Saturday, December 29, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 19 - Arrival

The day was covered in clouds, which we didn't mind because they provided heat relief from the sun, that were often filled with rain so it was a while before someone was able to shout "land ho". Then, as always, the remaining 20nm were the longest. We arrived in Marigot Bay at 1800 hours, 6-hours into our 19th day, as the sun was setting and just in time to drop anchor before dark. With Immigration closing, we opted to have dinner before we pumped up the dinghy to head for shore and request off-hour formalities. We celebrated our crossing with a glass of Portuguese vinho tinto and ate another pasta supper. Shortly after, my crew mates were snoring. In fairness to them, it was past their bedtime as they regularly went to bed at 8pm each night as I started by 4-hour night watch.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Portugal (agricultural bounty), Barry's Irish Tea, chocolate and cookie/biscuit companies too numerous to mention, Marks & Spenser, Petzel (headlamps), Apple (iPod), and Olay (moisturizer & face wipes), who did not contribute product or money, but without their products my days at sea would have been looong and certainly less enjoyable. Oh yeah, and I should also thank Coca Cola for Diet Coke, which consumed in vast quantities kept my captain cooler and relatively sane during an "eternity of sailing downwind", according to him.

Logged 3068nm (rhumb line 2860nm) in 18-days and 10-hours. (Includes time zone changes.)

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 18

Similar conditions to yesterday. We celebrated shipmate Joseph's birthday and watched the outstanding miles drop below 100. Day's run 187nm, an average of 7.8kts. We've started to see land-based birds. Expecting to make landfall in about 6 hours, hopefully before Customs & Immigration closes.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 17

For Christmas we got the gift of wind. We are traveling along a broken frontal boundary belonging to a stationary depression to our northeast. This system created small squalls that gave us 20-30kt winds through the night and noticeable waves. It's been a wild ride with the boat occasionally surfing at 10kts down the face of a wave. We logged 192nm over 25-hours - we had the last of our time zone changes, we're now -4 GMT, 1-hour ahead of EST. About 200nm to go so our ETA in Marigot, Saint Martin is Friday evening, Dec 27th.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/26/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
18°10.30'N 059°09.46'W
Course 291T Speed 8.3kts
Wind 087T @ 24kts

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/26/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
17°47.44'N 057°31.55'W
Course 286T Speed 7.8kts
Wind 068T @ 17kts

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 16

Because our day (each 24-hour period) starts at noon, today was both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. It was festive considering we're offshore struggling to sail fast and the warm sunshine makes us forget it's December. Trying to keep us in the holiday spirit, I through an impromptu Christmas party. I served appetizers, a platter of sweets and popped a couple of corks. Just between you and me, I think they only came for the food and booze. I know for sure that the holiday cocktail napkins, Christmas music and festive decorations were wasted on them. But we still had fun. It was a beautiful afternoon, slow sailing but easy and comfortable due to following seas, and a magical night with perfect weather, a full moon and progress made in the right direction. The comfortable sea state also made for a good night's sleep. Christmas morning began with breakfast burritos and fresh squeezed orange juice on deck and later we retreated to the shade of down below and opened presents. Actually, they opened presents and I watched. After all, it's about the joy of giving. We logged 151nm and have about 400nm to go. If things hold steady, we've only 3 days / 2 nights more at sea.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 15

I should just cut and paste yesterday's blog...the lack of wind is maddening. The last quarter of our trip should have been the fastest, according to the computer models and their grib outputs, but instead we are logging shorter distances. Day's run was 131nm, a paltry 5.2kt average, the worst of this passage. In our delirium we are questioning if the trade winds even exist...could it be folklore? Actually, the trade winds have diminished due to a storm system to our north that is causing westerly airflow and therefore reducing the easterly trades. The cloud cover (4/8 to 8/8) that has followed us throughout most of the passage started to gradually diminish the other day making the sun's rays feel stronger. This is when I started fantasizing about ice cubes. We don't have a freezer and with the ocean temperature at 80°F / 27°C I doubted my usual trick would work, but it did. I managed to make ice by filling a plastic bag with water and placing it on the refrigerator cold plate while the generator was on running the refrigeration. I then placed the ice in sugar rimmed (plastic) glasses filled with fresh-squeezed lemonade for our afternoon snack. Now I fantasize about more ice cold lemonade...Based on our current excruciatingly slow pace we're still several days out from any of the islands but we live in hope. Fortunately we always provision for twice the intended length of passage so we'll go mad before we starve.

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 14

Plagued with light wind from an unfavorable direction, which is increasing our distance and creating more of the painful main sail flogging. Trying to maximize the wind direction and minimize the flogging keeps us busy with sails and has forced us on a southerly course. Where are the trade winds?!? We resorted to using the engine for 3 hours during a period of almost no wind. Where are the dolphins? We remain disappointed and surprised by the lack of sea life sightings. (Only one pod of dolphins, a few flying fish and a couple of sea birds in 14 days.) Our four daily meals - breakfast, lunch, mid afternoon snack and dinner - continue to be the highlights of our day. Sad really, especially now that most of our food is coming from a can. In the evenings we're all getting involved in the celestial navigation and having fun playing with a gadget called a Sky Scout (great family gift) from a company called Celestron. Logged 160nm, a 6.7kt average.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 13

Our new day started with furling the 100% jib and hoisting the cruising chute, which is still flying and managing well in winds ranging from 10 to 25kts. We're back on our regular watch system and the near full moon lights up the deck at night so life is easier. My captain noticed another reoccurring crack on the other side of the gooseneck. He attempted an offshore fix by making a spacer for the boom/gooseneck hinge. We took down the sails and with the skill of two engineers managed to insert it. Not an easy task in a rolling sea, but all (30) fingers are accounted for and so far the temporary fix is working. Despite hanging out in the open ocean for our repair job we logged 184nm, a 7.6kt average.

The seas were calmer this morning so I perused my cookbook and then spent time playing with the convection oven while the generator was on. (I can't believe I waited 5 years to learn how to use this magical oven!) I made stuffed red peppers for lunch and banana bread for tomorrow's breakfast. Due to my limited stores and selfish preferences, I created an original banana bread recipe and since it turned out so tasty (we sampled it warm) I'm including it.

- Banana Oat Bread -
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3-4 ripe bananas (depending on size), mashed
2 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter, oil and sugar together. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in bananas, flour, oats, cinnamon, soda and vanilla. Grease and flour 1 large or 2 small loaf pans. Pour dough into pan. Bake for 1 hour or until brown at 300°F (150°C) - or 30 minutes on convection low mix.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/22/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
18°47.95'N 049°34.06'W
Course 239T Speed 8.0kts
Wind 086T @ 17kts

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 12

Today was the first day we found the need to seek out shade while on deck. Shifting wind directions required frequent jibes making it a busy day on deck. Everyone appears to be better rested and certainly perkier after getting to take showers now that the sea state is less cantankerous. Logged 197nm over a 25-hour day (another time change), an average of 7.8kts. Finally broke the 4-digit distance barrier - now we've only 900nm to go! ETA in St Martin is Dec 27th.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/21/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
20°09.96'N 045°22.82'W
Course 223T Speed 7.7kts
Wind 069T @ 20kts

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 11

We're tired. The continuing uncomfortable boat motion and lack of sleep has taken a toll on all of us. One of us remains in recovery mode (it's typically at least a 48-hour recovery period) so the other two of us are covering the formal watches. When not tending to sails or on watch, one tries their best to get some sleep but it's easier said then done. As if we weren't feeing cranky enough, the day is ending with a bad discovery. My captain has just discovered a new crack in the gooseneck caused by the excessive flogging of the sails and boom. It's the same situation we had after our light-wind July Atlantic Crossing but the gooseneck has since been hand-delivered to Newport, RI and supposedly "super" repaired. We'll keep a close eye on the crack and try to contain it until it can be repaired, hopefully upon our return to New England in the spring. (The gooseneck holds the boom to the mast.) Day's run 186nm, an average of 7.75kts. Approximately 1060nm - maybe 7 days? - yet to go.

