Saturday, July 02, 2016

On passage - Bermuda to Azores

Our new main, on the left, our new genoa, on the right, the repaired staysail, in the middle. doing their thing on the way to the Azores. We have both agreed that it was worth waiting for them.  On Day 3 of the passage we ran into an ugly system that had high winds, thunder and lightning and buckets of rain. Our thoughts were that our old main may have not survived that onslaught, it was pretty vicious. 
We have been downloading weather faxes every day and thought that we were past the system that was just north of us and started inching our way northward. We were wrong and got whomped.  Once the initial winds hit we were in the middle of the storm with the blinding rain and confused seas it was ugly.  I turned on the motor and headed southeast to get away from the weather.  Four hours later, Barry was on shift and we once again found the favourable south westerlies and began sailing again. 
Since then we have been following a rather odd course trying to avoid the big Azores high pressure system that has boats in front of us motoring for days. (We are in touch with five other boats on an informal net once a day) We headed straight east for four days, then turned ninety degrees once the low pressure system went by and headed almost due north to get around the high.  We are once again on an easterly course to stay under the high which has moved northward. We have 700nm miles to go, we started out with 1684 so we are well over halfway. If you are still with me you must have some sailorly blood in you because that was a lot of weather talk!
We have had dolphins visit the boat on three occaisions, frolicking in our bow wave. Barry has been trailing a fishing line for five days and he got a bite today but no luck.  You may have to be a Lange to enjoy this humour. As a set up comment I will say that growing up Barry and his twin brother were known for eating just about anything and eating it very quickly, before the other guy could get it all. Barry has never been known for his restraint when it comes to food. He bought five packages of black licorice for the passage and in an effort to stretch out the consumption of the sought after treat, I labeled them with the date when they could be opened.  We consumed the first and second packages within the suggested parameters but when I went looking for the next package, the June 22 one, it was nowhere to be found. On June 24 I inquired whether Barry had seen it, yes he had, it was eaten by him and him alone well before the suggested date!  HORRORS! I am on shift, it is 0005 hours on June 25 and I opened and chewed up some of the licorice scheduled to be eaten today.  I have learned my own coping strategies in 42 years of eating with Barry. 
On the same topic Barry bought a bottle of prune juice before we left Bermuda.  He told me it was opened in the fridge and I should have some if I wanted any as he had guzzled his share.  Yup, you guessed it, over a half of a large bottle of prune juice at one time. Moderation is just not in his vocabulary, he was suffering the consequences of his actions earlier this evening. 😳
When a sailor arrives in a new country with his boat he is required to fly the "q" or quarantine flag. We have a whole alphabet of flags as well as numbers. The q flag is all yellow.  As soon as you check into the country you have to take down the q flag and raise the flag of the country you have just entered. As you can see I am having to repair our q flag.  The end that flaps is unravelling. We have been to 46 countries, I am surprised that it is in such bad shape because it is usually not up for long.  I will admit that sometimes I am a bit anxious to arrive and jump the gun and put the flag up too soon.  I will have to curtail that feeling if I want that flag to last until we are finished cruising. I don't think It will get much of a workout in the Mediterranean because now that the EU is in existence we will only have to check in once. I think if we wanted we could just get an EU flag and fly it all around the Mediterranean.  What fun is that!! I really like having all the flags of the countries we have been in so I am sure I will continue to purchase them. 
Two summers ago when we took our grandsons to the Bras D'Or Lake, I made up flags that spelled out their names and I hung them from the spreaders. Then I made them up out of barker board and had them laminated for their doors at home. William the oldest, at 7, was fascinated by them.