Somethings Brewing out There

Thursday August 28, 2014


There is definitely something brewing outside there today.  Effects of hurricane Cristobol?  I thought so at first, but he’s still about 1,000 miles west of us right now.  All I know is that the skies out there are gray and the wind is getting gusty.  It seems as if something is brewing though. Keeping a keen eye on our new electronic barometer now since it’s still a novelty, I’ve noticed that it’s dropped about 4 mb in the past 6-8 hours.

Just makes me happy we’re not out on the water right now, and I think everyone else around here has the same idea.  All the empty slips in the marina are filling up with little fishing boats, and a few masts were spotted making their way into the bay this afternoon. All I know is we’re tucked safely into a slip, there is not in fact a hurricane barreling down on us (at the moment), and all these dark clouds seem like the perfect excuse to sit on my butt all day and get some writing done on the blog.  Add in a cup of hot coco, possibly with a shot of Bailey’s, and this storm can last all night long.

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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 and well got a third one, been happier to see my brother back to his nutrition plan and his testosterone treatment, the transition has been hard but thanks to the Health Care Guys service has been way less overwhelmin,. 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, my husband first went for his delta 8 vape cart, it relaxes him like no other product. 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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Monday August 25, 2014


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


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

Caldeira, Faial, Azores

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

overlooking Porto Pim, Horta, Azores

Lazy Days & Porto Pim

Saturday August 16, 2014

Porto Pim, Horta, Faial, Azores

After our scooter rental on Tuesday, things have really slowed down for us and we’re just enjoying being on land, milling around with our days and doing as we please.  It is a bit sad not having the scooter at our disposal anymore, or any kind of motorized vehicle actually, knowing how much beauty there is on the island now and only experiencing a small part of it.  Not to say that we aren’t loving our time in the town of Horta.  It is a dream come true to be here.  But knowing those Capelinhos are sitting just a 30 minute ride away…..

I digress.  We really are loving it here.  Taking things slow, easing ourselves into the European culture, and just enjoying life.  I’ve taken it upon myself to turn my afternoons into cooking lessons.  With mostly constant internet at my disposal and a Continente supermarket just up the hill for ingredients (and maybe a few beers when Matt isn’t looking), I’ve been trying some new recipes that have been coming out great.  Even if it is just trying to make items that I love at home but can’t seem to find here, like my very own homemade tortillas for tacos and even homemade sour cream (thanks Boat Galley!).  Whip up a little homemade salsa (see how all of it is homemade?) and the only thing I’m missing for perfect tacos is cheddar cheese.  If I can sneak up one of the cows here, milk it, throw in some bacteria and other things I’m sure the internet can tell me to find, I might be able to knock that out too.

There’s also been the general wandering about town. We may not have the scooter anymore, but we did manage to eek one more trip out of it before returning it on Wednesday morning.  We turned what was originally going to be a hike up to the top of Monte de Guia into a lovely early morning scooter ride, and took in the bird’s eye view of Porto Pim below us.  A nice little bay with golden sand beaches, possibly one of the only sandy beaches on the island.  At the top there was a pretty church and pulchritudinous views to all the sights below. (I just thought it would be fun to use that word. And maybe I just expanded your vocabulary. Lesson of the day. You’re welcome.)

Another perfect place to sit and watch the world go by.  Maybe one of these days I’ll have to get off my butt and make the actual hike to the top to do just that, but honestly, walking across the street to the park is really so much easier.

Matt next to church on Monte de Guia

Porto Pim, Horta, Faial, Azores

bay next to Monte de Guia, Horta, Faial, Azores

Porto Pim, Horta, Faial, Azores

overlooking Porto Pim, Horta, Azores

 Matt also found an aluminum boat in Rhode Island that he’s really, really into and trying to get more information on, so at night here when East Coast business is still going strong but our internet at the marina is flat lined, we’ve taken to the town in search of a signal.  Just as beautiful as Paris in the rain, right?  I would assume.  Since I’ve never been.

Horta at night, Faial, Azores

Horta at night, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Touring Faial by Scooter

Tuesday August 12, 2014

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Today we decided to splurge on a little treat for ourselves and rent a scooter to tour the island of Faial. Having done a bit of research the previous day and then visiting a few of the rental shops this morning, we found that prices were basically the same whether you were on the main strip or off on a little side street. 18€ for a half day, or 25€ for 24 hours. We chose the latter. As we found in Key West, provisioning trips to the store are much more fun with a scooter at your disposal.

