Saturday, 18 August 2007

Santa Maria cont'd....





Where was I...? Ah, yes, the excrement making contact with the fan.
Just the usual, really, when one dares to spend a few days in a less than totally protected anchorage - unforecast windshift to the one vulnerable direction. We were expecting a cold front to pass over, bring a bit of rain and then for things to settle down for a couple of days. Still, I had an ill-defined feeling of dread keeping me awake that night, which was fully justified when the wind shifted with some force to the northeast and started building the seas that would soon be rolling into our beautiful bay and giving us a good shaking.
We lay there awake the rest of the night, hoping things would settle down and thinking of the rocks nearby, onto which the wind was doing its best to force us. With the coming of the dawn, it was clear we really couldn't hold on and must evacuate.
Rather foolishly, we had left the dinghy trailing in the water and full of snorkeling gear, etc., so that had to be emptied out and put away under rigorously bouncing conditions. By this point, the depth alarm was going off as the tide receded and the waves built, so we first upped anchor and moved out to give a more comfortable margin.
The dinghy was a hassle, but we got it all stowed away without any drama and commenced preparations for departure.
All night, I had been wondering why the anchor chain was making such a din and had put it down to the rough conditions. It was, however, due to the fact that the chain hook had parted company with the snubber. Perhaps some lucky snorkeler will find it there in the bay...
Our initial thought, after clearing the bay, was to head straight for P. Delgada, but the seas were a mess, after the wind shift, and then the eyebolt that I had fitted to Nanette's quadrant (for attaching the control lines) snapped. I clung on grimly to the after deck while making an emergency repair and was soon projectile-seasick. That settled it. We freed off downwind and made for Vila do Porto, hoping to find refuge.
Vila do Porto, remember, is open only to the southeast and the winds had been west through noreast for a good few days. Nevertheless, a large southerly swell was emanating from somewhere between here and Antarctica and was pounding into the harbour mouth and bouncing all over the place inside. Still, it was at least possible to anchor safely inside, if not comfortably. We couldn't even be bothered to relaunch the dinghy under those conditions and passed the remainder of the day sleeping and reading and watching the dramatic arrival of another yacht (Danish-flagged). They first tried one wall, then the other, then a couple of spots with the anchor before they finally settled next to us.
Two of them, Ken and Tobias, joined us for drinks later in the evening. Ken and his wife are on a megatrip from Denmark to New Zealand and take various crew along for various bits (they've space for 8 aboard).
We couldn't leave without having a look at the island's interior, so we dinghied ashore the next morning and walked/hitched across to the beautiful village of Maia, where we bathed in the thrilling (good wave action) sea pool (see photo). The islanders were friendly and the beauty of the place amply compensated us for our anchorage woes.
A look at the forecast suggested that night would be the best time for the passage back to P. Delgada, so off we went, pulling out just before sunset. An astonishingly fine night's sail followed with fair winds speeding us over slight seas. In fact, we arrived quite a bit earlier than intended, which meant a 2-hour wait tied up to the odious fuel dock, before the marina office opened. The approach to P. Delgada was enlivened by the presence of quite a variety of shipping, including a Chillian Corvette (I had a laugh listening to them call up the harbour, only to be told to wait as the pilot was 'busy'), a container ship, a ferry, a square-rigged sailing vessel, tugboats and pilot vessels!
Now making preparations for our departure for Scotland on Thursday. Drop us a line, people! You know what we've been up to, so what about you? We'll write back, promise...

7 comments:

Karen said...

Hey,

Read some of your adventures. Too much to catch up on, it was too long since I'd read it. Still sounds cool though. I hope you realise how lucky you are being able to do this! Like I said in my e-mail earlier today: look forward to seeing you back in Edinburgh soon.

Martin

Gordon said...

Hi you two. You are certainly getting a lot of great experiences and of course increasing your sailing knowledge and skills.I don't think that I could have coped with the rough passages at least for the time being.The islands are quite stunning and the natives being friendly makes it a rather nice place to visit.See you soon.

Dad...

sailfettler said...

We definitely do appreciate our good fortune in being out here. To get this chance to live the life we love and be so happy and have this many adventures... a rare privilege.

Marc said...

Let's see...projectile vomiting while fighting for your life, followed in the evening by drinks on a still vigorously-bobbing sea. Am I missing something?

Nice pictures, though!

Wish we could go to Edinburgh this winter, but it's going to be impossible. Maybe next year.

sailfettler said...

What? Not your idea of a good time?

Marc said...

No need to stop now. Let's have some pics of your arrival and first days back at the flat. What are your plans?

Daniel said...

Hope the journey went well. All is fine in Saltburn. Extension pretty much finished save for a few bits and pices, lots of sorting out of our own stuff until we can really feel the benefit. No wild excitement otherwise. Been off for two weeks to try to help get the house sorted. The kids are well, putting the charm on the builders.

What are your plans once you get to Scotland? We might havre a livable guest room by October-ish should you be out and about the UK then.