Sailing from the Azores to UK

After we had been on the Azores a couple of weeks it was time for us to start sailing to the UK. We started sailing from the Azores to UK June 11th. We left the Azores in June so that we would be able to make it back home to Sweden before August. We started working again September 1st and wanted to have some spare time so we wouldn’t have to stress for the last part of the sail. We also wanted to arrive to Sweden before the Swedish summer ended.

sailing from Azores to UK
Ready to start sailing from the Azores to UK.
Day 0 – June 11, 2021

After the drama with the autopilot, when we started our sail to UK, only to return and pick up our autopilot drive unit, we left for real. It was after dinnertime when we left Horta. We started the nightshifts almost immediately and after a couple of hours we lost sight of the Azores islands.

Day 1 – June 12, 2021
  • Approximate course: 030
  • Distance last 24 hours: 76
  • Total distance: 76
  • Engine hours: –
  • Sunrise/sunset: 06:22/21:20

We motored almost all day. It was no wind and very sunny and warm. Sat a lot in the bow of the boat, keeping a lookout for wildlife. We saw a lot of dolphins, a dead turtle, a part of a giant squid arm, an animal, which we think was, and eel and whales on a distance. We saw the blows on the horizon and saw a tail fin come up and then disappear under the surface. Have seen a lot of Portuguese Man O’Wars and at least 3 different types of jellyfish.

sailing from azores to uk
On the lookout for wildlife.
Day 2 – June 13, 2021
  • Approximate course: 030
  • Distance last 24 hours: 87
  • Total distance: 163
  • Engine hours: 21.3 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 06:12/21:21

Sunny and no wind this day as well. Saw another dead turtle with a lot of mussels or something on its body. In the afternoon we sailed 1-2 knots for a couple of hours. We didn’t want to arrive to early to UK (due to covid-19 restrictions). Made a chocolate mudcake. Had a single dolphin swimming by the bow for a while.

A pretty sunset.
Day 3 – June 14, 2021
  • Approximate course: 060
  • Distance last 24 hours: 90
  • Total distance: 253
  • Engine hours: 14.8 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 06:03/21:22

More wind this day, sailed wing-on-wing and sailed approximately 3-4 knots. Listened to a podcast and mostly just chilled. Had dolphins by the boat today as well. Saw very few Portuguese Man O’Wars today.

Pizza dinner.
Day 4 – June 15, 2021
  • Approximate course: 070
  • Distance last 24 hours: 93
  • Total distance: 346
  • Engine hours: 0 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 05:53/21:17

Even more wind this day and we sailed beam reach almost entire day. Has been cloudy and more waves than previous days. We both were affected by the waves and mostly chilled.

Day 5 – June 16, 2021
  • Approximate course: 060
  • Distance last 24 hours: 113
  • Total distance: 459
  • Engine hours: 0 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 05:40/21:10

Wind increased even more, sailed quite fast. It has been sunny today. We both still felt affected by the waves so we mostly chilled today as well.

The waves made us really tired, and we didn’t do much, just rested.
Day 6 – June 17, 2021
  • Approximate course: 070
  • Distance last 24 hours: 113
  • Total distance: 572
  • Engine hours: 0 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 05:26/21:10

During the night we noticed a very sudden wind increase. From no wind (and sailing 1 knot) to a lot of wind (sailing 5 knots) without seeing it beforehand. We usually have our sails reefed at night and in moments like this it is very nice to not have too much sails up. The wind died out a bit during the day. We had a quite chill day today as well and saw a lot of dolphins.

Day 7 – june 18, 2021
  • Approximate course: 040
  • Distance last 24 hours: 96
  • Total distance: 668
  • Engine hours: 15.4 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 05:14/21:07

Motored almost the entire night, as there was no wind. In the afternoon the winds picked up again. Had to spend some time adjusting the windvane. It has been cloudy and quite cold today.

Perfect with pizza and movie when it is cold and cloudy outside.
Day 8 – june 19, 2021
  • Approximate course: 020
  • Distance last 24 hours: 119
  • Total distance: 787
  • Engine hours: 0.1 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 05:00/21:06

A lot of wind today, and a lot of rain in the morning. We have prepared for upcoming stronger winds. Very cold today as well.

Day 9 – june 20, 2021
  • Approximate course: 090
  • Distance last 24 hours: 88
  • Total distance: 875
  • Engine hours: 0 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 04:50/21:00

We have sailed close-hauled all day, through strong winds from north/northeast. The winds were about 20-25 knots on average according to the forecast (we don’t have any wind instrument). We have felt a bit seasick and tired.

Day 10 – june 21, 2021
  • Approximate course: 090
  • Distance last 24 hours: 103
  • Total distance: 978
  • Engine hours: 0 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 04:38/20:55

Still strong winds and a lot of waves. It calmed down a bit in the afternoon. We just chilled as we were a bit seasick still.

