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

You Might Also Like:

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

 

 

You Might Also Like:

We Bought a new Boat!

Friday September 19, 2014

dazeoff1

Now that the check has been sent out (electronically) and received (electronically), I can now tell you that…we bought a new boat!!  Out with the old and in with the new.  Or, out with a perfectly good boat that we’ve grown to love dearly over the past few years, and in with a new gut and rebuild that we’re hoping wasn’t a huge huge mistake.  But what is life if not one great adventure?

If you remember back to my Never Ending Atlantic Crossing post, you’ll remember that when the deal on the first boat fell through (for which we can blame no one but ourselves since we HAD the boat and then walked away from it before realizing that we still wanted it), we were both in a bit of a funk.  Mostly Matt though, as he was taking this loss of our dream boat really hard.  Since we were stuck in a marina with nothing but rain and time and internet on our hands, he went back to scouring through Yacht World, a favorite hobby of his, in hopes of replacing the boat he had just lost.

Well somehow, he did it.  About two days after we found out we would 100% not be getting the boat in Rhode Island, he came across a decent backup in Florida.  Backup meaning that instead of 48 ft and basically cruising ready, it’s only 37 ft and in need of a major refit.  But…. the price was incredibly right.  Plus Matt has been getting a little bored lately and in need of a good project.  During his free time he is always thinking of minor things that he’d like his next boat to have, and with a gut and rebuild we’ll be able to start from scratch and hopefully put each and one of those to use.  Kind of like how when I was growing up my parents would build a new house every 4-5 years, stating, ‘I like how this house has this and that, but I want to make sure our next house has these certain specifics’.  And then they would build it that way. (Literally themselves, there was very little outside help.)

A little information on this new boat, it’s a 37 ft Trisalu, a French design boat that was built in Quebec, has a deck salon (basically a pilot house, but no wheel inside), and it’s made of aluminum.  Surprise, surprise.  For some reason Matt has been fascinated with aluminum boats the past few years and has always wanted to try one.  Their rugged utilitarian look and the fact that they can go anywhere.  I have a feeling he’s going to try and sneak me up to the Baltic Sea or down to the Falkland Islands in it when I’m not looking.  The kind of boat where you don’t worry about the gelcoat, and when you bounce off some rocks (or an iceburg) you say, ‘It barely left a dent!’.

The draft on this boat is 7 ft, but with a lifting centerboard we’ll be able to get it down to 3.  There’s a quarter berth in the aft as well as a small storage area, a head that will actually have a shower stall!, a decent sized galley for me to cook in, a small settee area ahead of that, and a v-berth which we’ll probably still keep as our sleeping quarters.

So, all of this means that we will not actually be heading toward the Med this year.  As soon as the next weather window allows we’ll begin traveling south, getting ourselves to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and crossing the Atlantic, once again, sometime in December or January.  From there we’ll try and enjoy the Eastern Caribbean a little bit while making our way north and to where the boat is sitting in Indiantown, FL.  We think that if we can get there in April and begin non-stop work on it (because really, what else are we going to have going?), that it will be cruising ready by next November, just in time to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean during the winter months.

It’s a lot to take on, and it’s all definitely come up suddenly, but we’re excited and looking forward to the adventure ahead.  Or, who knows.  Maybe we’ll get to Florida and realize this was the worst decision in the world and there’s going to be a bunch of scrap metal going up for sale.  Only time will tell.

dazeoff09

dazeoff

dazeoff6

You Might Also Like:

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.

9.18.14 (1)

9.18.14 (2)

9.18.14 (3)

9.18.14 (4)

9.18.14 (5)

9.18.14 (6)

9.18.14 (7)

9.18.14 (8)

9.18.14 (9)

9.18.14 (10)

9.18.14 (11)

*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.

 

 

You Might Also Like:

What’s Your Most Exotic Sailing Location?

ESL 3

Having only been sailing on Serendipity for four years, just two of those as full time cruisers, we’ve mostly stuck to the east coast of the US and parts of the Caribbean. Although we’ve been to so many beautiful places and I count myself lucky almost every day that we’re out here living this lifestyle, there haven’t been many places on our list of travels so far that I would categorize as exotic or far flung. In my mind those areas described as unusual or excitingly strange tend to relate to isolated regions of beauty, normally a remote set of islands probably somewhere in the South Pacific. But we had never been any place that met that kind of criteria. At least in my mind at the time.

