29 to July 6, 2005: Azores to England
29, 2005 (Wednesday)
was an overcast morning, not one I would have liked to depart Horta
but rather one on which I would have liked to hide in my pillows
with a good book. It had begun to rain in the early morning hours.
The boat was wet. Still, Tony was out there helping us casting off
our lines, as was our Italian neighbor on the HR 45. We were on
our way again for the next - what, eight, ten, twelve days? Who
knows? We photographed the gray harbor of Horta, the surrounding
hills and motored out of the harbor in a north-northeast direction.
did not take long before the seas got choppy and.... I won't bore
you with the details. My new medication did not do what I had hoped
for though I had taken it approximately one hour before departure,
etc. Juergen wanted to check in with Herb, so I lay down for the
first three hours, starting at 1930.
30, 2005 (Thursday)
morning was gorgeous but quite cold. Juergen slept till almost 0830.
We had breakfast in the cockpit (coffee, homemade bread from Roberto,
the carpenter, jams, honey, and a delicious yoghurt drink which
I had found in Horta). I still felt bad despite my new remedies
(new sea sickness pills and a ginger root) and laid down in the
cockpit until Juergen came back up from inputting new waypoints
into the computer, navigating, etc. After lunch, Juergen also took
a nap to catch up with the sleep he had not be getting last night,
followed by a shower for both of us - with all that engine running,
we had ample hot water...
may think what kinds of pigs are they not taking a shower every
day? Well, I can only tell you that neither the weather nor your
own stamina make you crave for a shower. You get bumped around and
shaken up continuously in the boat due to the wave action. You should
see all the bruises we had after the trip, virtually everywhere.
We have never seen anything like it on any of our Bermuda trips
before. Therefore, taking a shower every three or four days seems
a luxury (then highly desired and craved). We only know now how
luxurious our life is usually with daily showers (in the summer
even two at times) etc. You cannot imagine...
was a little breeze so we let the main out and attached a "preventer"
(a line that prevents the boom from changing position and putting
a lot of stress on the rigging) on the boom. We tried to sail, but
13 knots of wind from aft do not really move our Impromptu. Suddenly,
there was a big bang, one of our shackles had broken and the foot
of the main was loose. Of course, Juergen jumped to action/ we tied
the boom to another rope to prevent it from moving in this by now
eight-foot swell. He got a replacement shackle and after a few challenging
moments - more because of the wave action and boat movement than
anything else - and a slightly shortened sail (we furled it into
the mast a little more) - we were back on our way.
nervous in maneuvers like this, mostly because I am concerned that
Juergen is getting hurt or that he falls overboard (my greatest
nightmare). But now, everything seems fine, except that an increasing
cloud cover seems to bring bigger waves and thus even more boat
motion. I wished we were a lot closer to Falmouth... though we already
made over 240 miles in 34 hours, not bad given the seas.
could not hear Herb yesterday - the propagation seemed terrible.
We hope to have more luck today. We still have the weather forecast
through tomorrow but then? Who knows what is going to come our way?
This is why we really would like to be able to listen to / speak
with Herb. We are still too far to phont into BBC or other British
or French weather stations - unfortunately.
is 1900. My mood sank to the bottom again. I am really not negative
generally though some people pointed out a negative attitude in
me at times. I can just not be a happy go lucky some of you may
want me to be. And whether it is being at sea for all this time
or whether it is because I am scared - of what? - I don't know.
Juergen gets angry as he sees this as a weakness he cannot and does
not want to accept. He also sees my present state jeopardize our
next year's plans. I am continuously thinking that I cannot go back
to see for another two or three or even more weeks (which it would
take from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia). So, we will have to
discuss this when all is done (for this year) and we are on terra
firma and I have a more balanced view on life ... sailing, not sailing...
feeling all these negative things even though our Impromptu has
been taking us for about 2500 miles on this trip safely through
all kinds of weather and we have had "only" gale / strong
gale force winds (into the 40 knot range) and no storm (over 47
knots) on this trip so far (except for the gusts at over 50 knots
I referred to earlier). Our engine is purring, our batteries seem
great, our regulator seems to be working (something that was not
entirely clear when we left Horta). I am feeling bad, too, because
I know how important this trip is for Juergen and how disappointing
I am in all of this. I also feel guilty because, other than taking
my watches, preparing (more or less depending on sea state) the
meals, occasionally navigating, I am really not doing anything.
