Click HERE to see Mahina Tiare's track and current location on Google Earth
Leg 5 - 2015, Update
July 3, 2015, 0100
hrs, 22.08 N, 64.19 W, Log: 186,812 miles
Baro: 1022.1, Cabin
Temp: 83 F, Cockpit: 82 F, Sea Water: 83.5F
Close reaching at 6.5
kts in 22 kt ESE trade winds with moderate sea conditions
HANG ON - WE'RE ON OUR WAY TO THE AZORES!
After an enjoyable but busy time between expeditions mostly spent at a quiet
anchorage just four miles from bustling little Road Town, it was time for
Amanda and I to get ready for our next expeditions.
We will remember the BVI's for very friendly local people, nearly all of
whom say "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" when we meet or pass on the
colorful streets. The customs and immigration officers were also friendly,
efficient and always enquired if we were enjoying their islands. The three
pillars of the BVI economy, tourism, business and financial services all
seem to be thriving and the country really feels like it is moving forward
in a positive direction. They are keenly protective of their environment and
culture with many parks and protected areas and no franchise business are
allowed which is quite refreshing.
WE LOVE THE BVI's!
Leg 5 crew joined Monday noon and after clearing customs we set sail for
Little Harbour on nearby Peter Island.
Leg 5 Crew - Left to
Right - John, Tom, Ron, Dave, Anne, Jo and Pred
After anchoring Dave, a keen swimmer, tied our 180' three strand line around
his waist, dove in, swam it ashore, tying it around a tree. Keeping some
tension on the stern line meant that our chain stayed in one place instead
of dragging back and forth over the coral in the variable winds. '
With 83 F water temp and good visibility all of our crew were soon in the
water snorkeling, several sighting an octopus and a spotted ray along with
quite healthy coral and fish populations.
Ron and Pred take up on the stern line
We completed our safety orientation that afternoon and Tuesday morning after
some more snorkeling and engine room orientation we had an easy downwind
sail under headsail alone to Soper's Hole, a colorful BVI marina-village in
search of fresh fruit and bread. Next we made the four mile crossing to
Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke Island where we picked up a mooring and enjoyed
checking out the Great Harbour beach village before a colorful and tasty
dinner at Foxy's.
Crew at Foxy's: John Amanda, Dave, Tom, Anne, Jose, Ron and Pred
Foxy, now in his 70's is a West Indian icon, frequently appearing at the BVI
booth in US boat shows and it was a treat to have him stop by our table
entertaining us with his non-stop jokes and banter. His beach shack
restaurant and bar chocka with memorabilia of signed articles of clothing,
yacht club flags and number plates has been a real going concern for many
years with a dinghy dock, sandy beach with hammocks strung between palm
trees, beach bar- barbecue joint and gift shop. His daughter runs a second,
smaller fine dining restaurant, Foxy's Taboo a couple miles east along the
coast. Crew had the choice of either dinning at either and with no one
wanting to make a decision a coin was flipped and Foxy's won,
After a last look around ashore Wednesday morning, in search of one last
snorkeling experience we stopped off Little Jost Van Dyke before setting
sail for the Azores.
Offshore we found fresh easterly trade winds blowing 22-28 kts so before
long we had both the main and genoa triple-reefed and were off on a breezy,
bumpy and very wet beam reach which caused half our crew to succumb,
sometimes quite dramatically, to seasickness. We were a little surprised at
the steady progression of traffic throughout the night as we frequently had
multiple cruise ships and freighters on both radar and AIS.
Yesterday (Thursday, July 2) conditions gradually moderated, the wind, as
predicted slowly shifted to the ESE allowing us to steer closer to the ideal
course recommended by Commandersweather.com.
Click HERE to read our initial departure weather forecast from Commanders
With the moderating winds we shook out one of the reefs in the main and at
we eased sheets, falling off on a smoother broad reach so everyone
could take turns showering on the aft deck, resulting in smiles all around.
Predominant North Atlantic Summer Winds
If we were to attempt to sail a direct course from the BVI to the Azores, we
would pass directly through the windless North Atlantic high pressure cell
so instead we are first aiming for 28N, 60W, a course that will take us over
the northern edge of the high pressure, hopefully providing us with modest
downwind sailing conditions.