Day 11 – june 22, 2021
  • Approximate course: 055
  • Distance last 24 hours: 88
  • Total distance: 1066
  • Engine hours: 0 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 04:28/20:50

Calmer weather today and sun was out all day! Made better speed and our mood was a lot better today. And we had the most amazing ending of the day! When we just had eaten dinner (we ate inside the boat watching a series) we went out to watch the dolphins. We had a big pod of dolphins around the boat and it was a pretty pink sky. When we were watching the dolphins we saw whale blows on the horizon. It was a lot of activity, both whales and dolphins hunting. We stayed out and watched for a while and saw more blows, on both starboard and port side, but still quite far away. And then, all of a sudden a whale surfaced just in front of us!! It was maybe a one or two boat lengths in front of us! And then another one came up as well! So cool! We think it was fin whales, the second largest whale! So glad we got to see some whales close up!

Day 12 – june 23, 2021
  • Approximate course: 060
  • Distance last 24 hours: 113
  • Total distance: 1179
  • Engine hours: 10,9 hours
  • Sunrise/sunset: 04:12/20:44

When we approached Wales and Milford Haven there was a lot of fog, the visibility was very bad. We motored really slow. We had a lot of wildlife around the boat. It was a very still and calm morning. Me (Petra) sat out in the cockpit watching all the animals around the boat and enjoyed this beautiful memory. Now back in Sweden after the trip is over, this morning is one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve had during the trip. Thinking back on it makes me miss the sea a bit. Saw dolphins, mink whales (I think), seals, puffins and a lot of other seabirds.

The fog cleared up, as we got closer to Milford Haven. We sailed into the inlet and through the loch into the marina in Milford Haven.

sailing from azores to uk
A lot of fog when we sailed into Milford Haven.

We arrived to Wales June 25th, after 12 days sailing from the Azores to UK. We sailed quite slow so that we wouldn’t have to quarantine (due to covid-19) before entering. Will write more about the entry process (covid-19 and Brexit) to UK in next post

The mandatory painting on the pier in Horta

June 5-11, 2021

After we had explored both Faial and Pico, we focused more on preparing for the upcoming sail to UK. As we had fixed most of the things we needed to fix earlier we didn’t have so much boat jobs to do. But still there’s always stuff to do to make the boat better, and also some of the stuff we had to fix we had to order and then wait for it to arrive.

One such thing was the new steering wire, we had ordered a new one with the correct dimensions. When the steering wire broke on the way to Azores we replaced it with the wire from the genoa halyard, which had snapped the day before. So we wanted to have replace that quick fix with a proper one.

Replacing the steering wire.

We also had to wait for the autopilot drive unit. We got news from RayMarine that they would replace the broken part of the drive unit and that it would be included in the warranty. But it had to be sent to the Azores, and from what we heard, that is something that can take some time…

But while waiting for the autopilot drive unit we had another very important task to do! It is tradition that sailors that arrive to Horta after the Atlantic Crossing do a boat painting on the pier. With a lot of boats passing by the Azores each year it has resulted in a really colorful marina! If you believe in superstitions, the rumor says that if you don’t do the painting you won’t make the sail back home. But anyway, it is a very fun tradition and of course we wanted to do our painting!

Some of the boatpaintings in Horta
Painting in the making

And the final result!
Make sure to look for our painting if you pass by Horta in the future!

We waited for the drive unit for a few days more, during that time we had a fun evening out with Sanuti and Svala, went horseback riding, ate dinners at restaurants and things like that.

We had a fun evening out with Sanuti and Svala. Picture taken outside Peter’s Sport Cafe
Exploring Horta by horse.

After we had waited many days and still we haven’t gotten the drive unit, we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer. The weather for doing the sail to Wales was good, not perfect, but good, and would turn to worse in a few days time. So we made the decision that we would leave the Azores without any autopilot and then get it sent to the UK instead. But before leaving we had to fuel up, which took some time. When we arrived to the fuel dock they were just about to fill the tanks, and before we could fill our tanks, their tanks had to “sit” for awhile so that all dirt in the diesel and the tanks would fall to the bottom. So, we bought an icecream and sat in the sun waiting.

Waiting at the fuel dock.

After a couple of hours we could fill up diesel and so we left Horta.

But…

…when we had sailed only about 3 nautical miles, we got a call from the boat chandlery in Horta. They had the drive unit part and could fix it. So we turned back, had the drive unit repaired with the broken part, and left for UK once more. Now it was quite late in the evening, but it was very nice to have teh autopilot as we expected a lot of calms during the sail.

