Archive for Videos

Madeira to the Azores part II

Posted in Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores with tags , on July 13, 2011 by maidofmettle

Day 5: Tuesday 28th June

Maid had been going pretty fast at the end of that evening, and that continued into the night. I reefed the mainsail down to it’s smallest possible size at about 0145 as the motion was a bit uncomfortable and there were some threatening looking clouds around, but she was still doing at least 4 knots (the maximum one can expect for a boat her size is 6), and picking up speed again within a few hours.

Reefing the mainsail is actually very easy when sailing at an angle close to where the wind is coming from, as you can continue on the same course and just let the sail out a little so it flaps and lets you work on it. I’d been quite apprehensive about it the first time I did it in strong wind on the way to Madeira, but it proved much quicker and easier than I expected.

Sailing away from the wind is generally easier, but when you need to reef you really need to turn the boat towards it to let the sail flap, which is usually a rather hair-raising and wet experience compared to what you’ve got used to!

However, going up on the deck at the front of the boat to take a jib down is likely to be a similar experience. I was considering this an hour or so later, as our speed picked up to around 5 knots.. I’m normally fairly cautious about reefing early, but in this case I was concerned that it wouldn’t leave enough sail up to steady the boat in the largish waves, which had happened once on the way to Madeira.

By 0615 we were doing 6 knots – wheee! With the course change away from the wind this actually felt pretty comfortable – though the waves were a fair size they weren’t breaking and Maid was sailing along them rather than crashing into them. Lying in bed feels like I’d imagine a magic carpet ride to be like – being continuously wafted up and down.

One of the less commonly mentioned advantages of sailing single-handed is that you usually get to see the sun rise – whereas on a watch system if you’ve been up for a few hours at some other point in the night you’re probably asleep. Today’s dawn was especially beautiful.

Conditions were fairly similar for the rest of the day – making very good speed, with the wind varying so sometimes we were heading east of Santa Maria (not a problem, easy to turn left) and sometimes looking like we might miss it to the east. It was still quite a way off to think to much about that though, though we did get down to 200nm to go by mid-afternoon.

This video has no speech – just shows the motion of the boat under way for anyone interested.

I did finally take the inner jib down at around midnight – with the wind having got quite gusty Horace was having trouble keeping Maid from turning up towards the wind, which tended to make her plunge into waves rather than riding along them. I actually stayed surprisingly dry.

Day 6: Wednesday 29th June

The wind and waves had reduced slightly by the morning, but the direction had changed a little more so Maid’s course was looking increasingly good to make it to Santa Maria, which I was deciding was probably an attractive proposition.

We even managed to keep the sunset on the left side this evening – usually the wind had shifted around dusk making Maid want to follow it westward rather than north-west towards our destination.

I was certainly hoping it would be the final night at sea now we were so close, but I was actually feeling a lot less tired and better overall than at the start of the trip.

Day 7: Thursday 30th June

The wind dropped somewhat overnight, but Maid was still sailing fairly fast though her motion got a bit awkward at times. And increasing sail is usually much less urgent than reducing it..

The island did get bigger – this is looking roughly at the centre of it and the largest hills. I passed a couple of sailing boats heading the other way and wondered where they might be headed. When sailing when I was younger we used to play a little game of suggesting where boats might be sailing to if it looked like they weren’t heading for any of the nearby destinations. I was reminded of that now though the nearby destination for them would have been my last stop of Madeira, now nearly 300 miles away! Straight on to the Canaries or even further south could have been possible though.
There was also a huge school of very energetic dolphins in the distance at one point, but while they were fun to watch through binoculars for a while they sadly never came any closer. I had got to see a couple of turtles on the trip though, which is always quite cool.

As you can see the weather was rather nice and it was a beautiful day of sailing. The conditions had in fact improved dramatically, and I was gradually increasing sail throughout the day, but I was still planning on stopping, just for different reasons this time!

One exciting thing about the island I didn’t mention on the video was that it’s very small, and the harbour was right at one end backed by relatively low ground, so hopefully I’d be able to sail right up to it.

This turned out to be quite fortunate.