Leg 5 - 2015, Update 2
July 14, 2015, 0600 hrs, 36.34 N, 39.38 W, Log: 188,548 miles
1022.1, Cabin Temp: 80 F, Cockpit: 77 F, Sea Water: 77F
Broad reaching at
7-8.5 kts in 18-24 kt W winds with moderate sea conditions
Full main and
435 miles to Flores, Azores Islands
SURFING ALONG, SINGING A SONG!
What an incredible Atlantic crossing this has been - far and away our
This morning as Amanda taught braid splicing I stood watch at the bow,
mesmerized as MT's bow repeatedly lifted high out of the water on the start
of a surf, then as she zoomed down the face of the wave the rushing water
nearly reached the anchors. Numerous small flying fish zipped back and
forth, startled by the roar of our bow wave. We zoomed close by an
unconcerned green sea turtle who turned as watched as we surfed by.
Amanda teaching rig check class
We've had some boisterous close and broad reaching with winds gusting to
35, but mainly excellent sailing, frequently hitting 8 and occasionally 9
kts with moderate sea conditions allowing us runs of 145-170 miles per day
without breaking a sweat, even with an adverse current that at times has run
close to 2 kts against us. In the first week at sea the winds went light so
we did have a bit of motor sailing in a slight swell, but this allowed us to
top up our water tank and fully charge the batteries.
We've had some boisterous close and broad reaching with winds gusting to 35, but mainly excellent sailing, frequently hitting 8 and occasionally 9 kts with moderate sea conditions
allowing us runs of 145-170 miles per day without breaking a sweat, even with an adverse current that at times has run close to 2 kts against us. In the first week at sea the
winds went light so we did have a bit of motor sailing in a slight swell, but this allowed us to top up our water tank and fully charge the batteries.
Commanders Weather has confirmed my theory that the fairly active El Nino episode in the Pacific not only substantially reduces the number and severity of Atlantic-Caribbean hurricanes,
it also reduces the amount of convection and squalls, overall improving the weather of the Atlantic and Caribbean basins.
Joe takes care of laundry following our afternoon swim while Dave drip dries and Tom helms.
Mahina Tiare charging along
Amanda checking Pred's 3-strand splicing
Our only breakage has been the whisker pole's inboard
end latch which slots onto the nozzle of the mast pole car control. On
hoisting the pole this end came detached as we raised the pole's inboard end
on the mast. Fortunately the pole landed gently enough on the high lifeline
and no one was beneath it. Upon examination, we found bits of oxidized
aluminum on deck, and it appears that after 19 years the internal latch has
disintegrated. Amanda lashed the latch to the mast car so it shouldn't pop
out and we've added replacing the latch to our list for Adam's Boat Care's
refit this winter.
Dave sets the main halyard after tucking in first reef while Pred helps on the reefing lines
Weather fax showing exceptionally fine weather scenario for our Atlantic passage
Last week our keen crew landed and demolished a mahi mahi, but since then
we've been focused on generating power with our Ampair towed water generator
which is nearly keeping up with our charging needs. Today we're try fishing
with the water generator also deployed and hopefully we can keep the two
apart by steering a very straight course. We've seen more than a dozen ships
either on AIS, radar, or visually but haven't yet needed to change course to
Yesterday we were twice visited by groups of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins
and when we went to record it in our whale and dolphin book we were amazed
to see we had made a note of spotting them on exactly the same day, in the
same location in 2006, the last time we made this passage. Now we're on the
lookout for sperm whale as we had many sightings of them in 2006 but none so
far, although turtles are regularly spotted along with numerous flying fish
Joe and Tom enjoying perfect sailing conditions
Joe presented us with a chocolate oatmeal no bake cookie recipe which he and John whipped up as an afternoon treat
The moderate conditions have made our teaching schedule pleasant, and
we've been able to utilize PowerPoint modules for many topics. This morning
Amanda taught double-braid splicing, soft eyes and whipping line ends and I
covered 12 volt power system options and watermakers. Our goal while at sea
is to complete the majority of our teaching, except going aloft for rig
inspection, before arrival so we can all maximize our exploring and
adventures upon making landfall at Flores, the first and most dramatic of
the Azores Islands.
