat Show and an OCC dinner provided us with plenty of opportunities to indulge on gear, cruising friends, and food.
I don’t love to shop, but I love sewing machines!

Another beautiful castle

Patti and James from La Aventura (Jimmy Cornell’s boat)

After stops in Chichester and Brighton, we made our way across the Channel to Boulogne, France! Full moon departure at 4 am with an approaching sunrise made the early exit simple. Nearly negligible wind added to the simplicity of this trip.
Brighton Marina

Full moon on departure

sunrise soon after
One of our first scenes in France was a motor biker riding with his foot raised to push a bicyclist. This confirmed the cruisers’ characterization “The French will go anywhere in anything” and extended the designation from sailors to road users as well.
Speed is another French specialty, which we experienced the next morning as we navigated through the breakwater. At the bottom of the twenty foot tide, we couldn’t see around the wall. Luckily, our AIS alerted us to a large coast guard vessel speeding right for us. We were prepared to yield for him, as he didn’t seem interested in yielding for us.
The lock to Dunkerque

Dunkerque Marina

A fascinating museum in Dunkerque

We tied up at a marina in Dunkerque where we were greeted by many friendly folks who challenged my language skills. Everyone seems to know zero English, which I appreciate! I find it sad that Americans rarely learn other languages, expecting foreigners to always learn ours. My French shifted into overdrive. They think I can converse fluently, but don’t realize that I only flow smoothly when using my brain’s French dictionary. But then they launch into the official French dictionary, with at least 100 times the vocabulary, and I’m lost. So many “encore, s’il vous plaît” are necessary!
Notre Dame

The Louvre

The Remy-Neris family

After practicing my French in Dunkerque, we took a train to Paris to visit the Remy-Neris family and see the sights. Marie Emmanuelle, Anne-Constance, and Clémence had spent summers with our family and it was nice to see their families in France finally. The parents of Anne-Constance welcomed us to a fabulous dinner at their home and invited his sister (Marie’s Mom) Sylvie as well so we could all be together. Thank you for your hospitality!
On our second night, Christophe gave us a night tour of Paris; enchanting!
Notre Dame at night

The Tour Eiffel

Back to Alembic, we progressed eastward toward Belgium. Our first stop was Nieuwpoort, where we picked up Eugen and Sandra Barton, old friends who live in Germany. Bill had worked with Eugen and their daughter Johanna lived with us for a year in Maine. Here was another opportunity to finally visit our European friends! They sailed, well, really we mostly motored, to Blankenberge with us. This harbor was very close to the home the Bartons were renting for the week.
Loving Blankenberge

The sail was uneventful, but the following day was terrific when Eugen and Sandra took us by car to Brussels and to Leuven where Johanna is studying. Spending time with the Bartons was great and the city of Leuven was full of ancient and modern marvels.
The Atomium
The Barton family
Water Streets
More Leuven Love
I wish the US could encourage biking as they do here!

Next, we rented a car and explored the Netherlands. We had planned on keeping Alembic there for the winter, and wanted to check it out before we sailed all the way there. Blankenberge was surprisingly quiet, inexpensive, clean, and safe, so we were on the fence about which harbor was best. After a quick tour of the Dutch marina, we were glad we had found Blankenberge.
The Dutch Marina was not as clean or sturdy as that in Blankenberge

Reflecting back on our two weeks was dizzying. We had arrived in England, attended a Boat Show and an OCC Dinner, crossed the channel, visited Paris, sailed to Belgium, visited Brussels and Leuven, and toured the Netherlands, both city and marina. For week three, we were planning our next trip, a van through the Alps in Italy and Switzerland! Sometimes I just want to lay around for a day and read a book, or snuggle with Sadie. But for now, we are enjoying our varied experiences here in Europe.

Baby Sadie Has Arrived!!

Baby Sadie presented herself with perfect timing. Everyone knows that you can’t schedule a birth; not the timing, the birth experience, or the health of the newborn, but she managed to do everything right. For us, her grandparents. I’m sure Jenna and Kenny would have appreciated if she had arrived on her due date, and that they would have endured a shorter labor, but, no, Sadie wanted an extra week. This way, she would be only four days old when we meet.

