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

 

 

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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