Archive for November, 2011

The internet is very very strange. Or rather, it is used by strange people.

Posted in Fun on November 11, 2011 by maidofmettle

Getting there on Part II of the way back, but it’s going to be a little while. In the meantime, we have something completely different.

As well as providing the basic tools to make a very easy-to-write blog (well, once Caroline had set it all up anyway), WordPress provide various features that I generally don’t really use.

One of these is the option to look at what terms people who’ve found the blog via search engines like google or yahoo had typed in.

After reading them, I think that the puzzledometer Sarah made me at university needs recalibrating slightly. Something like this…


kittens. Surely that’s a bit nonspecific?

going through the mistiness and less poetic, but even more general, windy and raining, windy in cloud and frosty morning. No-one seems to have found the blog looking for nice weather.. Which is remarkable, given the prevailing climate for most of the trip.

fuerteventura girl. What, the Fuerteventura girl? Actually, I can’t remember being introduced, and I’m sure I would..


3 hits from soda machine ballast well, I guess it could work, especially with a remote control. Good for cleaning bilges too.

diving and guinness. Doesn’t sound a good idea.

don’t look down at the mud. Why not?

tenerife +the pirate and the nun 1) in which monastery does the nun ‘sleep’ today – they seem to have had something very specific in mind, but I have no idea whatsoever as to what it might be


homemade madeira wine (twice). Now that sounds like a project!

cocoa crater erupted (twice). Mmmm. Pyroclastic flow here I come!

bolo do pico (twice)- assuming Pico refers to the island in the Azores there may be more exciting posts about bread to come.

– mount teides shadow longest uninterrupted in the world – that does sound possible.


– 2 hits from mouse being eaten by terrapin. I guess that also sounds possible, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind. Ugh.

i feel my waist is aching travelling towards my legs there’s a discharge like cheese. Um. On the off-chance typing this attracts you back again, I’d go and see a doctor, whether that’s a description of physical symptoms or random rambling.


– 1 hit from definition arjee bargie. And argee bargee. And arjee bhajee (that one sounds like it might be tasty). Well, I guess Caroline did provide a few, but I don’t think they’re the originals.. Bit confused that they kept coming back..

madeira scary. That cake can be vicious. Though I think they probably meant the steep drops alongside the levadas..

horrible hilly hundreds ?

how to handle maid quit impromptu I’ve

generally worried about me/us, not Maid. Can’t help you I’m afraid..

seasick maid. Similarly, she’s the only one that’s never suffered.

– on that note, all the variations on biodramina. I think Caroline may be the internet authority. She and Chris probably share that title for bolo do caco too.

queen christmas dinner. Maybe next year.

sailing euphemisms. Unless she hears some of those anyway.

– 1 hit from one step forward two steps back. Not something I or we tend to intentionally look for. Unlike..

– 2 hits from huge roast dinner, 1 for roast dinner, 1 for carvery, 1 for huge carvery, 1 for roast dinner, carvery, 1 for huge carvery dinner

– Carvery and roast good, pizza variable: 1 for pizza hut buffet versus 1 for nasty pizza buffet


– 2 hits from throwing tin of beans. I guess it’s a step away from the gluttony entries.

– And 1 for tin of beans cakes. Probably a bit strange, but probably less dangerous and wasteful than throwing it.

– 1 for eating tin beans. Hurrah, someone with a normal relationship with tins of beans! Although hang on, what are they hoping to find by searching for that on the internet? If you’re looking for reassurance, yes, that is a common activity.

– 4 hits from tank hone. I may need to search for ‘tank hone’ now to see if I can find what they were looking

for. Not interested enough for it to qualify as intrigued though.

how much for bread in porto santo? How much were they planning on buying?

what is mt teide’s fuel (?) ? indeed..

Some of them I understood, but still look pretty funny in the context of the blog, or just generally. How about a little quiz?

What could rouse reign mean? (click here for answer)

and why on earth could hermione granger knitting bring our blog up? (click here for answer)

back to amused again

1 search for lovely confusion. I think that says it all really. Ah, recursion..

The Azores to England Part I

Posted in Cooking, Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean on November 4, 2011 by maidofmettle

normal service is resumed : )

Day 1: Wednesday 3rd August

It was a pleasant surprise to have a nice breeze leaving the sheltered eastern coast of Graciosa, and an even nicer one when the wind and waves didn’t increase significantly on getting clear of the island. In fact, my immediate reaction was ‘is this it?’ – though with a fair bit of excitement at starting the trip, with over 1000 miles to go.

Of course it helped that things were going well – sailing quickly and comfortably, and also with some desserts from a cafe in Vila da Praia to savour. I’ve forgotten what this is called, but it’s effectively a pastry containing a caramelised miniature rice pudding, and extremely tasty.