While in Funchal the thought had occurred that possibly the problem with the pin in the outboard bracket shifting might be very likely to occur when sailing hard on the starboard tack for any length of time. Several days would certainly count! It was on the list of jobs to do, but while I ticked off a lot of them I never managed to come up with a preventative measure to implement for this.

So sure enough, when I looked over the stern I had the same problem of not being able to lower the outboard down. Well, I thought, at least the conditions are much nicer now, and I know how I fixed it last time. However, this time it was rather more obstinate.

Still, having wasted a while battling it I decided to give up and sail into the shelter of the outer harbour, and just use the outboard cautiously while fully raised. This is possible, but only feasible in flat water where you don’t need to use much power and the cooling water intake and propellor. aren’t going to keep lifting out of the water.

It was handy that I had a vast choice of berths, so mooring up with the assistance of a couple on one of the other boats was no trouble. This picture of the harbour is from a walk the next day.

The main first impression was that it was very quiet indeed – almost like the feeling of coming out of a nightclub. The noise of the boat under sail and the waves can’t be anywhere near that loud, and had even been relatively quiet during the day, but the difference was very noticeable.

It was also exciting to be somewhere new – both my previous trips had been returning to places we’d already visited. So while I’d really enjoyed the second stints in Las Palmas and Madeira, arriving in the Azores had a different feel to it. I hadn’t got here nearly as early as I’d hoped to, but I would still have a fair chance to visit a few places before heading back to England. Santa Maria might be small, but it certainly looked well worth exploring.

Madeira to the Azores part I

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean, Unfortunate events with tags , , , , on July 9, 2011 by maidofmettle

Day 1: Thursday 23rd June

This didn’t quite work out. I’d been thinking it might make sense to go this morning, but when I was about to set my alarm the previous night I realised I couldn’t find my phone anywhere, which led to several hours of searching the boat and significant frustration. I’d planned on a final walk if I didn’t go, but decided I’d better try the police station instead, only to find it was shut for a public holiday – so that day was largely wasted alternatively looking in the boat and trying to forget about it.

There was at least a good distraction that afternoon – though I was further annoyed by the billboard I’d seen getting the start time of the Festa de Sao Joao (Festival of St John) wrong – it looked as though the flower-flinging action was already over:

Still, a lot of people leaving seemed to be heading in the same directions, and the celebrations in some of the eastern quarters of the city definitely weren’t over..

There were lots of narrow streets lit up and lined with tables, and bands playing around every corner (if you stood at some corners the effect was indeed quite strange).

So the evening was good at least, and there was always the next morning to try the police station and maybe leave later the next day.

However, at one point when I woke up in the night I heard a rather strange noise. I’d thought the absence of ‘low-battery’ wurblings was proof my phone wasn’t on the boat, but it seemed it had just had a bit more in reserve than I’d thought. Either that or there was an upset Teletubby somewhere in the boat.

The other annoying feature of flashing its screen on and off all the time was quite helpful in finding the phone – pity I’d forgotten that the previous evening! So, I had another look at the forecast to see if I should set an early-morning alarm, and reluctantly decided I should.

Day 1: Friday 24th June

Just before dawn on Friday I wasn’t exactly feeling energetic. The forecast looked about ok to go now, and if I didn’t it would probably be at least a week before the next good opportunity, so that made up my mind really. After the frustration of the last couple of days I was quite keen to get going, and make sure I had some time to see the Azores before sailing for England.

I actually left a bit later than I’d really have wanted to just because of tiredness, but I did still manage to leave reasonably promptly. I wanted to go as this would give the best conditions for motoring east in the shelter of the island to gain ground to windward and avoid the problems I’d had arriving downwind of Madeira.

I made it past the Ponta de Garajau, with it’s large Christ on a very high cliff.

Shortly after that, I decided that the plan really wasn’t going to work at all.. From motoring smoothly over swell at four knots Maid was now plunging up and down into fair-sized waves with a headwind, probably doing 1-2 knots on average.

So, I turned and headed south instead. I only put one jib up, but that was enough sail to do four knots again!

Of course, the downside was that I was actually sailing south, whereas the Azores are north-west… I didn’t sound too upset about it though –

It was nice just to be sailing, and as I noted it may have been the quickest way to find wind near Funchal, which is very sheltered by the big hills in the centre of the island. Plan B was to sail in a loop, keeping Madeira on my right-hand side and far enough away to avoid the wind shadow before eventually turning north up towards the Azores. So, crisis averted, for a good few hours at least, and the sun came out as well.

