Totally Chulo!

Our crossing from Plymouth, England was a comparatively pleasant 3 days with a couple of British guys as crew.

We arrived into La Coruña, or “A Coruña” as the Spanish call it, on a Sunday morning, and attempted to clear in ourselves and the boat, and get Tadd a Schengen entry stamp in his US passport. In most places that would have been a non-starter on the weekend, but we were told by the marina to call the officials.

La Coruña City Marina

But, in spite of many phone calls and a promise by the Policía Nacional to stop by the boat, we saw neither customs nor immigration. And Tadd still had no proof of entry into Spain, and back into Schengen.

So we gave up, went ashore and found ourselves a tapas bar with a view. What else!?

Plaza Maria Pita – enjoying an extremely reasonably priced bottle of Rioja

The Plaza is an important location in Coruña, where many locals come to hang out and grab some favourite tapas and admire the ornate building of the municipal palace. The square is named for the local heroine, María Mayor Fernández de Cámara y Pita, who helped protect the city from the British attack by Sir Francis Drake, even after her soldier husband was struck down and killed in the battle.

Monument to Maria Pita, A Coruña

We never did talk with any officials during our week there, but we had an amazing time getting to know this colourful, historic city full of wonderful flavours and amazing people.

Lots of the buildings in the old town had wonderfully ornate brass door knockers

Playing tourist took us to the Castillo de San Anton, which keeps watch over the entrance to the port. It was built by King Carlos I to protect the city during merchant times, as Coruña traded spices to Europe, and continued to protect their interests through the years.

The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium. The Tower, built on a 57 metre high rock, rises a further 55 metres, of which 34 metres correspond to the Roman masonry and 21 meters to the restoration directed by architect Eustaquio Giannini in the 18th century, who augmented the Roman core with two octagonal forms.

Every day we took a different walk through the city… amazing what you can find!

“Sit!”

“Good dog”

Meeting the locals is always the jewel in the crown of any new destination. Here we were lucky enough to get to take out las hermanas Golepes for a half day sail and show them a view of their city they had never seen before (even though their father was a merchant mariner!)

Galegas Ana & Lucia

In exchange for their sailing trip, we were delighted by their offer to go for an inland adventure to their family’s ancient home in the countryside.

Afterwards we wandered the hills of Bentanzos, “the tortilla Espanola capital of the world!” Unfortunately we had already filled up on a bunch of delicious tapas and wine at a country restaurant.

Our friend from London, Cassie, was also visiting and came along for the ride.

Our original plan of staying just a few days in A Coruña turned into more than a week! We will definitely be back.

Overdue Visits with Great Friends

Having spent the last couple of months day-sailing and spending time with friends and family, it was a bit of a shock to return to an overnight sail from Crosshaven to England. We had planned a stop in the Scilly Isles, but with some good wind and somewhat following seas, it was a no-brainier to push through to Landsend in England, and on to our destination of Plymouth.

Having survived some scary amounts of tankers and container ships in the shipping channels, we made it.

Enjoying a glass of wine aboard a classic tall ship in the Historic harbour.

But the real purpose of our chosen port was to catch up with people we haven’t seen for way too long (my friend Chris who I met 15+ years ago in Ecuador, and our English friends from Puerto Morelos)!!

We happened to arrive in time for Ebon’s birthday, family celebrations, with Jen’s family.

Jen’s dad’s a French horn player!

Sadly we were too busy having fun to get any pictures with Chris & Cath…

But Ebon and Jen took us for a walk on the famous Dartmoor.

Back Where Our Hearts Lie in Ireland

Finally back where it all began at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven, Ireland, we were happy, relaxed and ready to enjoy a few days before venturing into traffic and into the English Channel to Plymouth.

Crosshaven is such a lovely, welcoming town.

And this visit, we finally made time to go explore the city of Cork too.

The Old City Gaol

But we were on a mission to go see some old friends, so it was time to venture on our first overnight since the Atlantic crossing and just the two of us for a 24 hour sail to England.