I was heading almost due north initially, following the advice of the pilot book and also hoping to follow the movement of favourable winds for a significant chunk of the way back towards England.

There was some initial excitement that night – I called an approaching ship up on the radio and was told they could see me were keeping well clear of me, but it didn’t look that way. The AIS showed them swerving suddenly to one side after I called them, and then back again after they’d passed, and 3-400m (confirmed on the AIS) didn’t feel like a long way off at all in the dark!

Day 2: Thursday 4th August

Maid was still sailing very well the next day, though the latest forecast suggested I might not be quite as lucky with the weather as I’d hoped.

Here’s another anonymous dessert (or two!) from Graciosa – this one a layered coconut confection.

The wind had been gradually increasing and by the middle of the night I’d taken one of the jibs down and reefed the mainsail to it’s smallest possible sail area. We were still making excellent progress northwards, though I was careful to make sure we stayed clear of a large underwater ridge extending north from Graciosa.

Day 3: Friday 5th August

The next day was similar, although the wind was forecast to get significantly lighter that evening and Saturday.

It did reduce during the day, but also swung round to come more from ahead rather than the side, and together with me putting more sail up again we kept moving nicely.

Day 4: Saturday 6th August

That lasted though the night, but not long after breakfast the wind pretty much died for half the day. I did have another visitor, though much less chatty than Cheepcheep, and more inclined to lurk in corners than perch on heads.

I definitely need the Passagemakers’ Bird Care handbook, as this one died as well..

The last time that had happened a strong headwind blew up not long afterwards. There was indeed a forecast of strong winds for the next day, but from a more favourable direction, and a nice light wind to get going again in the meantime. It was a bit shifty at first but I was glad to be able to get onto a settled course by the evening.

Then it changed again. It’s hard to convey the depth of the (ridiculous) indignation this can inspire when you think you’re just going to be popping out for the occasional look around overnight and then find you’re heading for Portugal.

Still, having tacked I was able to head in about the right direction….

Day 5: Sunday 7th August

…until very early the next morning. The situation eventually resolved itself with a dead calm. No concerns about sailing in the wrong direction now!

This is one of the things I was getting on with – cutting some plywood blanks to go over the fittings where the anchor chain passes down through the deck into the chain lockers below, and tying the chain on and lowering it right in before sealing it up.

Normally that’s not necessary, but a near gale was forecast which would probably mean that area of the deck getting quite wet, and draining water out of the chain lockers is a time-consuming and awkward job, definitely best avoided if possible.

After a while of pottering around doing jobs with all the sails down the wind eventually increased a little. I guessed wrong the first time about which side to pole out on of the largest jibs, but didn’t mind too much since we were moving again.

This continued steadily for a while, until quite a sudden increase in the evening. I got the large jib down and was rather impressed to see Maid was sailing at 2 knots with no sails up at all!

Unsurprisingly, putting a couple of smaller jibs up made for even better progress.

Day 6: Monday 8th August

There was a very odd sea state early the next morning. The waves weren’t at all big but breaking a lot – noisy and disconcerting, and making the boat roll quite jerkily. I tried altering course and setting a jib either side of the boat, but that didn’t improve matters at all.

It seemed a bit better by the morning – I think the waves had settled down a bit though of course daylight may have helped! Noises and motion are definitely more significant when you’re trying to sleep.

The wind was gradually decreasing, and by the evening I set the mainsail to get going a bit faster.

It gave a nice speed boost for a while, but later that evening the wind increased and it came down again. It seemed to be a pattern that the wind was stronger overnight – not particularly welcome!

Day 7: Tuesday 9th August

The next day broke the pattern though, with the wind increasing further and gusts reaching the forecast near gale strength. With the wind slightly from behind it wasn’t a problem though, and Maid was storming along doing around her theoretical maximum speed despite a lot of weed and barnacles on the bottom.

I was glad I wasn’t further west, where there was a lot more wind, and hoped to keep moving north-east to get closer to home and keep away from the stronger winds nearer the centre of the low.

There’s always a balance to strike between progress and preparedness though, and I took one of the jibs down late in the evening and turned more away from the wind for a quieter night.

Day 8: Wednesday 10th August

Things were still going well on Wednesday, gradually increasing sail a little as the wind dropped. The weather was not great though..

I decided it definitely wasn’t worth setting an alarm to keep looking round when I couldn’t see anything anyway, and it actually led to a very nice night’s sleep – a very pleasant novelty not to be regularly interrupted for once!

Day 9: Thursday 11th August

I might have been less at ease if it had been the next night, as I was clearly approaching a shipping route, and after ages without seeing any several appeared in the space of a few hours.

There definitely weren’t enough to interfere with cooking though…

All in all, it was a pretty good first week.