So when LOOK Insurance Services gave a list of their Top 5 Most Exotic Sailing Locations in the World and asked us to lend them a hand with what we thought our most exotic location was, one area shot straight to the front of my brain. I remembered that we now have been to an area of isolated beauty that’s unfamiliar, fascinating, and definitely romantic. The Atlantic Islands of Portugal.  Lying approximately 800 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal, they should be a top sailing destination for every cruiser and even fit into my mind’s criteria of exotic. Yes they are isolated, yes they are kind of far flung, and Yes, THEY ARE GORGEOUS!!

The specific Portuguese Atlantic Islands I’m including in my list the Azores Archipelago and the Madeira Island Group, and here are a few reasons of why we love them so much.

 

The sea life is amazing.

It never fails that no matter what port we’re in between any of these islands, there are always tours set up for whale watching, dolphin watching, and seal spotting. And with good reason too. They’re everywhere! Coming in to the ports of Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Azores, and Funchal, Madeira, we had pods and pods of dolphins leading the way in. To the point that I actually got sick of watching them, which should really be a felony, because really, how can one ever become sick of watching dolphins glide and jump through the water? Plus even though we arrived fairly late in the season, we actually spotted whales! Short finned pilot whales mostly, but for a couple that couldn’t even spot a single bald eagle while traveling up the Potomac where they’re supposedly hanging off every buoy, getting even one whale sighting in for us was huge.

ESL 2

 

The views from the water are staggering.

I have never been any place that has offered such great views of said place from the water in my life. When you come up on any of these islands from the water you’re normally greeted with sheer cliff drops into the water and rolling green hills of farm and/or white buildings with terracotta roofs flowing inland. It’s almost like stepping back in time to an era before resorts and hotels and super-malls blocking out any area of civilization, to when it was just nature and and the locals living off the land. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some resorts and hotels and mega malls tucked in here and there, but you can’t tell it from looking.  If we didn’t have to go through the trouble of getting in and out of a marina berth, I could honestly spend my days just cruising back and forth along the coastline.  If there was ever an area for daily pleasure cruises, this would be it. 

ESL 1.1

ESL 5

 

The climate is a perfect balance of warm and cool.

You’d think that with such a northern latitude, equivalent to where you’d find yourself in the US anyway, would have fairly cool days and much cooler nights. Not quite, as the Gulf Stream runs just close enough to the Azores leaving them in a subtropical climate all year meaning it is warm but not overly hot. Spending most of August and September in the Azores we’d experience highs in the mid to upper 70′s and low’s in the upper 60′s. Getting to Madeira even later in the season in October, approximately 600 nm south of the Azores, we experienced much of the same there. This meant that the days were warm, even hot sometimes when the sun was beating down on you, but it was never stifling and there were always pleasant sea breezes blowing off the harbor. The nights cooled down just enough that it reminded you fall might be around the corner, that perfect temperature where it’s nice to bundle up in a sweater but know you’ll be able to peel it off the next morning.

ESL 9

 

The landscapes are incredibly diverse

Think of basically any kind of landscape you’d like to see on a trip or vacation, and it’s likely you’ll be able to find it here. Large volcanoes towering out of the sea? Check. Deserts surrounded by beautiful jagged cliffs? Check. Opulent forests sprawling into rolling green hillsides? Check. Golden sandy beaches leading into clear (sub)tropical waters? Check. Isolated villages that look like they haven’t been touched in a hundred years, or large and upscale metropolitan cities? Check and check. At least one area in these islands, and usually multiple, will give you all of these and more. It’s literally the place that offers everything.

ESL 6

 

The cities are like something out of a storybook.

Do you remember the photos I shared from Picturesque Horta? How incredibly surreal and beautiful everything looked? Trust me, that wasn’t just for the cameras. Every direction you turn your head in these areas holds parks, markets, beautiful old world architecture or churches that have been standing for a hundred years, and all of them looked like they were set up to be part of a movie except it was actually real life.  There hasn’t been a single area in any town or village we’ve visited where ours jaws have not been on the floor due to their charm and grace.

