We left Bermuda on Saturday evening, June 2, soon after saying tearful goodbyes to Lindsay, Anne, and Sarah. Most of our buddies in the harbor had left earlier this day and the day before. We would be out there with Antares, L’Aventura, Camomile, and Blue Yonder (all bound for Horta with the Açores Pursuit Rally), as well as Tigger (a large catamaran) and Calcutta (with our Russian friend Igor aboard). Even though we couldn’t see these boats, we found comfort knowing that they were close by.
Overall, the sailing was perfect. The trip was 13 and a half days, four of which we had to motor. The highest wind we recorded was only 30 knots, and that was in a brief squall. We had plenty of company for this trip, sailing beside Blue Yonder for many days and in company with others with whom we checked in with every day on the single side band radio.
Also keeping us company were hundreds of birds, whales who gave us a show of breaching one day and a parade of welcome as we entered Horta, jumping schools of large fish, and endless viewings of Portuguese Man-o-War. These Man-o-war are spectacular to watch. Displays of purple and pink iridescent membranes rise above the water as if sailing, while their tentacles stream up to 160 feet behind.
Our only gear failure was the roller furling bushing which fell out after two days at sea. Luckily, we found this on the deck before it washed overboard. The roller furling genoa still operates without this bushing, but we have no idea what type of damage we would have sustained if we carried on sailing without it. We dropped the genoa on deck and tried in vain to jam the bushings back into the drum while the boat pitched around in a large sea. We raised the sail again, rolled it in partially to lessen the load and carried on. When the seas lessened a few days later, Bill cut the bushings in half, dropped the genoa on deck again, and managed to wedge them into place. We decided to wait until we arrived in Horta to drop the genoa and the headstay to properly insert the spare bushings.
Perhaps the best statistics of all were that no one got seasick on this passage! We can’t say the same for the trip to Bermuda. For our sailing friends who are always looking for the sailing statistics, here is a day by day journal synopsis:
Saturday night was a strong downwind sail after a gorgeous sunset. Jib n jigger (Genoa and mizzen).
Sunday was excellent sailing downwind with reefed main and mizzen and the poled out genoa.
Monday morning the winds died and we motored with our main and mizzen sails hanging limply.
Monday by noon the winds picked up and we were sailing again with genoa, main and mizzen.
Monday evening we found the bushings to our roller furling on deck. They had fallen out!
Tuesday winds and seas built and we were back to a reefed main and poled out genoa.
Wednesday the winds lightened again, and we raised the gennaker. By evening, the wind was on the beam and we enjoyed an excellent sail.
Thursday we had a squall with lightening so we doused the genoa and put all electronics in the microwave. By noon the winds were excellent again for a nice beam reach. Fifth ship.
Friday we motorsailed all day
Saturday we motorsailed till 4 pm then sailed with reefed main, mizzen and poled out genoa. Blue Yonder is 30 nm north.
Sunday we got as close as 2 nm to Blue Yonder, so we gybed the main, went wing and wing for a bit to give them more space. It’s getting cold! Gybed downwind to stay on course. Dead downwind is too hard on the gear with the rolly seas and banging sails.
Monday was an excellent speed day (168nm). We saw whales breaching, our 8th ship, and lots of birds.
Tuesday we had strong winds and excellent speed, but also more spray with the 30 knot gusts. Tenth ship
Wednesday winds were a little lighter but the seas didn’t abate. We saw fishing gear and almost a green flash.
Thursday winds were still lighter. We spotted dolphins, turtles, and many fish jumping (Tuna?)
Friday we motor sailed all day in light winds. Land Ho! Pico could be seen at 9pm 90nm away!
Saturday we came through the breakwater at 9am after being escorted by a parade of small whales.