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 10

The day started with excitement caused by a fish to reel in - another of the same unknown variety. The Boga Grip that's been taking up space and adding weight has finally come in handy. Spirits dampened as light winds necessitated taking down the sails. We opted to use the engine to help steady the boat from swells, charged the house batteries (verses using the generator) and went in search of wind. Two hours later we found some good wind and were back in business. While the 3m / 9ft waves are allowing the boat to surf and increase our speed, their short intervals and confused state have created an uncomfortable boat motion. The different motion has gotten the better of our visiting crew who's since taken up full-time residency in the center cockpit. He's on the mend though thanks to his determination and the patch behind his ear. Day's run was 178nm, an average of 7.4kts. We now have 1700nm behind us and another 1200nm to go. We're hopeful the back end of the trip will be faster with a few 200nm/days.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/19/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
20°56.20'N 040°54.10'W
Course 275T Speed 8.8kts
Wind 058T @ 23kts

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 9

The wind trends were more consistent for a couple of days so we figured the wind was here to stay and that we'd experienced the last of the painful sail flogging but we were wrong. So very wrong. Hard work and a long night to log 168nm, a 7kt average. No sightings.

With the birthday over, it was time to decorate for Christmas. I hung my 4-inch wreath on the hatch and a handful of decorations in the salon - all saved from a care-package delivered to me while afloat in stormy Bermuda 2 years ago. Then I placed wrapped presents for the guys and giant pine cones from Portugal on the bookshelf, each carefully wedged in place in hopes of it not becoming a projectile. Now I'm ready for Santa.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/19/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
20°53.87'N 039°09.02'W
Course 271T Speed 8.8kts
Wind 047T @ 23kts

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Monday, December 17, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/18/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
20°55.25'N 036°17.28'W
Course 255T Speed 8.6kts
Wind 040T @ 18kts

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 8

The day we caught a fish! Actually, Joseph caught the fish. My captain and I stood by watching the small tuna jumping out of the water as Joseph reeled it in, but then it got away. Hours later there was another catch and this one didn't get away. We've no idea what kind of fish it was, but it was delicious. It was beautiful too - as if it was gold-leafed - with a narrow body about 2 feet in length and a blue Mohawk-like fin that ran from its head to its pronounced forked tail. We took a photo in hopes of identifying it someday. Any guesses? As if this wasn't enough excitement for one day, we also had two quick spinnaker take downs due to approaching squalls. The second take down was in the dark just before night watches so we opted to sail wind on wing with the 100% jib through the night. A good move, which avoided what would have been another rush take down when hard rain arrived just before first light. Overall wind is more consistent but we've not yet reached the trades. Day's run was 171nm over a 25-hour period (we had another time change) making our average 6.8kts. We finally saw a sailing vessel off in the distance and another sea bird. Surprised we aren't seeing more.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/17/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
21°17.27'N 034°42.36'W
Course 266T Speed 7.6kts
Wind 062T @ 15kts

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/16/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
21°52.47'N 031°59.67'W
Course 243T Speed 6.8kts
Wind 037T @ 13kts

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Madiera to Caribbean - Day 7

We've been at sea for a week now with 1,115nm behind us and about 1,760nm still to go. The nights have gradually gotten warmer and last night was very comfortable. We're starting to see flying fish and a sea bird circled us this morning, but still no ship sightings. In summary of week 1, I'm sharing commentary from my captain, "Wind a little more consistent - 15kts NE - hopefully the bulk of the light stuff is behind us. We are sailing with wind angles of 155/165 true, about 145/155 apparent, which appears to be the sweet spot for these conditions. As day 7 comes to a close we have now been flying a spinnaker for 5 days. The spinnaker pole is about 12 feet off the deck for these deep wind angles, keeping it high and forward away from the main. When the fully battened main inverts due to a combination of the swells and back-draft from the spinnaker, the entire boat shakes and the crew starts to show signs of being sleep deprived. Logged miles are finally starting to trend in the right direction 173nm, 170nm, 154nm, 146nm, 137nm, 173nm and 162nm. Overall the numbers are a little below expectation. The boat has never been drier now with the centerboard fixed and tightened keel-bolts. Fuel consumption is approx 2.5g/day - all generator usage for house batteries, water and refrigeration."

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 6

Another beautiful day in the Atlantic Ocean and our third straight flying the cruising chute. We can't imagine making this trip without spinnakers! We had more wind enabling us to log 173nm and average 7.2kts, which is getting closer to Eve's overall average. At some point Joseph got a nibble on his fishing line because something chomped off half the lure. (Maybe a good thing this one got away?) So as you can tell, things afloat are looking up. Plus we've adjusted to the motions of the sea and our night schedules so we're doing more than just sailing, eating and sleeping. The guys have been practising celestial navigation and I've been working on a web project.
For the second year in a row I celebrated my birthday at sea. (Turned 39, again.) For my birthday I got a shower, a shorter night watch and we each got to enjoy a cold beer with our Tex-Mex inspired lunch. However, the best part of the day was the nice unexpected emails I received from friends even though they knew I was at sea and probably wouldn't see emails for days. My captain has recently started using SSB (single side band radio) to download shadow mail from our gmail accounts. (Shadow mail shows us who has sent an email and the subject line.) Each day I get to select a few for retrieval and then sometime during the night my captain performs magic with the SSB and I get the full email text to read. So, if anyone wants to send me a quick message you can email me and place a short message in the subject line or enough info to know I should try to retrieve it when the air waves allow. Heads up though, for now this is only working in one direction so I won't be able to respond.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/15/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
23°10.60'N 029°16.34'W
Course 241T Speed 8.1kts
Wind 037T @ 16kts

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Friday, December 14, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/15/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
24°00.05'N 027°50.11'W
Course 230T Speed 7.8kts
Wind 026T @ 16kts

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 5

Another 24 hours with the cruising chute working hard and a couple of jibes to keep us on course. We had hoped to hang a right soon to take more of a rhumbline course but there is little wind to our west. So we continue south where there is more wind and eventually should hit the sought after trade winds to take us west. The light winds have caused bouts of flogging that today resulted in a broken top batten on the main sail. Fortunately we brought a spare. Overall a comfortable day but our slowest so far with only 137nm logged. Still no sighting of wildlife or vessels. Joseph is now managing a fishing operation off the stern, determined to catch us dinner before we reach land. (Attempts to fish off Eve over the past five years have yielded zilch. Not even a nibble.)

