Saturday, September 28, 2013

North Atlantic passage from 1.6. to 3.6.2013 - Azores

Here is another sequel of North Atlantic passage.

We reached Flores early in the morning after fast and bumpy night. It was on captain's watch.

By the time I got up, there was more light, but Flores was still covered with big white cloud.

Dolphins were there to welcome us. We saw couple of pods of different kinds, this one was a Bottlenose Dolphin.

There were lots of clouds in the sky, sun fought hard to got through from time to time.

At about 9:30 in the morning we anchored Heron in the bay in front of town Lajes. SInce we left Barbuda we were sailing for 15 days and 14,5 hours and made 2360 miles with average speed of 6,3 knots.

There was a huge swell coming into the bay, it rocked Heron and other boats violently. It was difficult to lower the dinghy into the water and get the crew in. And we immediately decided not to stay the night, but to sail on towards Horta on island Faial in the evening. This way we would get there next day in the afternoon. And another night at sea sounded less terrible than night in rolly anchorage.

We sailed to the shore with the dinghy. I somehow expected warmer and sunnier weather, but it was quite cold. In this matter Azores could belong to England, weather was very English. But everything was green and in bloom.

Lajes is a small town with some historical buildings. Not much was open on this Saturday, we didn't even find a food store. Not that we really needed one, but we hoped to get some fresh local fruit and vegetables.

Near the harbor we found a restaurant, owned by a couple from Ukraine. We ordered pizzas and a local beef steak. Food was good and beer also and it was a nice change to eat from big plates on the desk that wasn't moving.

While sitting there on the terrace we noticed the baker's car that stopped in front of the restaurant, full with different sorts of bread. We bought several different loaves, that looked very rustic and home made, and also a sweet panetone style bread, that the baker explained (in Portuguese) is traditionally eaten on Sunday morning with coffee. As it later turned out, all of the breads were excellent and I was sorry we didn't buy more.

Everywhere there were posters with whales and dolphins.

In the afternoon we returned to Heron. As much as we were anxious to stand on firm ground again, we got restless to move on. Maybe it was the not so good weather, or the rolly anchorage, or the fact that nothing was happening in the town. Or maybe it was the new idea that got into our heads - if we finished the first leg of North Atlantic passage so fast, can we make the second leg also as fast and maybe sail Heron all the way home?

At about 5 in the afternoon we lifted the anchor. Our plan was to sail through the night and land in Horta on island Laies some time on Sunday afternoon. Wind was forecast to blow from SSE and turn to S in the night, so we were confident to be able to sail directly to Horta.

Wind was gusty and the waves steep, although small, so the ride was not very comfortable. At least we got some sun.

We were sailing E and wind stubbornly refused to turn S, so we were not able to sail in right direction. And so it stayed the whole night. And it was bumpy too. So in the morning we were not only a bit tired from the not very calm night, but also 20 miles N of Laies. It would take a lot of tacking or even motoring to reach Horta, so we changed the plans. We decided to continue towards Ponta Delgada on island Sao Miguel, to sail whole day, then another night and hopefully reach Ponta Delgada at around noon on Monday. At first I was a bit sad at the prospect of spending another night at sea, and not seeing Horta, but we would have to sail the distance anyway. And spend some more nights at sea also.

The ride was very bumpy, short waves were coming almost directly on the and nose were making Heron jump like a young bull. It all calmed down when we reached the north side of Sao Jorge. Not just the waves, wind also stopped and we motored for 4 hours. We enjoyed the sunny and warm afternoon.

There were lost of Shearwaters (the birds) and different jellyfish. And a great view of the island of Graciosa in the North.

There was tuna steaks and cucumber salad for dinner, with the delicious bread from Flores. In the evening the wind was back and sailing good. Night was fast but not too wild, so we got some rest and sleep.

Early in the morning Tadej caught a big tuna..

... and cleaned it on the swimming platform. A really big job.

In the morning Sao Miguel was already visible.

We saw some whales as we were approaching the island, but they were too far to recognize which kind they were. Later the local whale-watching crew told us that they were a Blue Whale with a baby and a couple of Fin Whales.

We tied Heron to the marina pontoon at 1:30 in the afternoon, after sailing for 44 hours and making 285 miles with average speed of 6,5 knots.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Weekend at Slovenian sea

The summer is ending. We had a lot of warm sunny weather, we tried to enjoy it as much as we could. Whenever I had the time I sat in my garden chair (behind the lavender blossom in the photo) and enjoyed the view of my garden. And a good book. And an ice cream.

This is my herb garden, I planted some thyme and bought some rosemary and lemon thyme. But basil in the front of the photo is the one that sailed with us across Atlantic.

Grapes got ripe and were delicious.

Even this Stinging nettle (kopriva) looked pretty.

On a sunny August weekend we went sailing for two days. On Saturday morning we sailed Heron from marina through the channel, and under the castle in Sistiana (Sesljan).

We sailed along Italian and then Slovene coast to Strunjan. We anchored on the S side of the bay behind the molluscs farm, where there were fewer boats. August is high season here, so the coast is quite crowded, and the sea also. And it was loud in the evening, although not as much as in Rodney Bay, St Lucia. But it looked nice in Sunday morning sun.

It was not all fun, the storms in the beginning of August tore two of the zippers on the bimini and we needed to fix it. Fortunately we could repair the longer one and we had to saw the shorter one.

Captain also checked the antifouling. Having Heron in fresh water is an advantage, boat bottom looks quite good.

Water was not cold, but it was colder than in Caribbean. I needed some time to get in.

In the afternoon we sailed along the coast to Piran. It is a beautiful old town. This is the church from the N, with boats anchoring under it.

Turning the corner to the East.

Afterwards we sailed across Bay of Triest (Trzaski zaliv) towards Monfalcone (Trzic). There was very little wind, and we were enjoying the slow ride. On the way we saw sea grass, that was organized in peculiar pattern, it looked like parquet.

A lot of jelly fish swam by.

In the evening we motored by the ruins of old castle in Sistiana...

... and up the channel with the hordes of other vessels to the marina.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Buterflies of Zabnica

We're having lovely summer weather here in Zabnica. Everywhere you look there is beauty and bright colors...

It took some patience to shoot these photos, but it was worth it.

Pretty flowers belong to our neighbors.

I know the name of this one - it is European Peacock, or Dnevni pavlincek in Slovene

Where there are butterflies, there are also caterpillars