Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heading to the Highlands

We are leaving for Scotland and the Caledonian Canal. If we have all our bits together we'll head out at nightfall to catch the favorable current north, and if not we'll have to wait until tomorrow midday. In either case we're on schedule.

Our time in Ireland has been wonderful and the wedding was simply lovely. We're still marveling that we made it in time! In fact, Karl was able to just make it to the wedding too after sailing to Belfast (I had gone ahead by train). We made wonderful new friends here and look forward to visiting again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sophia Says "Hello, Ireland!"

Leg 6: Azores to Ireland
Departing: Lajes, Flores, The Azores
Arriving: Crosshaven, Cork Harbour, Ireland
Distance: 1206 nautical miles
Dates: 11 July 2010 – 21 July 2010
# of Days: 9.5 days
Crew: Rachel, Karl, Phil, Jeffrey, and Daniel

She Just Needed to Stretch Her Legs...
We're beginning to think Sophia only needed a little stretching of her legs to show us how fast she can really be. We had another great and faster-than-expected crossing from Flores in the Azores to Cork, Ireland. 1206 miles (rhumb line) in 9.5 days. We plan on 100 miles per day and then added a few days more for this leg for storms.

Our Thanks, Once Again, to Poseidon
Alas the weather was once again with us. Each leg we start out with a toast to the God of the Sea, Poseidon, and give him a couple of drams of our finest. He seems to like expensive Bermudan Rum. One doesn't get thrifty with the Sea God. We had a series of fronts pass over that kept the wind consistent (usually somewhere between 15 and 25 knots), but no real storms to speak of. We feel quite fortunate as we heard several boats had difficult crossing a week prior because a steady march of storms. We watched the weather faxes we receive on our SSB radio from Boston and Northwood, UK like hawks, but the lows either went north of us or never developed into storms. That said, the fronts did bring wind, rain, and colder weather. I think it is safe to say that Karl has taken his last ocean shower on this leg (where he dumps a bucket of sea water over himself). And he finally started wearing socks and shoes!

The Ocean Comes Alive
This leg was marked too by consistent visits from the local sea life! We saw many Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, a Cachalot (or Sperm) Whale, and several Pilot Whales. We even had 2 dolphins right alongside Sophia (so close their exuberant splashes got the cockpit all wet!) as we approached the entrance to Cork Harbour early this morning.

A Turn Around Fastnet
We went by Fastnet Rock yesterday evening on the south end of Ireland. This rock is famous for the Fastnet Race and, in particular, the tragic race in 1979 when several boat and lives were lost (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_Fastnet_race). On this eve it was calm with a gentle rolling swell crashing on the rock. It is an impressive site nonetheless! And it marked our successful crossing of the Atlantic. It is still boggling to think about how far we have come.

Arrival in Crosshaven, Cork Harbour
From Fastnet Rock we still had about 60 miles to go to tuck into the safety of Cork Harbour, so we pushed onward following the coastline all night. At dawn we came to the entrance of the Harbour as the sun rose alighting the green hills of Ireland. So here I sit now, in an Irish Pub (Cronnin's) in the village of Crosshaven, having just finished a pint of Murphy's. We will push off north into the Irish Sea to Belfast. I will head out early (by land) in order to make it to Naomi and David's wedding at Belfast Castle on the 25th, and Sophia and crew will pick me up there. It's hard to believe that we made it here on time for me to make the wedding! There's a sailor's saying that you can choose the place or you can choose the time, but you can't choose both...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We have arrived in the Azores!

We had another fast crossing, taking 15 days to cross over 1800 miles from Bermuda to the Azores. We are on Flores Island. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Dramatic cliffs rising 1000 feet from the ocean, lush green rolling hills atop the cliffs, red-tile roofed houses nestled in little villages. We arrived yesterday (July 5, 2010) and already remiss to leave. The food is amazing! Fresh from the island, complete with cheeses, wine, and fresh bread.

We will re-provision here and await meeting up with Jeffrey who flew into another island in the Azores yesterday. In fact, Jeffrey, if you're reading this, email me :-)

The crossing was very enjoyable. Perfect winds, gentle seas, and sunny days. We saw many dolphins, Cachalot (or Sperm) Whales, turtles, and many other residents of the sea. We also came across a Pheonecian replica gaff-rigged boat that was also on their way to the Azores from the Ascension Islands. When we saw them they had been at sea for 72 days!

Photos to come (forgot my cord on the boat).