Throwback Thursday: Open Air Orchestra

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

The plans had been made to purchase Daze Off, and with a bit of time spent online with banks as well as dealing with the time difference between us, an electronic payment was sent and she was all ours.  With our new route mapped out, all we had to do was wait for the right weather window that would let us get to our next stop. Not very easy with a hurricane headed right in our direction!

As we waited for a safe window that would take us to our next destination, we tried to take in all the activities Ponta Delgada would let us. Lots of aimless wandering, and even an outdoor orchestra just steps away from the marina.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday September 20, 2014

Orchestra of Ponta Delgaga, Sao Miguel

I’m so happy that it’s finally settled that we have a next destination now. Instead of wondering if we’ll be heading to the Mediterranean or back to Florida, and otherwise stalled until we had that answer. At least now we can begin looking to move forward again, and that next forward is Porto Santo, Portugal. No, it’s not part of mainland Portugal, we’re not going to travel 800 nm just to have to immediately drop south. Porto Santo is part of the Madeira island group, approximately 560 nm SE of Sao Miguel. We think it will be a nice stop before getting to the Canaries, and I have it on good authority from my new online cruising friend, Kitiara, that there are some beautiful golden sand beaches there perfect for laying out after snorkeling through it’s clear Caribbean like waters. Something that we haven’t been able to do since Bermuda, and something that’s sorely been missing from our lives lately.

So there you have it, our next step after spending muuuch longer in the Azores that we ever originally anticipated. Ha, what was supposed to be a 7-10 day stay only in Horta has now turned into almost six weeks in only two spots. That kind of seems to be a trend for us this year. Get to one spot and stay put for weeks on end. It feels like the only real cruising we’ve done so far was our five weeks in the Bahamas. But the Canaries should hopefully give us a good chance to do some island hopping and get back into the cruising groove. We think there’s a window to get ourselves out of Ponta Delgada early next week, and hopefully from there it’s only 5-6 days to Porto Santo where we can spend about a week soaking up sun and sand before moving on again.

Tonight however, we took advantage of the fact that we’re still in a big city with a lot going on. While doing some of my daily wandering earlier I came across a sign in the main square that there would be the town’s local orchestra playing that evening at 10:00. That is still one thing I have yet to get used to in this European culture. Everything starting so late. If it were the US I doubt anything would start after 8:00, probably coming to it’s close around 10:00, but hey, I guess that’s how they do things over here. You won’t hear any kind of complaints from us, especially since we have no kind of schedule.

Somehow we found ourselves arriving a little bit late to this outdoor concert, after squeezing in one last McDonald’s meal we assume until the US, and then guzzling coffee back at the boat just to make sure we could stay awake past 10:30.  When we did get there everything was already in full swing.  Crowds filled all of the folding chairs in front of the stage and spilled out into both sides of the streets.  We weaved our way through people until we were adjacent to the stage to enjoy the show.  Aside from the orchestra playing their instruments there were also a few singers on stage.  One had a Portuguese accent and must have been a local, and the other was channeling Amy Winehouse in everything from wardrobe to vocals.

The songs we heard when first arriving were all covers of hit songs in English.  While sipping from our little single serve bottles of wine, we listened to songs from The Beatles , Bill Withers (Ain’t no Sunshine), and Aretha Franklin.  Both the vocals and the accompanying instruments were beautiful, and I kept cursing myself for not getting out for some of the weeks earlier concerts that were probably just as good.

Some of the best parts of coming out to see the orchestra play were watching the kids that were dragged, quite willingly it looked like, by their parents.  All over we could see little ones under the age of 10, dancing around, swaying to the music, and clapping along.  The best part was when this little girl of about three or four years spent a good portion of the concert seated on a red carpet right in front of the stage, rocking back and forth on her legs as she listened to the music and then clapping loudly and long with everyone else at the end of each song.  Even better though was when her mother called her back over to the side of the stage we were positioned on, and this practicing ballerina was dancing along with the music, obviously in some kind of dance course and practicing her moves.  Boy was she cute.  If she didn’t have a set of parents and grandparents watching over her, she might have found a new home on Serendipity.  (Kidding!  We’re not actually into kidnapping adorable children.)

Once the music turned from English to Portuguese we stayed for a few more songs before making our way to the food tents that were set up about a block away, no doubt part of the evening’s festivities.  Scooping up a few of deep fried donuts from one stand, we wandered to the back of the pack by a reflecting pool and listened to a few more songs before calling it a night and heading back to the ‘Dip.  I have to admit, I do not like the gray skies that we’ve been cloaked under here for the past few weeks, which really has me wanting to get a move on to somewhere warm and sunny, but it will be sad leaving this city behind.  There’s definitely never a shortage of activities and events going on.