With having done the research on getting the scooter itself, I had kind of forgotten to do research on what to see with it at our disposal. I had no idea how long it would take to drive around the whole island, if that’s what we decided to do, or how long we’d want to be out before we tired of joy riding, so I only picked one sightseeing stop and left it at that. From our 19 year old Imray guidebook, which I’m ashamed to admit is the only placed I looked for things to do in Faial, one item had stood out to me while reading it over and over again on our crossing, and that was the caldeira. The sunken crater left behind by Faials volcanic cone. Our guide book touted it with the best views on the island and a perfect place to hike, stroll, or even enjoy a picnic lunch. Should we only have time to fit one big sightseeing stop in, I wanted that to be it.

Gathering information from the tourist information office that morning, along with multiple maps and directions, as soon as we had the keys to our scooter, we were off on the road that would take us there. Little did I know that the views taking us there would be almost better than what we found at our destination. Taking the well paved and well traveled road that led east on the island, we wound and rose up hills while breathtaking views of the harbor and town unfolded below us and I was pestering and poking Matt to pull over to the side of the road so I could get photos. Pulling over to one grassy spot and standing in awe for five minutes while other motorist made way for us, we found an even better spot another mile or two up the road. This one even came equipped with statues and an overlook. I guess I’m not the only person who thought this view was worth taking in.

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Matt renting scooter in Faial

overlooking Horta, Azores

scenic overlook to Horta, Azores

Now that we were beginning to climb in altitude and were no longer blocked by the hills surrounding us, the winds began to pick up to something fierce as we rode along. The light and airy tank that I had been sweating through down in town was now doing little to keep me warm, and my helmet, although securely attached, was now starting to blow back off my head, forcing me to hold on to the scooter with one hand and constantly readjust with the other. Passing out of the farmlands and green fields, we entered the forest part of Faial where large ceder trees sprouted around us and fresh earthy scents filled the air. Both of us were dumbstruck by this sudden change and diversity and beauty. Simultaneously our thoughts suddenly changed to, ‘Do you see any property for sale, because I think we need to move here’.

overlooking Pico, Azores

hydrangea filled road on Faial, Azores

The ceder forests gave way to more winding roads with stunning views of Sao Jorge and Pico, with green hillsides and blue hydrangeas leading the way. It was almost too much beauty to handle, it seemed like something out of a fairy tale. On we pressed though, closer to the caldeira, and further on in altitude and dropping temperatures. As we pulled into the parking lot full of tourists for the caldera I doubt it took me two seconds to grab my windbreaker out of my backpack and put it on. From there we wandered through a small tunnel that brought us out to a viewing platform for the caldera, full of plaques listing the history and different kinds of flora and fauna to be found in the area. It was a nice view, although a little crowded, and even though we were clad in flip-flops, we decided we wanted to walk the rim to the highest point for even better views.

Trotting down the dirt path and occasionally stepping over rocks and up sometimes muddy slopes, we made it to the top of the caldeira just in time to enjoy 60 seconds of a remarkable view before the clouds rolled in and draped us in fog. Taking in as much of the 360 degree view as possible, we noticed that we were quickly the only people left there and wondered if something nasty was moving in since all the other hikers had already made a hasty decent back down to the parking lot. We quickly joined them, bathed in sunshine once more at the bottom, and hopped back on the scooter to see what else we could gawk at that day.

The caldera sits right in the middle of the island and we chose to take a route north and then drive the remaining circle around the island back to Horta. For the most part we were on paved roads, although we did take one dirt path just off from the caldeira that would lead us out to civilization again. Of course it had to be an area that we were taking a somewhat steep decent, a blast in a rally car I’m sure, but not the best thing for rental scooters. Inching carefully forward it wasn’t until we were about 100 feet from level ground that we wiped out in the reddish soil. Luckily neither of us were badly hurt, although Matt did end up with a few new scrapes, and we’re pretty sure the ones on the bike had already been there. Soon enough though, we were back out on a main road, one that completed a higher elevated circumnavigation of the island.

