June 1-9 2002 Azores to Falmouth
 
We arrived in Falmouth England on June 9th, after an 8 day passage from the Azores.
By way of introduction, we should tell you that Ken Signorello, who crewed with us from Bermuda to the Azores, reports that several sailing friends have told him he hadn't done a REAL passage, since it was such an easy voyage. Well, this one -- some 1300 miles with just the two of us, in 8 gray, cold, rain and spray-filled days -- was a REAL one. Here are some log entries:

1 June 2002, 1350: Left slip in marina at Agra de Heroisme, Terceira, Azores.

1515: Sailing rhumbline [the straight line -- 066°] to England, beam reaching [wind at 90° to the boat - a good, fast point of sail] in 20 knots under main and staysail.

2345: Wind dying to 10-12 kts.

2 June 2002, 0050: Decided to unfurl genoa - shackle at head [top of mast] was broken and sail came down into the water. Furled it on deck and attached it to the boat with sail ties and shock cord.

0115: Wind under 8 knots. Furled staysail and motor sailed with mainsail.

0830: Wind back up to 15-20 kts. NW, backing. Making high 7's and low 8's under main and staysail.

1700: Passed freighter 'Bremer Timber' of Gibraltar, less than 1/4 mile away in 1/2 mile visibility. Had to alter course to clear her. Wind still backing, now WNW 15-20. Broad reaching on port tack. Barometer dropping.

2345: No copy on Herb [the weather guy - see previous travelogues]. Talked to 'Tempest' [60 NM west of our position], who relayed Herb's predictions. Herb gave a waypoint so far west of our position we'd have to beat to windward to get to [it]. So we changed course to a close reach, steering about 040° to make 035°.

3 June 2002, 0800: The genoa lashed to the starboard rail came loose at aft end and was in the water. [Andi] tried to get it alone but was unable to because of all the water.

0845: [Called up Rob and we] got the genoa re-secured, but Rob tripped the air cartridge on his inflatable life vest in the process. Wow! Decided that the seas were calm enough to bear off and send Rob up the mast to retrieve the upper roller furling fitting for the genoa.

0945: Success. Did not try to raise genoa yet.

1315: Genoa keeps filling with water and sliding overboard. Hove to on starboard tack to secure it on deck, then had a good hot lunch. After lunch, hove to on port tack and raised genoa, then furled it.

1445: Back on course, steering 020°.

4 June 2002, 0015: Got Herb's info via relay from 'Tempest', who is now 125 NM NW of us. Winds predicted 20-25 kts. NW, moving W to SW over next 2 days ... Huge amount of phosphorescence in water. We leave a 'contrail' and breaking waves appear as a line of lights. Beautiful, but chilly.

0400: Wind 20-25 kts, doing 8-9 kts, but only 7.5 SOG [Speed over Ground]. Set running backstay. Autopilot not steering to stbd ... Cold, wet, miserable (actually 65°, but it feels cold).

1655: Uneventful watch. Some sunshine, but mainly cloudy. Our new steering system is a line from the wheel to the arch [which we have dubbed] 'Ropespierre'. He's set so well that [Andi] didn't touch the helm.

1830: Wind died to 12-15 and headed us some. Replaced Ropespierre with Cedric [the Cetrek autopilot].

5 June 2002, 0214: Wind down to 10-12 kts, backing to WNW. Set genoa, reaching at 7.3 kts, COG [Course Over Ground] 055°. Rhumbline course is 070°, ... but WX [weather] forecasts show N winds on 7th, so want to stay a little north of that [heading].

0400: Doing 8 kts. in 15 kts of wind, beam reaching.

1300: Past halfway point to England! Andi baked a pumpkin pie to celebrate. Corned beef hash and eggs for brunch.

1600: Wind 18-22 occasional gusts over 25. Hit 11 kts [boat speed]! Will want to take in genoa if wind continues to build.

1715: Took in genoa. Some gusts over 30. Had trouble with furling but got it sorted out.

1900: Autopilot failed. Took reef in main - winds around 30 knots. Autopilot had completely come apart. Hydraulic fluid everywhere.

2000: Rob [reassembled and] tried to bleed autopilot. Hand steering - tough.

2300 - 0100: Hand-steered alternate hours.

0100: Hove to. Tried to bleed [the hydraulic system for the] autopilot; no luck.

0100 - 0630: Hove to with radar alarm set [to warn us of any nearby ships].

0745: Sailing, hand-steering under single-reef main and staysail in 20-25 kts. Wind. Lost 6 NM while hove-to, plus the 30 NM we would have made. Not bad for the comfort and rest. Heater on in main cabin.

1215: Shook out reef in main and set genoa. ... Wind in mid-teens, still broad-reaching, doing 070° at 7-8 kts.

1530: Wind went aft ... reaching up to keep genoa full ... Misty and gray. Baro 1016 [milibars], down ... WXFax shows front coming on, probably around 2000. Decided against chute.

2200: Wind increased. Furled genoa but it wrapped on headstay. Couldn't get it unwrapped and it ripped. Finally managed to secure it with the spinnaker halyard. Really hard work with winds 25 knots and rain.

