Bermuda to the Azores
Crossing back across the Atlantic Ocean
31st May 2008 day 1
George – Very calm beginning of passage which in a way is good; it is easing us into the trip and allowing us to find our sea legs, but also has its disadvantages; we must sit here bobbing and making very slow progress ( disheartening for the first day) or else we use the valuable commodity of fuel to push our way towards the Azores. We’ve gone for the motoring option for now and have our fingers crossed for wind later on!
Grum – Farewell to friends on the dock, particularly the amazing Bernie and his wife Lilly – and recent friends Brigitte and Jergen from s/y Impromptu. Sad to say goodbye, but for me good to be back on the ocean and heading for the Azores. There is only so much getting ready you can do ……. And we are particularly well prepared at least as far as Double waters and provisioning is concerned. Enough teabags? Enough chocolate? And so the 5 Coileys aboard DW set sail east, a few butterflies stowing away, always some trepidation at the start!
Bridge – Happy Birthday Mum! Here we go again! Not another stew says Jack! It seems a long way but at least this time I have my mate George as watch mate and the nights are short.
Jed – Stuffed to the brim with food. Double waters and her crew leave Bermuda in high spirits, humph. Blue sky, blue sea, and the odd cloud. Upon leaving, another boat followed us, so we called them up and they were going the same direction, we set up a check-in on SSB (radio); good to have someone to talk to.
Jack – Main, mizzen and jib set nicely for a beam wind, creaming along at 5 knots (although we hope for more later). Played some guitar during afternoon. Filming and photos of DW underway.
1st June 2008 day 2
George – Only Mum and I awake and the whole ocean seems quiet, the only discernable sounds are the gentle ruffles of the sails and the whirr of the prop shaft as we drift over the flat sea at three knots, sailing almost downwind with a bare 9 knots of wind – 6 knots apparent. I’m still amazed and awestruck by the beauty of a clear night sky, it seems someone has taken a paint brush and flicked the black canvas with a hundred thousand stars. We sit up here, chewing on fruit gums and take it all in, this is a night to enjoy and savour; it almost makes you forget your tiredness, this is how sailing should be!
Jed – Feeling a bit sick at the mo, so not easy. We saw hundreds of P.M.O.Ws (Portuguese Man-O-war, jellyfish), so we are not going swimming!
Grum – Day 2 and alarmingly slow progress – light breeze and some adverse current, but a calm sea and that’s’ not to be sniffed at; allows us to set ‘big blue’ our cruising shute and fiddle around with sails.
Bridge – With light winds and shute up you could sail forever and wash up and cook and sleep.
Jack – First night watches over with; they come quite easily but they won’t when fatigue sets in. Oh well, at least the sea is calm and the sun is warm on our backs.
2nd June 2008 day 3
Jed – We saw our first whale! It was a long way away, but no mistaking that mushroom of spray. The wind has picked up a bit and we are going a steady 4.5 knots. Menacing looking clouds surround us, I hope it doesn’t rain!
Grum – We have a mizzen mast elf who with some regularity is tapping from inside; he clearly wants to escape but despite attempts by Jack and myself to free the little fellow, he remains a tap, tap, tapping every time we roll – and yes we are now rolling along! With a wonderful 15-18 knots just abaft a beam we are chasing down the miles to the Azores, average speed about 6.8 knots, lovely. Bit queasy making though…..
Bridge – I win the prize – first to be sick! Prop making a lot of noise as we surf.
Jack – Wind starting to pick up as we begin to leave the high pressure area, 9 – 14 knots from abeam. I have a sore neck from manoeuvring myself to take a look inside the mizzen mast for our gremlin – no luck. On a constant lookout for more whales as I hang around in the galley making egg sandwiches for myself and the skippers’ wife. Stashes have been well and truly broken into (and nearly shared out); fruit gums, crisps and more cups of builders’ tea for night watches.
George – No luck on the fishing yet….we have one more meat meal left in the fridge and then we’ll be keen to catch something…otherwise meals tend to get a bit bland. We’ve been making really good speed today, sometimes the helming feels a bit of a drag but at the moment we’re so balanced I can steer with my feet, lean back, recline and relax!