Are you my Daddy?

Day one at home snuggles

On Christmas Day, Kenny announced to the whole family “we have a Christmas present, but you can’t see it until August”. At that moment, we began this journey of delighted anticipation. But how do you even express the absolute joy of seeing and holding a baby that is the perfect product of your own child and his beloved wife? There’s the relief that the infant’s health is flawless, the mother survived the ordeal smoothly, and the home is prepared for the new person. All of this is insignificant compared to the potential you witness. The energy surrounding the birth of a human is monumental. She now has an entire life of possibilities that we will witness, and the development of our son into a parent is equally huge.
Kenny’s first day home 28 years ago
And Jenna, our dear daughter in law, has begun the journey she has been seeking for most of her life.

Yes, we were over the moon. And having Lindsay and Erica come for a long visit with us almost put us in that spaceship.
Meeting Pops and Meme

My girls

Team Weigel

A natural

The sisters have the touch
Squeezed in a fabulous visit with all ten of us at Moosehead Lake

Charlie is another new baby in the family and Sarah is the perfect guide
First bath

Sarah and Annie came for a visit

Family beach day

Toes in the sand

We visited Papa, my Dad, and saw that he was practicing writing Sadie

On to the United Kingdom

Leaving Ireland was difficult. I wanted to seek out more evidence of my heritage; my mother is 100 percent Irish. But further travels were beckoning. At first, we wanted to head to the western coast of Scotland, some of the finest cruising grounds in the world, but the winds didn’t cooperate, sending us further south, to Wales. This was a rough nine hour trip, with winds cranking up from less than ten knots the first hour to well into the thirties. The fishing vessels , crazy currents, and drenching rains added to the challenges. Then, the marina at Holyhead was gone, demolished in a recent storm.

Cloudy. Well named local boat

One dock was installed to allow about six boats where nearly 100 had sunk a few months prior. Fog, wind, and drizzle continued but we managed some amazing cliff walks anyway. The medieval church, St Cybil, still stands where a monastery was built in the sixth century.

Even our glasses were foggy

St Cybi

Seals frolicking in the surf

How old is this bench?

Carved gate

Less than two days later, we left Holyhead with new friends, heading into the eddies and winds again. Lisken sailed for Ireland as we turned south for a 24 hour run to Milford Haven, Wales. More castles and history here, then another 24 hour run to Falmouth, England.

James of Lisken

Lisken getting burried as she hobbyhorsed in the steep waves

King and Queen of the Castle

Castle Kids

Pleasantly surprised at our good timing, we joined the OCC, Ocean Cruising Club, for a dinner at the Royal Cornish Yacht Club.

OCC Dinner

Lunch in the YC Marquee

11 for Happy Hour

9 for dinner

9 for breakfast on Alembic

Formal dinner and speeches one night was followed by a casual lunch in the Marquee the next day. Six OCC boats headed up the river to continue festivities. Happy hour and dinner aboard Peter Flutter’s steel Saga 45, Tyrian of Truro, then breakfast on Alembic gave us plenty of time to listen to other cruisers’ stories, including the round the world adventures of Sea Bunny, with Susan and Richard Kidd.
Next ports were a public pontoon at Fowey, anchoring at Salcombe, and another pontoon in Dartmouth. Here we navigated through several classes of sailing races trying to gain entrance to the harbor, and enjoyed the regatta of a variety of rowing boats once inside.

Women’s Rowing Team

They better do as she says!

Another gorgeous sunset

Dartmouth Castle

Weymouth was our next port, and we tied up right behind the famous Gypsy Moth and were welcomed to a free tour.

The famous Gypsy Moth

On the way to Poole

Our mooring in Poole was far from town, but there was a convenient launch, which was followed by a bus and train to Lulworth. It seemed like we should have taken Alembic to this idyllic harbor, but many had warned us that the rolling in the harbor could damage any boat.

Harbor at Lulworth

a new friend

The beach at Lulworth

Winds to Lymington never materialized, so we motored there, but sailed up the river to a town Quay. We were missing family terribly at this point, and expecting a new grand baby to be born any day. At this point, she was late for her arrival!