Unfortunately, later on the wind started dropping…

It was feeling very like the approach to Madeira all over again, but it seemed like it must be just a lull in the wind, as I was well clear of the island. It didn’t really feel like it though – I could still see it, and the wind was doing some very bizarre things that evening and night – changing in both strength and direction.

Day 2: Saturday 25th June

Early the next morning things continued much the same..

The wind did indeed die again a couple of hours after that, but after an hour or so of going nowhere a northerly wind replaced it. This didn’t really let me sail towards the Azores, but made enough sense with the forecasts and pressure charts I had for me to trust it would probably last, and shift more easterly with time and progress westwards, which would let me gradually turn in the direction I wanted to go. This was a big relief, as I was feeling very worn out.

Day 3: Sunday 26th June

On Sunday morning the wind gradually dropped, until the left-over waves started feeling rather unpleasant. I can’t help feeling that being sick over the side when the boat isn’t really moving isn’t ideal timing, though at least I recovered in 10 minutes or so.

Fortunately the calm spell didn’t last much longer, and the wind went back to being nice and steady and light again, giving me a chance to rest and relax, and also take a bit of a break from recording videos till the afternoon.

Day 4: Monday 27th June

Monday also started well, making good progress – – and a fine sunrise too.

It turned into a beautiful day, very nice for spending a while outside in the shade of the sails

and watching Horace do his stuff.

By this time I was definitely feeling recovered from the tiredness at the start and enjoying the trip, though unfortunately the favourable conditions didn’t last, with another spell of light wind.

There’s a very fine line – just a couple of knots of wind, and in this case an hour or so – between serene progress and very little progress: .

This time the calm spell lasted rather longer – four hours or so – but with the much calmer sea state it was far less distressing than near Madeira. It was also a good time to have a shower in the cockpit while there was sunshine but no wind chill! And that, of course, is even more effective than whistling..

By dinner-time we’d reached the milestone of 300nm distance to Santa Maria, the nearest of the Azores, which was a nice target to tick off though I hadn’t decided if that would actually be my destination yet – that would be left till later. Much like the continuation of this post (cue manical laughter).

Gran Canaria to not Madeira to not the Azores to Madeira: part 2

Posted in Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean, Unfortunate events with tags , on June 16, 2011 by maidofmettle

Day 6: Tuesday 31/05

As some people (okay, maybe one person 😛 ) have been grumbling about, we left the story with Maid hurtling quite fast but uncomfortably towards Madeira. You could see the island, but it still felt quite a way away. Getting into port is rather harder than sailing in open water as just where you’re going becomes rather more important.

The direction the wind was coming from was limiting where I could actually aim for – or whether I was actually heading somewhere beyond the western end of it. Making Funchal looked unlikely, but I was hopeful I could make the marina at Calheta, further west.

This didn’t quite work out. I got to about 20 miles away, and the wind dropped. This wasn’t all that surprising given how high the island is and the warnings in the pilot book, but the sea state was not what I’d imagined. The waves weren’t big, but very steep, and seemed to be coming from two different directions.

It was a long way to contemplate motoring, especially in that sea state, so given the difficulty approaching Madeira was presenting I decided to have a hard look at the weather forecast and see how good an option continuing on straight to one of the Azores would be. It looked reasonable leaving now, whereas going into Madeira would probably involve staying there for a week at least once I finally managed to get in, so I decided to go for it.

Some time later I’d made it a bit further west, and the wind resumed fairly strongly, seeming like I’d made it would of the wind shadow. I headed west for the Azores, reefed most of the mainsail just leaving a little up to reduce rolling, and set about making sure the jib sheets and the blocks they were led through wouldn’t make too much noise as the boat rolled. Down below I was very pleased by how little rattling there was in the galley after my work in Las Palmas.

Then the wind dropped again, and this time the motion was far worse, enough to occasionally dip the ends of the boat into the water.

I nearly just took the sails down several times, but each time I started on it the wind would get up briefly..and then die again.

