Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Horta, Faial, Azores to Falmouth, UK

The ~1250 nm passage (rough estimate including some deviations from direct route) took 12.5 days--better than I had expected based on the forecast I left with. Saw some whales, a mola-mola, lots of Cory's Shearwaters (birds), and a fair bit of rain and clouds. Arrived Falmouth, UK around 0100 July 31, 2015. Anchored next to another Twister--actually the first one I've seen besides "Twister."

Thursday 18/07-2013, 1630 UTC

Sailing past Ilha Sao Jorge, 1 mile of point ____ on the NW side of the island, which is standing dramatically out from the clouds and fog. Departed Horta today 1210 UTC in gusty conditions as winds and tidal streams funneled through Canal Do Faial between Faial and Pico. It took maybe ten minutes to motor out of the harbor, get the sails up, turn off the engine, and put Willie Nelson’s, “On The Road Again” on the stereo.

2130 UTC.  Passed SE point (name?) of Ilha Graciosa just after sundown. No obstacles until British Isles. Time for bed.

Friday 19/07-2013, 1800 UTC

Ca 100 miles out from Horta. Sperm Whale city today. Saw at least 6, including a mother and calf with whom I had a close encounter. After I sailed perhaps 10 meters from the pair, they started following Twister, and I was afraid I had pissed off momma, but I think it was just baby being curious. I guess they’re used to whale watchers in these waters (one of the top tourist activities in The Azores).

Saturday 20/07-2013

Very light winds, Twister ghosting along at 1-2 knots. Took perhaps the last chance for a warm-ish water swim, along with the several hundred little fishies that had taken up residence under Twister. Here is a video of Twister gliding along with poled-out A-sail. Not very exciting, but if you're feeling stressed, maybe watch the whole video. 
Sunday 28/07-2013

First 5 days were all sub-100 miles days, with several instances of dead calm. Second half has been much better as a weak low pressure system to the north of us has been gently pushing Twister along at a comfortable pace. Temperature is getting cooler and lots of little fronts with associated clouds and rain have been the norm. Now it’s actually sunny and we have ca 270 miles to Falmouth. Latest forecast looks like we’ll have favorable winds the whole way. (Hopefully not premature) I am rather surprised (and pleased) to have crossed the North Atlantic in the westerlies and not encountered a single gale. Of course there's still The North Sea. 

Monday 29/07-2013

Sailed past a Mola-Mola (sunfish). He/she was just lying on the surface, sunning himself, as they do, with one fin/flipper poking out of the water as if waving hello and goodbye. 

Latest additions to North Atlantic photo album.   I've got a UK phone.  The number is:  +44 (0) 7904149790
(I think omit the 0 in parentheses if dialing from outside of UK). Call or txt anytime.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I have decided to set sail for England tomorrow. Roughly 1250 miles to Falmouth via the great circle route. Forecast is for favorable winds for 2 days. After that it looks very variable, but no gales hopefully. I expect a passage of ~14 days. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Update from Faial

It's been a relaxing stay in Horta. Mare Liberum arrived just after midnight on the 11th. They've been keeping me company since. Yesterday we went to the scrimshaw museum above Pete's Bar, followed by a
van ride to the big volcanic crater near the top of the island and a bicycle ride back down to Horta.

The previous day, we got a tour of the French oceanographic research ship Porquis Pas which is a hefty 107 meters (pretty big for a research vessel). Among its capabilities are two submarines--one manned and one unmanned. They're in The Azores doing some bathymetry work for the French military.
Pourquoi Pas

Between the 10th and the 13th the class 40 race boats taking part in the Les Sables - Horta - Les Sables race arrived Horta. They are impressive looking sailing machines. Sort of paradoxically these high-tech boats are reverting to some old-fashined methods to minimize weight--many blocks and the running backstays are fastened with lashings (rope), for example.
Class 40 race boats

Here is the latest version of the Horta yacht art photo album, and here is the latest photos from The North Atlantic, including Azores. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bermuda to Horta, Faial Island, Azores, Portugal

Twister arrived Faial this morning, Monday July 8 after a 20-day passage from Bermuda. As expected it was a slow one. I sailed around 1850 miles and had several sub-100 mile days. Latest photos from North Atlantic here.

Thursday 20/06-2013
Departed St. George’s Harbor, Bermuda Tuesday 18/06, 1645 UTC ca ½ hour after Mark and Maria on Mare Liberum. We had decided to race to Horta, the loser(s) having to buy the
Mare Liberum on the way to Azores
winner(s) a beer. Mare Liberum is an Albin Vega 27 (27 feet) like Paul’s Rebellion, though a few years older. When we were a few miles out of the channel into St. George’s Harbor, Atlantic Explorer, the kickass, recently refurbished research vessel from Bermuda Biological Station, was coming back from its latest research cruise.
     In the ca 10 knot southerly breeze I decided to put up the asymmetrical spinnaker (A-sail) to close the gap (actually, the real reason I put it up was so I could close the gap and then have Mark or Maria take some photos of Twister sailing--something that's difficult to do sailing solo). Anyway, it did the trick and once Mark pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to pass them in their lee (because I kept ending up in their wind shadow and then lost speed) I left them in my wake (after we had snapped some photos). By sundown I had maybe a 2 mile lead. I dropped the A-sail (I rarely fly it at night because if the wind kicks up, getting it down can be like wrestling an angry Honey Badger). By morning, we were still about 2 miles apart. We stayed within eye shot the rest of day 2, but by the next morning, I couldn’t see them (though I did hear them on the VHF radio).
     So far, lovely sailing in light southerly breeze. Averaging just over 100 miles  per day. Hope this keeps up.