3rd June 2008 day 4
Grum – Bit of challenging moment in the night. Jack and I were on the 2am-5am watch and out on our port bow we spot a ships light, dim, but definitely a ship. The bearing didn’t change and through binoculars several lights could be spotted – one bright white seemingly astern of the others. No change in the bearing so we popped on the radar and his blip was 5 miles away. With a bearing line on the radar we again try to identify the ships aspect – still one bright white and maybe a green nd red. We wake up Bridge and George for a further opinion, engine on. I call the ship who is now only 2 miles from us, after some “Please repeat I don’t understand” at 1.5 miles I clearly ask him to alter course to starboard and say that we will put on our deck lights so that he can clearly see us. At less than 1 mile it is only now that we can clearly understand his lights – a very bright bow masthead light, a green, several dimmer lights (looking vaguely red) on his superstructure, and a very dim (not discernable from a distance) stern masthead light. At 0.4 miles from us he makes a major course change to starboard and passes astern of us. Too close thank you.
Bridge –Screaming along at over 7 knots for most of the night. Easy helming (and that’s without the auto helm) Georges gingerbread. Full sail. – till Grum got up and decided to take a reef in! Coward!
Jack – Mighty nice sailing, slight choppy swell from the starboard which brings on some queasiness but otherwise good conditions. Lovely bow wave and very relaxing sitting on the pulpit seat above the deep blue water.
George – Not a fun night, Mum and I ended getting up with Jack and Dad to help with their close ship and once I went back to bed it was difficult to sleep…..adrenalin pumping, I think. Then I had to stay down below on our early morning watch to receive weather faxes and ended up being sick. But at least we’re still making good speed!
Jed – I did not want to get up. We celebrated our 10,000 miles at sea! We dove into our precious supply of chocolate. Only 2 ships.
4th June 2008 day 5
Grum – weather – the all important knowledge – with it you can look forward and predict what to expect, and optimise the ships course for most favourable wind and seas. Without the weather – well you just have to take it as it comes. If our computer holds out (battery rapidly dying) then we can download weather charts via the SSB all the way from Boston. Today’s looks good – stationary high west of the Azores, a frontal ridge way to the north, and for our neck of the ocean; southerly breezes of 15-20 knots, lovely.
Bridge – Have been trying to catch up the Canadian boat La Boudouse. They left the day before us and are now in sight – but not getting any closer. Jack is now on the case trimming sails.
George – Feeling quite ill, a combination of sea sickness and tiredness but it is bearable. Mum has banned my ipod from our watches; she thinks it limits conversation……fair enough I suppose. Yesterday we celebrated our 10,000 miles total tally on DW. It was an exciting affair involving lots of flags strung up strategically to strangle the helmsman at every flap, a bowl of popcorn, a bowl of sweets, a seldom listened to Queen greatest hits 3, finishing with “thank God Its Christmas”- not exactly seasonal, but still…..and a banana cake topped with smarties – an unknown extravagance
Jed – Got up for my watch again. We saw hundreds of dolphins. I made a game called Othello. We have stayed in sight of another yacht for the whole day.
5th June 2008 day 6
Grum – Wash day! Deck washes all round; Bridge treated herself to a hot shower. Wow! There’s a lot of food on this yacht: hardly made a dent in the tinned food supply, plenty of homemade bread, cakes and cheesy comestibles; the fridge well stocked with butter, cheese and bacon – we shouldn’t go hungry – not much fresh stuff though.
George – At last we’ve caught a fish! Its not breaking any records but it’ll be nice for breakfast tomorrow…..i was getting worried that we wouldn’t catch anything. We are all sweet smelling after saltwater washes on the back deck. We are still in touch with the Canadian Yacht, they are about10 miles from us – it’s comforting to have someone else out here with us. Especially as the weather is set to get worse.
Bridge – Oh no, bad weather coming. The anticipation is horrible. Right now the weather is beautiful, sun shining, calm seas, 14 kt wind and us going at about 6-7 knots. As we’re further north the days are long and the nights are short. George and I only really have 1 watch in the dark 11-2, as the 5-8 at night is light and in the morning the dawn is breaking.
