Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From Flores to Faial . June 2014.


Dear Friends,

The passage to Faial was rather un eventful, cold however, and demanding as far as hand steering was concerned. We left Flores late morning, to arrive 24 hours later in Faial.

We had a close encounter with a large whale, swimming in the opposite direction… beautiful, but kind of scary at the same time.

In Faial we anchored in the busy protected port of Horta, and officially cleared in, customs, immigration etc etc. We are now in Europe.

Here contacted the Raymarine representative/tec guy, and he confirmed my darkest expectation: the built in computer of the auto pilot: bust, kaput end of story. Immediately I ordered a new one, only to be picked up and installed in Lisbon. This meant another 900 Nm hand steering.

We explored the island (rented a car) for a day: pretty, but cold and mist…and wind…

A lot of wind actually, even gusting through the anchorage… And at one evening, when returning back to SV Onda Boa, we noticed several people on board, engines running etc… What happened was that somebody had anchored ontop of our anchor chain, and with the gusts of wind his boat started dragging anchor and also our anchor… Anyway quiet an ordeal, because the guy went with his dinghy to Onda Boa, he climbed on board, found my secondary anchor (Fortress with plenty of line) and he wanted to place the second anchor. During the gust wind and wave action, he must have miscalculated and, so the story goes, his dinghy flipped over, and fell in the water smashing his head on the anchor: hospital and stitches… The guys on the Onda Boa, when we arrived ,were French sailors from another Catamaran, and so they knew what they were doing (lucky us). Anyway, we had to find a new anchoring place, but pitch dark, crowded anchorage and stiff gusts of wind, made us decide to move to the opposite side of the harbor and tie up on the big old concrete wall.

I couldn’t locate the unlucky sailor, but I trust he recovered well. We checked out, and left for the 900 nm to Lisbon.

Cold strong winds where awaiting us… long hours on the steering wheel.. and thanks to Steve Jobs/Apple for creating the iPod….



Stay Calm


Monday, October 13, 2014

BVI’s to the Azores, The North Atlantic crossing May/June 2014


Dear Friends,

It is not an easy task to describe this passage, such a mixture of emotions, impressions, insights…

It took us 22 days to arrive on the island Flores and experienced in total three days of calm, no wind whatsoever. We had lots of dolphins, and closer by the Azores some awesome sightings of whales, even a meeting with a Dutch sailboat (SV Tulip, from Sneek).

The crew worked great together, the routine of 3 hour shifts (myself, Giovanni and Pedro) worked out excellent (3 hours on duty, 6 hours of sleep and relax). Dora was responsible for the food, organization and intake discipline.. (Chocolate, and coffee..).

Pedro and Giovanni made a great effort in keeping our log book up to date, and in digital form. After a couple of days indeed the routine set in, and personally it felt as if we had entered in to another dimension… SV Onda Boa was sailing inside a bubble, this bubble was our universe, and Onda Boa our truly and only Life Support System.

Pedro has made a great blog of our crossing (http://decaronapeloatlantico.blogspot.com.br/p/blog-page_28.html) and includes our log book (for those of you interested). He also is responsible for the most fantastic pictures (and short movies).

Some comments about the weather:

Usually in early spring the so called Azores High pressure system establishes itself and makes the winds coming from the Eastern quadrant, and following a semi circle passing Bermuda at some 350 nm in theory it is normally an easy ride… of course my friends, not this time. Instead of the Azores High, we were mainly experiencing a stubborn Low pressure system, disrupting the steady winds. At one time we tried to outsmart this low pressure system, but in hind side, with our type of sailboat (or I guess any type of cruising sailboats, going on average 4-5 knots, you cannot outsail a weather system, as you are not able to sail fast enough). Anyway, so we there were days of more wind (and waves) and some days with no wind, but on average things have been fine.

Some highlights:

· StandUP paddle board maiden voyage, somewhere in the Atlantic during our first windless day

· Dora’s birthday, and the crew efforts to make it an unforgettable moment

· Not catching any fish (except a barracuda near the BVI, which we promptly returned to the seas)

· Launching of two bottles with a message

· The daily competition: who predicts the last 24 hrs distance (price: chocolate)

· The discussions, the jokes and the use of the Beast… (the signature 138m2 Genaker sail).