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/14/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
25°41.45'N 026°06.12'W
Course 243T Speed 7.2kts
Wind 041T @ 14kts

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 4

Hard to believe it's only day 4. Feels like more, although each individual day does seem to pass quickly. This day started with decreasing wind and the hoisting of our cruising spinnaker, which 24hrs later is still flying. The day's extra curricular activity was manually winching my captain up the mast (while under sail) to replace the steaming light bulb. He managed to take some interesting bird's-eye photos that I'll share once we reach land and internet access. It was a perfect sunny day, warm but not hot, and the wind never completely died as we feared. The nights have been especially dark due to clouds and no or little moon but this night was clear and spectacular with an amazing amount of falling stars. No traffic or wildlife sightings. Day's run 146nm, average speed 6kts.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/13/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
26°20.46'N 025°01.79'W
Course 234T Speed 6.1kts
Wind 029T @ 10kts

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 3

Flew the all-purpose spinnaker most of the day. We stayed "suited up" while off watch throughout the night just in case there was cause for an emergency takedown. Night was noisy with flogging main and additionally uncomfortable sleeping in gear and with one foot on the floor, ready to spring into action. Wind increased too much for this spinnaker by 0630 which is when we all took part in a flawless mailbox drop takedown. Sailed wing on wing until around noon as day 3 came to a close. Day's run was only 154nm but we're happy with our 6.4kt average and progress made given the wind strengths we had to work with. No visitors. Few ship sightings.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/12/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
28°20.90'N 024°07.27'W
Course 231T Speed 6.7kts
Wind 089T @ 14kts

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Madeira to Caribbean - Day 2

Calmer seas made for an easier night. Finally had a pod of dolphins visit us this morning. Otherwise only sightings have been 3 ships, always in the distance. Wind has begun to lighten (10kts), as forecasted, so my captain got that spinnaker feeling. We're flying the all-purpose chute. Day's run 170nm. Only about 2,500nm yet to go...at the current (slow) rate, another 18 days.

I'm proudly getting handy with the intimating convection microwave oven. Yesterday baked chocolate chip muffins for mid-afternoon snack and today a lemon loaf. Thankfully we did manage to get a cooking gas refill in Madeira. But now the sport of baking and broiling with this multi-functional appliance (while the generator is on) has me hooked.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/11/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
30°31.09'N 020°43.13'W
Course 243T Speed 6.7kts
Wind 120T @ 11kts

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Madeira to Caribbean - Day 1

Our 3-person crew pushed off the dock at Quinta do Lorde Marina around noon. We left in the lee of Madeira so the wind was light for several hours but by evening the winds increased enough to enable us to maintain an average of 7.5kts and log 180nm for the first 24-hrs. Rolling seas caused our fully battened main to flog and the boat to pitch which made for a noisy and bouncy night but our short watch system helped keep spirits high. We continue to be on a run with the wind at 150° true. Mostly cloudy skies with a few showers. Only one ship sighted near Madeira suggests we are off the beaten path. Increasing sea temperatures - 20°C/68°F - so we must be headed in the right direction.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/10/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
31°12.07'N 019°16.34'W
Course 259T Speed 6.8kts
Wind 104T @ 19kts

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/10/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
31°54.47'N 017°52.27'W
Course 227T Speed 5.6kts
Wind 082T @ 14kts

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Farewell Madeira

Only hours away from setting sail on our non-stop 2,800nm (hopefully) passage to St Martin. Joseph Burke, who sailed with us before has just arrived to accompany us. Now if Mother Nature is kind enough to allow for one-person watches, we’ll each have only one 4-hour watch and get to sleep more at night. It will be our longest trip to date, about 3 weeks, and our first Christmas at sea. (Probably canned ham for Christmas dinner.) As usual, you can follow our passage through Shiptrak (http://shiptrak.org/?callsign=WDB4885) or this blog.

Madeira

Upon arrival we knew we should have allowed more time to explore the unique island of Madeira. The island is comprised of steep once volcanic peaks that rise sharply out of the sea. There are no sandy beaches, only dramatic mountainsides or cliffs created through erosion. One side of Madeira is lush while the other is more arid as shown in my photos. Quinta do Lorde Marina is at the end of the arid side. The island is laced with man-made terraces that allow for farming (and hinder erosion), and tunnels through the mountains.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Porto Santo

Porto Santo is a small (11km by 6km) island of volcanic origin surrounded by gold sandy beaches and turquoise water (one is immediately reminded of the Caribbean). Large palm trees and colorful hibiscus and bougainvillea flowers decorate her interior which has only about 5,000 inhabitants and one town, Vila Baleira, where Christopher Columbus lived for many years. The town feels wonderfully Portuguese – old world charm yet modern – and offers most important amenities including several pastelarias and a bench filled square with free WiFi, which is where my captain has spent most of his time. The town is a 15 minute walk along a beach rimmed shore line from the marina. The marina offers basic necessities but overall it pales, especially the dock, compared to the last three marinas we’ve visited. We are the only sailboat in the harbor, another sign that we are late to head south.

Next stop is the larger island and namesake of the archipelago, Madeira.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Southwest to Madeira - Day 3

Today I ran out of cooking gas just as I finished cooking lunch. Normally I would switch over to my other tank but my captain refuses to let me touch it until we are underway to the Caribbean. Filling an American propane tank (with propane or butane) has been near impossible in Europe. We discovered this inconvenience upon our arrival to Ireland so I've tried to use the gas sparingly, which hasn't been easy with the cool temperatures and my daily afternoon tea ritual. But then I'll admit it's been sweet having a legitimate excuse to eat out a lot. Anyway, now I'm being forced to use our microwave convection oven that for the past 5+ years has merely been a galley decoration. Now each meal begins with me reading the operations manual... The water temperatures continue to rise. A sign to me that we're headed in the right direction - to warmer weather! The water is changing color too, more blue.
It's been a fun 3-day passage to Madeira in part because we've sailed what has been a popular explorer and trade route for hundreds of years. We also over took a square rigger (think Pirate's of the Caribbean) on a reach. We arrived in Porto Santo, the most northeastern of the Madeira islands before noon today.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/2/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
33°35.46'N 015°06.75'W
Course 247T Speed 6.6kts
Wind 038T @ 15kts

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Southwest to Madeira - Day 2

Uneventful day with shifting light wind that kept us busy tending sails. Only logged a modest 139nm despite our labors. Night was sightly warmer but I still found my ski hat comforting. Continued to see lots of ship traffic, which we find ourselves growing more accustomed to. We're more than half way to Madeira.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

12/1/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
34°53.14'N 012°45.48'W
Course 229T Speed 4.9kts
Wind 036T @ 12kts

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Southwest to Madeira - Day 1

We started our day happily underway tuning our like-new rig. We watched mainland Europe fade into the distance and reflected on our enjoyable stay in Portugal. Dusk brought dark clouds and heavier than forecasted wind which helped us log 170nm of the approximately 440nm passage. It was a cold night requiring the ski hat and full foul weather gear. During the night my captain rescued a squid transported on deck by one of the 2m plus high waves that hit our stern quarter throughout the night. I'm excited about visiting the Madeira archipelago which is an autonomous region of Portugal located off Africa's west coast.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/30/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
35°33.60'N 011°34.66'W
Course 237T Speed 6.8kts
Wind 008T @ 15kts

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/30/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
36°15.50'N 010°05.31'W
Course 240T Speed 8.2kts
Wind 005T @ 18kts

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Living at Sopromar

The weekend felt long as we waited to have the mast and rigging removed early Monday morning at high tide. Turned out Sopromar Boatyard needed to lift the boat to land in order to remove the mast. We were unprepared for this - living on the boat on stands in the boatyard and all the fun that comes along with it, such as managing our water supply and living without power, plumbing and heat just as the weather turned cold. Oh yeah, and there’s the climbing adventures associated with a steep step ladder required to get on or off my home. But in the beginning we were too stressed out about the mast and the impending exploratory surgery. By mid day the mast was removed and a team of specialists were making their diagnosis and suggestions for repair. To the Sopromar team’s credit, they were as concerned with why the crack occurred as they were with making the best repair. By Tuesday Eve was in surgery and has already made a fast recovery.

Meanwhile, while the mast was out, we decided to tighten up the keel bolts and since we were so impressed with the talent at the yard, have a centerboard sheave replaced. These were the cause of our boat woes this time last year. Never a dull moment living the boating life no matter how much preventative maintenance you do.

