Atlantic Crossing

Heading Offshore Again

Hello everyone! We left Terceira, Azores on June 12, 2019 and our next port will be Porto, Portugal. 

By becoming a Patron you can follow our path in real-time and message us directly to the boat while we are cruising. 

While we are crossing the Atlantic to the Mainland, we will be writing many blog posts so they will resume once we have internet access again and can upload them.  

See you then! 

Weather Window

Tge hope is that we can shove off from the Azores in the first week back. This way we have a lot of time to sail to Porto. I know that the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar, and that Cruising was supposed to be the end of our scheduled lives; but two years into the voyage and we are planning on being in Porto near an airport before July 9th, so we can fly to Venice on July 9th. The longer we wait to leave Terceira, the less time we have available to us. This means that we need to leave and fast!

Transatlantic: Day 26 [Day 47]

Yesterday, we saw land for the first time in 25 days. Then we kept on sailing and never stopped. Our destination lays a few hundred miles further east.


As you can see, we chose to enter the south side of the island because the winds looked like they might start coming form the South. Yes, having a lee shore is not fun, but at the same time, fighting a wind shadow and then trying to short tack in a narrow straight is not fun either.


Over night, we had our best and fastest run ever! We averaged 6 knots and were doing over 8 knots for most of the night. This is wonderful because we were expecting to fly our light air sails that we had made for the Azores High. Instead, we were flying our regular sails with a reef in them. We were a bit overpowered and normally would have reefed down, but we needed to make all the miles we could while we had the wind. The next day was supposed to be very light winds and we wanted to make it to port before it got dark so we wouldn’t have to wait another night hove to outside of the harbor while we wait for dawn.


In the morning, we saw a sleeping sperm whale at the surface. The whale looked like a large flat log, only apparent when it exhales and creates a giant cloud of mist.


The distinct blow from a whale is easy to spot out on the distance which gave away their position in the times of whaling. Sperm whales were hunted with efficient strategies and hand launched harpoons from tiny boats all around these islands for hundreds of years.


As we rounded the SW point of Faial, a pod of dolphins came out to greet us. This was a very magical moment and as tired as I was, I could not help myself but stare at them as they swarmed around our sailboat.


It almost felt surreal. The first island we passed, Corvo, has no civilization on the northern shore, so to us it just looked like an island with fields partitioned with hydrangeas. Faial on the other hand is a settled island with many cities that were established hundreds of years ago. Seeing the very European architecture from the water felt like being transported back to another time.


The highest point in Portugal, Pico, is visible just to the left of the leech of our jib. That massive volcano reaches up from the bottom of the ocean, some 4000 feet beneath the surface and then stretches up several thousand feet into the air. If you took away the water, Pico would be an epic mountain!


The sounthern shore of Faial is so quaint looking. There are fields and buildings, all with a similar architecture; terracotta roofs with white walls, all set on the hillside.


As we neared the harbor, we were presented with a massive volcanic creation that helps shield the harbor from the ocean waves.


After being isolated from civilization for so long, this is now what we get to gaze upon. This quaint little town. We never got this kind of a welcome in the United States. When you enter a harbor, the waters edge is lined with factories, or ugly boxy buildings. There is no style, no form, and certainly no aesthetic value put into the shorelines of the American ports. The towns do not display their beauty towards the water. American towns are pretty (some of them) once you are walking around them, but from the water, they look boring and plain.

This town showcases the style of buildings you can expect to find in the inter-lands of the island. More importantly, this town was designed to be approached from the sea and therefore the buildings are set to face the arriving boats. You can tell that the goal here was to make the town pleasant to greet arriving ships and their passengers.


After almost a year at anchor, mooring, or sea, we are now tied up to a cement quay. We have traveled a long ways and we feel like we have accomplished a great feat, but every other boat in this harbor has also crossed an ocean to get here! This is a port filled with true bluewater cruisers.