Here's our relaxed and jovial Leg 5 crew:
Anne, Tom, Pred and Joe proudly display their
braided eye splices
I recently moved just south of Boston where I
work at Gillette on the next generation of razors. Last summer I sailed with
Boston Sailing Club and this summer I'm thinking of buying my first boat so
I can enjoy the prime sailing areas near Boston. This is my third expedition
aboard MT and I enjoy the challenges associated with long ocean passages.
Today I'm journeying home to the Azores in a
very traditional way. I grew up on Terceira in the Azores and immigrated to
Ontario, Canada with my family when I was 12. After this expedition my wife
Anne and I will visit three of the islands for the first time before
returning to Terceira for a wedding and to visit my relatives. At home in
Ontario we sail a Contessa 26.
I'm a housewife from Ontario who enjoys
sailing. We joined this expedition to learn more about sailing and to gain a
better understanding about our dream of going cruising. One thing I've
learned is that we will have to upgrade our Contessa 26 to something more
comfortable and faster!
I'm an IT manager from Chicago and my
ambition is to retire early in the southern coastal US, Caribbean or South
Pacific and become a sailboat charter captain and sailing instructor. My
boat is a Rhodes 19.
My wife and I own Elm Brook Farm in Vermont
that distils maple sugar into Literary Dog Vodka and Rail Dog Barrel Aged
Maple Spirit, both made from 100% maple sugar. Prior to becoming a farmer, I
worked in finance and banking in dozens and dozens of countries around the
world. I'm interested in purchasing a catamaran to explore the Atlantic and
South Pacific with my wife.
I live in the desert near Palm Springs, CA
but am hooked on the adventure of sailing to exotic destination, fresh air,
stars and good camaraderie. This is my eighth expedition aboard Mahina
Leg 5 - 2015, Update 3
July 20, 2015, 0730 hrs, 38.32 N, 28.53 W, Log: 189,140 miles
1017.3, Cabin Temp: 77 F, Cockpit: 77 F, Sea Water: 74F
Broad reaching at
6.7 kts in 12.5 kt NNW winds
13 miles from Horta, Faial Island, Azores
WE LOVE FLORES - What a treasure!
Although it wasn't forecasted, our excellent broad reaching conditions
remained until we were only hours from landfall at Flores Island. The last
few hours of motor sailing meant that we arrived with fully charged
batteries and plenty of water in our water tanks.
departing on Leg 1 we downloaded the latest updates for C-Map charts and are
delighted at the level of detail provided. Normally we're very reluctant to
enter harbors in the dark but as we had excellent detail on the PC running
C-Map charts on Rose Point Navigation software, the radar and AIS working
along with twice previously anchoring here we decided to proceed to the
At 0400 we dropped anchor in 20' halfway between an
anchored cruising yacht and breakwater which also serves as the commercial
wharf and although we'd viewed internet images of the new small marina
tucked into the bays corner we didn't attempt to enter it. We were pretty
tired, but before crashing we rigged our second anchor light; a blue LED
light suspended from the boom above the hardtop.
When I peeked
through the aft cabin's curtains at first light I thought I was seeing a
ghost ship as off in the distance, just occasionally visible through the
misty early morning light, a frigate was steaming back and forth across the
harbor entrance. I awoke again at 0730 and checking through the aft
portlight I could see there was indeed a naval frigate, it was now bearing
down on us, obviously heading toward the wharf. At once, still with the
anchor down, we reversed away from the wharf to make more room for the
frigate to maneuver alongside the wharf.
Eager to check out the new
marina I went to scope it out by dinghy. I found an ideal situation - the
end of one of the docks had a 60' berth open, and a local motioned that it
would be fine to moor MT there.
Joe (who is originally from the Azores) came with me to
the harbormaster who proved to be the most efficient I've met in 41 years.