The sunset was very lovely, but it also emphasised just how beautiful Maid would have looked in that setting if the sails had actually been filling.. It was some consolation though, and a bit of a distraction from deciding what to do.

I decided to give Chris a call on the satellite phone, as this would probably be a much easier way of getting a better forecast than downloading one myself using the phone. He reckoned that there might actually be generally fitful wind, but picking up again, so it was hopefully that rather than the wind shadow I was having problems with. Less encouragingly, it looked as though I’d probably get to just south of the Azores to be greeted by strong northerly winds which would make the final part of the passage very hard work indeed. So it looked like we were back to struggling to get to Madeira.

Hopefully that wind would pick back up again.

Surprisingly, about half an hour later it did. Quite a lot – from not achieving anything with full sail I was reducing sail quickly, and we were going quite fast with only 1 (of 2) jib up and the mainsail fully reefed. I headed back east to start with, as that would make it easier to get to either Funchal or Calheta. Then the wind dropped down again, but putting the 2nd jib back up.

However, what I actually wanted was sleep rather than progress. I decided to head away from the island, gradually making ground to the east, mainly making sure I didn’t lose the wind.

However, getting further out the waves got bigger and the motion worse, and I decided I was better off heading in again and trying to tack back and forth within the vague corridor where there still seemed to be wind without the waves being too large. I was pretty tired by this time, besides exasperated. Actually, both of these had been true since lunchtime.

In hindsight, it seems rather odd that I never suffered a hint of seasickness during this time – I’d taken some biodramina the previous day when we were roaring along, but I didn’t seem to feel any need of it now.

I think I slept straight through my alarm a couple of times (slightly worrying, but the AIS should have warned of big ships approaching) towards the end of the night, and definitely had a few nightmares about the wind dropping and leaving me in the same horrible crashing-around situation again.

Unfortunately after the third of these it turned out to actually be happening…

I decided to get what more sleep I could before dawn and then go for it with the engine.

Day 7: Wednesday 01/06

Early on there was a bit of a shock of some inexplicable westerly wind, enabling me to sail straight towards Funchal, and a rather spectacular dawn. As one would expect, neither of these states lasted.

So, I decided I’d have to give the outboard a go, disregarding the risk of it dipping too far into the water. After all, it ought to be better once I got it going and we were moving – any speed improves things significantly.

I pulled the ratchet back on the outboard bracket and pushed the engine down into the working position.

Or rather, I pulled the ratchet back and pushed down on the engine.

One of the pins in the bracket mechanism had come out of one side at some point during the trip, rendering it immobile. The engine definitely couldn’t be used fully up, as the propeller would have been out of the water quite a lot of the time, and getting cooling water might have been an issue. I had to lean over the stern and get the pin back in.

Trying to just wiggle it clearly wasn’t going to achieve anything – it wouldn’t move at all. I rigged a block and tackle to the solar panel arch to take the weight of the outboard off the bracket, but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. It wasn’t out by much, but with the pin seemingly immobile this wasn’t a great comfort.

By now I was having fleeting thoughts about options if I couldn’t get it sorted out aside. None of them were at all appealing, so I thrust them aside and carried on with trying to fix it.

I tried shifting the weight of the engine around, and using a hammer to try and shift the pin even slightly, but with no success. I was getting rather frustrated at this point to say the least.

Now this had happened before – I knew Chris had fixed it at least once, so I decided (after something of an internal battle) to give him another call to check if there was anything I was overlooking. Unfortunately there wasn’t – he’d succeeded by partially lifting the engine and wiggling the pin. Still, I think just talking it over briefly helped a lot even without really gaining any information.

I tried again, but the same methods definitely weren’t working still. Next I moved the furled cockpit cover out of the way so I could stick my head right out the back and shine a torch down to get a closer look. It looked like it was in the right place vertically, but needed to be moved further back.

Happily I thought I knew just the wedge-shaped piece of hardwood that might achieve that. And even better, when I was stowing everything away in Las Palmas I’d backtracked on my original plan to keep a lot of my useful bits of wood store underneath the dinghy and put my gofio and honey rum stash back there with the wood relatively accessible in a sliding box behind the toilet.

The piece in question, with one of the bars that hold the toolboxes in place as an extra spacer, did indeed look about right. So I hammered that down, trying the pin every so often, until eventually it worked!