ESL 12

ESL 10

 

Island hopping is easy and enjoyable*

Situated in an area with steady north to northeast tradewinds make moving east, west, or south between the islands incredibly easy. Granted, we did most of our traveling through here in the fall where the weather was a little stronger than normal, but plan your visit from mid-late spring through summer and you’ll find reliable 15-20 knot breezes under brilliant sunny skies to carry you from one destination to the next. In the Azores, the nine islands are clustered together in three groups meaning that most sails are within sunrise to sunset distance of each other, but never more than a day and a half apart. Getting between the Azores and Madeira is about a five day travel, but if you’re moving south you’ll have the wind and current at your back to push you smoothly along.

*Don’t base this on our own travels of the area where every weather forecast was wrong and we ended up with strong winds on our nose. That’s not the norm.

ESL 8

 

The cost of living is not very high

I may not categorize this with the extreme cheapness we were experiencing in Central America, but I’d say that our costs here are on par with, or even a little lower than what we were paying in the US.  Our main expenses were groceries and marina charges, and although I might have to consult our monthly costs, I think we’re on average below what we were in Florida.  We’d heard that Europe is expensive, and when we arrived here we were blown away with the cheap prices we’ve been finding everywhere.  I will say that we’ve heard Portugal has the lowest cost of living between countries in the EU, but to only have to pay 1€ for a bag of sandwich rolls, 1€ for a bag of potato chips, 1,25€ for a bag of coffee grounds, or 0,60€ per bottle of beer, we’ve been doing pretty good.

ESL 11

 

I could go on and on about the million other tiny reasons of why we fell so deeply in love with this area. The history, the cleanliness, the safety, plus it’s European flavor. Trust me, the cheap espressos, wine, and cheese have not gone unnoticed.  Plus all of the impromptu (and free) festivals, concerts, and other events always going on.

Needless to say, if the season and our Visas allowed us, we could spend months and even into years enjoying these island groups. Besides Guatemala, it’s the only place we’ve ever seriously considered buying property because we never wanted to leave.

Unfortunately they’re not on a highly traveled cruising route. The best way to get to the Azores is heading east across the Atlantic, although Madeira wouldn’t be too far out of the way for those making their way south upon leaving the Med. So if you ever find yourself with the opportunity to visit any of these islands, hop on that chance right away. I promise it will be something you’ll never regret.

But now that I’ve shared our favorite and most exotic sailing location with you, I’d like to know, what’s yours?

ESL 4

ESL 13

*I will note that if there is one big downside to cruising this area it’s that protected anchorages are very hard to come by. If you sail here be prepared to spend a majority of your time in a marina. The upside to this though is they usually cost a fraction of the price they do back in the States. Our 34 ft boat was usually 14€/night.

 

You Might Also Like:

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.

9.16.14 (1)

9.16.14 (2)

9.16.14 (7)

9.16.14 (3)

9.16.14 (4)

9.16.14 (6)

9.16.14 (5)

 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?  :)

9.16.14 (9)

You Might Also Like:

Traditional Portuguese Folk Music

Saturday September 13, 2014

9.13.14

Matt and I wanted to try and give ourselves a bit of a night out tonight on the town. Any other time this would probably mean finding a nice restaurant to eat at after strolling the boulevard, but tonight it meant dodging rain clouds until the sky cleared up enough for us to walk the mile up to one of the major supermarkets with a cafe attached to get ourselves a cheap burger and fry combo. These forced marina stays are really killing our monthly budget. Getting back to the boat just before dark we settled in with a movie and our computers, proud that we had gotten out to do something.

Just before ten o’clock we heard a knock on the hull, and already changed into a lounging shirt and fuzzy pants for the night, I ran up to see who might be calling at this late’ish hour. Barbara from La Luna was standing there, eager to tell me about a music performance that was about to start in an area just next to the marina. She told us that it was going to be traditional Portuguese guitar playing by two brothers she happened to come across earlier in the day, and that we should come check it out.

Not only did it sound like it was going to be beautiful, I mean, everyone knows how great traditional Spanish guitar songs are and Portuguese had to be pretty close, but I figured it would be just the push I needed to pull out my guitar a few more times for practice. Letting her know that we’d be out in about 10 minutes, we both raced to throw on clothes and fill our Tervis tumblers full of wine. We’re all about class here and I don’t think bringing a cooler full of beer was going to cut it.