Our grandbaby is almost here

Lindsay and Dave at yet another race

Erica and Wes in Colorado

We even miss our Allie; her lookalikes were everywhere!

We headed toward Portsmouth where we planned to meet cruising friends Suzanne and David, leaders of our Suzie Too Rally in the Western Caribbean two years prior, and fellow rally members Jeff and Mary from Echo. As we detoured up the River Medina, at Cowes, we learned of Sadie’s grand entrance! She was born an hour before, and all was perfect in our world.

Bill, Helen, David, Suzanne, Jeff, and Mary

Sharing our fabulous news with old friends was a gift. I’m sure they couldn’t peel us off our cloud during dinner, even if they tried!
Last stop, Wicor Marine, had a dock in the middle of the river waiting for us to tie to so we could leave Alembic and fly home to meet our new little Angel. Boat? What boat? I had a grand baby to meet! I’m sure I was a basket case packing up for this magical trip.

Saint Katharine’s Haven

Tower Bridge

Overnight at Manana’s before we fly home

Ireland: A Homecoming

Arriving in Kinsale Ireland was quite the culmination of our Atlantic crossing. The tenacious spirit of my mom, a 100 percent Irish woman, was palpable here.

Father and son heading out when the fog lifted

I don’t even know what to call this

This sweet girl stayed on the docks with her best friend

Chilly mornings and icy water temps didn’t faze the exuberant children and adults as they navigated in the fog in tiny vessels with either oars or sails. Bravery manifests itself in many ways; sailing across the Atlantic takes one type of courage, but Alembic seemed a mighty ship compared to these mini watercraft all around us. There was some type of regatta underway and no shortage of enthusiastic participants.
With solid ground under our feet finally, after 9 days of twelve foot seas, we headed for a pub. The first one we stopped in didn’t disappoint. I was not really in the mood for a beer, but the music lured me in.

Sisters dancing to the band

Grandma plays the spoons

Watching the children bust out into Irish Dance routines (while wearing their soccer clothes) and grandma pull out spoons from her purse and join in the merriment gave me a taste for the true neighborhood gathering.

Al and Ann in front of her church in Galway

Next, it was off to visit my brother, Al, and his wife, Ann, in Galway. They were there for a wedding and a funeral. Emotions were covering the spectrum as we met many of Ann’s large family. Paul and Margaret generously gave us a room in their gorgeous home.

Paul and Margaret and one of their three daughters

Paul’s spirited Irish Draught Horses

Carrying on in our rental car, we visited the Aran Islands, staying in a teepee in Doolin after spending a glorious day on bikes, ferries, and foot.

My family used to call me Nelly


Aran Islands

Mama and her calf

A gorgeous pony

A farmer tends to his wagon horse


On the ferry

Our glamping teepee

Phenomenal Folk Music

Back to Alembic, we left the dock to drop anchor in the river. Anchoring is preferable for us because it’s free, peaceful, and closer to nature. Unfortunately, our trusty windlass was acting up again, so Bill dove into the tiny space up forward to explore. Being small has its advantages as he squeezed into the anchor locker.

In our anchor chain locker

We tried to have a new motor shipped to us in the Azores, but the delays were becoming comical, so we redirected it to Kinsale. It showed up just in time. Our grand plans for hauling the huge anchor and lengthy chain by hand never had to be put into action.

The famous Bulman

Stretching out after the cramped anchor locker work

After a two day stop in Cork, only a three hour journey from Kinsale, we headed to Dublin, a 26 hour sail up the east coast of Ireland. The night was ridiculously cold and dressing like an eskimo still didn’t keep me warm, but I was grateful to be in this glorious water, sharing space with so many bird pairs and leaping miniature dolphins.
We enjoyed exploring the city, getting a taste of the culture with a visit to the busy downtown, a tour through Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin’s oldest building built in 1030, and an amazing Dance show.

pubs spilling out onto the streets of Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral

Irish Dancing

While I wished I could have stayed another month, we were eager to see more of Europe, so two weeks after arriving in Ireland, we departed Dún Laoghaire (pronounced Done Leary), heading east on August 17.