Harbourmaster Tiago Pimental, (email:
like a one man island promoter. When I mentioned we were keen to check out
the island, he quickly pulled up details on his computer of what he
described as a spectacular hike down a cliff face to a wild and isolated
beach within walking distance from the port. I also commentated on the tour
guide sign located at the marina gangway of tour guide. Tiago said that
Silvio Medina of Tours of Flores (www.toursofflores.com, email:
email@example.com) does an excellent job of showing many of the
visiting yachties around the island and that he has two nine passenger vans,
either of which could accommodate our crew. He proceeded to call Silvio,
passed me his phone and I made a tentative booking for a half-day tour the
Mahina Tiare moored on the end
pier at Lajes
Tiago said that the annual Festival of the Immigrants
which this year is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the town of Lajes
was starting that night, and that we must see it. We'd seen this incredible
celebration twice before and wouldn't miss it for anything.
As Joe (in
Portugese) and I peppered him with questions, Tiago was filling entering all
of our boat and passport information into his computer, and after a few
minutes printed out and emailed us entrance and exit clearance forms,
advising us that all of the information would also sbe available to the
harbormaster in Horta, so entrance there should be quick and easy.
Tiago said the new marina was mostly paid for (like seemingly all the
infrastructure in the Azores) by the EU and had proved very popular with
over 150 boats per year visiting. Showers, internet, electricity and water
are all included for the amazingly reasonable price of 18 euro per night,
the least we've ever paid for moorage, anywhere!
When asked about the
island's population, Tiago said that the current count of 3,600 included the
many people who'd long ago immigrated to the States and those who'd also
passed away. He said the young people (he looked to be around 40) continue
to leave for brighter lights but we sensed his strong love and connection to
the island as although his parents had immigrated to Lisbon he'd chosen to
A view from town of Lajes Marina and harbour
crew were excited! After showers and with Joe using Tiago's directions they
headed off on what turned out to be a very challenging cliff to sea hike
while Amanda and I hitchhiked 15 km the opposite direction to check out the
amazing new whaling museum in Santa Cruz, the island's largest town.
A gardener digs up his potatoes
Anne and Joe at the start of the 2km Faja de Lopo Vaz trail
That afternoon in the harbor the
two traditional Azorean whaling boats were boarded by a group of kids and
adults who promptly got them ready for sailing. Long used for whaling, these
historic boats are now used for racing under sail and oar. Whaling was an
important part of the Azores economy until 1981. Whales were spotted by
lookouts high on the island who fired signal rockets, alerting the farmers
to head for the boat ramps.
As whaling was only every done under sail or
rowing, the number of whales never diminished. Powered launches were only
used to tow the whale boats out and tow the whales back to the shore-based
Azorean sailing whaling boat preparing for
an afternoon sail
We all met at restaurant overlooking the 1910
lighthouse and harbor for a typically HUGE Portuguese fish dinner. David had
met the town mayor who invited us to the festival opening at the new civic
hall where a classical music performance would follow the opening speeches,
and not having a clue of what to expect, four of us went. After listening to
many speeches in Portuguese, a musical group from Boston composed of seven
string instruments, an accordion player plus three folk singers put on an
amazing performance of mainly Portuguese folk songs.
served to Ron, Tom and Anne
The Boston musical group in full swing
Saturday morning Amanda and I took off running at dawn and got
a bit lost in the hydrangea and rock hedged lanes between the corn and cow
fields trying to find the start of the cliff hike. I'd anticipated the trail
too soon but still enjoyed being out in nature and eventually Amanda figured
out where to head to for the start of the hike. On our return to MT we
stopped by the new cash and carry” supermarket, the harbormaster had proudly
told us about, and bought some fresh pineapple and warm maize bread.
The town of Santa Cruz
Hill top view of Fajazinha
Silvio Medina (www.toursofflores.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org) picked us up
at the harbor at 1 pm and took us on an amazing tour of the very rugged
island, checking out all anchorage and harbor options (very few!) and
telling us the history of each village. The best of all was returning to
Faja Grande, literally at the end of the road on the west side, where stormy
conditions in Lajes had forced us to seek anchorage several years ago. Now
there is a stone-paved walkway past historic water-powered grain mills to a
large pool underneath the island's tallest waterfall.
photo on the pathway to Poco do Bacalhau: Pred, Joe, Anne, Tom Amanda, Ron
Perched on the cliff to the right of the waterfall is an
ancient stone mill house that has been restored and rents out for 60 euro a
night, http://casasdacascata.com. What a treat it would be to stay there and
hike the miles and miles of gorgeous trails on that side of the island!
