Water Music - journey's end

Fri 31 May 2013 19:03
Position 38:32.0N 28:32.0W   
By the time that this mail is sent we will be in Horta, the main harbour on the island of Faial, and at our journeys end.
The previous blog was posted on Wednesday evening as we had decided to make for Flores and take on additional fuel.  That night we ate tuna (yet another variety) and are pleased to be manfully struggling our way through it.  At this rate – assuming we continue to eat about 2kg of fish for every meal, we should have it finished by Sunday.  There is some debate as to the reaction when we produce our own tuna sandwiches (made with our own bread) on the flight home.  Dinner was down below – which is the first time in many years that any of us have eaten inside and is a reflection of how cold it has been getting. 
At that stage we were getting seriously concerned about our fuel situation.  With a new engine we had no real way of knowing for sure exactly how much it was supposed to use and the vagaries of any fuel gauge didnt give much confidence in what was left.  So it was fortunate that the wind started to fill in and, shortly after dinner we turned the engine off and were sailing in about 10kn of wind and making up to 7kn in the right direction.  Whilst the wind did fluctuate through about 70 degrees, it was strong enough to see us through and up to the leading lights of Lajes on Flores.  It felt like we
would be running on fumes alone.  Serious consideration was being given to feeding the Grenadian rum into the diesel system to give us a few more miles – but rejected on the grounds that it would be to explosive for a diesel engine.
We approached Lajes slowly – still not completely confident that the engine wouldnt die on us and also slightly concerned about the leading lights – which corresponded with neither the chart or the Pilot.  I was only glad that we hadnt seen the blog of one of the boats that went in a couple of days ago as i suspect we might have decided against attempting it on a pitch dark night.  Well we did get into what turned out to be the narrowest entrances I have ever been into.  The actual channel seem to be about 30 ft wide and in the middle of it there is a right hand bend around the breakwater.  That we negotiated safely and were gently coming alongside when the autopilot suddenly engaged.  This meant that we had no control over direction and, being 0330 this morning, there was no one there to see what might have been a rather ignominious entrance.  As it turned out we were fine and spent the rest of the night (about 2 hours) there wondering how on earth we were going to get out of the harbour (backwards?, as there didnt appear to be any room  to turn until the harbour master arrived and sorted out fuel for us.  We breakfasted in the village, visited the local supermarket to buy some white wine (& and, I suppose, some fresh veg) and then set off from Flores on the final leg of the journey at 1100 local time (2 hours ahead of Das Bot Time).  With the benefit of hindsight it is the tightest harbour I have ever been into and certainly would not recommend it in daylight – where you would clearly be able to see the dangers either side of the channel.
As we left there was very little wind and what there was on the nose so we might as well use some of that fuel.  At 1800 we had our usual visitation by dolphin – this time there were literally hundreds of them and up to 20 at any one time playing in our bow wave.  There then followed one of the coldest nights we can remember at sea – again no moon, heavily overcast and not a star in the sky.  Dinner again down below (due to temperature on deck) consisted of delicious, fresh tuna – produced by our highly accomplished main chef.  (the sous chef cooks a mean bacon butty for breakfast – which finally ran out this morning)
A final opportunity to listen to Maria Callas singing Traviata was more than enough to overcome the occasional, irritating beep of the AIS as it thought it had seen a new vessel.  It all seemed so much more seamanlike than switching it off – which we did when we came into Faial.  Eventually as we came into view of Horta and changed direction we had a fantastic, if short beat into Horta and sustained pretty much the only damage we had all voyage as the burgee got twisted in the VHF aerial and brought it down to earth where it landed, I believe gently, on the Doctor’s head.  We could cope with that and finally made fast on the dock at 1445 having covered some 2500 miles since leaving Antigua.
The Doctor, the Baker and the Bullshit Maker (Bored from Barnes – I dont appreciate that!) are now well ensconced in the Cafe du Port (or whatever it is called) having done a major clean on the boat.
Happy, content and grateful for a good crossing – albeit one where we could have done with a bit more wind along the way.
We all hope that you have enjoyed the idle ramblings of the three of us.  Thank you for following.