Friday, 6 June 2008


We’re ready to go. The rigging was finished a couple of days ago. Just as well that we decided to replace it since one of the old deck fittings, beefy though they looked, crumbled in Thomas’s hands when he pressed on it after we pulled it out. The mainsail is back on as are the dodgers, the lines, the anchor and the solar panel. Engine-wise, the water pump has been serviced, gear and sump oil changed. Sonja has provisioned for the trip and the little hammocks are bulging with fresh fruit and veg.

Tomorrow we’ll wrap up the last bits and pieces and then take the boat out of the harbour so we can scrub the hull beneath the waterline. Sunday is looking good for departure.

My week here before Sonja arrived was full of boat work, but the social scene was pretty lively too. My days took on a strange pattern of waking early, working all day and then being sucked into some drinking session or other until late. Not bad. Last Friday, for instance, I was finishing my day’s work by scrubbing the chain, rode and anchor that had spent the winter on the harbour bed, holding us off the pontoon. Pretty foul. I was nearly done, when I noticed the chap who had helped out with the marina dinghy when I needed to get the anchor up. He was on a nearby boat, so I took him and his friend over a couple of beers by way of thanks. These were gratefully received and I went back to work. Soon though, I heard a cry of “Hey! Stop working!” and they invited me aboard for a beer. Several hours later, I staggered back to Fettler, clutching a parting gift of a large lump of swordfish, which I cooked up for a very late supper (and lunch the next day).

The weather has been beautiful, not too hot, not too cold. We’ve hung out with some of the friends we made here last year and met some other sailors as well. An interesting junk-rigged ketch pulled in from St. Martin (in the Caribbean), the day after Sonja arrived. Mike, the affable septuagenarian solo sailor, duly invited us aboard for six o’clock G&Ts that evening. Sonja slipped away at about 0130, while I lasted a further three hours. It was a lethal night for that bottle of gin.

The very next morning, at 0900, one of our Azorean friends, João (bloody brilliant guy), arrived to take us on a little tour of the island. We stopped at a remote spring that produced the most fantastic sparkling water, before having a lunch of small fried mackerel by the sea and looking for the elusive priolo, the Azorean bullfinch. This is Europe’s rarest bird, with only 200 breeding pairs remaining, and we managed to spot about 10 of them in the mountain reserve where they live.

João also made us a present of some freshly picked coffee berries from his garden – we were instructed to soak them in water, remove the outer shells and then dry the beans in the sun for a few days. This coffee will be processed across the north Atlantic and should be ready for roasting when we reach Edinburgh.

This evening we’re off to dinner on another friend’s boat (Ricardo). Delightful folk.

It’s quite hard to tear ourselves away from this beautiful island and our good friends here, but we will definitely be back!

1 comment:

Karen said...

hi guys,
don't know if you will read this before departing...
Have a great trip, stay safe, and we look forward to hearing from you when you are near enough to the Irish coast!!!
martin & karen x
PS Don't forget the green tea ;-)