Piriapolis to Falklands: Day 5

Days distance: 35 nautical miles
Total distance: 442 nm
Prominent Feature: slow progress

Today was our worst day mileage wise. We made 34 miles and most of those have been in the last 6 hours since the wind has filled in from the northeast. It was a pleasant lazy day. We ate and we slept. We are beginning to get into the sea going routine and almost caught up on rest. We saw our first Penguins. They were Magellanic Penguins. They looked funny in the water, almost like ducks. I had really only ever seen Penguins on TV and they were always on land looking penguiny not ducky. But like our first Albatross off Ilha Bella, seeing our first Penguins feels like an accomplishment.

This northeasterly breeze is supposed to stick for awhile. It will probably get up to near gale force tomorrow ahead of a frontal passage an southerly winds on Friday. And while the sailing will surely be less comfortable with the growing sea, we are looking forward to making some good miles again.

Piriapolis to Falklands: Day 4

Days distance: 92 nautical miles
Total distance: 407nm
Prominent Feature: Into the roaring 40s

We fought hard to make a little progress last night. The wind was light and changed direction often. Eventually the air became completely still and there was nothing we could do but sit there. The night was as dark as it gets. The sky entirely obscured by clouds. Nothing beyond Dawn Treader could be discerned. A black void. We sat there becalmed under our own masthead light and it felt like we were all that existed. Then it began raining and the millions of falling drops turned the sea into a bioluminescent light show, kind of like one of those dance floors where the squares light up to show you where to put your feet, but multiplied by the vastness of the ocean. Around 3am the wind gradually returned and we have been enjoying a nice sail since. The day is perfect, clear, cool, lots of birds too look at. We took some glorious naps and Deb made an awesome pasta. We are supposed to lose our wind again tonight, but hopefully we can keep Dawn Treader moving as long as possible.

Piriapolis to Falklands: Day 3

Days distance: 85 nautical miles
Total distance: 315 nm
Prominent Feature: Becalmed

We began day 3 becalmed and it ended becalmed. Between calms the wind blew fresh from the west and we still managed to get 85 miles on the days run. We sailed close hauled with a triple reefed main and deeply furled genoa. We made 6 knots. Tending the sails on a moonless night, I saw dolphins swimming alongside, there form suggested only by the disturbed bioluminescent plankton. It looked like some brilliant CGI work, but it was just nature.

The forecast shows continued variable winds for the next day or two, then a cold front passage.

Piriapolis to Falklands: Day 2

Days distance: 115 nautical miles
Total distance: 230 nm
Prominent Feature: passing Mar Del Plata

All last night and into the morning we sailed fast in a 15-20knot Northerly wind. We sailed a broad reach under the genoa poled out to windward and a single reefed mainsail. Late morning the wind tapered off and then disappeared completely. The next few hours we made a few miles catching a slight breeze here and there. An incredible number of moths have landed on Dawn Treader, I guess to take a break. After lunch squalls developed overhead and we managed to eek out a few more miles in the fickle and variable winds of a thunderstorm. Once pushed through the squall line we were greeted by a gentle northerly that is pushing us on course at 3 knots. I don’t expect it to hold long as the wind is forecast to be variable through the night. We are passing Mar Del Plata and there are some fishing boats and shipping around. Many albatrosses, terns, and what I believe to be some sort of giant sooty petrel. I will have to look at the bird book to find out. We are still waiting on our
first penguins. As I type the sails begin to slat and we lose speed. We are becalmed again. I am looking forward to making good progress again with a steady breeze.

Piriapolis to The Falkland Islands: Day 1

Day 1 distance: 115nm
Weather: light southerly then calm. West to North wind filling in through morning and day to 15-18kts. Waves 4-5 feet. Prominent feature: Crossing the Rio de la Plata.

Yesterday late afternoon we left Piriapolis and we left Uruguay. We motored south against a decaying headwind in hopes to catch the first breath of a new fair breeze later in the evening. We cut the engine a few miles offshore and sailed slowly close hauled. A pleasant sunset coincided with the last of the southerly and we were becalmed. A lingering swell made waiting for the wind’s return uncomfortable as Dawn Treader rolled and heaved with vigor. We both became mildly seasick. I started the engine to give Dawn Treader some way in hopes to dampen her spirited motion. Our little ship was like a horse chomping at the bit. After motoring for a couple hours I detected a slight wind. I turned the engine off and hoisted full sail. We made 2 to 3 knots on a beam reach. I hand steered because there was not enough apparent wind for the auto pilot to work. An hour later at 3am the wind was strong enough to engage the auto pilot. It continued to strengthen and we were slicing through
bioluminescent enriched water at 6 knots. I went down to my bunk to finish the watch in comfort, popping my head outside every 10 minutes or so to check on things.

Debbie relieved me at sunrise and Dawn Treader continues at a wonderful pace. Today is great sailing, but our fair wind is suppose to get finicky tomorrow afternoon somewhere off Mar Del Plata. We are sailing toward The Falkland Islands and we hope to make it in a couple weeks.