Jed – Had a bit of a bath. Not looking forward to the bad weather, but that can’t be helped. We caught a small Dorado so supper tomorrow is ready. Need to do a 360 now…. We have seen loads of stuff floating past, plastic bottles, buoys, logs, bags, gas bottles, oil bottles, and fenders are just a few of them.
Jack – I feel I’ve finally got my sea legs. Can now spend as much time as I want down below (not much with the current watch system….)
6th June 2008 day 7
George – Wind has increased. Throughout last night and this morning we were regularly reefing down until now at 05.45 we’re down to the staysail and reefed mizzen. Motion is quite violent at times but so far no one is sick. I’m feeling very optimistic about the whole affair, helped by the fact that we’re now halfway! The weather is set to get worse tonight however so my good spirits might not be permanent. Jack and I posed with Q in an attempt to get our picture in the magazine. Cheese on toast for lunch…hmmmm.
Jed – Stayed in be most of the day, Trev wanted me down below so I don’t get washed overboard, fair enough I suppose. When I got up it was grey and stormy. George and I were under the spray hood when George said “its not been spraying for donkeys” promptly a gush of water flew into the cockpit. Famous last words. When we put this onto the website it may be hard to read as I am in the cockpit and having to hold on with 2 hands.
Bridge – Just my kind of day! Kept spirits up for most of the day until the lightening started! Then I hibernated and gave out food!
Grum – Force 8 down below; creaking, groaning, whooshing, rushing, tapping, slopping, tinkling, straining, banging, crashing, gripping, catching, moving, moving, moving…….
Jack – Today has been a constant on watch off watch alternation. Big seas building up from behind us now and a constant 35 - 40 knots of wind. I’m not too worried about our safety; just getting cold in the night. It comes as a bit as a shock – once an hour a nasty wave catches us side on, and with an ear splitting crunch, the hull jerks inwards – you can see the wall jump towards you!!
7th June 2008 day 8
George – Last night was very unpleasant. It was wet from the constant spray and rain. The wind got pretty strong; we ended up sailing at 7 knots under reefed staysail. The waves were violent and quite big. None of us got much sleep; I only got a couple of hours at the most. We expected the weather to be over today but it looks like we may have it for another night…fun fun…
Jed – Not a great day, feeling sick. I haven’t seen the sun all day. I have had 4 layers on all my watch. The sea is grey, so I’m feeling down.
Bridge – Our 2 watch system has now changed into a different 2 watch system – 2 watch lightening or not!! I’m on watch for a lot of today so Grum can sleep to maybe be up for a lot of the night! Very proud of all the boys George and Jack doing their 3 on 3 off watches and more unfailingly. Jed taking his watches and then hibernating in his bunk.
Grum – Force 8 above decks; howling, whistling, sloshing, racing, whooshing, slopping, slapping, groaning, straining, cracking, tumbling, cresting, breaking, splashing, spraying, soggy.
Jack – Sky conditions are foreboding – grey and overcast; raining squalls all round; large low thunderheads looking particularly grizzly as they crawl overhead. Only saw blue sky for 10 mins or so, and then not even enough to make a sailors eye patch…..
8th June 2008 day 9
George – Another miserable night, raining on all my watches so feeling a bit damp. I had forgotten what a blessing a good nights sleep in a warm bed is. - You just don’t know you’ve got it till it’s gone…ha ha. Looking at the sea is like watching an ever changing moonscape, craters forming and swiftly overtaking us, sending us a rolling again. Everything is a dull grey, except when a wave breaks into white horses at its crest, leaving a trail of foam and spray in its wake. Nonetheless everyone is working well together and our spirits are reasonably high considering how tired we are. Watches are happily taken; meals are cooked despite the motion: life goes on regardless of how much wind we have! Oh we have just been hit by a big wave on our side; anyone looking out of a porthole would have had a very submarine like view into the ocean.
