Throwback Thursday: Hiking Pico Ruivo and Settling for Sao Vicente

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.

Even though both of us were ennamored with our time in Madeira, I never seemed to pull out my camera much for my time there.  Maybe it was a good thing though, as I was just enjoying being there instead of being there as a tourist with the need to capture every outing.

There were times I did make missions to go out with camera in hand though, like when I hiked to the top of a tall hill in town to catch the sunset, or the one time we met some young people to hang out with from the marina. (Spoiler alert: Norwegians can drink a lot).  We also took a trip out to the local market one morning  as it was touted as a ‘must experience’ through Trip Advisor reviews there, but we were sorely disappointed with what we got.

One morning we decided to see further than what the main city of Funchal had to offer.  Hoping on a local bus, we rode around to the opposite side of the island to check out a hiking trail up a volcano that our new Norwegian friends told us about.  Once arriving though, we found out that our friends are much more adventurous than us, and I should have listened to the woman at the information station about the weather.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday October 16, 2014

São Vicente, Madeira

I don’t have to tell you how in love we are with this island.  I’ve pretty much been talking about it non stop lately.  The only problem is, I can’t quite say we love this island just yet, because we’ve only seen Funchal.  I’m sure I could fall deeply in love with the rest of it, I just needed a chance to see it.

So with great public transportation and nothing but time on our hands as we wait for a decent window to the Canaries, I kept bugging Matt that we needed to do an inland tour.  See more than just this one town.  So that years down the road when we finally give up our life at sea and get our land legs back I can say with authority, ‘We should move to Madeira.  We loved that entire island.’

I had spent hours online researching the best places of the island to visit, but with only a bus at our fingertips instead of a car it wouldn’t be as easy to see multiple parts and we’d have to stick to one area.  Looking at photo after photo and spending one whole evening on a certain flickr account, I decided that São Vicente on the north side of the island was the place for us.  It looked as if it had a gorgeous beach with high rising cliffs on each side, a quaint little town for wandering, and caves to explore should the mood hit.  I was all set to buy our bus tickets out.

That was, until we ran into the Norwegian guys the morning of their departure.  We had noticed that they’d been gone the entire previous day and found out they went on an amazing hike through the center of the island from Pico Ruivo to Pico Areeiro.  They described it as very long at 15 km total, difficult at times as most of it was uphill, but by far one of the best hikes they’ve ever taken in their life.  ”It challenges hiking through the fjords of Norway”, they told me.  It did sound incredibly long and tedious, but how could you pass up something right in front of you that challenges the views of Norway?  That night I researched Pico Areeiro and decided that São Vicente would have to wait. We were going to hike a mountain.

Stopping at the information center in Funchal I picked up a few maps as the woman behind the counter stared at me with leery eyes as I told her my plans.  ”It’s a very long walk”, she told me.  ”Yes”, I replied, “I’m fully aware.  It will be about six hours”.  ”Tomorrow is supposed to be very bad weather”, she confronted.  I paid her no mind.  For some reason the woman of Portugal don’t seem to like me and are always telling me I can’t or shouldn’t do things that I later find are incredibly easy.  Like lugging our propane containers a mile outside town to have them filled instead of getting a taxi.

So as we woke this morning I prepared us the best I could, dressing us in layers for the elevation and even putting in a windbreaker since I remembered the fresh breeze at the top of Faial, although Matt declined his.  Hopping on the bus we rode through extremely beautiful seaside and mountain roads until we began climbing to the interior town of Encumeada where we would then follow the 11 km path to Pico Ruivo and from there continue on about another 5 km to Pico Areeiro.  Encumeada would start us at an elevation of 1007 m , the climb up to Pico Ruivo would bring us up to 1862 m, and we’d descend to Pico Areeiro just a little bit at 1816 m, although this was supposed to be the more difficult part of the hike, winding through extremely narrow paths and through caves in the mountains.

As the bus chugged and climbed it’s way up the mountain we watched the sun disappear and a thick fog settled in.  The winds were picking up as well and just as we started to laugh and point out how quickly they were rushing through this area, whipping around peaks and pushing bushes on their side, the bus driver stopped and motioned for us to get off.  Oh crap.  This did not look so fun anymore.  Stepping off the bus into 40 knot winds and a 20 degree temperature drop, we began to second guess ourselves as the bus sped away down the mountain toward São Vicente.