Transatlantic: Day 25 [Day 46]

Aug 1st, 2018. We have now entered the Azores, and with great speed too! Our average speed for this 24 hour run was a whopping 5.5 knots.


At dawn the horizon was still empty, but I knew land would be visible soon. We decided to sail close to Corvo because we wanted to see some land before we made our way into the archipelago.


While the horizon might look like more water, there is a give-away written in the clouds! All clouds move, but clouds over an island will tend to be stationary.

While staring ahead, I noticed that the clouds just above and to the left of the gate never seemed to move. All the clouds were moving from right to left over the horizon, but those clouds were stationary. LAND!


We kept sailing in that direction and soon I could see the faint outline of the cliff sides of Corvo rising up out of the water!


A while later, we were several miles closer to the island and the outline of the landmass seems more pronounced on the horizon.


The original plan was to sail between Corvo and Flores as we entered the Azores, but I was worried about wind shifts from the cape effect as we passed through the narrow straight between the two islands. I was also concerned with the current that might exist in there as the tidal waters moved from East to West. According to the tide tables, it was supposed to be high tide, so we might be approaching the pass at peak ebb tide and be pushed back unnecessarily!

Instead of risking it, we simply put Corvo on our starboard bow and continued to make our way towards it.


We passed the island on the North side and stayed close enough to appreciate the beautiful sight of land but far enough to keep safe from the dangerous shores that we saw before us.


Passing the island on the North side while sailing on starboard tack means that we were not going to have a lee shore, but we would have to negotiate with the islands wind shadow. The wind shadow of an island can extend for miles, as it is roughly 8 times the length of the objects height. On a massively tall island like this, the wind shadow could easily extend for miles out to sea. Thankfully, the island is small so the wind shadow would be short lived as we drift across the waters while being pushed by the current.


As we neared, we were graced by the presence of something we hadn’t seen in a while: birds.


This guy looks like a brown albatross from a distance, though I am not a bird watcher by any measure. It was merely massive, huge, glided around without flapping its wings, and had a beak that resembles that of an albatross. Most importantly, this bird has land behind him!


We have now entered the Azores and were close to our next port.


We passed rather close to Corvo and once clear of the wind shadow, made our way towards Faial. Horta is located on the SE side of the island, but the winds were acting kind of fluky, so I decided it would be best to head straight there in as short a distance as possible. If we could get close to the island, we could then day sail our way into port without any major distances to cover. If we hedge our bets on what the winds will do, we might find ourselves far off with the wrong winds and no motoring ability to correct the mistake.


Seeing land after 25 days is magical. The horizon used to always be empty, and all of a sudden, there it is, the missing vision we have been searching for!

Horta, Azores

Our first landfall in the Azores was Horta, Faial, Azores. This tiny harbor is actually the 4th busiest marina in the world! 

We passed through after peak season and were amazed at how packed the place still was. Yachts tie up to the piers rafted up to 4 deep, but luckily we were only 2 deep when we first arrived, and shortly thereafter, we were the ones up alongside the pier.   

The pier is a massive concrete sea wall which is murder on your hull, so be sure you have plenty of really strong fenders. We deployed our rope fenders and were safely protected from the rough concrete, but a few air fenders did pop on other yachts while we were there. 


An important point to ponder when you tie up is that your mooring warps will not only need to support your yacht, but the weight of three additional yachts that are tied up to you. As yachts come and go, a dockline shuffle will take place where the yacht up at the sea wall wil leave and all the other yachts will move around it to let it slip out. 

While we were there, mini-transat yachts arrived from mainland Europe and were going to be leaving in a few days for the start of their race. 


If you are concerned about costs, it is worth tying up because they charge you to anchor at a similar rate as tying up. The holding is less than ideal, so you might as well tie up and have the convenience.


After we tied up, Maddie and I went for a hike up into the mountains around the town, and at one point, we had this great view of the marina.