caldera, Faial, Azores

caldera, Faial, Azores

As we were winding up the hill, passing under leafy green trees and gorgeous ocean views off to our side, I figured this was the perfect time to blurt out ‘Happy Anniversary!!’. I knew Matt wouldn’t have remembered this date. No, it’s not our wedding anniversary (although our 10 year is coming up this December, woohoo!), that one I’ve ingrained in his mind long ago. This was our two year cruising anniversary. It hadn’t even hit me until we had been out for an hour or two that morning, and even though it happened accidentally, what a perfect way to celebrate. Wow, to think of how far we’ve come in the past two years. From our familiar stomping grounds of Lake Michigan, all the way down the East Coast, touring the northern part of the Caribbean, and now all the way over here. And to think I had been ready to throw in the towel at 10 months. To keep going is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

seaside town in Faial, Azores

While making our gorgeous drive back to Horta through small villages and sea side towns, we passed a sign on the road that had a set of binoculars, meaning there was some kind of overlook or sightseeing attraction, and we thought, ‘Why not?, let’s check it out’. Just like on our way up to the caldeira, the road leading to this new spot almost looked better than what could have been waiting for us at the end. Resort buildings that were alluring but not over the top, more cedar lined streets, and old world stone buildings with bright blue shutters. What we found waiting for us at the end of the road was just icing on the cake.

If the cedar forest was varied from the quaint towns on the coast, we had just stepped on to Mars. The area the signs had been leading us to was the Vulcão dos Capelinhos or ‘Little Cape’, a monogenetic volcano (so Wikipedia tells me). I didn’t really know what it all meant at the time, all I knew is that it was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen and completely not at all what I was expecting. This area is part of a volcanic eruption that lasted from September 1957 until October 1958 that enlarged the area by 2.4km with volcanic ash. Over 2,000 people had to be evacuated, many moving to the US or Canada.

What’s left of the area now is desert and sand with backdrops of large sandy and rocky cliffs that range from golden beige to espresso brown to burnt red. There’s a lighthouse that overlooks all of it, and at the bottom of the road leading to the coast is a portioned off swimming area between large jagged rocks. Following the other groups of loiterers, we trekked up the steep sandy hill to the top of the barren landscape. The views only got better the higher we climbed, and we marched through the dust and stones to find one spot that looks north over the coast and a staggering colorful cave with lush green hills just behind it. I could have stared at that view all day without it ever getting old.

Lighthouse do Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Lighthouse at Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

 If it wasn’t for the fact that it was turning into late afternoon and we still hadn’t eaten yet, our lunch still packed inside the scooter sitting in the parking lot, I probably would have. Back down the hot and dusty hills we went, the lack of food and water so far for the day finally catching up with me. Stumbling back to the scooter I kept repeating to myself ‘I’m going to die. Holy crap, I’m going to die. Feet don’t fail me now.’ I made it back to the scooter without collapsing and we rode the half mile down to the natural oceanic pools where we dug into our sandwiches and watched the families on holiday. Matt was lucky enough to have worn swim trunks out for the day and even took a dip in the refreshing water.

I think it’s safe to say that even having the highest of expectation of Faial, it continues to blow them all way. Around every corner is something new and unexpected and stunning. I’m not lying when I say I think I could put roots down here. Turn that scooter around I think I saw a place for sale next to the stone house with the blue shutters!

*I’ve only used a small portion of the photos from today in this post, make sure to stay tuned for Picturesque Faial to see more!

Matt diving into natural pool in Azores

family at natural pools, Faial, Azores

natural swimming areas, Faial, Azores

moon rising over Pico, Azores

Full Moon & Fireworks

Sunday August 12, 2014

moon rising over Pico, Azores

Wow, Semana do Mar has kept us out every single night this week.  Since forced into a marina though (they don’t allow anchoring in the harbor here, we were a little disppointed about that), there’s no reason not to step off the boat every night and check out the festivities.  Plus I can usually talk Matt into buying us at least one round of those incredibly delicious 1€ sangrias, which are almost worth getting off the boat for themselves.  With equally incredibly low wine prices here, I’ve found 1 liter boxes at the supermarket for 1,25€, I’ve actually tried to make my own sangria but have come nowhere close.  I may have to spend much of my time in Europe perfecting this and possibly buying some brandy or Triple Sec.

While sitting around this evening drinking one of my own not-so-perfect sangrias while making dinner, and momentarily running up the companion way to take some photos of the sunset reflecting off the volcano of Pico, I heard a friendly ‘Hello!’ off the dock next to me.  It looks as if someone else had the same idea as I did, and happened to be another American who was quite surprised to see another vessel in the marina carrying stars and stripes on it’s stern.  He introduced himself as Richard, a New Yorker that had just arrived in his 44 ft Katy Krogan, the exact same boat that our friend Luis owns in Guatemala.  After talking for a few moments about our trips over from the States, he informed me that not only was tonight going to be a full moon, something I’m not sure I’d been paying attention to, but that this moon was going to rise right over the peak of Pico.