Pico Ruivo

Encumeada, Madeira

Bundling ourselves up in every layer of clothing we had on us, we found the beginning of the trail while at the same time muttering to ourselves ‘How the hell are we going to do this?’.  At this point we were pretty sure that the two of us together would not be coming back down alive.  Pushing our way up a dirt trodden path we found a bit of sanctuary behind the giant ridges in front of us, the wind luckily coming from the opposite side.  The side we were on still held it’s challenges though in the form of never ending steps.  This was not looking like it was going to be a gradual path up those 850 m.  Climbing and huffing and puffing we tried to gauge how much initial elevation we were making, hoping that it was all at the beginning and the rest would level out.  That we might be able to handle.  But if it was going to be 11 km of climbing stairs, that was a guarantee that neither of us would be making it back down.

On the bright side, during many of our breaks to stop and catch our breath we had amazing views down the cliffs to the north side of the island where São Vicente was nestled at the bottom.  The clouds on that side of us cleared just enough for us to see out to the valley below, but whenever we turned to look where we were headed next it was nothing but white.  We began to wonder if the hike would be worth it at all, coming mostly for the views and realizing there was a chance we wouldn’t even be able to make them out through the fog.

overlooking Sao Vicente, Madeira

hiking Pico Ruivo, Madeira

Matt hiking Pico Ruivo

On and on we continued to huff and puff as we climbed higher and higher.  The rocky stones in the dirt path would sometimes give way to grand staircases, but the theme always seemed to be onward and upward.  For a few moments we had forgotten about the wind since there had been no exposure to it since the beginning of the hike.  While rising up one of these grand stair cases we found another couple close to our age coming back down.  They stopped to chat for a moment, both of us asking where the other was heading.  It turns out they were trying to do the same hike as us, or at least just get to the top of Pico Ruivo, but about a quarter mile up ahead they found themselves exposed to the wind again and decided to turn around.

As the guy tried to explain, we think they were French and English was a second language, they were by no means professionals and they felt that to continue would be too dangerous and they were better off coming back down and completing their tour of the island from the safety of their rental car.  We don’t consider ourselves professionals either, but can sometimes muster ourselves up to be hardcore for just a little bit, and decided to continue on.  At least to the point they were referring to and could decide there if we wanted to move forward or turn around.  Progressing up the mountain another ten minutes we came up to a clearing that had no protection from the strong winds we initially experienced and suddenly saw exactly what they were talking about.

The winds here hit us like a freight train, suddenly gusting up from a light breeze to somewhere near 60 knots.  Not only that, but we were in complete cloud cover and could not see more than 100 feet in front of us.  No wonder this other couple turned around.  To venture on looked like suicide.  We quickly agreed that to continue on would be completely unwise and possibly even dangerous and we also turned ourselves around, even rushing back down the areas we could, trying to catch this couple to see if maybe they would give us a ride back into town instead of waiting for the bus to swing around again that afternoon.

stairs hiking Pico Ruivo

hiking Pico Ruivo

Jessica on stairs of Pico Ruivo hike, Madeira

Back at the bottom of the hill the French couple was long gone and the next bus through this area was still hours away from arriving.  Scouting the small diner and gift shop that made up this town we looked for vehicles of only two people that might be able to give us a ride back to Funchal or at least down the mountain to São Vicente, but every car or van we came across was packed full.  Giving up we decided to walk the 10 km ourselves since we figured we had planned on getting a hike in that day anyway and at least this was downhill.

This notion only lasted about half the way down until it felt like we were never going to reach our destination.  Every time we’d round a corner and look down the valley we’d think, ‘Ok, only about two more turns and we should be there’, except every turn led to at least five more.  Finally at one lookout point we broke down and asked a couple that had stopped to enjoy the views if they could give us a lift the remaining few miles.  They kindly obliged and our weary legs finally had a rest.

outskirts of Sao Vicente

church at São Vicente, Madeira

 When we got down to São Vicente we realized the town itself didn’t have a whole lot going for it.  Not that it was a bad place, it was just much smaller than we were expecting.  There were a few shops, lots of restaurants, but that was about it.  Coming from the metropolis of Funchal though, I can see how anything could look kind of small.

What the town lacked though, the seaside definitely made up for.  There were gorgeous black sand beaches with tremendous waves constantly crashing on them.  A true surfers paradise.  With an hour to kill before the next bus would come around to bring us home, we just sat on the seawall and took in the views of the staggering cliffs that sat on the ocean while thundering waves crashed at their feet.

