Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ain't that swell

Although we were fortunate in missing the high winds associated with Hurricane Katia, which passed about 600 miles to the north, we didn't escape the effects of the storm altogether. Sunday night, the peace of the Velas marina was shattered by the ingress of quite a phenomenal swell. It started quite suddenly at about 8 in the evening and by midnight it was really spectacular.
The basin where the fishing boats lie, just to the west, was even more exposed and they had it cleared out by 0200. Some of the boats moved into the yacht basin and the rest were lifted out by the crane, right then and there in the middle of the night. I saw the last one being lifted clear when I got up to add more warps and tighten the existing ones on Fettler.
Waves were sweeping right over the quayside and washing all the way around the marina, creating an astonishing surge. It looked like a river in spate. The pontoons were moving up and down by over a metre and every boat in there was jerking and straining first at their lines, then against the pontoon.
Now, the wind was out of the north and so were the seas so nobody expected that sort of action in the harbour. The waves must have been bouncing back off the neighbouring island of Pico, 12 miles to the south, and bending round Sao Jorge as well.
I was up a good part of the night, adjusting warps and chatting with other skippers in the same predicament. At 0330 an air raid siren sounded, which immediately had me wondering if it was a Tsunami warning or similar but we never found out what it was about - some land-based emergency presumably.
The swell continued through the night and most of the following day but Fettler came through unscathed. In all there seemed to be remarkably little damage done. The one other visiting boat, an American, suffered a broken fair lead.
The marina manager, Jose, had the goodness not to charge us for that night's accommodation!

The harbour of Velas - open only to the southeast.
These harbours give the illusion of safety, but they're
quite exposed really.
Looks like a sheltered spot, right? Fettler is the middle boat
on the left, between the two big boys.
All this took place after an excellent day of hitch-hiking. Plenty of hitching, plenty of hiking. We went right to the opposite end of the island and it took us 4 lifts to get there and 4 back. Oddly, the last lift was with the same car, both ways.
The great thing about this particular hike, besides being all off road, is that it starts at the top and runs down hill all the way.

Serra do Topo - the top
Our lunch spot, the water source for Faja Santo Christo
Faja dos Cubres
Floral displays for a church festival. Flower
petals and greenery are precisely laid out for
the procession to walk along.
Once the swell had finally diminished to the point where it was once more safe to manoeuvre in the marina we pulled out and headed for Horta. As it ever seems here, once the big winds pass through you don't get much fair wind before it dies altogether. Coupled with the weird effects of precipitous islands, it doesn't make for great sailing. The seas were still big and sloppy and the wind conked half way across, leaving us to motor along through the slop, with the thrice-damned current against us all the way.

Still, Horta is lovely and by all accounts the rest of the island of Faial is too. So far (third day) we haven't been out of town yet, but we have done our duty and painted our mark on the breakwater. Yachting superstition has it that any boat not leaving their mark when visiting Horta will never return.

Tranquil Porto Pim with Horta behind.
The finishing touches.
Another Aldi moment - a good test for Aldi's finest acrylic.
This post comes to you from the salubrious surroundings of the famous Peter Cafe Sport.


pj lawson said...

Hi Fettler,
A friend has just acquired a T 29 by Tyler and Offshore and we are puzzled by the long boom (sheeted to a tube horse over the tiller) and the much shorter mainsail.The only sail plan we've found shows a similar long boom with full length main,apparently sheeted over the tiller but with the control line brought forward to a point near the hatch.Since Fettler has a short boom we wonder if you can throw light on the 'correct' arrangement or the best arrangement for blue water cruising.Perhaps the larger main (c.15 sm) is the fullon race setup and the smaller main (c.10sm)is for cruising ? although not huge for a 4 tonner.
Can you tell us what size jib you use in moderate conditions to balance your main ?
PS cannot access your track without a password.
Thanks and good sailing.

Susie Laurence said...

Dear Sonja and Jim - What a fabulous adventure you're having! Your blogs and photographs are fantastic. Glad to see Granton painted on the pier. I hope the hurricane season is nearly at an end and you can continue your travels safely. Stay safe. Bon voyage! Susie

sailfettler said...

Hi PJ,
I haven't come across the long boom arrangement on a Trintella 29. I wonder if the mast is the same height? Anyway, our No1 jib is a 110%, which is what we use in moderate conditions (say 14-20 knots). By 20 knots or so, the main is normally double-reefed. After that, the jib can be reefed, or we go down to the No3, which is pretty small, and so on. Haven't had occasion to get to the 3rd reef in the main yet, touch wood.
There's a Trintella 29 Yahoo Group which would be worth looking into if you want a broader spectrum of opinion/experience. There's useful info on the Offshore Yachts Owner's Association website as well.
Good luck and good sailing to you too!

Penny said...

Hi James & Sonja - 24/7 doesn't even begin to touch the sides! Glad that Fettler didn't suffer any damage....thanks for blog & pics including the bull fight, fabulous. Take care, stay safe.
Lots of love, Mum

pj lawson said...

Hi Fettler,
Many thanks for your feedback and for the yahoo group link which we have already started to absorb.
I see that 'Northwind' is nicely shown in photos to have a similar long boom and the longer footed main,sheeted by the look of it to the two anchor eyes that we have - in our case they are unused and below a retrofitted tube horse that is supported unconvincingly off or integral with the pushpit.
I should compliment you on the variety in your blog and also the very useful records of your renovations.We'll now have the confidence to look closely at the rudder mounts when she comes out of the water and more than an inkling of what to do.
Of course a certain envy arises.