Walking the waterfront until we came to the stage that had been set up, it looked as if this was a popular event that we had arrived late to. The music had already started and we were forced to stand in the rear as all of the fifty plastic chairs that had been set out were already full of the tourists that come between the island in mini cruise ships. As the first song ended, one of the brothers went into a speech about the traditional music they were playing and the traditional guitar he was playing it on. During this break I tried to search out Barbara in the crowd to let her know we’d arrive and so we could stand together when I saw her moving back from the front row of seats. She motioned for us to follow her and sure enough, there were two seats reserved for us as well, front and center.

Just as we were getting settled in the music started again. Over the next hour we listened to multiple traditional songs, each one more beautiful than the last. The two brothers that were on guitar were sometimes joined by a cello player and also by a violin player. We were completely blown away by the music, it was not what we were expecting at all. It definitely lit a fire under my butt to start picking up my guitar more often in the hopes that one day I’ll also be able to play something as equally stunning. In the meantime I’ve recorded some of their playing so I can enjoy listening to it until the day I’m able to play it myself.

9.13.14 (1)

9.13.14 (2)

9.13.14 (3)

9.13.14 (4)

You Might Also Like:

Boat Buying Blues

Friday September 12, 2014

9.12.14

The skies here in Ponta Delgada have been gray just about every day since we’ve arrived, and they seem to be matching the mood on the boat. And for once, it’s not my bad mood. Let me just quickly say that I’m not always in a bad mood, but more than two days without sunshine can quickly put me there. Now you can see why we had to get out of West Michigan. It’s basically like Seattle but with snow instead of rain. The sun disappears from November until March and it suddenly makes sense of why areas like England that are constantly cloaked in gloom have a little bit of a drinking problem.

But I digress and should get back to the story. The last I left you with our new boat buying woes, we had just gotten ourselves here from Horta, and in that short 38 hour sail Matt decided he could not live without the 48 ft aluminum boat we’d been going back and forth on for two weeks. Even though it has some issues and the purchase of it would leave us broke for quite some time, it’s not every day you come across your forever boat within your price range while you’re still in your early 30′s and we decided ‘To hell with it, let’s still buy that sucker!’. So an email was sent out to the broker last Saturday and we eagerly waited til Monday to hear back.

Eagerly waiting brought us the news that just that day, other potential buyers had been on the boat and seemed quite interested. If we still wanted it, we’d have to act fast. The broker let us know that another offer would probably be coming in but if we raised ours just a little bit we might still have a chance. Hmmm, the whole reason we stepped away from this boat last week is because we didn’t know if we’d be able to afford it with the necessary repairs it needs, and now we were being asked to throw more money on the table. After taxes, fees, registration, and blah blah blah, we weren’t even sure if we’d have enough money to cover all of it. Buuuut, it would be our forever boat. A fact that we just couldn’t leave alone.

Since we had no idea what ‘just a little bit’ entailed and the broker could in no way give us a figure, we countered with another 5k on top of our original offer and hoped that would be enough. We waited a few more days to hear back, the incoming information being that there were now multiple other people out there vying for this boat and our offer was not yet high enough. No agreements had been made though, and if we could go a little higher she might still be ours. It seems as if we were getting ourselves into a bidding war. One that we could not afford to participate in much longer.

I gave Matt the go-ahead to up our offer by only $2,000 more, really the highest we could go at that point, knowing that it probably wouldn’t be enough but having to give it a try just in case. We were indeed right that it did not match the offers of the other interested parties and soon came to find out that bids were reaching the original asking price. As much as it pained us to acknowledge it we had to accept that we are not getting our dream boat.

The thing that ails us the most, especially Matt, is that we had it. It was ours for the taking and had we not spent so much time in Horta contemplating and speculating on if this boat was for us, the papers would already be signed and a flag flapping the name MJ Sailing would be staked in the hull, warning off any other potential buyers that even tried to look longingly at our new boat with checkbook in hand. Both of us had already gotten so excited at the prospect of this new boat, already assuming that we’d be moving into her in mere months, that it’s hard to get over the shock that we’ll still be cruising around on the ‘Dip for awhile. We love this girl but let’s face it, she’s not 48 feet. And she has no pilot house, which Matt desperately wants.