Then of course it took another 5 minutes to get the wedges back out again. After all that the worry over getting it going and getting moving without drenching it seemed relatively minor, so off we went.

Once I’d closed the coast the motoring wasn’t actually too bad – I could do some reading and attempting to refresh my Portuguese, and it was nice and warm, though the island itself was covered in cloud.

I decided it was worth heading to Funchal rather than Caleta -although it would be another couple of hours it would probably be a much nicer place to stay, and it seemed I could be there a while – as well as the forecast not looking too promising I’d also noticed Horace had a bit of a problem when I disengaged him before trying to start the engine. There wasn’t much remaining of the plastic cylinder (black thing in foreground, the damaged part is beyond the handle) which fits into different circles to select whether he’s in neutral or various gears… I was suddenly rather glad I wasn’t carrying on to the Azores..

Funchal also had a Yamaha dealer in case the outboard did come a bit too close to the water and I wanted to have it checked over.

And I got to see some impressive scenery on the way, such as the dramatic valley mouth at Ribeira Brava:

and open fishing boats from the village of Camara de Lobos working near the huge cliffs of Cabo Girao:

This meant increased concentration as they usually had a net strung between them and some kind of makeshift float – it ended up being easiest to go offshore of neearly all of them, although it was a little extra distance.

Funchal harbour wall becoming visible was even more welcome though.

Though on closer approach, it was rather strange seeing the harbour without any cruise ships in it – very empty, almost eerie. There were also a couple of dredgers removing mud and rocks from the river mouths either side of the marina.

When I couldn’t get any answer on the radio I was briefly wondering if the marina was temporarily closed, or closed to visitors, while the works were going on or something. I nosed up to by the dredger very close to the marina entrance, and it looked like there was still space to get in, but I was very glad to see a man in the customs office on the end of the wall looking welcoming. I circled around again to get all the fenders and ropes I might need ready, and then headed in.

Unfortunately the man had gone somewhere else by this time (it takes a while on your own, especially when you’re making ready to tie up on either side because you don’t know where you’re going. There was what was clearly a visitors pontoon by the entrance, but the wind was blowing me sideways away from it, making it a tricky approach. I managed to spend what felt like at least 5 minutes going backwards and forwards next to it without really getting any closer till he reappeared and helped me tie up.

I was very happy to see Hampus and Lotta’s ‘Ingeborg’ moored up a little way inside – they’d left Las Palmas a few weeks before me and spent some time at Graciosa and then here, but I’d forgotten they might be here still – while I was completing the formalities with the customs man and repeatedly having to correct Spanish into Portuguese they came back and helped me pull the boat along from the visitors berth to alongside the wall.

It was good it was high tide, as there wasn’t a ladder where I was… Tying a short boat up to a wall when the tide moves it up and down by a couple of metres is also a challenge, and you definitely get some ‘surge’ caused by waves working there way in. Happily I managed to persuade the marina staff to give me a different spot when they re-opened the office after lunch, and Hampus and a Frenchman I didn’t know helped me move Maid to her new pontoon berth.

Hampus and I did speculate that it might be the spot they give people who complain, given that it’s right opposite and broadside on (meaning any little waves coming in would make her roll irritatingly to the entrance), and with only about 100 yards between it and the dredger, which started work early in the morning. Somehow I didn’t think that would bother me the next day at least though…

I fancied stretching my legs and an easy dinner, so I went and looked for the bolo de caco man’s traditional bread stall, but didn’t find it (Chris will be relieved to know I realised a couple of days later that I’d just stopped 50 yds short), so decided to open a tin of some kind of casserole I wasn’t sure I’d like the look of as rough weather food (generally saving the tinned complete meals for that) instead.

Time to relax, and look around and admire the beauty of Funchal. And then go to sleep, without setting any alarms.

Gran Canaria to Madeira part 1

Posted in Cooking, Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean with tags , , on June 14, 2011 by maidofmettle

Day 1: Thursday 26/05

In the end leaving Las Palmas proved surprisingly easy. I’d actually considered going on Wednesday evening. The forecast suggested that would give me the best chance of getting north enough to catch the edge of a low pressure system and moderate fair winds up to Madeira, which is very unusual. However, I was feeling fairly tired, and it looked as though the wind might die overnight – I didn’t fancy spending the first night rocking around going nowhere still near land and shipping.