I cannot even read and prepare for the next landfall (how does the
harbor look, what is the entrance like, what buoys do we have to
watch for, are there weather-related or other challenges we need
to be aware of? Is Falmouth a harbor which is only accessible around
high tide (like many of the harbors on the South shore of England)
- it is not... etc. But then, I satisfy myself by reminding me of
all the terrible stories of sailors who have taken crew which either
was useless, argumentative (mutiny???), drunk. I am so glad we did
not take anyone with us. We are responsible only to and for ourselves
and we know that we make decisions properly (Juergen as captain
/ master has the saying in the end, but we generally discuss any
steps we feel we should / could be taking).
2, 2005 (Saturday)
day yesterday was plain awful in terms of the way I felt (you must
be getting very tired of reading the same old story daily...). Juergen
confirmed that the seas were equally awful even though we had sunshine
all day and saw not a cloud in the sky. We motored till 1730 and
in order to conserve fuel, began pulling the genoa out. The wind
was still not entirely settled in one direction, so the rolling
continued, as the wind was less powerful than the big rollers throwing
Impromptu around. The action occurred less as the evening progressed
and the frequency of rollers diminished - Thank God!
is 0500 and the same must be reported - unfortunately. It seems
as if my pills finally begin to work - what a feeling being able
to write while on watch and listening to music on our iPod again!
We were supposed to have a cold front pass over us - with stronger
winds, something we would welcome. We expected it throughout the
night - no such thing!
went to sleep around 0440 - always tells me to sleep a little longer
but when I get up when it is my turn, he happily goes to bed and
seems to have fallen asleep pretty quickly, too. I know the feeling
of relief when the three hours of watch are over and one can look
forward to at least some more sleep. Unfortunately, one never really
sleeps the full three hours. Initially, it is not so easy to fall
asleep right away. And then, one wakes up fearing that one overslept.
So we both keep asking the other what time it is and whether it
is time to get back to relieve the other...
passed the 1/4 and the 1/3 mark yesterday and by the time our third
day (remember, we count them from 0800 to 0800) is over, we should
have made approximately 482 nm. 748 more to go. Depending on whether
we sail all day or motor some today and depending on wind and sea
conditions, we could hit the 1/2 mark in the upcoming day, certainly
something to look forward to.
expected wind shift finally came around 0730 this morning. The wind
also increased to 20 knots true and since we have wind from behind
that lets us go at around 6 knots, better than the 5 knots we have
been going most of the night. Let's see how long it lasts. The sky
is totally overcast with gray, indefinable clouds. What a change
to yesterday with NO clouds. Well, the wind increased and the waves
kept building. We shortened sails and kept going.
3, 2005 (Sunday)
spoke with Waltraut yesterday and with Silvi the day before that.
I spoke with Ulli this afternoon. He/they just came back from a
family reunion in Paderborn. He sure was surprised to hear that
we are 556 nm away from Falmouth (assuming all keeps going like
it has been in the past four days, we expect to make landfall on
weather is very strange, lots of wind, crazy waves, sunshine. We
are being bumped around with no end in sight. No wildlife again,
except two lonely shearwaters. A couple of ships were visible on
AIS/radar, and Juergen saw one with St. Petersburg as its destination.
Most of them indicate Rotterdam, Bremerhaven and similar ports.
St. Petersburg seemed a little out of the ordinary.
