19 July 2017

TransAtlantic - Leg Two

Leaving St George's Harbour.  Nothing but the ocean in front of us.

Distance travelled - 1,706 NM
Time taken - Just shy of 11 days.

Behind us, entering as we left, was a Canadian boat.  We are always on the lookout for the Canadian flag.  This one was on a rather ramshackle schooner and admirably demonstrated that the dream can be followed on even a basic boat at presumably low cost.   

We left Bermuda on June 6th in sunny skies with a good forecast for moderate winds interspersed with the occasional light breeze.  Immediately, on leaving the protection of St Georges Harbour, we met large and confused waves and rode them upwind for the next two days.  This meant tight grasps on any solid part of the boat at all times.  With the constant motion even when sleeping, I’m sure we burned through a quantity of calories that otherwise wouldn’t occur while sitting around for days, walking 20 feet at a time tops.  Of course, my slightly ill stomach meant a lower calorie intake as well - although M & Ms tasted good.  Luckily, Lee, with her iron gut, took the brunt of the galley work on those wavy days.

Dense fog on Peter's watch.  He was glad that we were able to get the radar fixed.
 After two days we were ready for a day of calm.  Motoring was a bit of a relief.  Any other time, the noise of “iron genny” and consumption of diesel is unwelcome.

Then a couple of downwind sails with spinnaker during the day and wing-on-wing with two headsails at night or single headsail depending on the wind angle.
Always miraculous to see the ocean so calm - especially when we found out what boats were suffering through north of us.

A second calm day let us take a dip in the sea exactly midway between the last and the next ports of call.

The location of our dip.  Exactly half way.  Our boat looks pretty big on the screen.  Sure doesn't feel that way when you see the immensity of the sky and ocean!
Portuguese-Man-of-War dotted the ocean with their florescent trimmed sails.  We had to keep watch for them as we went for our swim/drag.

Captain looking happy.

And Lee looking happier.  She took two dips.
And then for the final six days, the wind gave us a pretty consistent broad to beam reach at 14-20 knots.  We zipped along through pretty large swells from the north.  We had a couple of days when we made of distance of more than 200 NM - a record for Milly.
Always a scramble to the bow when dolphins sighted.  Great entertainment!

We set the anchor on Jun 17 in the Lajes harbour on the island of Flores.  Stunning beauty of rugged cliffs topped by steep pastoral fields of green with red roofed, white homes nestled in shelter.
First magnificent views of Flores at dawn, appearing out of the clouds.

Shortly after arriving, we received an email from previous crew, Connie, who told us of hurricane force wind north of us as we crossed when several boats had to have crew rescued.  What??  We knew nothing of this!  She sent us details.  After arriving in Horta about ten days later we had dinner with a solo sailor who had been taking part in the famous OSTAR race from Plymouth, England to Newport, US.  The fleet had been caught in an enormous low, spreading from the Azores to Iceland and the result of two smaller lows from Canada and the US. It had been likened to the "Perfect Storm".  David had seen 60 knot winds.  All electronics on his boat had failed and his portlights on the leeward side were constantly submerged, he was heeled over so far.  He told me over dinner that it was being on a submarine.  His friend in another boat was taking on water and had to be rescued by the Queen Mary.  The crews of three other boats also were rescued through a major effort of coast guards from four nations.  Dave abandoned the race and limped into Horta to recover, fix his broken boat and then head back to England, solo again.  He was grateful for his life.  There was no loss of life but four boats were scuttled and now rest on the ocean floor.  

All this on June 9th while we had 15-20 knot wind!  We rode the southern edge of this enormous low all the way to Flores!  Predict Wind routed us successfully and Peter who knew there was a “big wind” north of us stayed safely on the reasonable edge.
The team - safely arrived in our cruising best.  It was cold!

Thanks to Peter for getting us safely across the sea - our first trans ocean passage. And to Lee for braving her first passage longer than one night!  She truly jumped into the deep end - she took watch every night, slightly nervous but always gung ho.  And a big thanks to Milly for being a comfy and safe home and mode of travel.

4 July 2017

Beautiful, Blue Bermuda

We spent over two weeks in Bermuda. It was an easy place to be with a totally different flavour to the Carribean.  “Yachting” is huge.  Enormous mega yachts are in harbour waiting for the America’s Cup and provide great entertainment and eye candy for boat lovers.
The glam boats

The racing boats

The tall boats

The sensational boats

The sailing tender to the mother ship
Even the city hall has a sailboat as wind vane - the first settlers on the island as a result of the shipwreck of the said model boat. The "clock" on the tower is actually a compass that tells wind direction.  This island is a boater's dream.
The cruising boats at anchor in St George harbour, all on their way across the ocean.

The spacey eco motor boat run solely on solar and hydrogen power.

And my favourite, the teeny tiny boats - a serious fleet in Bermuda
Bermuda is highly developed but the buildings and homes dotting the island are sweet, pastel with pure white roofs.
These guys are whitewashing the roofs with a special paint.  The roofs are used to collect rain, filling cisterns a providing the individual buildings with water.
The sea is a beautiful clear blue
  The people are incredibly friendly and helpful - probably the friendliest we’ve encountered.  “Good Afternoon” as entering, announced to the whole sorry lineup of people waiting at the mobility store with all responding equally brightly, kept a smile on my face for nearly an hour.  And, unique to any place we have been, including Florida, there is hardly a speck of litter on land or sea - goes along with pride of place and history.  Great place to hang out with my big brother and watch America’s Cup boats practicing. 

Beautiful, Blue Highlights:
America’s Cup - we were able to take Milly out three times to view the boats in action.  We also viewed a close up anchored at the windward mark on a motor yacht of another Antares owner who happens to live in Bermuda.  Thanks for including us, George and Melanie, s/v Carefree
As it turns out, not the winning boat!  We were secretly cheering for NZ.

Tall Ships - Twenty-one registered tall ships paraded by us.  A sight from yesteryear.  They are on their way to Canada to celebrate 150 years.

Crew changeover - We said good-bye to new friends, Randy and Michele, and gave dear Lee a big, welcoming hug.

Friendly people - probably the friendliest we’ve met.  Everyone greeted us on the sidewalk except in the big city of Hamilton where only some did - the others were probably tourists.
We happened to see the Independence Day Parade.  Each neighbourhood or extended family staked out a part of the sidewalk, set up chairs, grills, tables with buffet, drinks and watched the parade that took the entire day - slow motion.  Bermuda has it's own island time.

Surprising number of great anchorages in gorgeous blue water - we hadn’t expected to be able to sail as much as we did.  Other islands of similar size have one or two anchorages but you can actually cruise Bermuda for a week.  Charter boats must be coming soon!

Pride of place and history - Museums, cemeteries, churches are all worth a visit.

History in the foreground and the AC village in the background.  Great juxtaposition
They did it so well.

We often check out cemeteries.  This naval cemetery was unique.  In many cases, the headstone reported how the person had died.  "Falling from aloft" was unfortunately common.  Cholera another taker of families.  Another unique feature told of the sponsor of the stone "his ship's mates" being a repeated one.

And you have to read this one that was in the church below.

St Peter's Church in St George - just a sweet on the inside.

Best of all - a visit with my big brother, Tim, who is the general manager at one of the island’s high end resorts.  He attempted to spend each of his days off with us but with all the activity on the island, he was often called in to work.  So great to see you and introduce you to Milly, Tim! xo

After a good rest, a little more very expensive provisioning, walking and sightseeing, it’s time for leg two of our TransAtlantic!