Ponta Delgada Orchestra

outdoor orchestra

Ponta Delgada Orchestra, Azores

shadow puppets

Ponta Delgada orchestra

little girl watching orchestra

view of crowd at orchestra

statue in main square, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: From Dock to Shining Dock

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This throwback doesn’t leave us very far from our last one, just enough time for us to finally get ourselves off Horta (Faial) and moving to the next island.  If I haven’t mentioned yet in throwbacks, because I know it will probably be the next big one to come, one of the reasons we had been sitting for so long in this area was because we were looking at purchasing a boat back in the States.  Not the one we did end up getting, but a 48 ft aluminum boat in Rhode Island.

As you’ll probably see in a future post, things didn’t work out with that particular boat, but it was enough to keep us by an internet connection (and an airport if need be), day and night.  So until we made the decision to move on, we sat in Horta and decided where our eventual destination would be: Europe, or the US.  Still debating, and with some bad weather in the not to distant forecast, we opted to move 150 miles east to Sao Miguel.  Here’s the post on our ride over, the first sailing we had done in a month, and since crossing 3,000 miles to arrive in the Azores.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday September 6, 2014

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Just as planned, we left Horta on late Thursday after trying to time it just right that we wouldn’t arrive to Ponta Delgada before sunrise a day and a half later. All the laundry had gotten one final wash, last minute e-mails were sent out as if two days were going to be a terribly long time to be away from civilization, and all the last of the provisions that we had purchased for a two week crossing were shoved into every little nook and cranny of Serendipity. All morning I had been watching the barometer, my new favorite hobby, and became increasingly worried as the winds sounded like they were howling outside the marina in the early afternoon. Four weeks of sailing in winds rarely over ten knots still makes me queasy to think of going out in anything over fifteen now. Forget that we cruised the whole Caribbean in 25-30, apparently it’s still taking me awhile to build back up to that.

At 5:00 we tossed off the lines and headed back into open water. Both of us were hoping for a whale spotting out in the channel since we still see tour boats take tourists there every day for just this thing, but we were only left with a slight chop and dramatic views of Pico while nearing golden hour. The pharmacy brand Dramamine I had just purchased during our stay in Portugal seemed to be doing it’s job, and as we carried swiftly along at five knots under a reefed main and partial jib, I was able to reheat some pasta for dinner without getting sick from the motion down below.

All morning I had been worried that I’d slept in too late and wouldn’t be anywhere close to sleeping when 8 pm came along, but just like Matt says, something about being on a boat instantly wants to lull you to sleep. Just after the sun went down and I had finished cleaning the dishes I was happily falling asleep in my bunk. The rocking was fairly gentle and there was no trouble falling back into old habits.

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Sometime during my four hours of sleep I heard the wind pick up and Matt roll in the headsail. From what I could tell we were still moving along at a decent pace and since there was no cursing or frantic movements I assumed whatever storm might be coming up on us wasn’t too bad and I quickly drifted back off. When I got up for my shift at midnight I found out that what felt like moving swiftly along to me was us only powering along at 2.5 knots. Our old friend. After getting a rundown from Matt he told me that while we were in the lee of Pico the wind had been a little schizophrenic and was not only constantly changing direction, but changing speed as well. He had just gone from 15 to 30 down to ten all within an hour. When I came up they were hovering around 12 and the wind was coming from our beam.

Just as Matt was settled into bed and I was left on my own the winds decided to shift yet again to begin to come more on our nose and forcing me to point closer and closer to Pico. It was fine for awhile, but we wanted to stay at least five miles offshore, if just for the katabatic winds alone, and finally I had to point us directly south just so we could put some distance between us once more. During the rest of my shift the winds finally started to back more to our port side and I was able to put on on a course toward Sao Miguel. The winds had also picked up to the 25-30 range, with wild thunderstorms off in the distance, but as it looked like they were headed away from us and we were only working under a reefed main, I didn’t put too much worry into it. The constant drizzle of rain we did get though was a bit annoying and by 4 am I was more than happy to take my place back in my bunk.