2400: Set staysail and single reefed main. Back on course, beam reaching with wind in the 20's.

7 June 2002, 0500: Dawn. Wind ... abeam, 20-25 kts. Rip in mainsail leech is getting worse. [We forgot to mention this earlier, with all of the genoa problems.] If it increases much more, we'll have to drop the sail and fix it with sticky-back tape.

1000: Series of squall lines with 35+ knot winds. Dropped main. Under staysail only.

1130: 40+ knots [wind] for a few minutes.

1300: Lots of birds. Began sail repairs on main.

1600-2100: Tangled genoa came unfurled high up and at clew, started flapping. Rig was flexing big time and we attempted to control it. First we tried to wrap the port spinnaker halyard around it...but the flapping pocket was too big to get the halyard wrapped around it. The wraps simply migrated to just above and below the embolism. So we decided to try to roll it up. Rob partly disassembled the furler to clear the jammed furling line, then wrapped the line around the lower part of the sail to make a furler. The sheets, bunched around the bottom, repeatedly fouled and eventually Rob cut them away and ran a new sheet to help control the clew. Finally got it under control - entire sail is in shreds. Five hours!

[At this point, since we were both pretty tired, cold and wet, we decided to take one hour watches, then increase to 2, then 3, etc. to rebuild our stamina. This worked extremely well. We were now at 48° latitude, as far north as the US/Canada border or southern Newfoundland. The skies were overcast and the temperatures were around 55-60.]

2200: 244 Nautical miles from Falmouth. Making 5 knots using only staysail with rope and bungee steering.

2300: Genoa began to unfurl at bottom. We re-ran sheet and re-furled it. One hour.

8 June 2002, 0245: Quiet watch. Blowing 30-35 kts. Sailing under staysail with a combination of bungee and rope to hold the wheel.

0330: Computer not working. Screen off? Cursor is jumping all around and when GPS was disconnected, got blank screen.

0400: Computer working again. DON'T TOUCH SCREEN. Note: get this fixed.

[We use electronic charts and a navigation program on our laptop, connected to the GPS, to keep track of where we are, our speed, etc., in addition to using the computer for email.]

1230: Passed 2 red fishing boats ambling along, rolling worse than we. No response on VHF. Seas 15 feet, occasionally 18 and some breaking. Maximum roll <45°. Rope steering.

1350: Winds moderating to 25-30 kts. Some sunshine. Crew still tired from genoa-rolling experience and lack of sleep.

2030: Computer screen hosed. Using paper charts.

2330: Quiet watch. Jibed to starboard jibe (staysail only) for the first time this passage! Motor sailing almost downwind at 070° within 100 NM of The Lizard [the most southerly point of land in England, and 15 miles from Falmouth, our destination].

9 June 2002: 0245: Watch ended with squalls, 30+ knots.

0625: Squalls with 35+ knots and rain throughout watch. Miserable.

1050: Clear sky at last. Lots of shipping traffic. Making 6 knots using motor only.

1200: Landfall!

1320: At Lizard. Had 4 large cargo/tanker vessels converging at one point! [The Lizard is the turning point between the Irish Sea and the beginning of the English Channel.]

1705: Moored at Port Pendennis Marina, Falmouth. [As we were entering the harbor, the skies again turned grey and drizzly. We thought about the passage, recalled our years in the Caribbean, and said to one another, "Maybe we didn't think this through."]

[We had expected this passage of 1300 miles to take about 81/2 days. Despite the problems we encountered, it took just a bit over 8 days, so it was, in some sense, a good passage.]

10-11 June 2002: With help of several sailors who had dropped out of the Around Britain Double-handed Race because of heavy head winds and seas, we lowered the genoa, cutting it away when needed, and flaked it on the dock. It was drizzling and around 60°.

Later, at the Chain Locker Pub, our mood improved. We met other race dropouts, including an American from Connecticut, Bill Fisher, off his trimaran "Spirit" with his Brit crew "Rob". The tri had developed a leak in one hull, ending their race. After some conversation, we came to realize that "Rob" was Sir Robin Knox Johnson, famous for his single-handed round the world sail, which ended in Falmouth in 1986(?). Nice, unassuming Knight, he is. Bought him a pint.

Since we had to replace our genoa, we decided to find out about costs to replace the mainsail too, because it was awfully worn out. We got quotes from two local sailmakers, another one in Wales, and from the UK lofts of 2 international sailmakers. In the end, we decided to go with SKB, the local sailmaker that everyone around Falmouth recommended highly. His loft is in Penryn, the town adjacent to Falmouth, and is amazingly high-tech, with computerized sail design and cutting equipment, and a 15 meter air table on which sails are cut.

We then sent our computer back to the US for repair, which Panasonic did in one day. But the shipping times meant that we were without the computer (and our address lists) for almost 2 weeks, which explains, in part, the delay in sending this report to all of you.

In our next installment, we'll tell more about wonderful Cornwall, and what fun it is to be here. Despite the fact that it has rained almost every day.