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From Santa Maria, Azores

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:45 pm
by Nick
Well, been here over 24 hours now and almost recovered from the trip.

Plans for the immediate future have been changed by a couple of things. Firstly the marina at Ponta Delgada (Sao Miguel) is full for a week from this weekend - not just the AZAB, but ARC Europe as well - what a PITA . . .

So next destination is likely to be Angro do Heroisma, Terceira, 142nm at 317deg T

But . . . not for a while. A nasty little depression is winding up and is set to hit here with winds of up to 40 knots N, NW then SW starting tomorrow afternoon. We have put out a second anchor, but the holding is poor here so we wont be able to leave the boat once it blows up.

We did ask if we could go on the yacht clubs dinghy pontoon. The secretary no, but then he said said erm well we could praps but he didnt say so and knew nothing about it if the dutch yacht he had chucked off there complained . . . so it all sounds like more hassle than it was worth, and will be considered only as a last resoprt if all our anchors drag.´

More at some future point - will phone Tim if anythng dramatic happens, otherwise it´s more WOW

(Waiting on Weather for those not versed in N. Sea drilling acronyms)

- Nick

Last yacht in Santa Maria

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:15 pm
by Nick
Everyone else has bailed out and we are on the pontoon - but there is a nasty swell coming in and if it gets much worse we will have to come off the pontoon and either anchor or pick up a moring we have our eye on (have talked to a mate of the owner, so we may be OK)

In the meantime, bought two more fenders and scrounged a couple of really big ones off a fisherman.

Not keen on anchoring with a big swell causing snatching, the wind swinging round and very unreliable holding ona rocky bottom.

Will keep people posted if I can leave the boat long enough to come up town - it is quite a long walk. Weather is forecast to be total rubbish until the weekend, and then to settle down into a moderate but steady wind blowing directly from our next destination to our current position . . .

Re: Last yacht in Santa Maria

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:30 pm
by Silkie
Nick wrote:blowing directly from our next destination to our current position . . .

Twas ever thus. :sailing:

Pontoon blues update

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:00 pm
by Nick
Pitching violently last night on a two foot surge, but a nice guy with a boat opposite us - júst a little open boat - came up to look at it about eleven and assured us he had installed the pontoon and it wouldn´t shift and he reckoned we would be fine.

Woken at one in the morning with teh wind howling and gusting 30 knots plus, but we were now hanging off the pontoon in a Northerly and the surge was gone. Doubled up a couple of lines and went back to sleep.

Forecast for F7-8 tonight and going Westerly tomorrow - W is OK maybe for surge, but WSW would be a bit horrendous with the 20ft swell predicted - I cold see a 4 or 5 ft surge maybe. Amazing the difference a few degrees can make. We have discussed going to anchor, but we know for sure we would have dragged in last nights 120deg windshift. There is a big Wharram hauled out up the town here that took out two fishing boats when it dragged last September . . . why the Pilot says it is good holding I have no idea, it took us several attemtps to get the Spade set and I still never pulled full revs on it.

So we are staying on the pontoon and roll on the weekend and more seasonable weather . . .

Blog is updated, but sorry to everyone that there is no BlueMoment calendar yet - will try to get my act together.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:26 pm
by Timbo
Nick is currently tied up to a very rickety pontoon in a howling gale, neither he nor Kath getting any sleep as all their time is spent preventing the boat and pontoon from pounding each other to bits. No berths available anywhere else in the Azores at the moment due to concentrations of other vessels on various races/rallies/cruises/whatever you nautical chaps call these things. Nick is at the moment contemplating cutting and running as the forecast doesn't promise much improvement in the foreseeable - either back to Madeira or West to Portugal. I have had a look at the grib files up until next Thursday, and there does not seem, to my untrained eye, to be anything insurmountable in the way of either option. If any of you more experienced aquatic navigators can have a look I would be grateful, if anyone thinks the weather looks, ahem, unsuitable for either possibility I would be grateful for the information.

Nick has little or no connectivity at the mo so can't do much himself.

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:31 am
by Silkie
I'm really not competent so have asked for assistance but in the meantime..

It looks as if it should ease a bit tomorrow where they are with Saturday and Sunday being OK before the wind backs to the west and picks up again on Monday. Direction would seem favourable for either Madeira or Portugal. Heading for Madeira they might well sail south of the stronger winds at the start of the week while Portugal might keep them in them for a while but they'd be astern, I suppose. I don't imagine that they really want to go back to Madeira.

Is it really not an option to use the better weather at the weekend to find a better berth?

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 7:43 am
by claymore
Sounds lovely!

Forgetting sailing off anywhere or anchoring - is there any mileage in using the pontoon as an anchor and getting a line ashore somewhere to bring the boat away from the pontoon and reduce the chances of damage or are you better just stuck alongside and pointing into it?

