39:07.55N 023:37.50W Tuesday 12th May

Excellence of Dart
Peter Coxon
Tue 12 May 2015 13:48

Set sail in the heaviest downpour of the season and a head wind and cross seas to boot- designed to let all the crew know that this is not just a jolly. Gradually the wind veered so we could sail along the south coast of Sao Miguel in poor visibility and it was suggested by the annoyingly over cheerful skipper that ‘Things can only get better’...And guess what, they did. The heavy rains stopped within 4 hours, but not before a few of us had been soaked and chilled but as the skies lifted it allowed us to view the great vistas of volcanic hills, lava flow cascades of land and giant waterfalls emptying the island of its waters back into the sea. The verdant greens of patchwork fields and sloping market gardens with  black and white cows dotted over the landscape reminded us of a peaceful wet and summery English countryside in the 1950s. All farming small scale and every patch of land put to good use.

Then before we knew it 40 miles had passed and we were saying farewell to the steep cliffs of the eastern headlands of the island and hello to a few dolphin who swam passed just to ensure we were on track. Later still we watched the last lighthouse  for nearly 1200 miles flash every 5 seconds and the dimming lights of the cliff top houses as we sped ever North Easterly towards our own green and pleasant land.

So it was a tough beginning of our last leg home and more than one of the crew might have been wondering what they had signed up for.

Open waters brought more regular wave patterns and a steadier wind from the NW and we made a fast first 12 hours averaging about 7K and topping 10K before a little steadying reef was put in.  


A hastily prepared pressure cooked stew was enjoyed by most before the night watch system was introduced, the stars came out and the waxing moon rose and we all had a chance for some change of clothes and some warming kip.


This morning broke to blue skies and a bright sun rising in the east. Porridge was awarded ‘the best breakfast of the trip’ (easy as it is day 1!) and hot drinks helped raise spirits and put smiles on more faces as we settled into our first full day at sea. We are looking out for the wide range of giant whales that are also heading north at this time of year- even further north than we hope to get, but they have more blubber to keep themselves warm.

Mike has so far proved himself to be the best estimator  when it comes to guessing distances off and timings of lighthouse flashes so the competitive spirit is alive and well. He also did a long 4.5 hr watch overnight just to help out a bit. Skip had to satisfy himself with best guess on when it would blimin well stop raining J Ade is champion washer up, Becky  stayed up in the cockpit all night, although wasn’t at her most communicative, managing to win the longest  sleep award. Cara wins the ‘best chocolate chip cake ever’ award and also came on her night watch an hour early thanks to skip misreading his watch. Luckily for him she took it very well and refused to go back to bed, as it had taken about 15 minutes to get dressed in the rolling conditions so thought the chance to spend 30 mins undressing and then dressing again was pointless so did a 4 hour watch.  


Today we are making great progress managing a good 7+K in a Force 4 with the wind just abaft the beam- yes there are strange terms still used by sailors!


So all is well now and the weather forecast is promising with minimal rain and fair winds from the westerly sector- ideal...

Skip x