My last report ended with our decision to leave Horta a day earlier than first planned, because of bad weather and worse forecasts with more than enough wind.
We left on the evening of Saturday May 20th.
We sailed quietly across an almost flat sea, just the low hum of the engines barely audible, towards Ponto Delgada on São Miguel, the largest of the Azorean islands. This gave the crew members off watch a chance to sleep.
Not surprisingly it was Joost who had something to report. During his watch he heard a loud bang under the boat, followed by a Krrrrrrrrrrr sound which he thought came from the propellors.
Neither Peter or I had heard anything, nor was the boat behaving strangely, so we decided to wait until we were safely in Ponto Delgada, where we could don our diving gear and have a look around under water.
Peter Wieringa, head of the Technical department at No Limit Ships, had promised to personally deliver the new alternator we needed.
He caught the night bus to Brussels, from where he flew to Ponto Delgada. He hoped to cross to Vigo with us; this seemed like a fine idea to us too. Nice to have an extra crew member aboard too.
While waiting for him to arrive we looked around Ponto Delgada. The tall appartment buildings, reminding us of Zandvoort on the Dutch coast, hide the old streets behind them. Everything here is geared towards the arrival of the big Ryanair and Disney cruise ships.
Peter arrived at about four and had seen Four Seasons in the harbour as he came in to land; the airport is more or less next door.
To celebrate we took him to Mercado de Peix, one of the better fish restaurants here, where we ordered shark, swordfish, parrot fish and tuna. I enjoyed my tuna greatly, though not everyone was as enthusiastic.
Next day we got to work, Peter B and Joost B set off to stock up on enough food for the five-day crossing to Vigo.
Peter W. and I set to work to replace the alternator. It would be more correct to say that he set to work and I watched.
Next the oil level tube was repaired as this had broken and diesel had leaked into the bilges. A float switch was replaced in the forward bathroom shower drain. We then took it in turns to dive under the ship with diving gear on. We checked the propellors, rudders and hull though found nothing alarming. not even rope or anything else around the propellor shafts.
In the meantime a heavily laden Peter and Joost had returned from their foraging. They had walked uphill for half an hour before finding a supermarket.
I’m not only the cook but also the mule, he complained.
To cheer him up we went out to dinner again, though first we filled up with 2500 litres of diesel then announced our departure to Customs, Police and the Harbour master.
The Immigration officials were not there and we didn’t wait. Their absence wasn’t unusual and our departure would be reported to them.
After our last supper ashore for the next few days we cast off at about nine in the evening and set a course for Vigo, on the West coast of Northern Spain.
We knew that the forecast was not very bright. The wind was expected to blow from the North at 5 Beafort. Waves and current were going to be against us too.
As long as we stayed in the Southern lee of the island things were quiet but as we turned the corner and headed North East along the East coast we really knew that we were at sea.
The bow climbed high up the approaching waves, then slammed back down into the following trough. Impressive to behold but not good for fuel consumption.
The master bedroom in the peak turned into a chamber of horrors. Trying to sleep there meant regular moments of weightlessness, followed by a hard landing, not necessarily where you took off from.
The rear cabins where Peter B and Joost B sleep are a bit better. Peter W sleeps in the galley. He complains gently about an uncomfortable sea, I don’t envy him.
By the time we get home there will only be a few bumps and scratches to be seen. Especially as I have moved my bed to the bench in the wheelhouse. Not very wide, but still a lot more comfortable.
We’re are still trying to get used to the change in the weather. Gone is the sun, the clear blue sea and the pleasant temperature. Now it is cold (15 degrees Celcius) and grey. Everything is grey, the sky is grey, the sea is grey, the boat is grey. The only colour comes from the red liferaft and the orange dinghy. We’ll hang on to that, figuratively of course.
Dear reader, this is how things are aboard right now. We have to press on, the wind is going to freshen and though we look a bit haggard we are up to it.
In a couple of days I will let you know that we have arrived safely in Vigo.
Edzard B, Captain