In the end, I guess the day worked out kind of perfectly.  I doubt we would have had the strength to hike the entire way to Pico Areelio even on a clear and calm day, but there also wasn’t enough in São Vicente to entertain us for an entire day.  So breaking it up between the two gave us a taste of both worlds.  It also gave us a chance to see more than just one spot on the island and let me say for sure that Yes, I could absolutely see myself living here someday.

São Vicente, Madeira

10.16.14 (11)

Jessica in São Vicente, Madeira

 

Here’s a quick little clip of some of our sights for the day.

You Might Also Like:

Q&A Revisited

As I go back through my old posts each week as I pick out the next volume of Throwback Thursday, I get a little chuckle out of how much our lives, and we ourselves, change year to year. Our experiences, our expectations, and our thoughts on different aspects of cruising.  What my opinion was a few years ago has definitely changed on a few things, yet sometimes I nod my head and say to myself, ‘Yes, exactly!  I still feel that way!’.

Back in early 2014 I had done a question and answer post on some of the most popular question we get asked, and also a few specific ones posed to us on our Facebook page when I posted we were answering anything you wanted to ask.  Just for fun one evening I was going through that post again and the statements above really hit me.  Some things are so certain for us that they could be etched in stone, yet for other items we’ve either just had the opportunity to experience so much more since then, or our view as we’ve grown older has just shifted.

So, since I’ve been without my usual computer lately and I’ve needed a  post to go up without the ability of editing new photos or the luxury of easily typing on a keyboard (this post comes to you after about a week of sticking my fingers at a touch pad), I thought I’d go back and revisit those questions from 30 months ago to see just how much has changed in that time.

You can find the original post and answers here.

What has been the most jaw dropping experience with an animal/fish/bird, ect?

Wow, it took a few years, but we’ve finally begun having our animal experiences.  Now that I have a few to pick from, I’d have to say it was the time that Meinke whales were swimming right next to the boat a few hundred miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic.  Literally within touching distance from us, this pod spent a good 30 minutes watching us in the cockpit as we watched them. Coming in a not too distant second was the escort of saddleback dolphins we had on our way into Madeira.

Minke whale in North Atlantic

saddle back dolphins

 

How long do you imagine you’ll cruise?

Our answer used to be ‘until the money runs out’, but now I think it has turned into ‘as long as we’re still enjoying it’.  Sure, the money may run out before that happens, but I don’t think we have any plans of just up and leaving the lifestyle because of that.  

Now that this time is actually coming upon us, we’ve had to give some serious consideration to how we’ll fill the kitty again. One thing we’ve both agreed on is we have spent way too long in Florida and we plan to make our escape the first chance we get. We thought crewing as deckhands or stewards on the mega yachts of the Caribbean could be a good source of money (as hard as the work is), but we doubt they would let us bring Georgie along for days or weeks at a time. So the plan at the moment (although its apt to change) is to get ourselves to the USVIs where a work visa is not required, and see what kind of work we can pick up there.

Charlotte Amalie harbor

 

What’s your favorite island?

Madeira.  Not only did this place become a front runner as our favorite island, but it now tops the charts as our favorite all over destination as well. We came upon it after one of the slowest and draining passages we’ve ever made, but even if it had only been a day hop over, I doubt we could have been disappointed.  Arriving from the water are cliffs that plunge 700 directly to the water, yet terra cotta roofs line the hills between peaks and valleys.  The town of Funchal we stayed in was incredibly well kept and just stunning.  All of the sidewalks were patterned in black and white stone, while restaurants and bistros called out from each corner.  Nothing about this area felt commercial, and even the chain grocery stores still had their little charms.

There are parks galore, filled with flowers and benches, perfect for overlooking the sea.  Public transportation is very easy through their bus system, and even just sitting in the seat while staring at the views out your window as you circle the island is worth getting on alone.  Although there are also many resorts that cater to the higher class, everything feels very open and accessible. There are black sand beaches for laying out and numerous trails for hiking mountains and greenery.  Plus, it’s actually cheap!  Cheaper than being in the US!  We loved our time there and it was very hard for us to leave when we did eventually need to move on.

cliffs of Madeira

10.16.14 (11)

old town Funchal Madeira

Do you feel your boat is big enough for the two of you to live on?

The last time I answered this question we were on Serendipity, and at that time, she was enough for us. And as I mentioned in the post where we purchased Daze Off, we were never openly searching for a new boat, we just came across a deal that was too good to pass up. Or so it seemed at the time.  We never had any idea we’d be spending this long fixing her up.