The Wild West… of Ireland

They do call it the “Wild Atlantic Way”… but we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into!

When the locals said “Oh, you must sail the West Coast, it’s beautiful,” we should have done a bit more research about the sailing conditions. Yes, it’s a truly beautiful place, but I thought it would be more popular with cruisers.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is a stunningly, desolate place. We were often very much alone out there. Additionally, the Northern Atlantic Ocean produces huge rolling waves we call a swell. We should have noted that there is no protection between that swell, the wind-driven waves on top of that swell and the beautiful rocks and sheer cliffs into which those waves smash themselves and everything they carry with them. Oh, and on top of that, the swell and waves bounce off of the beautiful sheer cliffs and produce another set of waves that make the boat bounce up and down twice as fast. We were nearly seasick on two different days because of this action. But wait, there is more. There is a phenomenon called an “overfall,” where the tidal stream rips around a picturesque, jagged point and creates a whitewater rafting experience. We were very careful to make sure the stream was running WITH us. We don’t think we would have been able to motor AGAINST one of those overfalls without nose-diving the boat into steep, stacked up waves.

We, well at least I, expected to see other cruising sailboats each day as we sailed down the coastline. Nope… almost none. We saw some near the towns, but no cruisers moving from one peninsula to another, until we were more than halfway down the coastline to Donnegal, and that was just one.

It became a joke to claim there were no other boats around when there were, but I only counted 10 in total, until we were officially in Southwestern Ireland.

27-July 2018

28-July

29-July

We met our friends, Carlos and Kathy, during our participation in the ARC Europe Atlantic crossing (Bermuda to The Azores). Like Tadd, as US citizens, they are only allowed 90 days total in any of the Schengen countries of Europe within any six month period. And so, running low on days, they decided to come join us for a week of sailing in Ireland (non-Schengen).

29-July The singing barman

1-August This video has bad audio, because the wind was so strong it drownned out most of my voice. It was a beautiful Irish summer day, with loads of low clouds, some rain and lots of wind. The wind was gusting to 48 knots and luckily we already had two reefs in the mainsail. Lindsay used to get concerned with gusts to 36 knots but now that we’ve felt 48 knots from ahead of us, we don’t mind 36 knots anymore!

2-August:

3-August Common dolphins again.

8-August After sitting out a gale we experienced rougher seas that we had hoped. It was a long day. When we had to motorsail due to large waves slowing us down, we then had to be very diligent to avoid the lobster traps. The traps could be in anywhere from 20 feet to 220 feet of water, and they usually had very long lines on the surface. Generally, we steer to the downwind side of the marker buoy to leave the extra floating line on the other side. This is the best way to safely avoid getting the line wrapped around the propeller shafts. The real trouble was that sometimes the current was running upwind or across the wind and the marker buoys would run downstream with the current, not the wind. This means we sometimes did the opposite of what we should have and passed on the dangerous side of the trap line. Luckily, if we spotted the line on the surface, we could stop the engines and put the transmission in reverse which caused the folding propellers to close, thus avoiding the lines getting twisted around the shafts. Then we would curse the fisherman, put the transmission back into neutral to start the engines and get going faster again.

Beautiful cliffs, big seas and some mysterious sea creatures visit us.

Here’s another aspect of the waves we were going over, it was too dangerous to move forward on the boat so this is shot from the stern. If you look closely at the horizon, you will see a large flock of white birds that may be terns flying downwind. The low pressure system has them on the move, apparently, because we never saw that many together at one time again. We saw lots of birds flying away from where we were sailing, which had us slightly doubting our judgment.

10-Aug Sailing into Crosshaven

So after two weeks of rough and tumble sailing, we made it back to the beloved Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven!

The Land of Finn McCool

Sadly we couldn’t stay on the Isle of Arran forever, but we would have if we could!!!

So on a day sail through the Sanda Island races, across the shipping channels, around Rathlin Island and around the headland, we sailed in and anchored in the Bay of Portballintrae.