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:59 am
by EagerVega
I have no experience of the Azores, but in our area if you phone ahead to try and book a berth during the busy season you are almost always told that the place is full. Yet I have never seen a yacht refused if you just turn up. Usually smaller yachts have no trouble, often getting the best most sheltered berths.
Hopefully it has quietened down a bit, looks like the wind over the next few days will be west or north of west.

Best wishes,


Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:35 pm
by Silkie
Just had these two forecasts from Parahandy:

Current Metarea2 forecast (at 2100utc 7th) has the low E of Azores moving slowly E into NW Josephine by 8th then it, frankly, pisses around not going anywhere fast. Winds N F8 at first, with gusts, rough or very rough decreasing later. Severe gusts.

The grib file i(0600UTC) shows no respite until 0300UTC on 10th. There's no weather window to suit Nick to get north to Heroismo or Horta within the next 7 days. However, it can and will change.


the GMDSS metarea2 forecast has just been updated (0900UTC):

Part 2 : General synopsis, Friday 8 at 00 UTC
Low 998 in east of Azores islands, slowly moving northeast and
filling, expected 400 NM west of Portugal by 09/12UTC.
(that puts the low further North than the NOAA GFS grib file model has it)

Part 3 : Area forecasts to Saturday 9 at 12 UTC
Northwesterly 4 to 6, sometimes 7 at first, decreasing 3 to 5 at
end. Moderate or rough, decreasing. Showers.
South or Southwest 4 to 6, occasionally 7 with gusts, but locally
variable cyclonic in northwest. Moderate or rough, locally very
rough at first. Showers and locally thundersqualls.

The Meteo France text forecasts are often more reliable than the NOAA GFS grib forecasts. To get back to Portugal, he's got to go through Josephine.

I think he's better making the best of where he is?


Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:47 pm
by Silkie
The general consensus seems to be to stay put and make the best of it although we don't know just how bad Fairwinds' current situation is.

Good point from Nigel about just turning up at a more sheltered marina (is there one on Santa Maria?) although attitudes might be quite different to the UK and they might be quite capable of telling them to eff off regardless of the weather.

Good suggestion also from Claymore about making more creative use of the current pontoon as a mooring device although again we don't know it's exact situation.

Latest plan

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:19 pm
by Nick
The only marinas within striking distance during the brief lull on Sunday are both on Sao Miguel - 55 miles NNW - and they are both full thanks to the imminient arrival of not only AZAB but also ARC Europe.

Staying here is possible only as long as the wind stays North of SW - if it comes round further S the outer harbour is pretty much untenable, pontoon or not. Claymore´s idea is good, but we are running out of string . . . if we had to stay here I think that is what we would have to do.

I phoned the marina at Ponta Delgada again this morning and did some pleading. We have now been told that if we turn up we will be allowed to use the anchorage in Ponta Delgada harbour, which looks a little more sheltered than here anyway. So - current plan is to leave here early Sunday and if necessary bash into the weather under engine . . . although it looks as though there will be some lighter more Westerly winds for at least part of Sunday.

In the meantime have asked Tim to keep monitoring the GRIBs and any other sources for a possible escape West or WNW to Portugal or Spain if all else fails, and we are going to get a bit of food and water on board in case . . .

Update 5pm Friday

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:12 pm
by Nick
Well . . . the weather ´window´for Sunday is looking more and more dubious and would I think involve leaving at midnight or so to make sure we got to Sao Miguel before the wind went strong Northerly again. It´s all too close to call until we look again tomorrow.

As for staying where we are for another week . . . well, that might be best as it looks like the wind will stay N of W apart from a little while on Sunday when it goes SW, but we are only on this pontoon on a ´grace and favour´basis and could be chucked off at any minute. The situation has now been complicated by the arrival of a Swiss yacht direct from the Caribbean with a dodgy engine. They are so pleased to arrive, but their problems may have just begun . . .

I will try to find Marco, our only contact with the Club Navale, and have a chat with him.

Never been marooned in an unsafe harbour in foul weather before . . . I have to say I don´t like it much.

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:21 pm
by Silkie
Interesting (or not depending on your situation) to see how the waves refract around the end of the breakwater in the google earth image despite the fact that the swell seems to be coming from the west or perhaps a little south of west.


Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 8:12 pm
by Timbo
Just spoken to Nick again, he has decided to follow the wise advice on here and stay put for the time being, possibly going for the pontoon-as-anchor option if it gets too hairy (don't recall the "pontoon" anchor mentioned even once during the prolonged anchor debate a while back). If he can get past Wednesday things should quieten down a bit.

Will keep you posted if Nick doesn't.


Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 8:16 pm
by Silkie
and thanks for the update Tim.

PS - The only drawbacks with the otherwise excellent Pontoon Anchor are the difficulty of carrying one around with you on a 27ft yacht and the length of time it takes to set it's anchors before it is ready for use.