Just a week later we're back in the water and grateful we were next door to Sopromar when we found the crack. Otherwise we were miles from a boatyard who could handle the repair. We were impressed by their professionalism and proficiency, and the costs were very reasonable, even for us despite the current poor exchange rate of the US dollar against the Euro.

Happily afloat, provisioned and stowed again, we're setting sail within minutes. Next stop Madeira.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Preparing to Set Sail from Portugal

A couple of days before our - or any – departure my captain and I are like worker ants running about the boat doing our various last minute chores. This time our to-do-list was longer than usual given the extended period of time we expect to be at sea – we’re Caribbean bound. Hours before our departure, I hauled my captain up the mast for a customary check of the rigging. To our surprise and horror he found a crack in the mast just below the lower spreaders. We immediately contacted our network of experts in Newport, RI and located a local rigger to assess the situation, but we already know the rig isn’t safe for making the long passage.

Lagos

My captain and I made the short 120nm sail to the Algarve coast, arriving in Lagos, another seafaring town now maintained through tourism. Among boaters Lagos (pronounced La-GOOSH) is known for the Marina de Lagos and Sopromar Boatyard, but it’s the stunning array of beaches that attract most visitors to Lagos and the Algarve region of Portugal. Due to our latest visitors and daily trips to a new beach, I can confirm that most of these beaches are worthy of your visit.
Our visitors have departed and so shall we soon…

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Heavenly Custard Tart

Custard tarts deserve their own blog for three reasons. First because I am a self declared custard tart ambassador, which is locally called pastiés de nata. Second, because this native Portuguese dessert (breakfast to some of us) is worth flying here to experience. And third, I figure it’s the least embarrassing way to defuse your shock upon seeing my recent weight gain due to these addictive delights.

What exactly are they you might ask? A custard tart is basically a small crème brûlée baked inside a flaky puff pastry shell, best savored on the day it’s baked, hot or cold.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lisbon

One could spend days exploring Lisbon, or as the Portuguese say, Lisboa. I had no preconceived ideas and knew very little about this capital city, and like my fellow visiting boaters in Marina de Cascais, I was surprised and impressed by her which led to many visits before continuing on our planned journey. Lisbon’s steep hilled streets and cable cars first remind you of San Francisco but her architecture, long history and culture are clearly European. What I like most about Lisbon is her old world charm (narrow backstreets lined with old and often tiled buildings, small shops, and no high-rises) and modern living. Thanks to a friend also visiting while I was in the area, I got to live a little in Lisbon staying in an apartment in the trendy Bairro Alto area. The uphill street climb and four flights of stairs to reach the modern apartment were rewarded with stunning city views complete with traditional terracotta roof-tops and laundry drying off balconies that extended past the Rio (river) Tejo or up the hill to The Castle. We were surrounded by old Lisbon, vibrant with residents, students and other modern explorers like ourselves. Short strolls gave access to some of my favorite Lisboan things including dozens of small traditional restaurants where it’s actually fun to try the house wine, Bairro Alto’s street party nightlife, Solar do Vinho do Porto which is Portugal's Port & Wine Institute located in an old home with an impressive tasting room, unique shops selling Portuguese made goods including beautifully made shoes, textiles & pottery, and outside cafés & pastelarias providing strong coffee and local specialties such as custard tarts.

Cascais, Portugal

Forgive me for I have sinned. It’s been five weeks since my last blog.

We had just stopped in Cascais (pronounced kash-KAISH) to wait for more wind and introduce ourselves to Portugal. The wind arrived but we stayed – for a month! Cascais is a gem of a place. It’s an old fishing village that has grown over the last century into a sophisticated beach town. Colorful small fishing boats still fill the harbor but now the narrow winding mosaic-like cobblestone streets lead you through a charming downtown filled with tasty restaurants and modern shops.
After 5 days at sea, my first day strolling the beautiful sidewalks that appear to roll like waves nearly sent me to the ground.

October begins this area’s off-season so the crowds are gone but according to locals the good weather has lingered longer than usual, which has been nice since we didn’t get a summer in Ireland. My captain continued to work long hours with his day job but I tried to take advantage of my new surroundings and explore as much as possible.

Nestled between mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and Lisbon, Cascais is a perfect base for exploring Portugal’s wonderful extremes. Cascais is part of a large stretch of coastline - a mix of cliffs and beautiful beaches - west of Lisbon that has long been a playground for the wealthy. Most of the coastline is accessible to the public and ideal for walking or biking. There is so much to see and do that each day it was tough to decide where to go – stay in Cascais or journey further a field. There are free bicycle rentals for exploring Cascais while public buses provide scenic rides to places outside of town, including to the Cabo da Roca Lighthouse, mainland Europe’s furthest point west or to the fairytale-like mountain village of Sintra filled with palaces and parks. Or I’d take the local train east along the picturesque coastline and within 30 minutes was in fascinating Lisbon, Portugal’s capital.

Occasionally I hauled the camera along and I’ve posted the fruits of my labor on Flickr.com.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/8/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
38°41.83'N 009°24.88'W
Course 200T Speed 0.0kts
Wind 146T @ 4kts

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Landfall in Portugal – Day 5

We had a nice uneventful day’s sail before reaching Cascais, Portugal as the sun rose and our 5th day under way ended. We checked-in with reception at Marina de Cascais, just north of Lisbon, who also handled Customs & Immigration procedures. It was surprisingly an easy and pleasant experience, maybe because our last port of call was in another European Union country.

Eve’s comfortably docked in another swanky marina. This sailor is getting spoiled! Now my captain and I are wobbling (literally) around Cascais researching wifi access options.
For those of you wondering about Junior, our latest feathered friend hung out and did numerous fly-bys throughout the morning. But by early afternoon, well rested and fed, Junior left us. I suspect Junior probably jumped ship onto one of the many nearby and faster moving cargo ships as it was a leisurely sail day (146nm) for us.

Our 5 day passage from Crosshaven, Ireland to Cascais, Portugal was 820nm.

S/V Event Horizon Arrived Cascais

10/14/2007 @ 7:20 AM(UTC)
38°41.61'N 009°24.88'W

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/13/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
40°03.26'N 009°59.52'W
Course 178T Speed 6.3kts
Wind 106T @ 8kts

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Approaching Portugal - Day 4

The sunshine filled day helped with drying out our gear. But by late morning we had no wind so we elected to motor our way along the west coast of northern Spain. (We're still more than 60 miles offshore.) By 2300 hrs we had wind and sailed through the night on a comfortable run, which has been wonderful for catching up on lost sleep. We've been safely sailing down what feels like the median of a busy highway these past 24 hours. To port it's northbound and to starboard it's southbound traffic for a popular shipping route.
We have another feathery friend. We're calling this one "Junior" and like "the baby" (see Oct 2007 blog titled Baby Sitting), it too prefers hanging out down below. Our cute little Junior has quickly settled in and seems to be the noisy type. When not busy eating my captain's breakfast scones Junior prefers to stay close to us but isn't a cuddler as was our previous guest. At my request, due to the increasing amount of bird evidence throughout the boat and clean-up required, Junior had been downgraded to steward class. Junior now resides on the aft deck with his scones and water supply.
It was a moderate day of progress (164nm) due to light winds and time spend adrift for sail changes and swapping out the Autohelm's linear drive unit. (We carry a spare since we relay heavily on our self steering system in place of crew.)
With an updated forecast of light winds, we are giving consideration to an earlier landfall in Portugal, verses continuing on for the south coast as planned. I'd best get out the Portuguese phrase book and start cramming.
With the sun up to begin a new day, I just watched Junior take a morning exercise fly around the parameter of the boat. Maybe we'll share a breakfast scone...

