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...
Posted by Jim Brodie at 13:46