Grum – A second tough night and a second consecutive gale, although this second little baby we seem to have skirted around to the south. Too much lightening for Bridge overnight (any is too much!) Now in daylight things don’t seem so bad – seas still big around 5m and so plenty of surfing, rolling and an occasional big slap from the side and a bucketful into the cockpit and your lap (ask Jack)
Jack – still trying La bboudose on the vhf and ssb but alas no answer. I pulled a muscle in my back on watch last night, so now difficulty with bending over, twisting, picking things up, and sleeping. Impressed by skipper Grum who has had to do extra night watches for lame mum! Swells now picked up more 20ft in the sets.
Bridge – They always pick you up then slap you down. Things began to look a bit brighter and then you find another low is developing just where you are. 4 in a row now, hoping this one will go north of us but the seas are looking more threatening – warp on deck in case. But our boat speed is just right right now with just a staysail so no need to slow up.
George – Seems like one gale after another. It really does get you down. A little worried about the Canadians – haven’t heard from them since the wind started. But they’re probably fine. We have been hand steering today (usually we auto helm if we have the battery) as the waves are quite big and the wheel is kicking a lot – don’t want to damage anything. It seems like we have been out for years, the days merge into each other…..
Jed – Hmmm can’t wait to get to the Azores. We have been out 9 days and we still have only got one fish .LAME. Hopefully all this bad weather will clear up, and we can get back to what sailing should be like.
9th June 2008 day 10
Bridge – Lindy…happy birthday. You’ve bought the sunshine. Seas gradually lessening, soft white clouds 15kt winds – actually on course for the Azores with a beam wind. Boys all sleeping, Jed and I on watch, washing up, baking cakes, cooking food and sorting more snacks in case of more weather. George and Jack seem to constantly need food in their mouths. Jack so much so that he’s actually started to cook!! Looking forward to a bit of sleep catch up myself!
Jed – The sun has come out at last, there are a few fluffy white clouds and blue sea. We have broken into our treasured packet of Mcvities Ginger nuts. Dahl and rice for supper (yum yum) Full jib reefed main full mizzen 7 knots.
George – Feeling very refreshed after a few hours extra sleep. The last few days have been tough for us all. It was stressful and no-one got enough shut eye. Even when you are off watch the boat was careening around too much and this combined with the constant bangs as waves hit the hull made it extremely difficult to sleep. Now we are just left with big swells as the wind has died down to a reasonable strength. This means that we are rolling but it is a predictable motion instead of the rodeo ride that we have had to live with recently. Not too long now until we reach the Azores he says optimistically!.....
Grum – What a difference a day makes … out of the gale and gloom and into beautiful ocean sailing – big long sweeping gentle swells that ease their way beneath the keel, blue skies, scudding white clouds, 7.7 knots and in the right direction. Fully washed and shaved – now there’s a treat. Fishing so the prospect of fried Dorado for supper maybe. Almost reluctant to download another weather forecast in case its bad news – but the barometer is up and steady so fingers crossed.
Jack – It’s jolly nice to get moving again – you can almost feel the Azores just over the horizon….Jeds taken his first watch in 3 days (wondered where he had gotten to) Started reading ‘Waiting for snow in Havana’ – excellent book
10th June 2008 day 11
Bridge – Oh no not again
George – We have been plunged into the deep end again. This morning another gale judging by the weather fax we’re stuck with strong winds for at least the next 3 days. The allegedly permanent high pressure that hovers over the Azores has moved all the way east and is now over England. The low pressures which have been giving us there company for what seems like most of the passage have merged together. We have been making preparations for bad weather again. We’re trying to cook some meals for the days ahead that promise to be rough – which will make cooking difficult.
Jack – Boy oh boy. Looks like the weather’s turning bad again – I’m considering turning religious just to see if it’ll change our luck. 2% chance of gales here at this time of the year. How many have we had? You do the maths. Hey ho, at least there’s only another 4 days (5 max) to Horta, where we can relax, but until then it looks like many more endless night watches beckon.
Jed – I am not happy. We have another 4 days of gales. It would be nice if we could tow a bit of land behind us.
11th June 2008 day 12
Grum – Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, waves, dribbles running down the neck. Rolling, rolling, rolling, crash bang, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54 knots scary…..
