Arrived in Horta - July 18th – 5.00pm
We had quite the reception when we got in as we were a couple of days later than everyone else, i.e. The Wind Cries, our Dutch friends, Guns and Roses – Barbarossa who took the northern track with much more westerly wind (they sail well downwind), Exiles the 2 ‘boys’ from Montreal who managed to get about 150 miles ahead of us and avoided the north easter wind which really set us back the last 3-4 days. Anyway, enough excuses we were just late, but that didn’t deter our enthusiasm to party when we got in, even if we had only a couple of hours sleep in the last 24. So, no sooner were we tied up than our boat filled up with our friends who all brought the necessary party ecoutrements. So yesterday was a bit of a write-off, though we did walk around town and have some idea where things are.
And what a place Horta is. It is such a gorgeous town, plus it doesn’t cost a fortune to be here. We have a slip in the marina, a very nice marina with good facilities and shelter from the outside wind and waves at about $20 per day. One of the things Horta is famous for is the artwork all around the marina. It is a tradition to find a spot in the concrete surrounding the slips and paint a picture which depicts your boat, or your boat name, or whatever you want to paint. During our walkabout yesterday we located a spot, but will have to wait until it is drier before painting. Last night it started to rain, and looks like it might keep this up for a bit longer.
So, what to say about the 1800 miles or so we just covered to get to this lovely place. Its amazing how quickly we put out of our minds that which we don’t want to remember. I liken that to childbirth – if women could not put the pain of that experience out of their memory they would only ever have 1 child and the human race would basically disappear, perhaps to be replaced by a species with the attention span of a goldfish.
We sure did read a lot of books, all of which were picked up at various book swaps along the way, some of which were total crap, but I read them anyway – even avidly getting into drivel which comes under the heading of ‘chick lit’ – books for women, just a couple of steps up from Harlequin novels. Actually if I had Harlequin novels I would have read those avidly too. Reading passes time, which there is a lot of and it takes your mind off and eyes away from what we don’t want to see.
I was a little surprised at how local the weather systems were, and as such don’t show up on weather faxes. We did get quite dependent on Herb, the weather router to guide us through these systems, and mostly that was a good thing, though the second gale we were in was totally unexpected. Our friends on Exile who used a different weather router were also caught by surprise.
We are very conservative sailors, totally aware of the strain on our equipment; i.e. the wear on our genoa caused by constant thwapping when attempting to run downwind without being able to pole the sail out to keep it still. Our reefing discussions are pretty standard. I ‘feel’ that the weather is piping up, or about to pipe up and suggest we reef the mainsail – which basically means that Tony goes up to the mast to make the necessary changes and I stay at the wheel and the main sheet. The earlier we reef the easier it is on Tony and the equipment. So, I say I think that its time to reef, Tony often disagrees and by the time he agrees the job has usually got a bit harder to do, and by that time we are often putting in 2 reefs, not 1. Then its probably a good thing we wait a bit. There are not many things we disagree on fortunately.
We are both tuned into Moondancer’s ability, and now that we have experienced worse conditions we feel even more confident in her ability to keep trundling along. She may not be very fast - though when we are abeam with all sails up she sails beautifully without any steering aids, just by herself, and with about 15kn of wind we can reach 6 – 7 knots, that’s fast enough for us. The further away from home we go, where there are a lot of Bill Garden designed boats, the more unusual Moondancer is. Its quite nice to be the only whimsical looking boat in a marina. We are seeing a lot of very nice steel and aluminum looking boats here in Horta. These seem to be quite common in Europe.
Its quite a thrill to be in this marina surrounded by hundreds of boats with mostly European flags, and everyone who is here has sailed thousands of miles to be here. We feel quite honoured to be part of this community of sailors, many of whom have been ocean sailing most of their lives and have a world of information to impart. The problem sometimes is that those cruisers also have all of the time in the world to impart the information. Time is something we have a short supply. As we have been held up by weather so often on this journey, we now only have about 5 weeks left to get to Malta by the beginning of September. And that is where we want to be to meet with my brothers.
So, though we loved Horta on sight, we hope that we will not have to spend more time here than a few days before moving on. Our next leg to the Mediterranean will likely be about 10 – 13 days, and then from Gibraltar to Malta another 2 weeks or so.
I’ll try to post again before we leave Horta