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Progress to Portugal - Day 3

I spoke too soon about the Bay of Biscay being in a good mood. She turned inhospitable during the last few hours of our visit.
The day started out pleasant enough. Still on a port beam reach we were greeted with a sunny sky and easterly 15-22kt winds that maintained a chill in the air and fueled building seas but we were happy making great progress. Just to be on the safe side, before night watches began, we put a reef in the jib. By 2100 hrs the gusts had increased to over 30kts and the wind and the seas kept building. By midnight we had reefed all we could reef and were relying on the storm (stay) sail to keep us on course through what would be 6 grueling hours. Large hectic seas, steady 30-45 knots winds and the dark of night are never a good combination but on this particular night things just seemed terrible. Plus there were the many waves of water reaching on deck from all four sides of the boat. I realize I'm out of practise after a string of comfortable passages but still...Later my captain discovered the Autohelm (self steering system) was not functioning at 100% which acerbated the situation in terms of the way the boat handled the conditions and felt to us. It was definitely one of those sailing moments when I question why I'm doing what I'm doing. And one of those times I'm grateful to have the captain I do.
We made way 200nm for a three day total of 545nm.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/12/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
42°20.94'N 010°10.43'W
Course 172T Speed 7.3kts
Wind 123T @ 4kts

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/12/2007 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
43°45.92'N 010°11.89'W
Course 184T Speed 8.3kts
Wind 084T @ 28kts

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Portugal Bound - Day 2

Expected to have the lightest winds, Day 2 carried us 170nm with little time on the engine. We're already a third of the way to southern Portugal! We continued on our rhumb line spending the day on the west side of the Bay of Biscay, which has been in a good mood during our visit. We entered on a starboard beam reach and the wind gradually clocked around us so we flew a spinnaker for a few hours and are now on a port beam reach.

I've noticed the water change from more green tones - yes, even Ireland's water is green - to what is now dark azure blue. The boat that was in our shadow, an English ketch named Bootlegger, passed us under engine in late morning. They made radio contact with us and like many other boats we have met heading south, they are eventually bound for the Canary Islands to join the ARC (Atlantic Rally Crossing) which departs for the Caribbean in mid November.

Day 2 was a beautiful dry sunny day that allowed us to shed the foulies and extra layers of clothing for a few hours in the afternoon. We had the rare experience of sailing past an enormous sea turtle with a head the size of a crash helmet and its prehistoric looking shell resembled an upturned ribbed dinghy. (Unfortunately no photos.) We continue to wonder just how old this amazing creature must be. By evening we were bundling up with extra warmth for what was a surprisingly chilly night. Since it's just my captain and me, were back to night watches of four hours on, four hours off from 8PM to noon. Watch or no watch, the nights are long as it's dark by 7:30PM and the sun doesn't start to rise until around 7:30AM.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/11/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
45°24.39'N 009°37.99'W
Course 195T Speed 7.6kts
Wind 075T @ 18kts

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/10/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
48°12.99'N 009°03.46'W
Course 190T Speed 5.9kts
Wind 341T @ 12kts

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Pointed Towards Portugal Day 1

If all goes according to plan, we're on a rhumb line passage to Portugal. Off the dock by 0730, put on the 135% jib and were under full sail before 0830. The first day's progress was average (170nm) but better than expected since we had more wind than forecasted. Winds clocked from SW to W mostly ranging from 14-21 knots across the beam, with 4 scattered hours of light wind that warranted the engine. Sea state was moderate and the air was wet most of the day. Nothing like starting out a passage wet. At least it drizzled less as the day progressed and the night air was surprisingly mild. The only excitement was passing other sailboats on a similar passage that departed before us. One yacht (S/V Boot Legger) has remained in our shadow. Time to go catch the sunrise and begin day 2

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/9/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
51°10.58'N 008°30.86'W
Course 185T Speed 7.2kts
Wind 338T @ 4kts

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Crosshaven, County Cork

We’ve spent the past week in Crosshaven, known among sailors as the home of Royal Cork, the world’s oldest yacht club and Cork Week, Ireland's largest International Sailing Regatta. With three marinas, a boatyard, a huge racing scene and a fine selection of pubs, it’s a fun village for sailors. The flowing taps of Irish Stout (the Murphy’s is especially wonderful) and friendly locals are icing on the cake.

Other Crosshaven highlights include Wednesday night trad sessions (Irish music) at the Moonduster, Saturday farmer’s market in the village square and Sunday racing fleets parading through the harbour. County Cork has always been my favorite part of Ireland and my love for the area has only increased.

Like us, other boats are enjoying the comforts and beauty of Crosshaven waiting for the right weather window to journey south, which appears to be starting tomorrow…

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Baby Sitting

There was a bright side to our evening rock and roll session. Now we can be confident we still have our sea legs, which had been a concern and one of our reasons for making a coastal sail. With only the two of us on a passage that crosses the legendary Bay of Biscay, we want to be sure we have sea legs.

Day two of our journey south along the eastern Irish coast was again encased in cold gray drizzle on top of messy seas. While not the nicest day, it was an easy enough sail. The wind was directly on our stern, causing the main to flog, so we only sailed with the 135% jib which did a fine job. The morning was a blur due to little sleep but we both managed to pick up steam as the day progressed, probably due to our visitors.

Early afternoon brought the largest pod of dolphins I have ever witnessed. They gave synchronized performances (with as many as 6 dolphins) simultaneously on each side of the bow, while countless others performed gymnastics a distance in front of the bow. It was amazing! (Sorry no dolphin photos because I’m tired of trying and only getting shots of splashes.)

Our second and even more memorable visitor – yes, even more memorable! - was a bird. We’re 3 miles offshore in poor visibility when a little bird would periodically fly around us and land on the boat. The bird did this for a couple of hours, little by little landing closer to us and staying longer. At first glance it looked grown-up with its distinguishing colorful markings (wish I knew my birds) but later upon closer inspection we determined it was only a youngster. Sometimes you could see unruly tuffs of baby fuzz under its adult feathers and while an excellent flyer, it wobbled a bit when it walked. Eventually it started chatting to us and landing on us. Isn’t he adorable I would say, especially when it started to nuzzle. After a while the little guy wouldn’t stop chirping unless we held it! (It reminded me of a time I went chicken hunting in the BVI’s but that’s another bird story…) By now we’re affectionately referring to the little guy as “the baby” and convinced he was blown offshore and now he’s cold and exhausted. Later the captain was down below saying “maybe you should bring him down here where it’s warm”. I was afraid he might get spooked and fly into something but before there was much debate the baby flew down the hatch and onto my captain’s shoulder. It was settled, down below it would be. We created a nest-like area with the kitchen towel where the baby slept for over two hours. Upon frequent inspection, only occasionally did we see him look up to be sure all was fine before tucking his cute little head back into his side feathers, his way of saying lights out.


By late afternoon we entered Cork Harbour, rounded Roche’s Point (top photo) and entered the Owenboy River to arrive in Crosshaven, County Cork. After docking at Salve Marina we found the baby relocated down below, awake and chirpy. He was still happiest in the palm of a hand but seemed energetic. Thinking the baby must be famished, I attempted to feed it bread which he ignored and then sesame seeds which he clearly hated because each time I held one to his beak, he would turn away and bury his head under his wing in disgust. The baby was in no hurry to vacate but as we left for the pub we left him in the warmth of a towel inside the hatch cover. Upon our return to the boat, the baby was gone, surely grateful to be rested and back on land.