George – very rough last night. Very very rough. To make matters worse while we were charging the batteries last night the engine stopped abruptly. We so far haven’t been able to fix it. As a consequence of this we are now totally hand steering to save power. Jack, Mum and Dad were up all night with the weather and I tried to get some sleep – we didn’t know when it was going to end. Luckily the tough conditions eased up somewhat around 6am. I then did an 8 hour stint on the helm so the other trevs could get some sleep. Now in the evening, the sea has calmed incredibly and we have a perfect sailing breeze. It looks like the weather forecast got it wrong, or else we’re having a lull before more roughness –hope that isn’t the case.
Jed – Baked potatoes for breakfast. George made a cake and dad made pizzas for dinner. The engine cut out so we are using the little petrol generator on the back deck for power. I can’t wait to get to the Azores and tie up and just get on land. At the moment we are surrounded by dark clouds but with blue sky above us. Is that a good omen or a bad one?
Jack – Sitting off watch at the mo, drinking hot tang and reading. Last night was very tough for us all – Mum and Dad had one long cold wet watch all through till morning. Everything has a green tinge from the radar screen that burned into my eyes all night as I sat at the navigation table – just one ship and him only seen on radar even though he came within a couple of miles. Very happy about the calm weather so fishing cooking and playing guitar await.
Bridge - What a tough night. Terrifying. Grum and I both in the cockpit. One with eyes shut the other helming for as long as they could. 5, 10, 15 mins and then swapping. Jack below on radar watch and hot food and drink passing out. George on sleeping duty ready to have one person capable for today. Jed tucked up in bed. Today tidying cooking, drying, sleeping and for poor George helming!
12th June 2008 day 13
Grum – Hands up! I made a very bad mistake with the engine in running it for so long during the storm the other night, particularly without checking the filters regularly. The rough seas and violent motion of DW led to muck and water stirred up in the tank, pulled through to the filters which clogged and it seems some contaminants have been pulled through to the high pressure pump which has failed. Jack and I have worked hard in rolly seas changing filters, bleeding the system and cleaning parts of the distributor pump – but no joy – no fuel getting to the injectors – looks like we may have to arrive in Horta under sail and arrange a tow into the harbour – hey ho more adventures.
Bridge – During the force 9 when the engine cut out I said to George I’m so terrified already that the though of having to get into the marina under sail isn’t stressful – now that Grum is talking about trying to tow our 27 tons into a marina berth with our 4 hp dinghy engine I’m beginning to get stressed again!.... Still big seas and very rolly as wind is right behind. Only making 5 kts. Want to be in on Saturday but likely to be Sunday or weeks if the high pressure and calms set back in……..
Jed – Can’t get the engine fixed. We may have to get a tow… I can see; the boat, the sun, the sea, the sky, some clouds, a pmow, and….that’s it! You get used to it after a while. We are having sausages, cabbage and mashed squash for dinner, not bad after er.. lots of days at sea.
George – Night watches go so much faster when the weather is nice. Hand steering is turning out well. There are 4 of us who can helm for longish periods of time so it equates to 6 hours a day each, not too much at all in these pleasant conditions. Engine still not working but everyone is happy; the gales have stopped; we just had a delicious dinner; we’ve had music in the cockpit for the first time in donkeys. It’s uncanny how rapidly our situation can change. Only yesterday morning we were emerging from a (enter what gale we had after discussion!) gale. Today the wind has been light and the swells are diminishing slowly. Now it seems ludicrous that 2 days ago we were running from huge walls of water hoping the next one wouldn’t break over our heads.
Jack – What a difference nice weather makes! Everything seems so much more optimistic; blue skies. Everyone is on there last packets of stash, but the quality of the food is increasing hugely. Genito has been working overtime to keep our batteries topped up for the instruments
13th June 2008 - Day 14
Grum - I’m very disappointed with myself for letting the engine fail - it only needed proper checks on the filters! Now, after an hour of investigation and checks by Jack and myself, I am 95% certain that the high pressure pump has seized. Nothing we can do at sea, and expensive repair or replacement once we get to Horta. Only 150 miles to go, but still seems plenty without the help of Perky Perkins. Thank goodness we have the small petrol generator to charge the batteries. But the end is in sight; 1 or 2 more nights, some careful navigation and brisk sailing into Horta- some small assistance to get alongside, and we are well, in the Azores.
