Horta at last! 38:32N 28:38W

Kantara Atlantic Odyssey
Andy Hemens
Fri 1 Jun 2012 16:28
We finally arrived last night only to find the marina bursting at the seams and we were told to anchor. Not great after 18 days at sea but then Andy managed to talk someone into letting us raft up against their moored yacht so we are now on the outside of 5 yachts but at least we can walk ashore.
The storm. It all started at 10pm on Tuesday night. Malcolm was on the helm. I had just come off watch and was about to curl up in my sleeping bag. We had one reef in the main and two in the genoa when all hell broke loose. Andy went up on deck followed by me and we were confronted by fierce winds quickly increasing from 18kts to 35. Andy took over the helm and I put in the 2nd reef but we were rounding up and way overpowered even with the main out as far as it could go. So we dropped the main and furled some more genoa and were still hitting 11+ kts. I went down below to fill in the log, and tried to get some sleep before my next watch at 2am, and recorded a gust of 47 kts. Needless to say sleep was nearly impossible and I went back on watch at 2am with hardly any sleep. Dawn broke at 3 am ish and now we could see the sea state which was quite scary. I think I preferred it in the dark. At 4am I was on watch with Claire and were rounded up by a big gust just as a wave swept through which saw a significant amount of water over the port side into the cockpit as we were on a starboard tack. So we furled in more genoa and bore away such that we were running in the direction of the waves. By this time our barometer had dropped to 974.
Andy and Malcolm replaced us at 5am and decided to furl in more genoa and head up to take us back to our original heading. An hour into their watch they recorded a 55 kt gust and were nearly flattened so Andy out the engine on to give the yacht more straight line stability and furled in more genoa until a handkerchief sized sail was all that was visible. That was the sight that greeted me at 9am and then we held that until midday when the engine was turned off and we let out a small amount of genoa but still going at 9 kts.
The sea state gradually improved during the day as the wind died to a reasonable 25-30 kts. By 9am on 31st May we were just 20 miles off Horta but still with a reasonably lumpy sea, a full sized genoa and the main back up with 2 reefs.
Once in Horta we had a hot shower and a beer followed by an early dinner and bed. We were all knackered!
With such a storm you never really know how or what other yachts experienced but everyone we met in the marina was talking about the storm and it seems some boats suffered a lot worse than us and everyone had a story to tell and things to fix.
We are now refueling ourselves and the boat and should be in Horta until Monday, then departing for Sao Miguel where I will step off and Joe will join the crew for the final leg to Sotogrande. 2638 miles from Antigua to the Azores. Another 150 to Sao Miguel and then about another 1000 miles to Spain. Kantara will have covered about 6000 miles by the time she reaches her home port.