Sailing to Ireland

Motoring away from the Açores in calm water

Leaving the Açores was hard. We had fallen in love with the islands, the locals, the fellow cruisers, the food, everything. And we were facing a ten day trip to Ireland that could be our most challenging trip ever. Many cruisers had reported lack of wind, with several of our friends’ boats being towed in when they ran out of diesel! Others had rough passages and rerouted to new places to ease the trip. Luckily, we had no firm plans, nobody meeting us at the other end, so we could “go where the wind blows us”.

We had studied so many weather reports from Chris Parker, FastSeas, PredictWind, Spots, Grib files, and many more sites. All reports seemed to vary slightly, but generally assure us that there would be enough, and not too much, wind to get us to Ireland. So off we went with Alexandra V, a sailboat with a Polish couple on board, not far behind us. We had compared notes and planned communication strategies with these new friends. Sailing in the company of others is always comforting.

A Green Flash for our first sunset

The first day was mellow. A light drizzle cleared away to bring bright sunshine, enough wind on the beam to sail, and the most spectacular Green Flash. If you haven’t seen one, keep watching. You need a clear horizon on the water, and a mostly cloud free sky. A bit of cloud actually helps bring out the colors and the last color as the sun disappears is green. Sometimes it is so tiny, you barely see it, while at other times it feels like someone has flicked a switch to illuminate a bright green blaze. This night, it was tiny, but clear, leading the way for a night of bright stars.

That was the end of the peace. By noon the next day, squalls arrived and the winds started playing games on us, varying from 5 to 25 knots and from northeast to west. Our wind vane, which steers the boat relative to the wind angle, had to be constantly adjusted or else our path would have been like that of a very confused drunk. The sails also required frequent tweaking. After taking down the pole, we used the genoa like a throttle, letting it fly when the winds were light, then partially furling it in as the winds picked up. The mizzen sail only needed sheeting in and out, while the main was reefed, double reefed, hoisted back up, and reefed again, as the nearby weather system flirted with our path to Ireland.

The huge waves kept us rolling along

By the third day, the parade of squalls and the variable winds continued to keep us busy. Bill tied in a third reef line so we would be prepared to make our mainsail as small as a handkerchief. Luckily, we never did sail triple reefed, but we did heave to that night for three hours. This requires us to drop all sails except our reefed mizzen and lock the wheel to steer into the wind. The mizzen drives the boat into the wind, and the rudder also tries to steer into the wind. Alembic loses all momentum as it tries to come about and falls off the wind again. Meanwhile, we get to sit back and rest, while the boat just pokes along at about one knot in a direction about 60 degrees off the wind. This is a technique many sailors use to quiet the wild boat motion down. We even know sailors who do this to make a meal, or go to the head!

Our Spot for days 4-9. Reality: double the windspeed and add a meter to the wave height.

After sailing northeast for three days, we turned to more due east to try to get south of these weather systems that were moving north of us. The trick to sailing in this part of the Atlantic is to go close enough to the low pressure systems moving generally westward to take advantage of the wind they provide, but stay enough south of them to avoid gales. While we were in no danger, and the systems were not hurricanes, we were getting tired of the strong winds and large seas.

Switching to the autopilot on the fifth day helped us steer closer to our course and prevent some of the slatting of the sails and gear. This device steers a heading on the compass, so the line is straighter, but it consumes electricity, which we always try to conserve on passages. The wind vane uses no electricity, but the large waves shove Alembic off track, and the vane struggles to stay on course, causing near gybes every few minutes. Alembic looked like a spiderweb with all of the preventers keeping the booms from gybing. When we felt we could maintain a somewhat straight course with the vane, we switched back.

I was always cold on this trip. Staying below, with ski gear on.

Spotting wild life was infrequent on this trip. The seabirds were solo and far between. Random pieces of fishing gear were spotted but too far off to pick up. Usually, we try to grab these and deliver them back to shore where fishermen can reemploy the gear instead of leaving them out here as pollution. The one whale we spotted was dead, sadly, with a gathering of small black storm petrels feasting.

Our Spot for days 6, 7, 8. Add 10 knots to column 6 and a meter to column 8

Heaving to for four hours on the sixth day gave us relief again from the relentless wind and seas. 15 to 25 knots, with gusts to 38 were the norm and the boat kept surfing up and down the twelve foot seas. We finally dropped both main and mizzen and sailed under genoa alone for the next two days while the winds varied from ten to over thirty with many squalls rolling by.