Jack – Beautiful watch last night! Averaged around 7 knots the whole time; easy helming; lessening seas; 15 – 20 from the port quarter; starry sky; an amazing sunrise! Our ETA is looking much more promising now at 5 in the afternoon – under 20 hours to go at this speed ( I just hope the wind doesn’t die on us)
Bridge – Beautiful evening at present but I remain apprehensive about what else will be thrown at us. Can’t wait to be tied up alongside for a long sleep!
Jed – Almost there!! Today was nice calm seas and bright sun. Looking forward to getting to the Azores.
George – We had thought it was possible for us to make landfall tomorrow. But we would have to keep an average of 7.5 knots so I don’t think its going to happen now…..however if the wind keeps above 10 knots we will definitely get in the next day. The wind is so important now. At the end of a long passage like this we would usually use the engine to keep moving if the wind died – who wants to stay out an extra 2 days? Also we need some wind if we are going to be able to sail into the harbour. It’s the evening now and the wind is dying…….
14th June 2008 day 15
Jack - If you don’t get one it’s the other ain’t it? 5 knots of wind for all of today. Cruising shute up but still going excruciatingly slowly. Hopefully we’re still going to reach Horta by tomorrow, but……. So now, creeping through the rippling water at 1.5 knots. Hoisting up the mizzen staysail as a big flat…..thing, in a vain hope to move us a bit faster. Horta is now only 35 miles away – nothing in usual sailing terms but many a roll for us!!!
George – We have almost no wind now. This morning we had 8 knots of wind and we were making about 4 knots boat speed. This is quite amazing when you consider that 8 knots of wind is hardly a zephyr and we are 26 tons heavy. But now in the evening we have 4 knots of wind and about 1.2 knots of boat speed. We’re facing a 24 hour sail to do 35 miles (something a car can do in under an hour easy) and it’s a bit worrying. We haven’t got much petrol left for the little generator which is our only source of power. To change the subject we are all clean from salt water washes and mum made the best dinner ever. Fingers crossed for some wind.
Bridge – So near and yet so far! Clouds can be seen over the Azores but no land yet.
Grum – Very slow today despite hoisting the stern wig wam sail we were drifting along at barely 1.5 knots. Early in the day we realise we are facing another night at sea. Have Jack and I enough “knock knock” jokes to keep us going?
Jed – We though we might arrive today…. No chance! We have only been going 1 knot all day. We have the cruising shute up and the mizzen staysail.
15th June 2008 Arrival day!
Bridge – Still only a little wind. Enough to keep us going at 1.5 knots. Hoping the current between the islands won’t be too bad against us. All ready. Anchor ready. Dinghy lashed along side. Last mile under dinghy power as the wind died. Slow going but in the right direction. Right through the harbour and alongside the marina wall. Phew!!
Jed – The beautiful island of Pico7000ft high was towering over us as we slowly sailed along. We went between the two islands then dropped the cruising shute. We then got the dinghy and tied it alongside. We sailed passed the breakwater and used the dinghy to drive us along at a slow pace, thank goodness there was no wind or the dinghy wouldn’t have been strong enough! After we tied up we went to customs, then to sleep.
Jack – Very tense entry in Horta marina – I reckon the worst part was when the outboard engine seemed to have broken – luckily it was only a stiff transmission lever, but with out it there would have been trouble. First impressions of the marina were very good – good services and facilities and (best of all) a nice sheltered position.
George – Wow what a passage. Every time all seemed clear something else came up. So glad to be in. I was more scared in the last few days than in the gales. For a while there, we were worried that the current would take us passed the Azores, we had so little wind, and we would be sentenced to bobbing slowly away, slowly running out of water. But we’re in. What a relief. And despite the high tension running we worked together excellently to make a landfall under tricky circumstances.Grum – Double Waters has a brilliant crew. No question. Without any assistance from the shore we planned and executed a brilliant arrival and safe landfall in Horta. The boys and Bridge just got on with carrying out the plan and very soon we were alongside. No panic, no shouting just a calm manoeuvre in a tricky situation. And then relief and happiness at being back on dry land. Another adventurous passage and over 10000 miles in Double Waters. That’s impressive.