By morning the skies had cleared of storm clouds and we were just left with puffy cumulus balls and winds hanging around 20-25 knots. Our pace was pathetic, holding at just over 3 knots, and I began to wonder if instead of getting to Ponta Delgada by sunrise the next day, if we’d even get there before sunset. If there’s one thing I can not stand (ok, there’s actually a lot, but this is a major one), it’s getting within just a few miles of port when the sun sets and having to wait it out until the next morning to get in. Nope. That was not going to fly with me this time. When Matt woke up from his shift I let him know that winds had died down to 20-22 knots, and I know we’d been super cautious since our storms off Florida, but maybe we could think about putting out the headsail to gain ourselves some speed. We used to sail in this kind of weather all the time, right?

When I asked I thought we’d just be putting it partially out, I still felt like being a little cautious, but Matt was fine with letting the whole thing out. He didn’t see any more storm on the horizon and since it was day we should see any new ones coming from far away. As soon as the sail was let out and trimmed in we set off like a rocket. Our speed jumped from 3.2 knots up to 6.5 as the ‘Dip heeled over at a nice 10-15°. For a moment I sucked in my breath. We hadn’t seen speeds like this in a long time and I don’t even remember the last time we had a nice heel. But then I realized…we’re fine. This is what the ‘Dip is meant to do. This is what she used to do all the time before we became too scared to let her get into her groove after one too many squalls on our crossing.

For the rest of the day she stayed in her groove, speeding along at 6.5-7 knots, and even though we’d definitely made up the lost time we wondered if we might still get to our destination a little too early. When the sun was going down we rolled the headsail back in and went to cover the last 50 miles at a steady 4 knots. With the nights getting colder I spent my 12am-4am shift comfortably settled into the settee below while running up for checks every 15 minutes. Being less than 40 miles from the island at the time I spent my shift using my MP3 player to scan for decent radio stations, delighted when I found them although each station seemed to have quite an eclectic mix ranging from brand new Coldplay to 90’s Mariah Carey to turn of the millenium techno.

It was me who was in the cockpit once again as we approached the island just after sunrise. The last 10 miles seemed to take forever, not bringing us to the harbor until 11 am, but the sights as I watched us come in were well worth the wait. The SW side of the island is edged with sheer cliffs while rolling green hills followed, turning into the white buildings with coral colored roofs that we’ve come to know so well. For the last hour into the harbor I was treated to one of the best and longest dolphin shows I think I’ve ever had in my life. Plus this was a completely new species that we hadn’t come across before! Pods and pods of saddle back dolphins swam alongside the boat and tried to get views of it’s newest visitors. The whole thing actually went on for so long that I went from excited jumping, to snapping about a hundred photos, to peeking my head over the side while I enjoyed my coffee, to completely ignoring them. They just would not go away.

Once we were about two miles away from the entrance to the inner harbor I finally woke Matt up and we tried to find this elusive entrance in the massive bay. Eventually locating the itty bitty red marker that stood on the breakwater we fired up the engine and began to head in. It was strange when we pulled up to the fuel dock that there was no one working it, but we just tied up and headed inside the building. After talking to the local authorities that have an office inside we found out that we’d just crossed into low season and the marina is not open on Saturdays and Sundays. They told us just to grab any open slip and come back Monday morning to check in. Parking Serendipity in the new part of the marina (anchoring is banned here too, argh!!), we took a slip that’s probably meant for a 60 ft boat, but as they’re currently at about 20% capacity, we didn’t think it would matter.

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Wall Art of Ponta Delgada, Azores

Monday September 22, 2014

wall art of Ponta Delgada, Azores

There’s one thing I noticed right away upon our arrival to Ponta Delgada.  There’s graffiti everywhere.  Except..I’m not sure I’d label it as graffiti.  Truly, what’s been plastered all over sides of buildings through this city are works of art.  Found on doors, walls, and even sometimes on the streets themselves, this town is brimming with artists ready to show off their work where it will get the most traffic.  On the outsides of buildings as you pass them by on the street.

Sometimes they’re small scale, just on one little door.  Other times there are a few modest separate works on the same building.  My favorites were the ones that covered whole buildings, wrapping around from one side to the next.  The only sad part was when you’d come across a work of art that you know someone spent a lot of time on, and some punk hooligan would cover parts of it in actual graffiti.