I am feeling rather mixed today, neither sick nor well. Juergen
admitted today that he did not like this weather and the commensurate
wave action either. At least, he can still read in this awful motion.
hope to have 470 nm to go by the end of our fifth day (tomorrow
morning at 0800). Though Ulli thought this was fast, it feels soooo
long still. And what will the English Channel look like with all
its traffic, what will the weather be like? Will we have huge seas
(wind against the tide), will we have visibility to avoid rocks,
etc. All concerns of ours which we hope to be able to work through
and not encounter mostly.
sailing of this kind? I don't think so. I am ready to give it up
- entirely? Well, maybe except for real local day trip sailing...
again could not hear Herb. He will try one last time tonight. If
it again does not work, he will try to gain access to the BBC weather
channel or a French channel. Juergen had a Silvi tart today because
it is Sunday. My stomach will not let me enjoy this delicacy. I
hope to serve the Luise/Silvi meat tomorrow in celebration of July
4, 2005 (Monday)
nm to go as of 0800 this morning. The early morning hours brought
wind straight from behind, we slowed to a snail's pace and were
bumped around very uncomfortably. We decided to shorten the genoa
further (to avoid its flapping) and to run under engine power. That
worked quite well until the wind became increasingly stronger 34
-36 knots sustained and the waves commensurately larger. We slowed
the engine (actually put it into neutral for a while). As we still
moved at around 6 knots, we turned the engine off and sailed - saving
had lunch after I spoke with Christa who is still dealing with remnants
of her move. Unfortunately, the connection faded so we said good-bye
and agreed to speak once we have arrived in Falmouth on Thursday??
1500 the wind picked up again from previously 28 knots to 32 and
the seas started growing again - they actually never subsided. We
had been taking on quite some water. To minimize this, we shortened
the genoa AGAIN to slow us down sufficiently and to compensate for
the erratic wave action.
anything but good and my stomach immediately complains but the pills
seem to keep things in check, which I am already grateful for. Juergen
thinks it is not the pills that make me feel somewhat better but
the anticipation of landfall. Yes, the psyche may play its role...
has been studying the charts, the pilot books and the tide tables
(everything is based on Dover). The tides are enormous because of
the narrows of the Channel, and everyone including Tony advised
us to play the tides well when continuing along the coast. The tidal
effect in the Long Island Sound is minimal compared to here, we
have been told. Juergen has also again been trying to find a weather
station so we would know what to expect for the next three days
or so - to no avail as it seems payment must be arranged for before
the trip. That is no longer possible at this stage. Therefore, we
continue moving northeast towards our next goal. 426 nm to go.
"celebrated" July 4th, as planned, with Silvi's wonderful
roast and pasta. You should have seen us sit in our cabin, holding
our bowls and desperately trying to keep our pasta from sliding
out of there - not easy, particularly not for Juergen who simultaneously
was trying to hold a bottle of beer upright between his feet. Of
course, that was not quite so successful and some of the precious
beer ended up washing our carpet instead.
5, 2005 (Tuesday)
was an uneventful night with winds and wave action pretty much like
in the afternoon hours - ranging between 22 knots of wind to, at
other times, 32 knots. Juergen still could not hear Herb but spoke
briefly with "Leeway" a boat we had seen in Bermuda (but
never spoke to), which Juergen overheard speaking with Herb. They
had heaved to for four hours yesterday morning when it was blowing
around 35 knots. Their final destination is Ireland.
Juergen went to sleep at 2300 and then at 0600 this morning again.
It is shortly past 0800, a very foggy day, giving little incentive
to anyone to wake up. We both spent our watches listening to music
and navigating (keeping track of water temperature, wind speed,
direction, our position at various times of the night, ensuring
the sails get adjusted if necessary - Juergen unfurled the entire
genoa at 2300. No further adjustments since). The night watches
provide us ample opportunity to think and reflect on our lives,
our goals, our achievements, failures. It is not the right place
to go into detail, but I have been writing and thinking a lot over
these many days and, more importantly, nights at sea.