After a pleasant night on the anchor, time to go visit the giant!

Coming into Portballintrae

Spectacular views on the coastal walk

Makara looking good on anchor

The Giant’s home

Th Giant’s Causeway

And after a walk and some fun geology… Whiskey!!

Old mill on the Bush River.

Sailing from the Azores to Ireland

Lindsay and I along with up to three other crew members sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Ireland in three legs. The first leg stopped in Bermuda. The second leg stopped in the Azores. This is a series of short videos taken during the third leg, Azores to Ireland. The total distance traveled on this leg was 1184 nautical miles.

On June 8th, 2018 we departed from Ponta Delgada in the island of Sao Miguel. The wind had been strong from the northwest over the past couple of days and then it turned north, which is bad. I wish we could have departed sooner but we had to wait for a crew member to arrive. While we sailed northeast over large waves we were pounding the hull for 24 hours. During that time I downloaded an update for the weather forecast. It predicted 40 knot gusts and 14 foot waves when we were due to approach Ireland. I decided to turn back, even though due to his work commitments we would lose the crew member we waited for.

We waited for just a couple of nights in Ponta Delgada for the wind to subside and the waves to dissipate. Besides, it was Portugal Day and there were military parades and events going on to entertain us!

Here is a video of a helicopter fly-by.

This shows how close the navy helicopter was to our boat.

Lindsay and I make comments on the Portuguese Navy demonstrations.

Once we had our fill of Portuguese nationalism and military pride, we set our minds to sailing again.

In June 11th Lindsay and I departed once again but with only two crew members, Charlotte and Svein. Charlotte had joined us in Bermuda and Svein was new to the boat.

The forecast was for 5-10 knots of wind or the first three days. I expected we could fly the spinnaker. On the fourth day a series of cold fronts was coming to add wind from the west by northwest and strong at times. Since we were heading northeast that would put the waves behind us and at worst on the beam. I figured the boat would be fine with that so off we went.

We were able to sail with the spinnaker about half the day and the other half of the day we had to run one of the engines.

Dolphins were swimming with us many times during the day.

By Wednesday the winds are strong around 30 knots so we were surfing down waves on a broad reach in the afternoon.

As that first cold front passed the wind clocked around to the north and then slowed to the point where we could not fly the spinnaker, so it was a frustrating day having to deal with waves.

At dawn on Friday the 15th another cold front came. The rumor here is the remains of a tropical storm added to the front. The wind was steady at the levels of the forecasted gusts for three days, which was until we arrived in Ireland. The swell and wave height combined into levels as high as we have ever seen. The wave energy was much stronger than expected. The crew’s excitement went up with the swell.

The temperatures dropped to 61F and the humidity coated the interior of our cabins. The sheets felt cool and damp when we climbed into bed.

Here’s a view from the aft deck.

When the seas get so big the boat “surfs” down them, alignment to the wave is critical. Unfortunately, sometimes the auto helm would turn itself of by going to standby status. If the crew member on the helm was not watching carefully, or tried to push buttons to correct the heading instead of just grabbing the wheel and turning it, we would turn broadside to a wave. This is called broaching. It’s not good. In fact, with wind so strong and wave energy so immense it can rip sails, part lines holding the sails and break rudders or steering cables. Also, if the boat gets turned the wrong way around it will throw to boom over to the other side and slam the rigging. This is called an accidental jibe. That’s even more likely to break something.

Here’s another video showing stronger winds and taller waves.

Eventually, each of us would broach and accidentally jibe during one of our shifts. In hindsight it’s surprising we didn’t break anything until day seven. This is the last video before something went wrong.

Here’s another aspect angle.

Here’s a view from the aft deck.

Not long after I recorded that video, The autohelm went into standby and we broached. Due to the size of the waves, it was an especially hard broaching event. The steering cable broke and the wheel became useless. Charlotte was at the helm and I was on deck. Lindsay heard the loud bang and a few seconds later heard me yell below “all hands on deck NOW.” Lindsay yelled back “what happened?” “Steering cable broke,” I said, “we need to get the emergency rudder out.” While I was getting my PFD on I was watching the boat turn by the force of the wind on our sails. I was relieved and said loudly “It looks like she’s going to round up and go over the waves,” but I wasn’t sure and for how long it would last.