Comments keep floating through the air murmuring things like ‘If we were on the new boat we’d have our own separate shower stall with constant hot water….If we were on the new boat I could store a million kitchen utensils and have a coffee maker on the counter…If we were on the new boat I just look out the window from my seat and see what’s going on….If we were on the new boat I could sleep while you watched tv and I wouldn’t even hear you’. All if these ‘if only’s’ that we’ll never have the chance to experience now.

So yeah, the mood around here has been pretty bleak lately and I don’t think it has everything to do with the weather. Maybe we’ll just head up to McDonald’s again, the American equivalent of drinking, and drown our woes in a few Big Macs.

You Might Also Like:

Cave Dwellers

Wednesday September 10, 201

9.10.14 (15)

Once upon a time last summer I wrote an article for The Monkey’s Fist on Young Cruisers and how it seems to be that when a boat with crew members under the age of 40(ish) finds another boat with crew members of the same age, they’re drawn together like magnets, …. for the most part all relative newbies looking to share in new world experiences while knowing that most of our comrades are sitting behind a desk somewhere. Although it seems by the number of young cruiser blogs popping up out there that our numbers are growing, so watch out old timers, we’re taking back the seas!*

From what we’ve noticed so far in these two Atlantic Islands we’ve visited, there don’t seem to be many Americans crossing the pond in these parts, so when we see each other it seems to be an instant bond as well. “Wait a minute, you’re an American? I’m an American? What are the odds?!”. Kind of like how the French always stick together wherever they are in the world. (Side note, we love all the French boats we’ve come in contact with, they’ve been so incredibly nice and generous toward us) And so it came to be how we met our neighbors Barbara and Stuart of La Luna. Twice now the stars and stripes flapping from our stern has brought over others flying the same colors.

A few days ago we had a little knock on the hull and when we went to check out the source we found Barbara coming to introduce herself and let us know that the two of them were going out for a day of sightseeing around Ponta Delgada in the next day or two and would we like to join them? Normally our version of sightseeing in a town is wandering the streets until we get lost and then make our way back to the boat saying, “Ok, so that was the town”. So when Barbara mentioned actual activities such as a fort and local caves to be toured, we hopped back on the train of itineraries just like when we were traveling with Rode Trip and jumped at the chance for someone else to plan an activity where all we had to do was follow along. Meeting this morning in a cafe across the street from the marina, the four of us sipped on cafe con leche while looking over maps and planning out the day. There didn’t have to be much coaxing from us on what to do though, they asked if we were up for a few things and all we had to reply with was “Sure, lead the way!”.

The first spot we were led to was a military fort positioned on the water about a half mile from us on the marina. We spoke a little broken English to the officials at the office, handed over our 3€ apiece, and began wandering through the exhibits. They really were very interesting visually, but that’s about all I can tell you since every single plaque or information giving tidbit was in Portuguese. From the little bits of data we had been able to receive in our native tongue though, we knew that most of what we were staring at belonged to Portugal’s Colonial war with African colonies in the 1960′s although the era looked like it could have been out of the first World War. For the next hour we wandered from room to room, through tunnels and into rooms that Matt and I had to say to ourselves, ‘You know, we could turn this into a really cool home’, as we took in more visual tidbits of the Portuguese military back in the 60′s.

Plus, with someone else in the group besides just the two of us, it was a rare opportunity for the two of us to have our photo taken together. Something that happens only about twice a year. It’s an occasion that I cherish as the photographer stands behind the lens, getting about 15 shots while repeating, “Ok Matt, I’m going to need to you smile. No really, I mean it. Smile this time. Let me just…sigh…well, yeah, I think I got one that might work”. 9.10.14 (1)

9.10.14 (2)

9.10.14 (3)

9.10.14 (5)

9.10.14 (6)

9.10.14 (7)

9.10.14 (8)

9.10.14 (9)

9.10.14 (10)

From there we roamed the streets of the city center before stumbling upon the local market. I guess it’s one of those things you need to be there early in the morning for the best pick of items, because as we strode in around one in the afternoon the place was a ghost town with only a few onions and tomatoes left to be pilfered. Since the two of us had just found the mega supermarket yesterday and fully stocked up like we hadn’t seen fresh produce in months there was no need to fill up baggies with anything here, but it might still be fun to come check it out some morning in full swing.

