Thu 9 Mar 2023 21:10

I thought it was about time I wrote a blog entry…a difficult act to follow with Ben’s excellent and accurate account of our journey so far.

I won’t repeat any of the details so far but perhaps a brief reflection from my experience. I was slightly terrified of leaving, knowing it would be by far the toughest leg and with a suboptimal forecast, we would all be well and truly tested. The boat was up for it, and I was pleased to be leaving in a heavy displacement, true blue water cruiser.

When I was launched out of my bunk and awoke looking up at the floor, I knew immediately what had happened. It was more violent than I imagine a knock down would feel (having never experienced one). More like a car crashing into a wall, the forces on the boat at that moment don’t bear thinking about. When I realised the mast was still standing, the relief was immense, the rig was completely intact and instantly relieved the scale of the problem….thank god she was strong and we were more or less unscathed.

I have definitely wondered what on earth we were thinking setting off across the North Atlantic in November, strangely enough, lots of people have asked us the same question here in the Azores. Anyway, we all survived to tell the tale. We now know Moonshiner inside, have experienced the Azores, and can pretty much give you a rough quote for any new part or hourly rate related to repairing a boat….thank goodness for insurance!

So fast forward to the 9th of March, yes we are still in Horta. As you can imagine, the boat has been re-designed around foil boards and all things foiling. I have also been somewhat redesigned around foiling, knowing full well that if I don’t become obsessed, I’ll be spending the next 12 months watching Ben doing it instead…the pressure is on!

About 10 days ago, we were driving back from the supermarket in a howling gale when we spotted a small yacht absorbed by the enormous swell with just a small orange storm jib out. We rushed down to the marina to help them and noticed they were being toed in, presumably due to engine failure. As we took their lines, I thought poor them, at least we have a reliable working engine now.

Two days later, we sailed out on our first voyage post repairs with Bens parents. We felt rather smug about how she was looking. New gantry and solar panels, new spray hoods and varnished to within an inch of her life….finally, everything is working and we are ready to roll.

It was a beautiful day with clear views of Pico volcano with its snow capped peak. Ben spotted a Blue whale in the distance which is apparently rare for this time of year, an amazing sight!

We were motoring towards San Jorge for the night, an island 20NM to the NE. No wind and fairly large swell left over from the previous day. I noticed that the rev counter was frozen when I adjusted the revs. It then became apparent that we’d lost all power to the engine control panel. We decided to turn back and then shortly after t the engine died completely. Seriously…..after all that’s happened…a new engine….a complete re-wire…3 months of re-building, here we were bobbing around helplessly between two rocky shores with no wind and no engine. So here we were again, being toed back to our berth having made it 3 miles off shore….we are meant to be sailing across the Atlantic next week! This time the crew from the boat we helped took our lines for us, oh the irony.

It was great to see Ben’s parents. They’ve been amazing bringing all the things we can’t source out here for us, including a new foil board and foils for Ben, I get the feeling they’re used to it. We showed them around the island and pottered on the boat. Thanks for joining us!

Our three crew arrived on Tuesday, Ona, Matthew and Chris. Ona is a vet from Belgium who works in Ireland but is big into travelling. Matthew and Chris are a father and son from the south of England. They’ve sailed a lot with various qualifications and many miles under their belt.

Unfortunately, despite being ready (though I think I’ll stop saying that), the weather has been utterly horrendous with back to back depressions sweeping in from the South West and destroying any hope of leaving within the next week. So for now, we continue to work our way through the bilge wine whilst staring at the barometer wishing it heads clockwise soon.





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