Thursday, 29 September 2011

First of the autumn gales

We had admired the view of Pico's mountaintop from Lajes upon arrival, but that was the last glimpse of it we got until we were 20 miles offshore on our way to Ponta Delgada. The weather on Pico was mostly poor with plenty of rain so unfortunately we didn't get to see much of the island.

A hurried move back to Sao Miguel was indicated as the first autumn gale had appeared in the forecast. The passage back was quite pleasant, even though we had to motor half the way. Items of note were the eerie sight of a heavy lightning squall which fortunately passed to the south in the night, a dawn viewing of three sperm whales just metres from the boat, and our first deep sea fishing success.

New gear! A princely gift from our friend
Chuck of Valkyrie: rod holder, rod and reel.
Struck gold: a dorado!
We met Chuck in Horta and at some point the conversation turned to the matter of fishing, he inquiring after our success, we admitting that it was not considerable. He himself was never without fresh fish on his passage from the Caribbean to the Azores. He demanded to see our fishing equipment and seemed to take it as a personal affront, exclaiming "You'll  never catch any fish with this! Never!". Before we really knew what was happening, he had supplied us with the missing links in our fishing gear. Thanks, Chuck!
Everybody always remarks on the astonishing golden colour of the dorado and on how quickly the colour fades when the fish is dead. When I saw it on the end of the line, I first thought it was a piece of yellow plastic, the colour was so vivid it didn't look quite natural. Within an hour of hauling it out of the sea, it was ready to eat and mighty delicious too. Hopefully the first of many.

Once arrived in Ponta Delgada we made everything secure in readiness for the gale, expected the following day. Most people here hadn't heard anything about it and were surprised when we mentioned 'Gale Tuesday'. It duly arrived and came on harder than expected, blowing up to force 9 from the south west. The seas pounded right over the outer harbour wall, knocking shipping containers into the sea, flooding houses, killing one fisherman who was crushed between his boat and the harbour wall. Compared with what was going on outside, it was ok in the marina, but even so many mooring lines broke and the pontoons suffered significant damage. The worst thing though was the waste oil container of the marina getting swept into the water and creating a shocking mess. Boats covered in oil and a slick spread over the whole place. The clean up is more or less complete now, thank goodness. Plenty of Fairy Liquid was consumed in scrubbing the hull.

The weather is telling us that we really must get on south. Provisions are in and the boat is ready, we're seeing friends again and saying our farewells. Watching the forecast for a good window...


Marc said...

Nice fish! Best of luck with the next leg...

Susie Laurence said...

Dear Sonja and Jim - Super photographs! I love reading your blog. It's so full of information and detail. I hope your get fair weather (a broad reach/soldier's wind would be great) for the next part of your journey. Stay safe! Susie

Penny said...

Well done you will, hopefully be blessed with an abundance of fresh fish! Glad you knew the gale was coming, terrible consequences but another experience under the belt. Take care, safe travels, Mum.

Ed said...

So that's a Dorado? I've only seen it topped and tailed on my plate, sadly.