Bill has a smooth forehead

Not such a pretty stitch job

Back to sleeping on watch in his pre-fall position

The worst night was the eighth when Bill fell in the cockpit. He dosed while sitting on the port side. A wave rolled the boat, and Bill flopped over to the starboard side, hitting his head on the coaming (the seat back). A gash opened up, just above his eyebrow, requiring stitches. Maybe it was because I was sound asleep one moment and staring at a gaping hole in his head the next, but I sure confirmed that night that I would not make a great nurse. First I was freezing (yeah it was super cold), then I was having a full body sweat (did I put on too many clothes?) and the next thing I know, Bill has a mirror and he’s saying “I’ll do this myself”. Not a proud moment for me!! I gathered my wits, smeared New Skin on the gash, and watched as it opened back up like a fish mouth. Stitches seemed like a bad idea in the pitching seas, so I resorted to placing four steri stitches and more glue. This seemed to work and we called it good. I promptly sent Bill to bed and I took over in the cockpit. I certainly wasn’t going to be able to sleep after this incident! Luckily Bill has a gift and can sleep wherever and whenever!

Our ninth day was more of the same weather, with plenty of rain to add to our discomfort. The poled out genoa and mizzen kept us moving along though, so we were generally pleased with our progress. By the end of this day we began to see many boats on our AIS, giving us a lift in spirits as this surely indicated that we were closing in on LAND!

Fog came in to replace the wind on our last day. Family members placed guesses on when we would first spot land. They each picked a time that would be when we first saw a light, a mountain, a building, anything on land. They could see our progress on our inReach tracking online, so they knew exactly how many miles we were from mountain peaks and river mouths. Sadly, we actually entered the river, smelling cows and hearing voices, but never saw land! After carefully arriving with radar guiding us, we dropped our anchor in a narrow river.

And went straight to SLEEP!!

Fort Charles was our first sight of land

Alexandra V came in safely

The next morning we jumped out of bed to look out and see…..fog. Still no land. I went back below to make a pancake feast and Bill shouted “Land!” I can’t even explain the ecstasy of watching the curtain rise to reveal the most gorgeous sight: Fort Charles and glorious Kinsale Ireland and our friends on Alexandra V motoring by. We had arrived safely and on schedule, with full tanks of diesel, no damage to Alembic, and only a small healing wound. Phew, time to thank the Angels.

Now that the fog lifted, we motored in to town

Three More Weeks of the Açores

We have decided that the Açores is officially our favorite cruising area. The people, wine, cheese, topography, weather, and cost add up to the best of the best. Here is a photo journal of four of the nine islands.
Horta on Faial:

Here is our marina from the plane

Alembic sandwiched between a British and French boat

Gorgeous natural cove

Hiking out a peninsula

A band outside

A band inside

Getting a tooth repaired

Bill’s design for Alembic

Twenty miles east is Velas on São Jorge:
The Matador excites the bull at the bull fight

Two Teams, one from Portugal, one from California, parade around at the start

The Cavaleiros is ready

The Portuguese Team gives a gift

The forcados tame the bull with their hands

Creeping to the edge for a picture below

Looking straight down gives you the butterflies

The cliff from the side

Bill stands away from the edge
Hydrangeas are everywhere

An awesome surf camp

This person must have been tiny!

Mamas tending their young

The farmer’s home

Beachside huts

Another ornate church

Alembic is the fifth one down the line

Another 52 miles east is Angra do Heroismo on Terceira:
A spectacular waterfall

The succulents are Huge!