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

10/1/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
51°52.70'N 007°47.05'W
Course 240T Speed 7.2kts
Wind 068T @ 19kts

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Goodbye Dun Laoghaire

At 5am on Sunday, the last day of September, we shoved off the Dun Laoghaire docks and watched the lights of Dublin Harbour fade into the distance. We battled tides and moderate seas to make our way south. It was cold and gray but we had good wind (15-20kts) for most of the day and somehow managed to dodge most of the rain. Upon approach to Dunmore East we decided to stop for the night. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Why continue on when we could stop for a family visit (it’s my captain’s brother’s stomping grounds), savor a pint of goodness AND get a good night sleep? Wrong. Well, the visit and the Guinness were great but the swells and never-ending motion in the harbour resulted in it making our top-10-worst-nights-on-the-boat list. Exhausted, we lifted the hook in the early morning hours and continued south.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

9/30/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
52°46.34'N 005°51.46'W
Course 184T Speed 4.8kts
Wind 129T @ 16kts

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Farewell Dun Laoghaire

As of today Dun Laoghaire Marina has been home for two months. It’s been nice living dockside despite the 900-plus step distance between the boat and the marina entrance gate. We’ve also been keeping posh boat company, including our celebrity neighbor, sailing yacht Soufriere, a Spirit 54 featured in the latest James Bond movie. Soufriere and our American flag often attract visitors despite the long journey to get to our dock, which is the last row of berths in Ireland’s largest marina.

My captain and I are disappointed by what little we’ve accomplished or experienced off the boat this summer while in Ireland. I know I had a long to-do wish list, but such is life with work commitments and making up for the time at sea it took to get here. On many days working (down below) was easier and welcomed as moisture filled the air and dark skies loomed outside. Everyone assures us that the weather did improve upon our arrival… I believe the best summer day was on Saturday, Sept 15th. The proof was my ability to wear a sleeveless top and shorts most of the day without discomfort and the need for sunscreen. As a friend aptly stated on this treasured day, “It’s even nicer than those other two days of summer we’ve had.”

Since that memorable warm sunny day the weather has declined rapidly with frontal system after frontal system. As the sailing guides wisely recommend, we should be heading south. We’re currently in stand-by mode awaiting a decent weather window for sailing to Portugal.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Dun Laoghaire

I am living on a real dock (not tied to a mooring, between two poles or at anchor) for the first time in the history of Event Horizon being my home sweet home. I will call slip T55 at Dun Laoghaire Marina home through August and you can be sure I will enjoy every moment while I temporarily live the high life.

Dun Laoghaire Marina is nestled within two breakwaters built by the government specifically to accommodate the marina which opened in 2001. The marina was expanded earlier this year resulting in over 700 berths and top-notch dock facilities, including a new barge with four private cabins each with a shower, toilet, sink and seating. Thankfully this barge is located near the visitor berths (and my home) because it is a hike to the other end of the dock where the main facilities (including laundry) are located and you exit to shore.


The marina is a short stroll from the town centre with all amenities and things to do. The town of Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Leary) is located on the south shores of Dublin Bay and is a stop along the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit railway) route, which is convenient for getting around. Now if I can get caught up on communications and work, there is much to explore.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dunmore East to Dun Laoghaire

After 4 days of fun in the west, the boat was calling me home. Actually my captain was calling me home, ready to resume our journey north. So on Tuesday, 24th of July, we departed for the Irish Sea. I’ve heard many rough stories about the Irish Sea but she was in a good mood on this sunny day giving us gentle seas and a steady 17kt breeze perfect for flying the spinnaker most of the 14hr (116nm) passage to Dun Laoghaire Harbour.


In route we passed four wind farms, which made us smile. The first three wind farms we passed were land based but the last one (shown) is Ireland's first offshore wind project, the Arklow Bank Wind Park which is built on the shallow Arklow Bank in the Irish Sea five miles off the coast of County Wicklow and 40 miles south of Dublin.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Galway Arts Festival

Due to no wind for a few days, my captain gave permission to jump ship so the crew (all two of us) train hopped cross country to Galway, located on the west coast. We had recently discovered the famed annual Galway Arts Festival was underway and a friend living near the city center invited us to join her, and watch her performance in the Macnas Parade. Galway is known for its great pubs and craic any day of the week but this was an exceptionally thrilling time to visit. Theater, dance, music, comedy, visual arts and streets performances were in abundance throughout the city and I experienced as much as I could during my 4 day visit.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Waterford

Showered and ready to explore, the crew jumped on a bus and headed into the city of Waterford for the day. Most known for its crystal, Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city starting as a Viking settlement in 914. We walked the streets admiring its old architecture, bustling shoppers and numerous options for food and drink.

Upon return to the boat we learned that the forecast says little or no wind in the coming days which puts our journey north on hold.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dunmore East

Wednesday, 18th of July we had a fine 9 ½ hr (63nm) sail to Dunmore East, which is located at the base of the River Suir near Waterford. Dunmore East is a small village with shops, pubs and restaurants and a busy fishing harbour. The harbour is deep, sheltered and provided us a good anchorage near the cliffs. The Waterford Harbour Sailing Club clubhouse was welcoming and a good source for local information.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland




During the busy summer season, it is common for boats visiting Kinsale marinas to raft along side each other. So when one of the inside boats need to move all the other boats rafted outside it must move too. Each day was like a game of musical chairs played with boats.

Transatlantic Photos

Here is a sampling of photos taken on Event Horizon’s journey to and visit in Newfoundland, June 17 – July 1, 2007 and her transatlantic passage to Ireland July 2 – 14, 2007.
Upon review, we realized we didn’t take many photos, but then remembered there wasn’t much to take a photo of...the only exciting moments were sea life sightings but most attempts to capture these events usually resulted in images of water splashes void of any wildlife.
Many images were too gray to post due to the fog and overcast skies we experienced during most of the trip. And none of the images capture how cold it was despite it being late June and July!



Additional photos can be viewed at Flickr.com. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/27146861@N00/sets/72157601121514508/)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Landfall in Kinsale, Ireland

After 3048nm, our transatlantic crossing is complete. (The passage from Newfoundland to Ireland was about 1800nm.) We are grateful for the kind weather and a wonderful boat that provided us a gentle passage.

We made landfall on the south coast in the charming town of Kinsale and were greeted on the dock with smiles, hugs and pints of Guinness. For the past 3 days we have enjoyed the kindness of our captain's family and the great atmosphere of Kinsale, a sister city to Newport, RI, known for its wonderful shops, restaurants, pubs and sailing scene. We plan to depart Kinsale early tomorrow to gradually work our way along the east coast heading north towards Dublin.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Around The Fastnet - Day 13

The new wind charts, which we receive in the early morning, now reflected what we had already been experiencing, 12-17kts. As the day progressed we were close hauled and eventually on a beat. A few gusts at night put us on the edge of needing a sail change but we managed to avoid it as the winds became lighter before we approached land. We made decent speed throughout the day but the last 100nm seemed to go sooo slooow...

Unfortunately it was dark as we rounded the Fastnet so we stayed well clear of it. (At least I've sailed around it before and got to see it up close.) The Fastnet Rock, a 28 meter high pinnacle with a lighthouse on it, is a famous racing mark and often the first sight of Ireland for any transatlantic sailor, as is was for us.

Fitting that we should reach Ireland before this day ends because it's my Irish captain's 40th birthday.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 12

Who'd have ever guessed we'd be using our light wind sails on approach to Ireland?!?! We ended up flying the spinnaker for 24hrs straight. We lucked out with 10kt wind (double what the wind charts forecasted) until sunset and then were pleasantly surprised to get a few more knots of breeze. Due to looming large dark fluffy clouds we changed to the 135% for the night.

