Monday 12 June 2017

Passage Log - Lajes, Flores to Horta, Faial 10-11/6/17

I was up at 0800 determined to make a reasonably early start on the short (about 130 nautical miles) passage to Horta. The forecast was for fresh north westerly winds dying to light and then calms over the following 24 hours and  so I wanted to get going as quickly as possible. Of course it didn't work out like that and I wasn't ready to leave until 1230. By this time I was concerned about how much motoring I would have to do and therefore decided a delay to by more fuel might be wise. There is no fuel pontoon and therefore a hike up the steep hill to the nearest garage with my Jerry cans was required. I took a wheelie bag to bring the full cans back down the hill in. It wasn't my day. I got to the garage to find it closed and that the self service facility did not like my debit card. Back down the hill with my empty cans I went, rather pissed off because not only did I have no fuel I had also wasted a couple of hours of precious wind.

Back at the boat I was finally ready to cast off at 1330 and Barry and Kath came over to give me a hand to get out of the slightly tight berth alongside Bengt (Wim and Elizabeth were out for the day and would be following along the next day). With Barry and Kath's help I got out without mishap. Outside the harbour there was a large swell running and quite a fresh wind. It took me about an hour to get all the fenders and warps stowed and the sails up. We were slightly over canvassed with a full main and Genoa but I knew the wind would moderate and so left things as they were. We had a few hours of good sailing but by the time I started my night time routine of alarms every hour at about 2200 the wind was getting fluky. By midnight we were virtually becalmed and so I started to motor at slow revs in order to conserve fuel. The main tank was almost full which in theory provide about 24 hours of motoring but I had never reduced it to a 1/4 full and didn't want to on this trip due to the risk of sucking up crap into the fuel system. Slow revs meant about 3 knots; flat out gives us just over 4! We had a bit of help from the wind now and then and a favourable current for periods which pushed us along at about 4 knots at best. I kept my fingers crossed that we would get some wind later.

We didn't, but the large swells from the north remained for the rest of the passage until we were sheltered by Faial right at the end of the trip. I found out later that there had been very severe weather further north that had hit the OSTAR fleet sinking at least one boat (it was actually scuttled by the considerate skipper) as he was rescued by the QE2.

We were overhauled during the night by the local tanker servicing the islands the Sao Jorge. She was entering Lajes as I was leaving.

I dipped the tank at 0600 - we had used 1/6th having started with an almost full tank. We carried on motoring (for the rest of the entire passage as it turned out) and at midday I dipped the tank again to discover we had only used a further 1/12th. I felt more relaxed at that, reasoning that we should have plenty of fuel to motor all the way if necessary.

The rest of the day continued in much the same vein with us pottering along over the large swells at 3.5 to 4.5 knots depending on the current and occasional puffs of wind. The swells caused a number of  casualties. At least three of the plastic sliders that attached the mainsail to the mast broke. The must have gone brittle thanks to prolonged exposure to UV and the constant slapping of the sail as the slight breeze was rolled out of it by the swell was enough to fracture them. I have a few spares but hope I can get more in Horta. Dolphins visited a couple of times but only briefly and on both occasions they had gone by the time I got the camera out.

Faial loomed out of the mist at around 1700 and at 1730 I threw caution to the winds (pun intended) and set the throttle to full revs. This was the longest continuous run the little Bukh had done on the entire Atlantic circuit and it did not miss a beat. Along with Angus it deserves a medal. I was glad I got round to changing the oil and engine anode whilst in Flores however.

By 2200 it was dark and we were crawling along the the south coast of Fail at less than 4 knots despite the extra warp drive engaged earlier which did for a while lift our speed to 5 knots. Before darkness fell I got a good view of Pico in the misty twilight.

Pico in the mist

We must have had a slight foul current to contend with. After a while a slight breeze blew off the land. Typical, because by then I had stowed all the sails. I couldn't be bothered to get the mainsail up again but did unfurl the Genoa which help a little.

We finally docked alongside the Reception pontoon at 2330 with the help of the night watchman and settled down for a few hours kip.

Passage completed.

The following morning I checked in and moved to a more permanent berth. I was allocated the same berth as in 2015!

Arctic Smoke - on the outside

One of the many impressive boat paintings

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