An awesome photo opportunity it sounded like, and while thanking him I let him know of the fireworks show that was supposed to be going on that night, a piece of information I’d gathered from the local OCC Port Officer when he came to greet us a day or two after our arrival.  (João, an extremely nice gentleman that gave us so much great information on the town and on Sea Week).  I let Richard know that I didn’t know exactly what time these fireworks would be put on, but if they followed suit of the late night beginnings of most other events, it would probably be sometime between 10:30 and midnight.

After my nice chat with Richard I went back to making dinner and almost forgot to keep an eye on the time for when the sun was setting and the moon was rising.  I had barley cleared the plates from the table when I remembered, and I grabbed Matt’s arm and rushed him out the door with me as I ran down the docks to the breakwater to try and get the best spot for a photo op.  We were just in time to get a few shots of the full moon hovering right over the cap of the volcano, although I am a little sad I didn’t get there just a few minutes before to watch it peaking out from behind.

sunset over Horta Marina

sunset over Pico, Azores

full moon over Pico, Azores

full moon over Pico, Azores

After going back to the ‘Dip for a bit, honestly after going out every night since we’ve been here can be a little exhausting after our recent laid back lifestyle, we waited a little bit before going back out for the fireworks.  We knew they must be starting soon since the walls overlooking the harbor were quickly lining up with people.  Snagging one of the last available spots we sat down and waited for the bright explosions of light to begin. I thought that if I wanted to celebrate something with fireworks, I would just opt for these wholesale fireworks because these are just a sight for sore eyes.

There must have been a lost in translation moment somewhere along the way, or fireworks in Europe are completely different than they are back home, but we never got the big bangs and fizzles.  What the show was instead was a bunch of sky lanterns.  Over by the quilt-work patterns of the breakwater, glowing lights began floating into the sky, a few at a time.  We oooh’ed and awwww’ed, still not aware this was their ‘fireworks’ show.  Soon the sky was full of tiny glowing dots, drifting off toward the dark horizon, and then it hit us.  Ohhhhh, this is the fireworks display.  We weren’t let down though.  How could you be?  Watching those soft lights float over the harbor, past the volcanic cone of Pico, and out into the darkness of the Atlantic was one of the most beautiful sights either of us have ever seen.

fire lanterns at Horta's Semana do Mar

fire lanterns over Horta's harbor

fire lanterns over Horta's harbor, Azores

Horta's marina at dusk

Horta’s Sea Week

Saturday August 9, 2014

view of Horta from marina

Did you know that when we checked into Horta this week, we were the 1,000th boat to pass through? They decided to throw a party in our honor, Semana do Mar, or Sea Week.  Eight days of celebrating just for lil’ ol’ Serenipity’s crossing.  No, I’m just playing.  Yes, there is something called Sea Week, and yes, it did happen to be going on when we got here, but it was no way in honor of us.  (Although we truly were the 1,000th boat of the year….so the man at the marina told me.)

The tradition of Sea Week began back in 1975 geared towards yachtman, but is now a big tourist draw between all the Azorean islands and even folks from the mainland.  It is always held between the first and second Sundays of August, which is great news for us because we thought it was soley the first weekend of August and that we’d just missed it.  Luckily that was not the case, and even after we pulled in after our multiple weeks at sea after leaving Bermuda, things were in full swing, current American music blasting from speakers lining the street as we covered the mainsail and began throwing out fenders.  Let’s just hope that everyone was already tipsy enough that they didn’t notice our dock line debacle as we were just hundreds of feet from the marina office.

I am just a little bit disappointed that we weren’t here to experience the whole thing, because the open ceremonies sound pretty cool.  Here’s a little description taken from The Azores Islands Blog.  Following the official opening of the event, a Mass is celebrated in the chapel of Our Lady of Guia, on top of the hill of the same name and the image is then transported by boats in the Nautical Procession, passing through Porto Pim Beach, entering the Horta Harbour and disembarking in the Santa Cruz quay. The image is then carried in procession to the Church of Angústias under the alert gaze of the people with houses along the route, who exhibit their valuable mattresses out of the windows of the upper floors.  Sounds pretty cool, right?

There was still plenty to keep us entertained though, even though we’d arrived half way through the celebrations.  Most of our interest was focused on the nightly events, although all the nautical competitions are held during the day. This includes a full list of things ranging from the typical yacht races (Regattas of the Channel; of the Mermaids; of the Former Participants; and of the Horta trophy) down to things like a Horta to Porto Pim canoe race, swimming across the harbor competition, and even water polo.  I um, may not have researched these awesome sounding events until they were already over.  Ooops.  Now you can see why we were focused on the evening activities.