It was a glorious day aboard event horizon. For starters we had sunshine all day and for several hours it was warm enough to wear short sleeves and let our feet breath the fresh ocean air. I guess you could say it actually felt like July! (We've spent most of the past 12 days bundled up in foul weather gear and sailing boots. Some nights we climbed into our bunks this way so we could quickly jump on deck and into action.) Much of the morning was spent watching a group of over 20 dolphins playing around us. We're not sure if they were enjoying the Irish music we had playing or if they were just showing off but they did all sorts of funny things none of us had witnessed before including jumping strait-up high into the air, back-flips, assorted body-twists and belly-flop-like slaps on the water with their heads. We took turns laying down on the bow where we were just inches from them as they jumped and swam in the bow wake. From all angles, they were amazing to watch. Plus the seas were finally calm enough to read books free from fear of sickness, accomplish boat tasks before the to-do list gets too long, and take showers (#2 of the passage) without risking injury. I think my favorite part of the day was putting on fresh clothes. Saddest part of the day was realizing my Caribbean glow (tan) is only a memory.

While the crew were busy enjoying themselves, the boat made good progress. We are only about one day away from the Fastnet Rock. Now if we encounter no or light wind we have enough fuel to engine into port. So, if all goes according to plan, we should arrive in Kinsale Harbour before mid-day Sunday.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/13/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
50°34.88'N 016°40.23'W
Course 091T Speed 6.0kts
Wind 237T @ 12kts

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 11

As the wind dropped below 15kts early this morning the captain had all hands on deck flying the spinnaker. By mid afternoon the wind direction shifted so after a flawless take down we put up the 135%. By late day the wind direction shifted back west and the wind dropped to 10kts so we got that spinnaker feeling again... We carried the spinnaker through the night which allowed us to make good distance despite the lighter winds. We're only about 325nm from the Fastnet Rock but the wind speed is forecasted to drop further (0-5kts) for a couple of days which will make the final miles like the start of the trip - painfully slow.

After much debate we have decided to make landfall in Kinsale, County Cork. Arrangements have been made for us at the Kinsale Yacht Club Marina. Our ETA is sometime on Sunday.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/12/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
50°23.48'N 020°24.15'W
Course 075T Speed 7.8kts
Wind 214T @ 14kts

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 10

A steady west wind (17-26kts) kept us on a fast run all day. In the morning we flew a spinnaker averaging over 9kts but with the wind in the mid 20's and an ominous sky fast on our tail we decided to switch back to the 100% jib. During the take down there was a mechanical malfunction with the sock. It all ended without damage but the whole thing far exceeded our daily excitement quota. For the remainder of daylight hours we used the spinnaker pole on the jib to sail wing on wing, happily surfing large swells that further increased our speed over ground.

It has been over 5 days since we have seen another boat or had any ship activity on the radar. Another surprise to us is that we have seen different types of birds despite being so far from land. All this is about to change though because we are now less than 500nm from the Fastnet.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/11/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
49°54.56'N 025°03.23'W
Course 087T Speed 9.3kts
Wind 207T @ 22kts

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 9

To date, the best sailing day of the passage as we averaged over 8kts. The 17-24kt wind and reduced seas made for a more comfortable ride today but some large swells remain which can catch you off guard as they did me a couple of times in the galley! We kept the second reef in the main most of the day as we were expecting a line of squalls that never came. We're feeling lucky. Plus the latest 5-day weather forecast charts are not as sinister looking (as they were yesterday) for the remainder of our journey.

So far this trip has been like a pleasure cruise relative to most of my prior offshore passages. In part due to decent enough weather and our points of sail (no beating to weather yet), but mainly because we've had crew. I've gotten so used to it just being the captain and me. Three hours on. Three hours off. And then we switched to four hours on, four hours off. This trip we tried something new, aside from having crew. We (3) each have one four-hour night watch (mine is 8pm to midnight) and 8 hours of sleep. Amazing the difference this has made. And today I got to sleep in - all morning! My captain said it was my reward for preparing and cleaning up after all our meals and serving treats for the official snack times - mid-morning, mid-afternoon and night watch.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 8

Can't complain about today. Steady 16-24kt wind allowed us to average 7.5kts, meanwhile we still have two reefs in the main. Fog continues to come and go but today we had some brief rays of sunshine. Sea state became less confused as the day progressed but the waves remain dramatic and we've been surfing them all day. Visiting porpoises are still jumping and giving us quite the "sea-world" show. And if these things aren't enough cause to be happy, today we passed the distance halfway mark! Cape Race, Newfoundland to the Fastnet is 1800nm and we've done over 950nm.

The weather charts show interesting activity around us and some uncertainties approaching. It's looking as though the final passage days will be anything but dull.

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NF to IRE - Day 7

Thankfully we were sailing conservatively last night because there were strong winds that took us by surprise ahead of the frontal system we were expecting. By 0500 hrs the wind gusts were 40kts so the guys reduced canvas by furling the 100% and hoisted the staysail, which was already hanked-on on deck. (I was off watch trying to sleep.) By 0730 hrs the wind was hovering around 45kts so we all jumped into action (double tethered) and dropped the main. At 1130 hrs the wind was back in the low 30's so we lowered the staysail and went back to the 100% jib to make better distance. By 1300 hrs we had raised the double reefed main, which made for a less bumpy ride yet still rough due to the large seas. Although never in danger, it has been a long day as it's tiring trying to hold on tight and getting tossed about. The highlight of my day happened just as I started my night watch at 2000 hrs. A pod of porpoise were swimming along side the boat and playing in the bow wake. This is common, however this time the waves were high, often over the lifelines, and as the porpoises swam sometimes the wave would break and they would leap out of the wave into the air. What a fantastic show!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 6

Must say I got a kick out of writing 07/07/07 in the logbook. On this unique date the log shows increasing wind speeds (15-26kts)throughout the day but speed over the ground was only moderate (6kts) for many hours due to an opposing current. Extracurricular activities were few due to the building sea state, which makes our ride less comfortable and doing anything down below a challenge. At 2100hrs we put a second reef in the main. Wind and waves continue to climb.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/8/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
47°58.48'N 038°12.66'W
Course 049T Speed 7.0kts
Wind 196T @ 34kts

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 5

The day started out with decent wind speeds but the direction continued to be dead behind us or at a poor angle requiring frequent jibes in order to stay on course. So progress, although improved, remained painfully slow. Trying to keep out spirits up, the captain made hot water so we all took our first showers of the passage - one hand cleans while the other hand is busy clenching a hand-rail to minimize bruising that inevitably occurs when showering underway. By mid-day the winds decreased so we changed from the 135% jib to a reaching spinnaker. At least by now we were on a great circle course towards the Fastnet, a famous large rock with a lighthouse on top that resides in the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland. We also had the ongoing thrill of visiting dolphin pods, many of which seemed extra happy, often leaping out of the water. Gradually the winds climbed and the direction became more favorable allowing us to finally make 8+kts averages by late day and throughout the night. At midnight the winds had climbed over 20kt so we replaced the spinnaker with the 100% jib. By 1am the winds gusted over 30kts so we put a reef in the main. We did some fun "surfing" with speeds as high as 11+ kts thanks to a favorable .5 to 3kt current. However, as is common, Mother Nature's gift of wind has required trade-offs. The clear skies have been replaced by thick clouds with rain and the sea state is building. These higher wind speeds are expected to hold for the next few days as a storm passes to our north. Only 1300nm to go...