These waves were friggin’ big. I was pretty sure we needed the emergency tiller connected and propellers spinning to hold a safe course up and over the waves. If a big one hit us sideways it would rock the boat and shake the mast so hard it could break a shroud and cause the mast to fall. That would be very bad.

With lots of communication and good teamwork, we got the emergency tiller in place an tied on both sides.

Next I went about inspecting the damage, formulating a repair plan, and on plan number two feeling confident it will work. I bypassed a block (pulley) and clamped the broken stainless steel cable together with extra cable clamps I got from each of the ends at the tillers. Not without getting lots of water coming into the engine rooms and completely soaking me as well.

This is right after the port engine room got swamped.

In the end, even though it was not the roughest ride or the longest distance, it was the scariest leg of the crossing. Thankfully, we got new cables custom-made on the second day in Crosshaven. Lindsay and I were off the dock the next morning, headed up the Irish Sea for more adventures, hopefully of a more pleasant variety.

Diving for BBQ

Sometimes, the sea gives and at other times she takes. In this case she took something but I was able to dive in and retrieve it.

When we arrived in Terceira, Azores, we were directed by ARC Rally Control to a commercial berthing area outside the protected marina. We had to tie up along a concrete wall. Then another rally boat was directed to tie up to us. It’s called rafting up. Their boat was heavier than ours and there was a large amount of swell and surge along the wall.When we tied up our lines we were very concerned about the amount of load the additional boat was putting on our lines, so we added more lines to other cleats on our boat. One in particular was running close to the dive tanks and the BBQ along the back deck and rail. Unfortunately, we didn’t take the tidal range into consideration. Overnight, the line dropped under the BBQ grill’s mounting bracket. When the tide came back up, it broke the bracket and the grill went 20 feet down to the bottom of the harbour.This is a video of me plunging in after the grill and swimming it back up. Lindsay asked me if I should take a line to tie it so we could pull the grill up from the surface. I thought it couldn’t be THAT heavy, but it almost was too much for me. I had to kick extra hard and swim with one arm as my lungs were starting to ache for a breath! I got it first try, though!

The funny thing is that after we brought it up and we were rinsing out the seawater, we found something inside. A creature had taken up residence during the night and was having a grease feast!

It’s a sea star like I’ve never seen. It has spines! I’m not touching that thing.

Crew member Charlotte Jones returns it to the sea.

Close Quarters at Safe Harbour, Key West

This is a short music video showing my neighbor and his big jet boat. Dave has been refitting MV Boundless. This video shows Dave testing his new docking control system, based on a joystick control. I think he does pretty well after the second try! I’m glad Lindsay and I were there to “fend off” his vessel. In all fairness, when you see this video, Dave would not have gotten so close to my boat if Lindsay and I were not on deck to protect her. This is a fun video using Jimmy Buffett music as any Key Wester would prefer.

The Future of Communication

We just received a satellite phone. It’s called the Iridium Go!, and it’s perfect for what we are doing. It’s a satellite router, essentially, that transmits a satellite connection via wifi to our smart phones, tablets and laptop computers. We pay $130 a month for unlimited data and 150 minutes of talk time.

Right now, the old satellites that orbit the Earth have very slow transmission rates, very slow and we must use special apps that send and receive tiny files of less than 10k. It will do for us for now to get updated weather files, send text or even update Twitter and Facebook with a small picture while at sea. However, SpaceX and Iridium are half way to launching the Iridium Next network of satellites with eventual speeds promised of over 1Mb. We will no longer need cellular phone towers in wide open spaces, just for inbetween buildings where we don’t have a clear view of the sky.

It’s the future of communication.

Click the link below and bookmark our webpage to be a part of it with us.

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