· The haircut, new style Onda Boa look…

· The absolute absence of noise, most notably during our second becalmed day..

· The daily email exchange with Gabriel of SV Rodeo, who still was in ST Maarten and our weather man…

· 4 days before arriving in Flores: the autopilot gave up… Old style hand steering… pick your star at night…

Then having Flores on the horizon, and in the meantime… the nights had become cold. For some it was a relieve to see land, for others (me)… more mixed feelings.

The day after we arrived, Pedro had to leave and flew from Flores, via Lisbon back to Brazil.

A day was spend in cleaning, repairing, re stocking some items, and of we went for the island of Faial. With Pedro gone, Giovanni and I had to find an acceptable shift schedule, as we still needed to handsteer….






Ps: Most pictures: by Pedro (Also check his blog:http://decaronapeloatlantico.blogspot.com.br/p/blog-page_28.html)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

St Maarten. Again. May 2014


Dear friends,

We had a lot of things on our to do list. Repairs and maintenance. Lots of trips to Budget Marine and Island Water world. We also met Carlos and Sandra of SV Namaste, Gabriel and Monika of SV Rodeo, Rita and Rubens of SV Doris, Ria and George of SV See You, Marco and Isabel of SV Vento Macio and so a great group of people. Happy hours, tec support, dining at the best Moroccan restaurant on the Island, more tec support and more happy hours. …

We had decided not the get the boat out of the water (paint was still ok), and the rudder shaft bearings I could easily do with the boat in the water (so I thought…).

This project alone was supported by our new friends and with a lot of hard work, managed to change the said bearings.. only to find out a couple of hours later that the alu pipe surrounding the shaft had become swiss cheese and so the whole engine compartment was full of water…. Big shocker of course and we had to take Onda Boa out of the water (again). We did this on the French side (PolyPat) just after the bridge. And since the boat was on the dry, we did decide to clean and apply a new layers of antifouling paint. As time was running, I decided to go for the McGyver solution… and Tony from the UK, master in fibre glass applications, made a fibre glass structure around the alu pipe all above the water line, so that problem was solved. Of course one thing led to another (in a nut shell, had to purchase and replace: a new Vetus raw water filter (the old one broke when I tried to re install all the hoses etc), two new iron elbows for the exhaust at both engines, now I got the originals from Volvo ($$$$) and we ended up sanding and applying two coats of a great brand of antifouling.

As usual, a boat on the dry is always a stressful situation, but we managed. Boat back in the water, 5 days later. We were able to get the boat clean again, as the marina yard is just sand and dust, and with the tropical St Maarten breeze, you can imagine how things looked after 5 days on the hard. We had the Onda Boa cleaned (inside and out), just to have all our work destroyed in a couple of minutes… another boat was lifted out of the water and on the dry, just next to the dock where the Onda Boa was happy back in the water. The keen workers blasted away with their power wash machine to clean the bottom of this boat, and so the wind put a big part of the black antifoul paint back onto the nice and clean and White Onda Boa… Needless to say we were rather P..ed off, and had to start all over again. All in all, it was not such a good experience to be in this ship yard (dusty/dirty and still pricy)…

Anyway, we were back in the water, and a big thanks to Gabriel of SV Rodeo, for all his support (electrical issues mainly). Then we needed to concentrate on prepping the boat for the crossing. In the meantime, it was decided to add Pedro on our crew list (he was all of a sudden without a boat to go across and so it was an easy fit).

It took at least three days to get all the stuff on board. Planning on max 30 days, with 4 people, how much do you need of everything? This task was mainly figured out by Dora. Not only what to buy, but also where to store it all once on board? Finally, we were ready to go…. A farewall dinner at a local Moroccan restaurant with Carlos and Sandra from SV Namaste and Gabriel and Monika from SV Rodeo. The next day we sailed (back) to Tortola, BVI.. to pick up the genoa sail and also our last search for the mystery SUP paddle board….


St Maarten, French Side Marigot                   View of Marigot Bay



Happy hour, the boys                                  Birthday of Gabriel, on board



Alu tube turned into Swiss cheese                 The glitter, glamorous Caribbean life



  Haul out once again                                     Some deserved R&R



A little grocery shopping….                              …Plenty of storage room ?



The true heroins, Monika, Dora, Sandra             Farewell guys and thanks….

All the best