 

 

Day trip to the island Pico

June 5, 2021

Just next to Faial in the Azores is the island Pico. The two islands are located very close to each other and a short trip with the ferry easily takes you to Pico. As we heard that it was a very cool island we decided to take the ferry there together with Svala and their crew. And we were not disappointed! Pico was very cool and pretty, and a lot of cows!

Taking the ferry from Horta was very easy, and a visit to Pico is something you shouldn’t miss if visiting Faial. We took the ferry by foot and rented a car once we got to Pico, but it wasn’t very easy finding cars. So, recommend to pre-book a car instead. But after visiting several car rental agencies we found a car!

The harbor in Pico, in the distance you can see Faial
A lot of cows everywhere on Pico, think we had at least 3 cow road blocks during the day.

There’s a lot of cool vineyards at Pico.

Enjoying the view

We stopped and took a walk in this very pretty parc; Parque Florestal e Recreio do Misterio de S. Joao

Very well taken care of

Traditional Azores mill
By a lucky shot we found this really nice restaurant, we thought we wouldn’t find anything as the village nearby didn’t have much. But then we saw a small sign, which led us to a hotel with a really nice restaurant. The restaurant was called Fonte Cuisine.
The peak Pico on the island Pico.

After a really nice day we returned the rented cars, had a few beers at the harbor while we waited for the ferry back to Faial.

 

Exploring Faial

May 29, 2021

After we had gotten most of all jobs we needed to do after the crossing we set out to explore the island Faial. We really like the Azores in general, amazing nature, very good food and we were quite lucky with the weather on our stay. A lot of the food you buy in stores on the islands are also produced here; dairy products, meat and fruit and vegetables. Which is really nice!

The people are also really friendly and a lot of pretty buildings. Really, really recommend that you not just “pass by” the Azores.

We rented a car together with Emma and Roger from Sanuti and took a tour around the island. So here comes some pictures from our daytrip around Faial:

On a dirt road at Faial.

Found a secret stream along the road

Drove through villages
Found a cute horse

We visited the lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos, a lighthouse that was half buried by ash in a volcano eruption. As you can see it is ash everywhere.
Pretty lighthouse
Here you can see how much ash that covered the lighthouse building. On this picture you can only see the top of the windows of the bottom floor.

Nice view!
Walked up to a top so we could see the lighthouse from above
A cool semi-natural harbour close to the lighthouse
Salt crystals and some animal/plant in the seawater pools by the cliffs.
Next up we drove to the Caldeira located in the middle of island
And walked on the edge around it
Very cool, green colors

At a viewpoint at Faial, below to the right you can see the town Horta

We drove back to Horta and also did some more exploring of the town. We ate good food at nice restuarants and also found this:

A boat graveyard!

 

Back on land after 26 days at sea

May 26-28, 2021

So, after we had finally arrived to Horta on Faial, one of the islands in the Azores. But before we were allowed ashore we had to take a PCR test for covid-19 and get the result. We arrived in the evening and when we were satisfied with the anchoring we went to sleep. Being just the two of us across the Atlantic means quite limited sleep, so it was nice to have a full night sleep.

During the Atlantic crossing towards the Azores we did 6-hour shifts. We have tried some different night shifts throughout and we have concluded that 6 hour shift during the night works for us. By getting 6 hour of sleep you can get a proper sleep and the one on watch take 20-30 minutes naps and checks the horizon, sail and so on. During the day we are both awake and both keep a lookout.

Anyhow, after a really good nights sleep we went to take our PCR-tests and then went back to the boat. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the boat and making a plan for how we will fix the things that broke during the crossing. In the evening we ordered take-away food and a bottle of wine from Peters Sport Cafe (a must visit if you arrive to Horta by sailboat, the bar is full of flags sailors has left). We ate our food and drank the wine and watched a movie.

The following day we got our test results (negative) and we were able to check-in to the Azores. We went to Customs and Immigration and got all the paperwork done. Luckily we got a spot in the marina. Horta is full of boats this time of the year with a lot of boats returning to Europe and the marina is very full. But we managed to get a spot and started hoisted the anchor, but quickly noticed that is was way heavier than it should be… And when we finally managed to get it up this is what was stuck on it:

It was very heavy and we couldn’t get it off from the boat, so we decided to drive with it into our slot in the marina. Think we got some weird looks on the way in 😉 When we had gotten to our slot we could get a better look at it from the dock and saw that it was a huge, old chain.

If you look closely you can see the links of the chain.

We got the old chain off, and it weighed a lot! Maybe around 80-100 kg.

The first day ashore we started to get some work done, we cleaned a lot of our clothes and sheets, started the process of getting the part of the autopilot drive unit that broke and bought all the stuff we needed to fix some other things; new wire for genoa halyard and steering. And we ate nice food, had some beers and gin&tonic and took some walks around Horta.

Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.