Walking down the streets of Ponta Delgada was always entertaining, making sure to keep your eyes open for any new piece of art that may be lurking around the corner.  I didn’t always have my camera on me to get all of them, but here are a few of my favorites that I was able to capture.

wall art of Ponta Delgada, Azores

wall art of Ponta Delgada, Azores

wall art  of Ponta Delgada, Azores

wall art  of Ponta Delgada, Azores

wall art  of Ponta Delgada

wall art  of Ponta Delgada

wall art  of Ponta Delgada, Azores

wall art  of Ponta Delgada, Azores

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Open Air Orchestra

Saturday September 20, 2014

Orchestra of Ponta Delgaga, Sao Miguel

I’m so happy that it’s finally settled that we have a next destination now. Instead of wondering if we’ll be heading to the Mediterranean or back to Florida, and otherwise stalled until we had that answer. At least now we can begin looking to move forward again, and that next forward is Porto Santo, Portugal. No, it’s not part of mainland Portugal, we’re not going to travel 800 nm just to have to immediately drop south. Porto Santo is part of the Madeira island group, approximately 560 nm SE of Sao Miguel. We think it will be a nice stop before getting to the Canaries, and I have it on good authority from my new online cruising friend, Kitiara, that there are some beautiful golden sand beaches there perfect for laying out after snorkeling through it’s clear Caribbean like waters. Something that we haven’t been able to do since Bermuda, and something that’s sorely been missing from our lives lately.

So there you have it, our next step after spending muuuch longer in the Azores that we ever originally anticipated. Ha, what was supposed to be a 7-10 day stay only in Horta has now turned into almost six weeks in only two spots. That kind of seems to be a trend for us this year. Get to one spot and stay put for weeks on end. It feels like the only real cruising we’ve done so far was our five weeks in the Bahamas. But the Canaries should hopefully give us a good chance to do some island hopping and get back into the cruising groove. We think there’s a window to get ourselves out of Ponta Delgada early next week, and hopefully from there it’s only 5-6 days to Porto Santo where we can spend about a week soaking up sun and sand before moving on again.

Tonight however, we took advantage of the fact that we’re still in a big city with a lot going on. While doing some of my daily wandering earlier I came across a sign in the main square that there would be the town’s local orchestra playing that evening at 10:00. That is still one thing I have yet to get used to in this European culture. Everything starting so late. If it were the US I doubt anything would start after 8:00, probably coming to it’s close around 10:00, but hey, I guess that’s how they do things over here. You won’t hear any kind of complaints from us, especially since we have no kind of schedule.

Somehow we found ourselves arriving a little bit late to this outdoor concert, after squeezing in one last McDonald’s meal we assume until the US, and then guzzling coffee back at the boat just to make sure we could stay awake past 10:30.  When we did get there everything was already in full swing.  Crowds filled all of the folding chairs in front of the stage and spilled out into both sides of the streets.  We weaved our way through people until we were adjacent to the stage to enjoy the show.  Aside from the orchestra playing their instruments there were also a few singers on stage.  One had a Portuguese accent and must have been a local, and the other was channeling Amy Winehouse in everything from wardrobe to vocals.

The songs we heard when first arriving were all covers of hit songs in English.  While sipping from our little single serve bottles of wine, we listened to songs from The Beatles , Bill Withers (Ain’t no Sunshine), and Aretha Franklin.  Both the vocals and the accompanying instruments were beautiful, and I kept cursing myself for not getting out for some of the weeks earlier concerts that were probably just as good.

Some of the best parts of coming out to see the orchestra play were watching the kids that were dragged, quite willingly it looked like, by their parents.  All over we could see little ones under the age of 10, dancing around, swaying to the music, and clapping along.  The best part was when this little girl of about three or four years spent a good portion of the concert seated on a red carpet right in front of the stage, rocking back and forth on her legs as she listened to the music and then clapping loudly and long with everyone else at the end of each song.  Even better though was when her mother called her back over to the side of the stage we were positioned on, and this practicing ballerina was dancing along with the music, obviously in some kind of dance course and practicing her moves.  Boy was she cute.  If she didn’t have a set of parents and grandparents watching over her, she might have found a new home on Serendipity.  (Kidding!  We’re not actually into kidnapping adorable children.)

Once the music turned from English to Portuguese we stayed for a few more songs before making our way to the food tents that were set up about a block away, no doubt part of the evening’s festivities.  Scooping up a few of deep fried donuts from one stand, we wandered to the back of the pack by a reflecting pool and listened to a few more songs before calling it a night and heading back to the ‘Dip.  I have to admit, I do not like the gray skies that we’ve been cloaked under here for the past few weeks, which really has me wanting to get a move on to somewhere warm and sunny, but it will be sad leaving this city behind.  There’s definitely never a shortage of activities and events going on.