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 4

Things are looking up. We finally made some progress with 9-16 knot winds, enjoyed a clear sunshine filled day and by mid afternoon we were clear of the ice field. (No berg sightings since we departed Monday.) I spent much of my day preparing more meals and baking bread for the upcoming days.

When I can spare the time my head is buried in another great read - The Boat Who Wouldn't Float by Farley Mowat. A very funny old book recommended by several sailing friends. To my surprise much of the story takes place in Newfoundland, including harbors and towns I just visited.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/5/2007 @ 6:00 PM(UTC)
45°00.18'N 048°08.49'W
Course 098T Speed 6.2kts
Wind 246T @ 13kts

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NF to IRE - Day 3

I might as well be cutting and pasting my blog entries because it's always the same story. Little or no wind. We're trying to keep our spirits high but the slooow progress is taking its toll. (Eating and reading can keep us happily distracted for only so long.) The ice reports showed the ice field had again extended further south...it was starting to appear as if we'd be well on our way to the Azores before we would get around the threat of ice. With the fog lifted, the potential for a moonlit night and our slow speed, we decided to turn left yesterday, heading east across a section of the ice field reportedly fairly free of bergs. We kept an exceptionally diligent watch last night and saw nothing. Day 3 did have its highlights. I went ski-hat-free for a few hours mid-day and for the first time in many nights we saw stars and the moon. The forecast is calling for a low pressure frontal system so wind is on its way.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/5/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
45°05.33'N 048°54.56'W
Course 096T Speed 4.7kts
Wind 238T @ 15kts

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/5/2007 @ 6:00 AM(UTC)
45°00.77'N 049°23.46'W
Course 067T Speed 3.9kts
Wind 275T @ 10kts

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 2

No wind. Adrift most of the day. On a good hour we moved 1nm (yes, ONE) in the right direction. The combined torture of not making forward progress and swells that flogged sails and shook the rig made for a long day. The ice field has managed to move further south, extending the distance we need to go to get around it. We'd chance going through the ice field if we could make it during daylight hours but we can't so we continue on the path to sail around it. Around midnight we had enough wind to sail again and are using the 135% jib to maximize the 6-11kt breeze. (At the current rate it will be a 28 day voyage.)

Day 3 - Happy Independence Day! fellow Americans - is off to a slow start but at the moment we are happy to be moving as the wind is gradually dropping. At least the air is not so frigid, the fog has lifted and the sun is trying to squeeze through little breaks in the clouds.

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/4/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
44°57.06'N 050°45.25'W
Course 129T Speed 5.7kts
Wind 275T @ 12kts

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/4/2007 @ 6:00 AM(UTC)
45°23.88'N 051°17.58'W
Course 112T Speed 6.5kts
Wind 183T @ 9kts

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Newfoundland to Ireland - Day 1

The first 24 hours have been very slow with moderate winds during the day and basically no wind during the night so we were adrift for over 10 hours. (At this rate the passage will take us over 50 days. Seriously.) Using the engine this early in the trip is not a prudent option as we need to conserve fuel in case we need to run away from any potential bad weather.

We keep having to remind ourselves it is July because of the harsh winter-like temperatures, which feel worse since the thick fog rolled in two days ago. And soon, along with the fog we are expecting showers. I've been wearing my wool ski hat for days both on and below deck. (So much for skipping out on winter!) At least there are three of us so we take turns being on deck and warming up down below.

On the bright side we have been eating well (because I can actually stand upright in the galley) and have time to carefully read weather reports, charts and pleasure books. At the moment I am really enjoying Tales Of A Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman - a women in her late 40's who gives up her LA lifestyle, sells her possessions and with a backpack in tow, travels the world experiencing different cultures.

This just in, now the latest reports are calling for more light wind. Ugh! Could be time for a sail change...

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/3/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
45°35.51'N 051°47.92'W
Course 154T Speed 2.3kts
Wind 101T @ 4kts

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/3/2007 @ 6:00 AM(UTC)
45°43.78'N 051°49.98'W
Course 256T Speed 0.7kts
Wind 084T @ 5kts

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Atlantic Crossing

Monday, July 2nd, 2007. My captain, crew member Leif and myself have departed southeastern Newfoundland...

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/2/2007 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
46°28.37'N 053°06.65'W
Course 141T Speed 7.1kts
Wind 272T @ 14kts

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Back in Trepassey

It remains, according to the locals, unseasonably cold here but we finally had a day of sunshine and great wind (14-24kts) for our sail back to Trepassey. We anchored and had another good nights rest, free from watch duty. Today our weather sources confirmed a good travel window with safe seas as of early tomorrow morning to begin our passage to Ireland. This morning was filled with our last minute preparations, which were few since we have been ready to go for days, and this afternoon we are enjoying a few leisurely hours with our books and pillows. If all goes according to plan, we (3) will depart tomorrow, July 1st at 4:30am as the sun is rising and will make our first landfall in approximately 10-14 days (provided we have good steady breezes and reasonable sea states) on the south coast of Ireland.

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St Mary's

We had no choice but to go find fuel and the people of Trepassey assured us there was a diesel pump in the town of St Mary's. St Mary's is further west and north along the Avalon Peninsula. It pained me to be heading west - the opposite direction to Ireland. My captain tried to convince me that based on the forecasted wind direction, our departure trajectory would be good so we'd not really be going too far out of our way...plus by now we knew approaching storms would keep us held up for at least a couple more days so we might as well visit someplace new.

It was another cold gray day but without rain or fog so we were grateful. Light winds followed us forcing us to make most progress under engine power. By late afternoon we had reached the expansive and deep waters of St Mary's Bay where we found ourselves surrounded by whales that kept is entertained for hours. Some whales were curious enough to surface very close and swim under us.

We anchored in St Mary's harbour, ate dinner on board and then took the dingy to the town dock to begin our adventures ashore. At the end of the dock we were greeted by workers at the local fish plant who gave us directions to fuel, the pub and other amenities. This would be the first of many friendly conversations and acts of kindness shown to us during our brief and wonderful visit. We were in luck, the fuel station was still open (until 8pm) and afterwards they had someone drive us back to the dock. Next intended stop was the pub which is about 1 1/2 miles from the center of town. Before we could begin the hike, a supervisor, Tony, at the fish plant gave a us ride to the Harbour View Pub where we spent a fun evening chatting and exchanging stories with the locals, including pub owners Steve and Nicole who arranged for our ride back to the dock.

The next morning we took another stroll around town before regrettably saying goodbye and setting sail for Trepassey Harbour, only because it gets us just a little closer to Ireland...

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S/V Event Horizon Position Update

7/1/2007 @ 12:01 PM(UTC)
46°44.56'N 053°22.74'W
Course 144T Speed 0.1kts
Wind 265T @ 19kts

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Trepassey, NF

Thursday we made our way to Trepassey, which is a sheltered harbour on the southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula (about two hours drive south of St John's). This way, once we get the weather go-ahead to depart for Ireland, we can get through the remaining section of the ice field during daylight hours. In route we had great humpback whale sightings and a seal greeted us upon approach to the harbour. The only downside to the trip was that we again experienced lighter winds than forecasted so we used the engine, thinking we could top up the diesel tanks in Trepassey. (We only hold 100 gallons so every gallon counts and we will be in conservative mode once we set off for "the big passage.") However, since the fish plant closed in the 90's, the town has been diminishing and its amenities with it - no diesel pumps and the diesel truck only comes once a week to directly fill equipment and trawlers and we'd just missed it. Now the closest diesel was over an hour by taxi or a few hours away by boat. After a walk around Trepassey to learn there was no reason to stay, we set sail for St Mary's in search of diesel - and if we're really lucky, maybe a pub too.

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