Each night so far we’ve wandered out, still on East Coast time, which seems to be perfect because it fits perfectly into European lifestyles.  Music groups start at at the big stage around 10 pm, and last until 3 in the morning.  Even little kids are wandering the streets with their parents until well after midnight.

During these nights we break up our time between watching shows of traditional music and dance at the little park situated across from the marina, browsing the crafts sold by locals and gypsies, although honestly, half of it looks like the $1 junk made in China and breaks after three uses.  Loooots of cheap plastic toys for kids.  There are also tables set up with jewelry and knickknacks made from whale bones and other stones and jems.  Then we’ll usually grab a 1€ sangria and sit on the sea wall, doing a bit of people watching until something starts on the main stage, or we find ourselves in bed a little too early because we still haven’t gotten over our exhaustion of 29 days of sleeping in 4 hour shifts.

Last night though, the best thing in the world happened.  Not only had we met up with two other young cruisers to wander around with, always fun to hang out with people around our age, but after milling around the large stage and listening to a band that I think is popular in mainland Portugal, they brought a DJ up on stage to start playing electronic music for the rest of the night.  We l-o-v-e electronic music.  We’ve been listening to DJ Tiesto since he first came on the scene over a decade ago.  One of the best parts of being in Miami was getting an electronic station on the radio, something that is very hard to do, and we’re normally left trying to download new music through A State of Trance.

Breaking to the front of the crowd, we literally rushed the gate as we began jumping up and down and pumping our hands in the air.  Being outside, a light rainy mist fell on us and caught the lights that pulsed out through the crowds.  It was honestly like a scene out of a music video, and possibly one that we looked ten years too old to be a part of. Behind us I’m sure the adolescent crowd wondered what these old people were doing, but we couldn’t have cared less.  At least we weren’t as bad as the guy next to us.  Late 30’s, semi bald, bearded face, wearing glasses and a skin tight leotard and doing the robot.  Does seeing that mean that we’ve officially arrived in Europe?

8.9.14 (1)

Horta Sea Week

Pico, Azores, at sunset

Horta, Azores, breakwater at dusk

Horta's marina at dusk

musical performance Horta Sea Week

musical performance Horta Sea Week


Our Atlantic Crossing by the Numbers


Our pathetic attempt at a crossing, I should be calling it.  Wow, looking back at these numbers?  Dang, we was slow!  Check out our numbers below to find out where we were on this globe each day, how many miles we completed each day, and our total miles.  If you look closely you’ll notice that we only had 6 days that we even made 100 miles.  You’ll also get a laugh when you see our 35 mile day.  Or at the fact that we had to jump from 37° North down to 33° North to avoid a low pressure system.

I do have to say though, for the comfort we experienced during this crossing and the lack of hardships for Serendipity made the slow pace well worth it.  An average of 3 knots of speed?  That’s ok.  So far we’re the only boat in Horta that’s not making some kind of repairs after their crossing.  So, here are the numbers of our 48 day* crossing from Miami, Florida to Horta, Azores, Portugal.