But on Thursday morning it still looked pretty good. After all the time deciding not to go – and if debates about when to leave can seem like they take an excruciatingly long time when there’s three of you, when there’s just one the freedom to second-guess yourself sometimes means they actually do – deciding to go was very simple indeed.

My goodbye committee made sure that I cast off:

I stopped briefly on the reception pontoon to give my keys back to the office and then headed out. The wind was a bit less strong than it had been earlier in the morning and gave excellent conditions for sailing once I’d motored clear of the port to get away from ships.

The wind held nicely until I’d got clear of La Isleta, the very north-eastern tip of Gran Canaria which protrudes from the end of Las Palmas, and then went very light and swung round to behind. I was just about to change all the sails round to see if I could make some use of it when I spotted a turtle swimming along behind.

It looked like it was gaining….

Until I think Maid got rather offended and splashed a bit, scaring it into diving. And handily at this point, the wind swung round another 90 degrees and became a nice light westerly breeze, so I was very glad it had distracted me and saved a fair bit of work.

With things settled down nicely it was time for dinner – pasta, mushrooms, courgette and olives with a sauce made from cream cheese, milk and parsley.

And a shower. Some things at least are actually simpler when you’re sailing on your own!

In light conditions, sleeping could possibly even be included in that. It was so calm I didn’t need to bother using the leecloth, and with very little traffic around, Horace steering and the AIS keeping an eye out for big ships I didn’t have much trouble taking 30-60 minute naps between having a look around.

Day 2: Friday 27/05

The second day was lovely – steady wind from the same side, and still reasonably fast but gentle progress. Lots of time for relaxing as well as keeping an eye on the boat and looking out for ships. Dinner was rather nice too.

Day 3: Saturday 28/05

The third day started similarly, but with the wind getting slightly lighter again. The morning was interrupted by a loud wailing (I wired the AIS ship monitoring device up to the burglar alarm) signalling some company, which came past fairly close on one side, but clearly not coming too near.

There were very light spells though: . The boat’s movement in the periods of little wind was a bit unpleasant at times though – I was sick once, though the feeling went away very fast after that, and luckily we were moving fast enough that Maid wasn’t left sloshing around in it!

Otherwise it was another nice day – very slow progress off and on, but still comfortable, and nice weather. It did get a bit hard to keep track of time – the main reason for putting the dates and days in this entry was to make sure I didn’t get too confused.

Day 4: Sunday 29/05

Today brought even more visitors. First some dolphins arrived – probably the nicest conditions I’ve ever seen them in (they usually like plunging in and out of big waves), but they still seemed to have a good time playing under the bow.

It was quite late before getting round to making breakfast after spending a while watching the dolphins, so I decided to have something a bit more substantial as a change from cereal, and improvised some very Canarian banana-and-gofio cakes.

The recipe is very simple indeed – just mix 2 very ripe bananas and 1/2 cup of gofio together and work till you get a very soft dough, then form into flat discs and fry. That probably serves a couple of people – I ended up saving two of them for later.

The wind was rather fitful though – but it was calm enough I could be quite philosophical about it:

It was often tricky to decide which way to sail, with neither tack making much ground to the north. Sailing westish would make some progress towards the Azores but possibly make it harder work, and quite likely make it harder to call at Madeira. Sailing eastish would make the trip to either longer but probably easier in the long term, but in the short-term the forecast suggested it might lead into even less wind. I tried to strike a balance…

The second arrival, who I’m fairly certain was a red-rumped swallow, was a nice distraction.

It was good to have someone around to judge my little steering competition with Horace (the hydrovane self-steering gear):

Though he didn’t actually seem to be paying that much attention, and at times didn’t seem that responsible – careful with those claws on that tube, we don’t want petrol everywhere do we? As a bird I’d think you’d know that petrochemical spills are undesirable.

Then again, maybe he wasn’t that clever. Most stowaways would realise that sitting on the captain’s head while he’s eating dinner would generally be looked on as insubordination, if not actually defined as mutiny. He was very uninterested in offerings of fresh water and food as well, though I admit I was a bit short on insects.