At the base of the waterfall the entire music group from previous
night's concert and their families were swimming and frolicking in the pool.
Silvio saved another real treat for last. Just 2 km from Faja
Grande, www.aldeiadacuada.com are 16 charming homes restored in a
small-cobbled stoned village that was abandoned in the 1960's when its
inhabitants emigrated to the New World. A local purchased the site and now
runs the homes as guest houses. We looked into one of the homes that serves
as the front desk/registration area, and it was like entering a farmhouse
Our thanks goes to Silvio for showing us the wonders of
Flores for five hours and answering our many questions all for the amazing
price of 20 euro each!
crew had dinner at the festival food tents where Joe got them to try several
local specialties. Earlier in the day the ferry from Horta arrived for the
first time this year bringing several hundred visitors and it was obvious
everyone was incredibly proud of their culture and tradition. At sunset the
parade started down the long main street towards the harbor although it was
short on numbers this year as there hadn't been enough funds to cover
transportation of bands and dancers from other islands as in the past. So
when the band from Fajainha finished providing the accompaniment for a very
exuberant folk dancing group they rushed back to the top of the hill to
accompany the dancers that followed school dancers and band.
Silvio and one of his vans
Dancers making their way down the crowd lined street
The band from Fajazinha
John and Ron get ready to devour hot crepes
It was interesting to watch the crowds. Out of at least a thousand
people, no one appeared drunk or rude, there was no visible police presence,
small children wandered about with everyone greeting them and keeping an eye
on them and everyone was enjoying the evening. We were invited to a
symphonic concert in the park but headed back exhausted. We were also
repeatedly invited to a free lunch Sunday noon in the town hall.
Actually, in our early morning hike (we were too exhausted and the streets
to hilly to run!) yesterday Amanda and I stumbled upon an industrial soup
kitchen behind the church where seven 10 gallon pots had Portuguese Holy
Ghost soup cooking and volunteers were preparing for the luncheon. We were
again invited and the cooks explained the lunch was a way of saying thanks
to the immigrants who had returned to the town from overseas for the
Not wanting to arrive before dawn in Horta, we waited
until 1100 yesterday before setting sail on the 135 mile passage. As we
sailed away, the sun came out on the rugged island and the string of
red-roofed whitewashed stone houses stretching along the cliffs looked like
doll houses. We could see waterfalls and mist covered the jagged peaks and
it felt like we were leaving Shangri-La.
We've had a mixed bag of conditions, some sloppy seas
left over from a little frontal passage, some good downwind sailing and some
Crew and MT ready to depart Lajes
Final Leg 5 Entry:
We had an excellent sunrise with the
island of Faial in the background and when we entered Horta harbor there
were tons of local kids in Optis and Lasers zipping around the harbor as
part of the yacht club summer sailing program. Check-in at the harbor office
was a cinch, thanks to Tiago's having already entered all of our info, and
in no time we were assigned a berth rafted one out from a catamaran on the
breakwater wall. Amanda was off and running once MT was secure, eager and
pleased to find paintings she had made on the wall of Maiden (1989), Taitoa
(her parent's boat visiting in 1988) and Mahina Tiare III (2000 &
still visible and hadn't been painted over.
Dancers making their way down the crowd lined street
Dave points the way
to Horta at sunrise
MT at Horta Marina wall with distinctive
2,351m peak of Pico Island in the background
Our crew chose dinner at
Pousada do Santa Cruz, a 500 year old fort converted into a fine hotel and
restaurant which we all enjoyed. Tuesday morning everyone pitched in to
clean their cabins and then were soon off to explore the Azores and
yesterday (Wednesday) Amanda and I set sail for 21 miles to a tiny new
marina at Lajes do Pico for our own adventures.
Leg 5 - 2015, Itinerary
leg 1 | leg 2 | leg 3 |
leg 4 | leg 5 | leg 6 |leg 7 leg 7