Bouganvillea Archway

This fern stood like a palm tree

We stayed in the anchorage

Old fashioned dancers

This church had many functions over the years, one being a hospital

The marina was full; we are the one on the right
Blue Yonder and Alembic shared many harbors together

David and Marilyn of Blue Yonder

Our favorite Tea spot shaded on the sidewalk

The Madona led a parade while we were in Terceira

The cathedral artifacts survived an earthquake and a fire

Whaleboat race

The cliffs make a nice backdrop
We head to the Corrida a Corda (running by rope)

This bull is on a rope held by 6 men

They push the poor thing over the wall

He comes out unharmed, ready to charge

Back on Alembic for more projects

Exploring Algar do Carvão, a lava tube

Amazing roof of cave

Volcanic vent

Enormous Cathedral

Anchored beside us was Pinocchio, a Canadian family with seven children sailing the world

Saying Goodbye to Blue Yonder, who we have traveled with since Bermuda

One Hundred Miles southeast is Ponta Delgada on São Miguel:

Jenny and Simon on Fenicia

Bill and Laurie from Toodle-Oo

An Italian training ship Amerigo Vespucci lit up beside us

silly art

More Churches

Horseback in the rain

A natural Hot Spring
My hydrangea garden home

Bill’s tiny stone house

Practicing snuggling an infant

A delightful Polish family was on a boat beside Alembic

Bill helped on Flying

Flying’s spreaders needed to come down for replacement

Captain David and his son Albert helped from below

Saying Goodbye to the Açores

Grandbaby Shower in Maine

Goodbye Azores

Fly home to Maine from the Azores?? Before the baby is even born?? Yes. Kenny and Jenna were having a Baby Shower and many family members were coming. How often do I get to see all three of my children together? And how often does my Mom come to Maine? Nieces, nephews, brother, brother-in-law, wives, sisters-in-law…they all were coming. Bill knew it was killing me to imagine not being there, and we both feel strongly that we have to make every effort to stay close with family. So off I went, leaving Bill to take care of Alembic.
Horta is no place to leave a boat unattended. Shifts in weather and the arrival of large ships resulted in urgent relocations of Alembic. The anchorage and the wall each had advantages and disadvantages, depending on the day. Luckily, we had plenty of friends in the harbor to assist Bill with moving Alembic a few times while I was away.

Kenny and Jenna prepping for parenthood

So, off I flew to Maine, arriving just a few days before the party. Jenna looked amazing. She is doing absolutely everything right. Between her active job, and her involvement at a fitness studio, Jenna could be the photo model and the exercise coach for all pregnant moms. I remember fondly indulging frequently in my constant hunger while pregnant and succumbing to tent-like outfits. Quite the contrary, Jenna manages to eat in a healthy manner and dress stylishly at all times.

Jenna’s first cake

Erica helps Karen with the watermelon

Karen, Jenna’s mom, had organized everything. Food was coming in with many guests, borrowed middle school tents were already in the garage, and all the supplies were stuffed in the back of her car. I figured out a few items to add to the food list, pushed the vacuum around the already immaculate home, and enjoyed my time visiting with Kenny and Jenna and a few friends.

Da boys

Cathy, my dearest friend, came to York for a visit, and Mel was available for a wonderful get together as well.

I always enjoy time with Mel

More visits would have to wait for a longer stay. I was reveling in family and getting ready for the party!

Dave, Lindsay, and Erica

Lindsay, David, and Erica arrived to help us set up the tents and arrange the food to prepare for the large number of guests. Those tents came in handy, as the day heated up to near 100 degrees. Watching the kids in the kiddie pool was a treat as well as a preview of this yard when the baby arrives and begins to fill the space with adorable energy.

KBear practicing

We all had a great time throughout the day, especially with so many family members and then late into the night around the fire pit with those who lingered on.

Catching up with Lindsay

I was too busy socializing, and didn’t take any pictures. Now I regret that. But the conversations with everyone filled my heart while I managed to catch up with many people I hadn’t seen in a while.

My daughters. Can’t get enough

The next day was another scorcher so we went off for a boat ride. Kenny and Jenna have inherited our much loved Happy Ours (so well named, as the whole family just loves this 19 foot MaritimeSkiff) and jumped in the freezing Maine ocean. Too cold to swim, and too bumpy for Jenna to stay out there too long, we came back and had ice cream and cold drinks to finish off our play.

Cool refreshments

This visit home was too short, as expected, but a perfect snapshot for me to experience Kenny and Jenna preparing for parenthood, and for me to touch base with them and a bunch of other loved ones. I’m so grateful for every moment I can have with those who fill my heart.

The baby is now overdue!