Ponta Delgada Orchestra

outdoor orchestra

Ponta Delgada Orchestra, Azores

shadow puppets

Ponta Delgada orchestra

little girl watching orchestra

view of crowd at orchestra

statue in main square, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores

 

 

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A Sunset over Ponta Delgada

Thursday September 18, 2014

9.18.14

I have an embarrassing admission to make. With all my love for photography, I pretty much know nothing about Pinterest. Sure I’ve heard the name thrown around a million and one times, but since it’s popularity mostly came up while we’ve been cruising and a lack of Internet at most points keeps me from doing anything besides updating the blog and trying to keep in touch with my friends, learning anything about it kind of fell by the wayside. That was until we were in Horta, and upon finding out that we’d be visiting the island of Sao Miguel, I started to do a little research on it. Research meaning that I typed the name into a Google search engine and immediately clicked on the Images link.

While scrolling through the gorgeous photos of Ponta Delgada, I stumbled upon (Stumble Upon….hmmmm, another media source I know nothing about) a link to someone’s Pinterest page of the Azores, and in there was a breathtaking photo of the sun setting over the marina in Ponta Delgada. Right where we’re sitting now. I vowed to myself that once we arrived, I too would capture anything as close as I could to this photo.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here almost two weeks already, and I’m not lying when I say that just about every night I’ve looked out the window to see if I’d be able to capture my beautiful sunset, only to be met with gray skies and gloom. I had an opportunity one of our first nights here, but of course I thought I had all the time in the world for this and that idea went out the window when I discovered I could purchase a 3L box of wine for 3,50€. Sitting with a constantly full glass of wine and a good book was a much more entertaining way to spend the night at the time.

But ever since then I’ve been looking at my hypothetical watch and thinking to myself, as soon as these clouds clear up it probably means there’s a weather window to get out of here and we’ll be using it. I need to grasp at any kind of sunset I can get. And lo and behold, after days and days of cloud cover, it finally decided to peak out just long enough for me to run up to the large amphiteather area next to the marina and sit in awe for the next 30 minutes as I watched the sky go from blue to orange to pink and then finally black.

I’m not sure if what I got was as good as the original photo that brought me to this spot, but since I can’t seem to choose just one of my own anyway, I’ll leave you with a little time lapse of my sunset over Ponta Delgada.

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*I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things and started my own Pinterest page! Make sure to follow along where I’ve been starting boards with images of our trip thus far.

 

 

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Anthony Borges Gardens

Tuesday September 16, 2014

9.16.14

While we’ve been sitting here waiting out a weather window and a few other things in the works that I can hopefully share with you shortly (like information on a new boat in Florida!), we’ve actually been trying to get ourselves off the boat everyday for errand running or even mindless wandering. The weather still hasn’t been great, lots of gray skies and sliding into fall temperatures, but normally the sun will pop out for an hour or two in the afternoon and we take advantage of that to get off the boat.

Since we aren’t always museum people, especially if everything is in another language, we normally take advantage of appreciating town squares, gardens, and architecture that is anything but the little suburbanite subdivisions we’re used to back home. Last week on our way back to the boat late in the afternoon we came across a garden that would have been fantastic to spend an afternoon in with a blanket, a book, and a picnic basket full of goodies (including wine, of course). But it was too late in the afternoon that day to give it the full attention it deserved and haven’t had a full sunny or warm day to get back to it since.

A few days ago I was getting a little stir crazy on the ‘Dip and talked Matt into going back to the park with me. We knew the sun would be a little hit and miss so we weren’t planning on spending all day there. After trying to retrace our steps backward of when we had passed it the first time, it was a lovely afternoon walk through the town until we stumbled on the familiar front gates and walked inside. We were also entering Golden Hour and the whole scene was beautiful. I whipped out my camera to start capturing the moment…only to realize my memory card was still sitting in my computer back at the boat. Ugh.

It was still a beautiful afternoon though and we wasted no time beginning our tour of the grounds.  We walked past the parents sitting on benches and watching their children play on a playground, past a mini bamboo forest with benches that would have been the perfect spot to camp out for an afternoon, past this ginormous tree with really knarly roots that come up to my chest, to a set of caves that were placed next to a small pond.  We have no idea why these little caves could be here, they definitely looked man made and not natural to the area.

