The start of the penultimate leg.....Farewell Pico et al

Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
John Simpson
Sun 10 Jun 2012 13:01
42:31.605n 024:51.749w
The plan was to leave Horta on the 10th to give us a few days preparation after Alex & Susan went home but looking at the weather we quickly decided that it would be best to leave a couple of days earlier, either on Thursday 7th or Friday 8th.  As the rest of the ARC fleet had moved on to the other Azorean islands it was nice to have this kind of flexibility.  Our new crew member John Barry wasn't arriving until the morning of the 7th and we thought it rather unfair to leave just as soon as he'd flown in, so we decided to leave mid morning on Friday.  On our last night we had a lovely 'Farewell Horta'/'Welcome John Barry' meal in Peter's along with a couple of farewell drinks (not too many for fear of ruining our first day of our last passage being seasick/hungover).  The owner and bar staff were disappointed we weren't going to play there again, but we thought the customers had probably had enough! 
So at 8am the next morning our new crew and ship's boy walked up to the supermarket in the cold rain, cursing the skipper who, a) decided we needed an early start and b) he would be most useful tidying up the boat and checking out of customs for the final time.  It was such a grey day, the thought of setting off on our 1223 mile journey on this particular morning was unappealing, to say the least.  We did, however grudgingly, manage to make it away from the marina by about 10.30.  The visibility was appalling, we couldn't even see the tip of Pico from the marina (normally visible from 30 or more miles away), let alone the rest of Horta or any of the other islands as we left.  For the first couple of days everything (ie. the sea and sky) was just a different shade of grey.  It has taken until now for the sky to brighten and it's nice to see some blue again.
Two-and-a-bit days in and we're having a great sail. We have had a consistent SW-W force 5-6 and are making good progress towards Falmouth having sailed around 304 miles. John Barry settled in immediately and, luckily for John Simpson, John Barry is not only a very knowledgeable sailor but is also great in the galley (and lucky for the rest of the crew actually - there is a limited supply of eggs on board).  As you can imagine, it's slightly confusing having two Johns on board so I started calling John Barry just Barry, which takes him back to his school days (apart from one class where he was just 'You there').  John Simpson however, has other ideas and has proposed we go by the following names: Sir, m'Lady and, boy.  As you can further imagine (I'm sure) this has yet to catch on. 
For the moment it would seem we picked a nice time to leave, as our friends on Asteroid who left 2 days before us are now some 400 miles ahead but have been struggling with light airs along the way.  We are expecting to have a day of light northerly winds so we may have to motor for a little, but hopefully it won't last for long.  We are anticipating the passage to take 9-10 days based on performance so far and are looking forward to having a rendezvous in Falmouth with our friends Halo (and maybe Pinta also) with whom we are in touch daily on our very own radio net.
Mikaela aka m'Lady