He got named Cheepcheep, as that was all he ever say, whether meaning ‘hello’, ‘okay, I’ll sit on your shoulder instead, though doing the washing up isn’t that piratical you know’, or ‘I’m going to top myself if you don’t get somewhere soon’. Unfortunately that last translation was only worked out with the benefit of hindsight.

The conditions were still pleasant that night, except for the slight worry that Cheepcheep might come and sit on my face while I was getting some sleep, but the wind’s direction kept changing inconveniently, meaning we weren’t making very much progress overall. The dot on the screen is my GPS position at the time and the line my past track.

When I went to bed I’d been heading NNE, towards the top right of the screen. Unfortunately, this had changed rather significantly within the hour or half hour, curving off to the right, which wasn’t really where I wanted to go. The big change in angle is then me tacking, to sail with the wind on the either side so I was heading vaguely north again.

Day 5: Monday 30/05

That happened several times in the course of that night. Not great fun..

Sadly it did prove too much for Cheepcheep. Glad he wasn’t an albatross, though the wind did definitely pick up after the funeral.

After the peace and quiet of the first few days, and a night without much sleep, it came as a bit of a shock, though on other days I’d definitely have said it was beautiful sailing.

Happily I did start to feel slightly differently: .

We were certainly making good progress, and it was a beautiful day as well. It was a slightly tricky decision to make on whether to keep heading for Madeira or not. It would have given the boat a much easier motion to turn away from the wind a bit more and head for the Azores, but would have made the trip quite a few days longer, and made it fairly impossible to change my mind and shorten the trip by calling at Madeira.

I wanted to keep that option open as long as I could in case the forecast started to suggest getting to the Azores would be a problem, so I decided it was worth carrying on for now.

Getting some rest was definitely becoming a theme in videos recorded that day: .

I’m not sure that last bit is something I’d normally say. It was certainly a bit optimistic.

To be continued..

(shortly I hope, videos are all processed and just need slotting in).


Good news, and the gig for Gambian schools

Posted in Cancer, Fitting out and maintenance, Fun, Malignant melanoma, Music, Photographs, Skin cancer with tags , on May 15, 2011 by maidofmettle

Oops. I wasn’t meaning to build any suspense about the last scan I had, I’d just forgotten about it with the excitement of the gig etc.

I’d wondered if everyone else had forgotten about it on the day itself, because the whole floor of the hospital my appointment was on seemed to be deserted. I found the department I was meant to be going to, but the doors were shut and it was dark.

Fortunately a nurse was passing a few minutes later and ushered me though the neighbouring door marked ’emergencies only’, behind which lurked another whole maze of corridors and the Hidden Waiting Room. I’d put some photos in here to break up the text but I wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed to reveal its existence.

The scan itself was fairly straightforward. Apparently my internal organs are all the normal size etc – I guess this is a backup check to the sentinel lymph node biopsy to be very sure that the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else.

I have a final discharge note now so everything is sorted here on the hospital front, I just need to have regular check-ups with a dermatologist in the future, at least for a year or two. I’ll have to find one in the Azores, and then another when I’m back in the UK.

Speaking of long-running sagas, I have finally got my a working hotplate again and restored pumped water to the boat.

Having the hotplate fixed involved going to two different service centres, as the shop I bought it from sent me to the wrong one the first time, and unfortunately went over the Easter weekend, causing further delay. At least going to the place that did try and fix it (I think they replaced it in the end) gave an opportunity for a nice detour through the Parque Doramas.

When Jon and I visited the fountains had largely been turned off, but they seem to be working again now.

The issue with the water pump was solved surprisingly simply. The pump still hadn’t exploded, and I thought I’d better check out any other issues before taking it to pieces.

The new water filter seemed another prime suspect, and proved very definitely guilty. I can only presume that the little water that made it through was very clean indeed..

Happily the shop was very happy to accept a return in part-exchange for a different make of filter. That works fine, so now I’ve been putting vinegar solution in both tanks and rinsing them through in the hope that the water will taste reasonable.

Now, on to more exciting matters.. The Saturday after the scan was a fairly relaxing day until it was time to go and set up for the gig, although the horizon to the north was looking ominously dark, especially knowing there was a big low pressure system somewhere north-west of here.