By a light shinning through at the other end we could tell that the caves actually led somewhere and Matt didn’t hesitate to wander in to see what was on the other side.  That was, until we both heard a high pitch chirping noise and he came running back out, almost diving back into the fresh air, sure that a colony of bats would be chasing after him.  As soon as I picked myself up off the ground from laughing, we began to throw stones at the ceiling inside, making sure nothing was lurking and waiting to destroy us.  There was nothing of course, but that didn’t stop him from sending me in first the second time around.

At the other end we found a grotto with a few more caves that didn’t lead anywhere and had been gated up.  For reasons why, we have no idea.  It honestly looked like they may have had wild animals in there at some point.  Possibly a scare tactic to remind children to behave out in public areas.  ‘Oh honey, I know you’re upset that I left your cookies at home, but if you throw a tantrum I’ll be forced to bring you to that bear over there, and he doesn’t like crying children and will swallow you whole’.  Just a theory.

Since we weren’t planning on staying all afternoon we slowly wandered from area to area, taking in the serene beauty, and promising we’d be back soon.At the end though I was still so depressed that I hadn’t been able to get any of it on camera that I did the only thing I could think of.  I waited until the sun came out again today and then left Matt back on the boat to devour information on what I hope to be able to share with you in a few days, and went back to the park with my camera to make sure I could capture it in case that sunny day in the park never comes around.

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 Oh, and since I had a coin purse full of Euros and no prying eyes on me of how they might get spent, I may have also made a stop at the mall a few blocks away for a little ‘on-sale’ shopping.  Like my new shirt and shoes?  🙂

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Early Morning Walks

Wednesday August 27, 2014

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Insomnia…kind of sucks. There are two things though that make it infinitely better. One is when you realized that you have no job to wake up early for and nothing planned for the next day, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re in bed until one in the afternoon making up that sleep. The second thing that makes it better is when your partner happens to be suffering from it on the same night as you. No worries of tossing and turning restlessly in bed with hopes of not waking them when your mind is still racing at 3 am and you’re pretty sure you’d be much more productive on your computer at the moment instead of trying every sleeping position known to man.

This was the case for Matt and I two nights ago. If you can believe it, our sleep schedules are still a little messed up from our crossing. For the first two weeks we were in Horta I was honestly worried that I might be pregnant because I’d sleep from 11 to 11 Every.Day. If it wasn’t for Matt following mostly the same schedule I probably would have been running to the nearest pharmacy for an at home test and started calculating health care expenses in Europe while wondering what it would be like to have a Turkish baby. But then all I hear is Fat Bastard in my head saying ‘Turkish behbeh…it’s what’s for dinner’. No one wants that. Eventually I settled into a 12 am to 10 am nightly routine where Matt’s still been stuck in a 2 am to 12 pm. (TMI side note: I did take a test just to be safe and it came up negative. Looks like my IUD is still doing it’s job).

Anyway…back to the story…when 4 am rolled around and we realized that we were both still wide awake we decided to have a night time matinee. Or whatever you might call a middle of the night movie instead a middle of the day one. When the credits began rolling on James Bond as he caught the bad guy but realized the next assignment was right around the corner, I took a peak out the companionway to watch the sun coming up across the harbor by Pico. It was the perfect golden hour of light where the sun was illuminating the town of Horta instead of shadowing the area as it does when the sun goes down. It made me think that one of these mornings I need to get my butt out of bed and capture more parts of this town with my camera in nature’s best lighting. I thought it would be days away if at all, I mean, I had just screwed up my sleep schedule even more by having a 6:15 am bed time, but I did actually listen to my alarm when it went off this morning and got myself off the boat just before 9 am.

The best vantage point of Horta has to be from the water itself, but since our dinghy is still secured safely on deck I knew I wouldn’t be puttering out into the bay for those views and would have to settle for the far breakwater leading into the harbor. I walked out there with my camera only to find out that it was blocked off to me and after getting to an area that housed a few local fishing boats I had to turn around. I still managed to snap a few good photos before heading back toward town. Since I figured Matt wouldn’t be up for a few hours and a cafe con leche was sounding really good, I rounded my morning off with a stop at Calrsberg for a way overpriced, 1,60€ coffee with milk. Ouch. I think Matt and I paid that for us each to have one on a side street cafe.

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Spindrift

Monday August 25, 2014

8.25.14

Being, as we were, the 1,000th boat to Horta this year, it’s kind of put us at the back of the pack as far as the majority of cruisers passing through this area goes. Not only will a mass of sailors pass on Sea Week at the beginning of August because it’s just too late in the year for them, but now sitting here ourselves well after it has ended, even the people who managed to eek that into their itinerary before moving on to the Med have now long gone. The marina is basically a ghost town, transient cruiser population: Serendipity.