9.10.14 (11)

9.10.14 (12)

The last item on our list for the day was to tour the local caves, but before we could do that we had to find them. I know Matt and I like to get lost for the fun of it while wandering around a city, but the four of us truly did get lost while trying to walk to these caves on the outskirts of town. After much searching for names of streets, asking directions, and pointing at maps, we finally found a sign on the side of the road that would lead us the right way.

Discovering the small building that sat upon the entrance, we paid our fee and watched the instructional video before descending the steps to the depths below. Donning really awesome hair nets and hard hats we were led into two different sections of the caves that ran below the city. Although these caves extend for miles all the way from the waters edge into the center of the island, the fact that they only sit between 10-30 feet under the surface of a budding town and expressways has meant many cave-ins and unsafe areas for tourists.

Taking in the views of the areas we were allowed to explore, we found these particular caves were formed when lava flowed down from the islands volcano, creating tubes underground where the outer area cooled and hardened as the hot lava ran through the center. What remained were two different types of lava, a certain kind of the top that I don’t remember the name of but left cool staglamite , and another kind on the floor called AhhAhh (sp), a Polynesian name that literally came from the sounds natives would make as they walked across it. Kind of like walking on hot coals.

Although the tour wasn’t incredibly long as there weren’t terribly many places we could walk through these caves, just a few hundred feet in each tunnel we were shown, it was still fun and completely different from the things we see when we normally visit a place. Thanks Barbra and Stuart for dragging us out of our own little cave to show us that nature has some of it’s own.

9.10.14 (13)

9.10.14 (14)

9.10.14 (16)

9.10.14 (17)

 

*I mean this in a completely loving way

You Might Also Like:

Wandering Ponta Delgada

Monday September 8, 2014

9.8.14 (5)

It turns out there wasn’t a whole lot the two of us could do here in Ponta Delgada until we were able to check into the marina this morning. What we found out after arriving on Saturday is that there are locked gates to gain access from the shore to the docks and we were now left without a key to get back in until the marina office opened and was able to give us one. Saturday we still managed to get out and about for a bit after assuming there would be so many people around the docks to let us back in when we were ready to get back to the boat. We were wrong. After standing around for 20 minutes and then spending 15 minutes trying to hunt down a security guard, which we never found, we finally managed to grab the gate when a group of guys were leaving and we had to book toward the entrance from 100 feet away.

Yesterday we tried again when we found out the woman who runs a catamaran tour right across from the gates has a key and will let us in until she leaves her booth at 6 pm. We didn’t want to take too much advantage of her so we only went out once during the day, wandering toward the college campus where they had a flea market going on. While there we talked with a few of the locals that were peddling garage sale like goods, and found out that many more people than we expected spoke English, and have been to the US at one point. We also let ourselves get lost on some of the back roads while trying to get a feel for the town. Up at the top of a hill we found yet another abandoned church that would be perfect to turn into a summer home for the two of us. I’ll admit, the views weren’t quite as good as our dream abandoned-church-home in Horta, and this area has a bit more of an industrial feel to it once you’re outside of the town center.

Another thing I should mention is that as soon as we got into the marina on Saturday and and connected to the wifi, Matt must have seen something that reminded him of the aluminum boat in RI and immediately he was talking about how he thinks we made a big mistake in walking away from it and how he still wanted it. Honestly, this trying to gear myself up for the Med and then switch to gearing up to go back to the states for a new boat and then switching back and forth is getting a little mentally tiring…but again, this would be our forever boat. I told Matt to put in an email to the broker to see if the owner would still accept our original offer and right now we’re waiting to hear back on that. At least we’ll have moved ourselves to an island with a major airport, and if we sit around here long enough, Matt found 2-for-1 flights to Boston on October 5. We’ll have to see how this all plays out.  In the meantime, on to McDonald’s!

9.8.14 (1)

9.8.14 (2)

9.8.14 (3)

9.8.14 (4)

9.8.14 (10)

9.8.14 (8)

9.8.14 (6)

9.8.14 (7)

9.8.14 (9)

 

It has been 3 months since our last McDonald’s fix.  Oh yes, I’m lovin’ it.

 

 

You Might Also Like: