Position: 38:32:00N 28:37:50W
Well, our plans have changed several
times since the last blog, but I am actually here in the Azores, finally!! And best of all I am back with Nutmeg
after four weeks away. It is so
nice to be back on board, it really feels more like home than anywhere
Lots of things have happened in the
last couple of weeks. The delivery
of Nutmeg from Antigua took far longer than
anticipated – nearly four weeks – and they only got in last Monday afternoon
after 27 days and nearly 3000 miles.
They had headwinds and light winds the whole way – pretty unlucky
I had booked my flights out here for
Sunday night last week, but on Sunday morning, I got an email from David (the
delivery skipper)’s wife to say that they weren’t due to arrive until
Tuesday. Coupled with this late
arrival, I checked the weather and could see that they weren’t going to be able
to leave for the UK until
Friday or Saturday at the earliest, as a big storm was forecast to pass right
over the Azores. What this basically meant was that I had
simply run out of time – I was due back to work on Tuesday 2nd June,
and we’d have just over a week to get back – unachievable.
So I went out for a cycle with Will
on Sunday morning to clear my head and make a decision. In the process I got thoroughly soaked
and arrived home like a drowned rat, shivering with the cold. Millie asked me how my cycle was and I
said that we’d had a few punctures, and she responded “what – rum punches?”
Clearly we have some way to go to re-integrate our children into
UK as opposed to Caribbean life!
I made the decision that I couldn’t
go ahead and fly out. It was a
Sunday and I couldn’t phone work to ask for an extension, and it would be risky
to fly out anyway and just hope work would be OK if I was late back. Now is probably not the right time to
give work a reason to sack me! So I
cancelled my flights.
David then rang on Monday to say he
had arrived early! So it was a
pretty frustrated Ollie who explained that he now wasn’t coming out. I decided to cycle away my frustration
and headed off to ride the South
Downs Way from Shoreham to Eastbourne – an off-road schlep of 40 miles. 12 miles out, I managed to rip my
derailleur off and despite doing a quick bit of chain shortening to try to turn
my bike into a single-speed, my ride wasn’t to be and I ended up pushing my bike
another 12 miles home…
This was ridiculous. Everything was going wrong. So, having talked it through with my
ever-supportive (and lovely) wife, I decided that I had taken a correct decision
on Sunday, but I now needed to push the situation on a bit. So I got in touch with work and asked
them how they would feel if I stayed away for another two weeks. They were happy – I don’t think I was
going to drop straight into a chargeable role so it would save them money if I
wasn’t on the payroll for a bit longer – and so I got in touch with David
Hunnable to check he hadn’t left yet, and he hadn’t. Hurrah! It was all back
In the meantime, we spent a lovely
day up in leafy SW London at Rory and Aliki’s
house, where we met up with some of our old friends who now all have young
babies and toddlers running around – how we have all grown up!! Hee hee! We spent a great day catching up on all
the news and hearing the gossip.
A hundred pounds of greasy new bike
bits later and my bike was ready to roll, so I set off with a backpack full of
Snickers bars and had a great cycle in the sun to Eastbourne.
It just reinforced how lovely England is, especially at this time
of year. There is so much wildlife
along the South Downs, I had no idea how many
sheep farms there are. There was
barely a soul out, as it was mid-week and I had the place pretty-much to
The Azores trip was all confirmed on Wednesday night, so we
only had a few hours to sort ourselves out before I needed to leave. I ended up having to take a SleazyJet
flight from Luton to Lisbon, stay overnight in a hotel, then up at
the crack of dawn today to get the flight to Horta. SleazyJet are amazing. They really have reduced the whole
flight experience down to a series of cost-based decisions. It even felt like you would need to pay
to get the reps to smile! I hope I
never need to fly with them again – awful.
Fortunately I managed to check myself into what has to be the only hotel
in Lisbon to
have an Indian restaurant! Ok maybe there wasn’t that much luck involved… But a
lamb vindaloo was consumed as a gesture to the wind gods.
I arrived on the island of Faial late morning today, and it is
beautiful. It is green, with lots
of cows grazing. It looks quite a
lot like England only a little warmer – but
not much. It is about 18 degrees
here. The neighbouring island of Pico is a volcano and there is snow on the
summit! It is an amazing place and
I vow to come back here to spend some time on the islands with Sarah and the
I got a taxi to the marina and
walked round until I found Nutmeg.
I met David, and found that John, his crew, had left that morning, so
David and I will be double-handing back to the UK. It was great to be back aboard Nutmeg
again – it felt surreal! She is in
good shape although a bit mucky and the varnish is a lot worse than I’d
remembered, but not surprising for what she’s done. It took me a while to feel that I was
really back aboard.
Nutmeg in Horta
There were lots of familiar boats
around the marina, and it feels funny to re-immerse myself in this cruising life
and community again. I feel like a
bit of a fraud in having flown here rather than sailed, but the main thing is
that I am here and we are about to set off on another serious ocean passage,
1200 miles back to England. David
took me for lunch up to the infamous Peter’s Bar, where all sailors who have
arrived into the Azores traditionally go.
I bumped into Jim & Jo off
Starblazer, who arrived around the same time as Nutmeg, and then as I was
walking into town, Wanderer IV arrived, straight from St
Martin! It was great to
see Anko and Lars, his 10 yr-old son again and I am looking forward to catching
up with all of them in the bar tonight.
We are full of fuel and water and
food, and are planning to leave at 0900 tomorrow morning. The forecast looks quite good, with
strong Westerlies to the north of us and no nasty lows heading our way. So it is as good as it’s ever going to
be and I suspect a whole flotilla of yachts will leave tomorrow.
I’ll do my best to send out a daily
blog from the passage to the UK. It should take around 12 days but who
knows what will happen.
A view of Pico from Horta