Day 1 – 6/12/14 –  26°.00 N  80°.02 W –  0 nautical miles

Day 2 – 6/13/14 –  27°.18 N  80°.00 W –  88 nautical miles

Day 3 – 6/14/14 –  28°.56 N  80°.01 W –  95 nautical miles – 183 total

Day 4 – 6/15/14 –  30°.33 N  79°.36 W –  115 nautical miles –  298 total

Day 5 – 6/16/14 –  30°.36 N  78°.48 W –  58 nautical miles –  356 total

Day 6 – 6/17/14 –  31°.14 N  78°.37 W –  39 nautical miles –  395 total

Day 7 – 6/18/14 –  31°.43 N  78°.01 W –  45 nautical miles –  440 total

Day 8 – 6/19/14 –  32°.00 N  77°.00 W –  59 nautical miles –  499 total

Day 9 – 6/20/14 –  31°.39 N  75°.36 W –  76 nautical miles –  574 total

Day 10 – 6/21/14 –  31°.37 N  74°.07 W –  68 nautical miles – 642 total

Day 11 – 6/22/14 –  31°.22 N  72°.24 W –  97 nautical miles –  739 total

Day 12 – 6/23/14 –  31°.21 N  70°.54 W –  80 nautical miles – 819 total

Day 13 – 6/24/14 –  31°.30N  69°.50 W –   60 nautical miles – 879 total

Day 14 – 6/25/14 –  31°.30 N  68°.44 W –  55 nautical miles – 934 total

Day 15 – 6/26/14 –  31°.34 N  67°.26 W –  70 nautical miles – 1,004 total

Day 16 – 6/27/14 –  31°.31 N  66°.05 W –  70 nautical miles –  1,074 total

Day 17 – 6/28/14 –  31°.33 N  65°.09 W –  52 nautical miles –  1,126 total

Day 18 – 6/29/14 –  32°.22 N  64°.40 W –  70 nautical miles –  1,196 total

Bermudian Break

Day 19 – 7/8/14 –  32°.22 N  64°.40 W – 0 nautical miles –  1,196 total

Day 20 – 7/9/14 –  32°.39 N  62°.43 W  – 99 nautical miles –  1, 295 total

Day 21 – 7/10/14 –  33°.04 N  61°.32 W –  68 nautical miles –  1,363 total

Day 22 – 7/11/14 –  33°.33 N  60°.29 W –  68 nautical miles –  1,431 total

Day 23 – 7/12/14 –  34°.07 N  58°.49 W –  89 nautical miles –  1,520 total

Day 24 – 7/13/14 –  34°.36 N  56°.56 W –  100 nautical miles –  1,620 total

Day 25 – 7/14/14 –  34°.59 N  55°.38 W –  68 nautical miles –  1,688 total

Day 26 – 7/15/14 –  35°.15 N  54°.37 W –  55 nautical miles –  1,743 total

Day 27 – 7/16/14 –  35°.38 N  53°.46 W –  51 nautical miles –  1,794 total

Day 28 – 7/17/14 –  36°.12 N  52°.58 W –  53 nautical miles –  1,847 total

Day 29 – 7/18/14 –  36°.50 N  51°.41 W –  74 nautical miles –  1,921 total

Day 30 – 7/19/14 –  37°.03 N  50°.39 W –  56 nautical miles –  1,975 total

Day 31 – 7/20/14 –  36°.55 N  49°.59 W –  35 nautical miles –  2,010 total

Day 32 –  7/21/14 –  36°.36 N  49°.08 W –  56 nautical miles –  2,066 total

Day 33 –  7/22/14 –  36°.03 N  47°.27 W –  86 nautical miles –  2,152 total

Day 34 –  7/23/14 –  35°.28 N  45°.03 W –  129 nautical miles –  2,281 total

Day 35 – 7/24/14 –  34°.38 N  43°.41 W –  87 nautical miles –  2,368 total

Day 36 – 7/25/14 –  34°.31 N  42°.57 W –  47 nautical miles –  2,415 total

Day 37 – 7/26/14 –  34°.10 N  42°.17 W –  44 nautical miles –  2,459 total

Day 38 – 7/27/14 –  33°.47 N  41°.00 W –  68 nautical miles –  2,527 total

Day 39 – 7/28/14 –  33°.32 N  39°.09 W –  95 nautical miles –  2,622 total

Day 40 – 7/29/14 –  33°.07 N  36°.48 W –  120 nautical miles –  2,742 total

Day 41 – 7/30/14 –  33°.08 N  34°.30 W –  117 nautical miles –  2,859 total

Day 42 – 7/31/14 –  33°.25 N  33°.27 W –  64 nautical miles –  2,923 total

Day 43 – 8/1/14 –  34°.55 N  33°.05 W –  93 nautical miles –  3,016 total

Day 44 – 8/2/14 –  35°.25 N  32°.51 W –  57 nautical miles –  3,073 total

Day 45 – 8/3/14 –  35°.54 N  31°.34 W –  87 nautical miles –  3,160 total

Day 46 – 8/4/14 –  36°.06 N  30°.55 W –  43 nautical miles –  3,203 total

Day 47 – 8/5/14 –  36°.54 N  29°.45 W –  83 nautical miles – 3,286 total

Day 48 – 8/6/14 –  38°.31 N  28°.37 W – 114 nautical miles – 3,400 total


Now that our Atlantic crossing is finished, at least the West to East part, I’d like to know what questions you have for us regarding it.  Anything you’re curious to know that wasn’t mentioned on the blog?  Please ask!  I’d love to put together a Q & A post about our crossing.

*In the above number I’ve added our first days out of Miami and Bermuda, although it took us 24 hours to actually gain any miles.  So technically there were only 46 days of 24 hours sailing straight.