Preparing to Leave the the Rio de la Plata

A year ago we sailed into the Rio de la Plata. We slowed to a pace I have not known before. We became abstracted to time. Our normal clock keepers became irrelevant: Immigration officers said we could stay as long as we pleased, there was no correct or incorrect sailing season, and our wavering long term plans were not there to pull us along. Hidden on this featureless coast of murky brown water we found a serendipitous paradise. We savored the stillness of the perception of paused time. We made friends. We were part of a community. We rested, deeply, in comfort. We got to know true Uruguayan tranquility and Argentine hospitality.

Our first port on the Rio de la Plata was Piriapolis, Uruguay and Piriapolis will be our last. Rested and ready we once again look south. When the winds go fair, hopefully within a week, we plan to sail to the southernmost town in the world, Puerto Williams, Chile.

Next week, you can track our progress on our delorme tracking page, find the link on the sailing page of our website. This blog post is a test of our email to post function of our satellite phone and will not contain pictures.

We came to the gates of Patagonia a year ago, and now we sail through.

Thanks Juan for encouraging us to write more and for the wine.

Integral Water Tank: Summary and Repair

We repaired our integral water tank a few months ago, here in Uruguay. This video is a recap of the build project from two years ago, and details of the recent repair. Overall, the integral water tank has been a vast improvement. It is easy to clean and fill. We are happy to make use of the space below our cabin sole that was filled with foam. The 65 gallon water tank makes long term cruising much easier.

 

Anchoring in the Azores

Making landfall in Flores, Azores is special. The glorious, verdant island was a welcome sight after our 21 day passage from Bermuda. Even better, there are anchorages available, happy places for cruisers on a budget.

While in Lajes, we anchored in the best possible spot, right off the beach. This small area of the harbor only has enough room for a couple of cooperating boats; most vessels stay in the marina, or out beyond its walls. We set two anchors to keep our bow oriented to the occasional eastern swell that worked its way into our nook. We enjoyed three weeks in this setting. Lots of walking showed all of southern Flores, lots of bucket laundry helped us remember how to be good “housekeepers” aboard, and lots of time spent in one spot helped us make good friends on the island.

We slept regardless of the loud cries of mating shearwaters. We love these birds, their apparent strength always reassures us when on long ocean passages. Each night, they circled our mast, calling to each other, and nesting in the nearby cliff. One night we stirred to a new sound, rain, lots of rain, poured over Flores, but it was not the rain that woke us, but rapids. The tiny stream alongside the beach had transformed into a river, funneling out all the rainwater from the nearby peaks and their valley.

It was a good thing our stern anchor was our storm anchor, it was firmly dug in, and it kept us from being spun around into rocky surroundings by the rolling waves. However, our Fortress anchor became buried in a few feet of washed out sediment. Despite futile efforts to dig it out (these were mostly encouraged by stubborn Deb, who admitted defeat after a fun session of kicking and digging around the anchor chain with her sport sandals at low tide), it was stuck.

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Anchored at the beach, before the streambed washed out.
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After the wash out, notice the new stream side boulders near the concrete wall, and the breaking wave that shows the anchor location and reach of the new sediment pile.
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Dawn Treader from another view, the stream is now quadrupled in width, and this section of beach has been pushed out over the anchor.

We left the anchor and it’s thirty feet of chain to sail around the island to Faja Grande. With an east wind this otherwise exposed anchorage was a wonderful place to walk from! We let out all our chain over the rocky bottom where our Rocna sat perched. After a few days of exploring up and around the cliffs of Faja Grande, we returned to Lajes, to our lost anchor, for one more reunion before parting ways forever.

Our stay in Horta, Faiel was also dictated by the wind. Ten days at the marina (anchoring was not allowed at the time, during Festival Semana de Mar), waiting for a bit of wind to take us further east. We made awesome new friends aboard a couple of sailboats, while trying to strike a budget balance. Marina fees plus proximity to town can likely equal overspending.

Terceira was our next stop. We anchored under sail in wide open space, enjoyed decent holding in sand, and returned to a rent free lifestyle. Two weeks there included swimming to the beach a good bit, a splurge to explore island caves with friends, and a bit of bussing around. We enjoyed having the boat in a good anchorage, and we felt free, until we didn’t. When we began to raise anchor, we suddenly felt stuck, because we were.

During our stay, we had spun around our anchor with shifting winds, causing the anchor chain to encircle a pipe the thickness of our mast. It randomly protruded about few feet from the bottom at a 45 degree angle. It was a bit deep to dive down and free the chain, so, we worked for a while with Brian in the water trying to free us, lifting a segment of our weighty chain with a buoy, Deb worked the windlass feeding chain in and out. Eventually, we abandoned this technique, and instead turned back time, driving the boat in two large counterclockwise circles with our outboard. Unwrapped, we moved on, thinking how much we enjoyed anchoring in the Azores. It made us feel good that we handled new challenges fairly well, and that we were able to stay at anchor so much in an island group where most skippers tend to choose marinas.

V-berth Insulation

A perfect job for last winter, the v-berth insulation project kept us working, and kept us warmer. Aside from cutting large sheets of material on the dock, we had an easy inside job.  Once we decided on the materials, we finished in 2 days! After contemplating the options for too long, this was pleasant surprise! Continue reading V-berth Insulation