That is why whenever I see a new boat coming into the harbor, I get very very excited. Nevermind the fact that I’m too shy to go talk to these newcomers or strike up any kind of conversation that might lead to sundowners, it just makes me feel better knowing we’re not the only ones left still passing through the area. So yesterday when we were headed out for my birthday dinner and I saw a new mast by the fuel dock, we decided we needed to check it out.

This was not just any mast however. It wasn’t only 60 ft tall and attached to a fiberglass boat full of German’s who will pass through a November gale and say ‘It iz nothing’. What drew us over to the fuel dock was a mast that surged over everything. This large black tower had to be close to 200 ft and was so tall it required a red light at the top so air crafts could avoid it. When we rounded the bend to see what it was attached to we were almost stopped dead in our tracks at the sight of this monolithic sea vessel. It was apparent as soon as we laid eyes on it. This boat was built for speed. Major speed.

Having done just a little more research on it now I’ve found out that this is the Genes-X Spindrift racing boat. It is a 33 meter racing trimaran that can reach speeds of up to 40 knots. It pulled into Horta just the other night to have work done to it’s rudder, but from what I can see of that bright orange bit sticking out of the water, they must have that project almost completed and be ready to be on their way again.
Most of the crew looked a little too busy with projects to be able to stop and chat them up at all, but according to their website it looks as if their next stop is France. I’m thinking that if I ask them really nicely, maybe they’ll let us tie a tow line between their boat and Serendipity and bring us along for the ride. Bring our average as of late from 3 knots to 12 or so. I think I can live with that. Heck, maybe they’ll even be up for switching a few crew members that will bring the ‘Dip the rest of the way in for us as Matt and I crew on Genes-X. I’m really good at being rail meat.  You can just drop us in mainland Portugal, we’re not picky.

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Some Things Never Change

Sunday August 24, 2014

8.24.14

I have to say, there is some good that has come of us being stuck in Horta while we figure out what we want to do with this aluminum boat in Rhode Island. Had we not started looking at it we would have left for Gibraltar about 8 days ago, the weather window was perfect and we were otherwise ready to go. The downside about leaving then, however, is it would have put us at sea on my birthday. And even if it isn’t much, I like to celebrate my birthday.

Trying to make the best of what would have been a crappy situation had we gone, I was ready to kick back and enjoy the day with a bag of Skittles and a 2 liter of Publix Black Cherry soda, had we been on the water. I know, really big measures to take in the way of celebrations, but you only turn 32 once, and I figured, Why not live a little?

Since we are still in Horta though, I’m tucking those little treasures away and doing the best I can to celebrate on dry land. The earlier part of my birthday didn’t go so great when Matt and I decided to tackle the project of varnishing the galley. If we do get this new boat, Serendipity is going to be sold and that means she needs to be in tip top shape. And it also means this project we’ve been putting off should probably be completed sooner rather than later. I was left with the easy job of taping off everything next to the teak, it was my birthday after all, but somewhere along the way a few wakes were thrown our way when I was bent in positions with my head upside down, and I immediately went from zero to sick. Seeking refuge in the v-berth, I napped the next few hours away and swore I wouldn’t get out of bed the rest of the night.

Not being one to make a big fanfare for birthdays himself though, as you probably read on his own birthday, Matt was not going to let me put a rain check on this day and cash in my celebrating another night. If I was not up for going out tonight, I would not be going out at all. These marina charges are digging into our pocketbook and extra fanfare has to be kept to a minimum. Dragging myself out of bed I enjoyed a hot shower at the marina and put on one of my finest dresses to go out.

Knowing that we would actually be around for my birthday now, I had stalked a few of the restaurants in the area this past week to see which one looked most appealing. What I had settled on was a little place that didn’t look like they catered the best food, or even a Caipirinha, a local drink I’ve been dying to try, but it offer beautiful views of Porto Pim from their outdoor seating just next to the bay. Over the next hour or so, even though the weather was not on it’s best behavior, we enjoyed our table along with some beer and bread and cheese until our food came out. Both of us having ordered sandwiches, we were a little surprised when they came out open-faced. Eating my stacked tuna sandwich with garlic mayo proved….challenging. Poor Matt’s open-faced supposed pork sandwich turned out to be nothing more than packaged deli meat and cheese that we’d been buying ourselves at the local supermarket, thrown on a piece of bread. As I mentioned, we pretty much only came here for the views.