Saturday 22/06-2013
35° 26’.2 N 059° 16’.4 W (325 miles from Bermuda). Ghosting along at 1-2 knots. The ocean looks like a mill pond (but bigger and bluer). I was just contemplating a swim when I saw a pair of rather un-cetacean-like fins checking out my fishing lure and decided to wait (I think it was actually the dorsal and tail fin of one shark)

Tuesday 25/06-2013
Found The Gulf Stream again this AM. With a 2 knots boost, Twister is going 7.2 knots in a light NW breeze (though way off the desired course). Yesterday the wind came back after spending the previous two nights drifting (backwards due counter-current) with the sails down (no wind, so to minimize damage from flogging sails and to maximize my sanity as the sound of slatting sails drives me mad). The conventional wisdom on this passage is to head north from Bermuda until the latitude of Azores is reached, then turn right and follow the direct course. This is because the area between Bermuda and Azores is right where the North Atlantic High (pressure) likes to sit in the summer, and there’s usually no wind in the middle of a high. So that’s what I’m trying to do now (ie head north to where the wind is). I guess I got something big on the fishing line yesterday as the steel leader parted and whatever it was disappeared with my lure.

Wednesday 26/06-2013
Had a nice swim today. Twister gliding along at 2 knots. No problem keeping up (but I did have a line dragging behind the boat just in case). It seems we are no longer in the Sargasso Sea. I’ve only seen isolated clumps of Sargassum here and there, and the wind-vane autopilot has not been interfered with. However, I have seen more garbage on this passage than I have on any other (no big piles, just isolated bits—parts of Styrofoam cups, drinking straw, plastic wrappers, polyethylene bottles, fluorescent light tube, a flip-flop (sandal), various un-ID's bits,
North Atlantic garbage patch
and I’m pretty sure I saw a cigarette butt.). I guess that’s from being near the center of the North Atlantic Gyre where stuff floating on the surface accumulates. Also lots of Portuguese Men-Of-War.

Thursday 27/06-2013
Second dolphin visit of the passage today (first one was yesterday evening). Lying in my bunk, reading, ca 2 hours before sundown I heard the now familiar squeak-squeak which in dolphin means, “come out and play.” So I sat on the bow for a while as 10-15 Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (I think—they were spotted anyway) cavorted around Twister. By that time, some actual wind had arrived, and Twister was galloping along at 6.5 knots, so I couldn’t (safely) join them in the water. 

29/06-2013. 1030 UTC
Just over halfway. Lovely conditions. Now ca 10 knots of wind on the beam. Going 6+ knots on the right course. Just finished Bertrand Russell's History Of Western Philosophy. Came across a good quote from Jeremy Bentham: "Wars and storms are best to read of, but peace and calms are better to endure."

1530 UTC
Becalmed again. Saw 5 turtles today as well as 4-5 pods of dolphins, hundreds of jellyfish, petrels, and un-ID's shiny little things. Tried to go swimming with a turtle, but they are shy. Picked up a fishing-net float. It had quite an eco-system growing on it--crabs, barnacles, many things I couldn't ID--so I put it back.  

Sun 30/06-2013. 0900 UTC
Becalmed all night. Slept very well with the sails down. 

Wed 03/07-2013. 0900 UTC
I think I have conquered my fear of the A-sail. Yesterday ran all day with it (first with the mainsail, then just A-sail poled out as wind veered from SW to WSW) without problems (in the past, it has often ended with my swearing never to use that sail again). Horny the wind vane was able to steer. Averaged around 5 knots in the 8-10 knots breeze. Strangely enough, Radio Australia is the station coming in best on the SSB (shortwave). Almost exactly the opposite side of the earth. 

06/07-2013. 1834 UTC
Two days ago when it was blowing a solid 30 knots on the beam and pissing down rain (due to a small low and associated front) I had (again) abandoned all thoughts of taking Twister around Cape Horn (some day). This afternoon it's sunny with 15 knots on the quarter and I'm already having second thoughts about my second thoughts. 

Sun 07/07-2013. Ca 12 miles from Faial
A turtle, multiple dolphin pods, and a sperm whale (first one I've seen) were the welcoming committee to The Azores. Close-reached the last ~20 miles to Faial with my new friend the A-Sail then spent the night becalmed a couple of miles off the coast. 

Sperm Whale
Finished The Koran. Surprisingly, most of the stories are from The Torah (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Josef, Egypt, Moses, and The Exodus) but in very abridged form and then repeated ad nauseum. Also a couple prophets and New Testament--Jonah (and the whale/fish), Jesus (virgin birth is corroborated, but Jesus is not divine). My favorite passage from the Koran:  
"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents...At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years..."  Chapter 46 (Al-ahqaf) verse 15.  

Tues 09/07-2013. Horta, Faial
The Azores are near or on the route for most eastbound trans-North-Atlantic crossings, so the majority of sailboats stop here (it was Joshua Slocum's first stop after departing North America. Have I mentioned that Joshua Slocum was a badass?). Horta in Faial is the best harbor in The Azores and most don't go anywhere else. I've read that somewhere around 1000 sailboats stop here every year (and most do so in the summer months). Of course not all have crossed the Atlantic. Many come from various places in Europe. It has long been a tradition for the crews to paint a mural/calling card to commemorate their stop in The Azores, so now almost every square foot of concrete around the marina is covered in these. Fortunately for me, a boat named Twister has already been here, saving me the work (by coincidence, that mural is very close to where Twister is tied up (rafted to a Hans Christian 43, a lovely double-ender with a big bowsprit).