PS I am posting this two months after the events and the baby still hasn’t arrived! The due date was last week!

Açores Pursuit Rally

Rallies are fabulous opportunities for sailors to enjoy the camaraderie of a passage and share the enjoyment of a new place. This rally, the Azores Pursuit Rally, organized by the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club), was unusual, as it had no specific starting place. Unlike most rallies, it was a bit of a race, with an ending spot and time. You “won” if you crossed the line at the Horta harbor entrance at exactly noon on July 18th. Some of the rules included having traveled at least 500 miles, and using no engine power for the last hour. Since we all had traveled so far, the timing of the endpoint was hard to pin down, resulting in many boats arriving days, even weeks, in advance, and some boats arriving days late or not even making it all. At least one boat turned around due to lack of wind and flew to Horta instead!

We came to Peter Café Sport soon after landing

The peak of Pico was our daily delight

Tie up on the wall was crowded!

We arrived two days early, and chose to take a berth on the wall rather than wander around in the ocean for the proper arrival time. This gave us a chance to clear customs, find the Peter Café Sport (where much of the Rally would take place), hang our fathers’ day flags, go for a swim, do laundry, explore the town, and rest before the festivities began.

We hung our Father’s Day flags. One letter for each of us

A local concert with children and senior citizens

Fabulous tile work on all the sidewalks

The crazy winds here caused this shape!

And what festivities! A full five days of dining, biking, hiking, busing, whale watching, and making new friends was organized to fill each day.

I carried the Rally flag to welcome the Rally boats arriving just on time

We cheered the boats coming across the finish line at the proper time and feasted on a classic Azores BBQ at a castle the first day.

Traditional Roast

9 new OCC members. 1000 mile sailing requirement was met

The second day we all worked on our paintings on the wall

Our last boat was Wings and my Dad’s name is Gus. This gave me goosebumps

A fabulous story here

A sad outcome for this boat after it sailed away from the Açores

before enjoying a special dinner at Peter Café Sport.

José’s hospitality here continued all week and beyond

The third day we rode bikes down from a volcano, all the way back into Horta.

1Biking downhill is easy

This fern was gigantic

Horses and cows mingling

Another fabulous church

Mossy home

A few of our marina from afar


Windmills now have no paddles

Part of our bike group. Blue Yonder and Indulgence

The fourth day was a ferry ride to the nearby island of Pico and a hike to the top. This is the highest point in all of Portugal, and quite challenging, so many chose to stay on the bus and enjoy a tour of the island instead. A fancy dinner was a lovely conclusion to this day. The final day was an exciting whale watching tour.

Our whale watch boat

We saw many breaching whales and came close enough to feel like they were playing with us. On the return trip, we entered some caves where birds nested. For our last evening, there was a grand dinner at an elegant club and prizes for all sorts of reasons were delivered to great rounds of applause.

Our final dinner with the large crowd of participants in the OCC rally

Final speeches were delivered to thank all of the people who pulled this large group together so thoughtfully. José Azevedo, the proprietor of Peter Café Sport, was properly thanked for his tireless hours of organization (and reorganization when things went haywire!) and his generosity with many meals, tours, gifts, and time. Jenny Crickmore Thompson was also thanked for her excellent leadership from the initial organization, through the final festivities.
When the rally was over, we remained in Horta for another hike up Pico

Soccer players on the ferry

A view from the top of Pico

Our hiking companions Bill and Laurie from Toodle Oo

, more exploration of the welcoming town, and the final touches on our painting on the wall.

It’s awkward to paint at this spot

Bill’s Mom, the artist, would be proud of his design

We also helped a rally member sew his torn genoa.

Taping the long tear

It took the three of us to jam it through my machine!

The local sailmaker was so busy with repairs from the many arriving boats, causing the queue to be many weeks! This particular captain was in a hurry to get to the UK to visit his mom who was unwell. How could I refuse to help him??
We bid farewell to many boats who left, and were grateful that we were not in a hurry to depart.

One of our favorite boats and crew!

I had a flight home to Maine in a few days, so Bill was lucky enough to enjoy Horta for another week. I half wondered if he would purchase real estate here; we could see calling this fabulous island our second home.

The view from the home