Porto Pim, Horta, Faial, Azores

Porto Pim, Horta, Azores

eating dinner by Porto Pim, Horta

bread and cheese appetizer

open faced tuna sandwich

eating my birthday dinner

dog on beach, Porto Pim, Horta

What beautiful views they were though. After our meal we went to wander the waterfront a little, this time from a vantage point we hadn’t seen yet. Off to our right there was what looked to be part of an old fort that sat on the water, complete with a few small towers and a large archway that led right out to a small beach. Stone slabs paved the way down to sand and water and we followed the side that was high and dry out to the sandy beach, unfortunately strewn with bits of garbage. Deciding that this was not the cleanest place to walk and wasn’t giving me the best views to look back to where we had been sitting and eating, I followed the stones out toward the bay where I waded in ankle deep water to be able to photograph the spot we had just been sitting.

Not the smartest idea, as Matt had already warned, since this area of stone and water was also covered with a slippery moss. I paid no mind to his warnings as there were important photographs to be taken. Two steps further out into the water and it didn’t matter how careful I was trying to be, there was no traction here. My feet went out from under me and before I even knew what was happening, I was face down in two inches of water after hearing a loud smack on my way down. Matt came running over as fast as he could, probably assuming the loud noise was my hip bone cracking on the stone, but that would have been a welcome scenario since I knew what actually caused it. What broke my fall on the way down was my brand new camera.

An older couple that had been sitting on a bench by the entrance to the area had also scurried over after they had seen me go down. Once I had righted myself and began walking back to dry land, the woman hurried over to me. ‘Oh honey, are you ok?’. Silence. ‘Do you speak English?’. More silence. I stood there completely mute and dumbfounded, disconcerted over the damage I might have just caused my camera. I couldn’t live with the fact that I might have just broken it. I’ve already gone through that torment once this year, and if it was not working anymore, I truly was shit out of luck. There would be no more replacement cameras in my future.

Matt wasn’t going to buy it for me. When I got my first Sony NEX in St. Augustine he told me to take good care of it because it was the only one I’d be getting. My current body was purchased for me by my parents after I threw a reverse psychology tantrum about having to shoot JPEG photos throughout Europe. ‘I’ll just have to photograph the world’s most amazing places with a point and shoot. It’s ok. Don’t worry about me. Photography was only turning into my biggest hobby’. Ok, truth be told, I wasn’t trying to get them to buy me a new camera, and when they offered, I told them they must absolutely make it a birthday and Christmas present combined. They didn’t listen. Just another random act of kindness from them because they love me and want me to be happy. Which simultaneously makes them terrible direction followers and the world’s best parents.

When I finally gained my voice back I let the woman know I was alright and assured Matt that I hadn’t broken any bones on the way down, and surprisingly nothing hurt. Or maybe that’s what I thought I said when the only thing that was actually coming out of my mouth was “My camera….oh god, my camera”. I took a few deep breaths as we moved to leave the place, trying to hold my tears back until we were at least on the street again.

Once we were out there it was time for the moment of truth. I slid the switch from Off to On and watched my display light up. I sucked in my breath. There was hope. I pressed the shutter button and heard a clicked and saw the image pop up on the display. Matt grabbed it out of my hands to look it over himself and also snapped a few photos. Everything looked to be in working order. Maybe I hadn’t just ruined my life after all. Time to let out a few tears of joy and then head back to the boat for an outfit change before hunting down that karaoke bar to properly finish out my birthday.

walking beach of Porto Pim, Horta

buildings overlooking Porto Pim

wet dress after falling in water

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Picturesque Horta & Faial, Azores

Monday August 18, 2014

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Wow.  I still can not get over how gorgeous everything here is.  Every time you turn around there is something beautiful or charming or captivating.  It really is something out of a storybook.  If you ever want your life to look like it came out of a fairy tale, move to the Azores.  If I had friends here to keep me company, I don’t think I’d ever leave.  Any takers to come out?  Here, let me show you some more photos of how fascinating this island is to entice you a little more.

Horta, Faial, Azores

harbor of Horta, Faial, Azores

harbor of Horta, Faial, Azores

harbor of Horta, Faial, Azores

Matt on the breakwater in Horta, Azores

Horta's breakwater and Pico in the distance

Grassy fields and Pico in the distance.  Azores

Farmlands north of Horta, Faial, Azores

Caldeira, Faial, Azores

blue hydrangeas on road in Faial, Azores

oceanic pools, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

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