Still, we got everything set up fine at one end of the canvas awning outside the Sailor Bar, and the soundcheck sounded good.

You can guess what happened next, can’t you?

We’d planned to open with Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, but it was flung wide open before we began, releasing a deluge. Within a few minutes water was coming through the fabric above our heads, and we had to clear all the electrical equipment away again. While this probably made quite a spectacle, we all seem to have been too busy to photograph it.

We debated playing some songs unplugged, but it would have been hard to hear over the rain so we decided it was best to postpone and hope it was better the next day.

Sunday did dawn beautifully, and unusually remained clear all afternoon as well. It was a short trip to move all the gear from where Janice had let us keep it on Ladycat, moored near the bar.

There had been quite a few people there the previous night, but this time all the tables outside were packed. It was handy that this time we could move back to outside the cover of the awning, though the arrangements for the loudspeakers got a little more unconventional.

Paul had to fiddle with the settings a bit more this time round but it didn’t take too long to get everything sounding good again.

We even managed a relaxing drink before getting going without attracting a downpour…

..and so off we went. The stage wasn’t usually quite this crowded, but the bar stayed very full, though the wind probably carried the sound a long way down the seafront!

After the first set we had a break while Neil (who’d come along to the last couple of rehearsals) played Jailhouse Rock and accompanied the owner of the bar singing Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay to great applause.

It was particularly impressive since Pepe had a cigarette in one hand and the lyrics in the other- possibly fortunate they didn’t catch fire half way through!

Dangerous Dave kindly acted as cameraman for the night as well as being a part-time roadie.  Here’s a clip of Sloop John B, with it’s famous harmonica duet introduction.

The final count showed we’d raised over 16o Euros, which I’m told will fund about 2/3 of the cost of a primary school in the Gambia. Support for primary schools there can make a huge difference to people’s lives as only secondary schools are state-funded, and kids need to have primary schooling to take advantage of it.

And we had a very good time as well.

Besides that, and with the intensive rehearsals period out of the way, I’ve been doing a lot of other stuff on the boat, but having finally got the stage of putting all the tools away I need to get the hot melt glue gun back out to fix the memory card of my camera. So that will have to wait, since it would be exceedingly dull without any pictures.

I’ve been able to pinch some off other people from last weekend, when a group of us went on an outing to a Chinese restaurant on Las Canteras beach.

The setting is very nice and 6.50 Euros for all you can eat with an excellent selection of food, including dessert, is very good indeed, contributing to a lovely evening.

Bodyboarding Las Palmas

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Surfing with tags , on December 4, 2010 by maidofmettle

Below is a video of our bodyboarding escapades.  We’ve had fun trying to get the hang of it but have some way to go…

Bolo do Caco Recipe and some fish

Posted in Cooking, Fun, Photographs, Wildlife with tags , on November 14, 2010 by maidofmettle

Also, I promised to publish the long awaited bolo do caco bread recipe which after some honing is finally here…

Bolo do Caco (basic recipe  without potato)

Boat Bolo and a proud cook

250g flour

7g yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1tsp sugar

Add all of above together.

Gradually add up to 150ml water until you get a good dough consistency.

Knead for 10 minutes (yes, actually 10 minutes…this is the workout bit for you so don’t cheat)

Flour a frying pan then flatten dough into it.

Add a little flour to top of dough.

Leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Heat on a low heat for around 10 minutes each side until it looks golden.

Remove from pan and leave to cool or eat straight away with garlic butter for that authentic Madeiran taste…
In other news

Tenerife has lots of lovely fish swimming about near the beaches.  Below is a video Chris took whilst we went snorkelling a little while back.

Video Diary – Faro to Porto Santo – Part Dois

Posted in Fun, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean with tags , on October 19, 2010 by maidofmettle

Here’s the second part of our video diary that takes us to Porto Santo

Video Diary – Faro to Porto Santo

Posted in Fun, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean with tags , on October 15, 2010 by maidofmettle

Chris has been working on our video diary from the big trip across from Faro to Porto Santo.  What follows is footage of the first three days of the trip.  The rest will follow soon.  Enjoy…..