With that being said, I’ll answer this question the best I can at the moment.  Our new boat is obviously not done, which means we are not out cruising on her yet, and therefore don’t know exactly how she’ll suit all our needs. The extra space is already very apparent though, and I think she’ll be the perfect floating home for us when we’re finished. Fingers crossed that’s not too far down the road though!

cleaning galley matt behind wheel

 

What is your favorite thing about sailing?

Sailing or cruising? We’ve found over the years they are actually two very different things.  We love crusing for the fact we get to bring our home with us, so wherever we find ourselves we always have everything we need. It also gives us a sense of stability to have this one constant in our lives no matter what part of the world we happen to be in. Imagine being in a new country every few weeks yet still getting to go home every night. It’s an amazing feeling.

As far as the sailing itself goes, I’m still going to stand by my old statement. (The sun on my face, a slight breeze through my hair, and getting into port. True blue sailors, we are not. I guess that’s just something you learn along the way. Or maybe it’s that passages are usually nothing like pleasure cruises on Lake Michigan.)

Passages are not always pleasurable, but sometimes you do get those perfect days. I do love sailing for those instances when the wind, waves, and current on your side. When you feel at one with nature and the empowerment of harnessing the wind to get you from one destination to the next.

The last thing, which I think hits both lists, is the opportunity to visit those rarely explored places that most people don’t see because they’re only accessible by water.

calm waters on Atlantic

 

 

So far, is there anyplace you’ve visited that is a must to go back to sometime?

The list keeps growing and growing.  We’ve found we tend to leave a piece of our hearts in so many of the places we visit. We’d love to go back to Cuba for it’s beauty and authenticity.  Guatemala had it’s rolling green mountains, friendly locals, and very affordable pricing. Bermuda was as picturesque as a postcard, and Horta had it’s European feel with stunning views overlooking Pico.

Maderia was still the most breathtaking landfall we’ve ever made and gave us the perfect mixture of city living and striking vistas. The Canary Islands held infinite amounts of diversity, and the Virgin Islands contain perfect tradewinds and quick and easy hops from island to island.

It would be hard for me to leave any of these of the list because I truly want to visit each and every one again in my future. I’m also looking forward to adding

approaching golfete

Horta's breakwater and Pico in the distance

sunset in Madeira

dunes at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

The Baths Virgin Gorda

 

What are some of the things that annoy you most about living on a 34 ft boat?

No longer in 34 feet!  And boy what a difference 3 ft in length and 12 inches in beam will do for space.  Since we did spend another year on Serendipity after writing the original answer though, I’ll add on to it.

(Old) Surprisingly, not as much as there used to be. I’ve even made peace with the fact that all the contents of my chill box will. make their way to the companionway steps while I’m rooting around for items in there, since when the chillbox is open, I have 50 sq inches of available counter space. There’s still little things that get on my nerves, like having to shower in the cockpit when it’s anything but hot out, finding a necessary tool in our completely unorganized tool bag, or pulling out 15 items first to get to my can of diced tomatoes lodged near the bilge.

Once I made peace with (most) of those qualms though, here were a few other things that still bothered me until we sold her.  This is a silly one, and I know I’m being girly about it, but the fact that all my clothes were shoved up in the v-berth in a couple of zippered camping bags used to drive me mad.  Not  only would I have to wedge myself into the space behind the door just to access that area, but I would have to unload so many things that were jammed into that open locker space just to get a bag out.  And if it happened to be dark out?  Forget about it.  Problems with water finding it’s way to the light on that side of the boat meant it was never on, and I’d have to literally use a head lamp just to  rummage through my bag of clothes just to find the item I was looking for.

On the new boat I looooove that I have a clothing cabinet out in the middle of the salon which is always flooded in daylight, and even if I have to pull out a few layers of clothes to reach what is in the back, it’s still a much easier job than I used to have.

Sabre 34 Targa galley

Sabre 34 Targa v-berth hanging locker

 

How often are you at anchor vs in a marina?

We anchor out whenever and wherever we can, but after leaving the Caribbean we found out that isn’t always possible.  Upon arriving in Bermuda for our 10 day stay there on our Atlantic crossing we were so happy there were spots to anchor out as we thought we’d be forced into an expensive marina. Once we got to the Azores though, there were literally no spots for  us to anchor in the towns we were visiting because the island groups is an archipelago in the middle of the ocean with no reefs, and water depths plunging from 30 ft to 600 ft in just a few seconds.  Because of that we were forced into a marina during our entire stays in Horta and Ponta Delgada, about 7 weeks total.  We thought we’d have the ability to anchor once we arrived to Madeira, but it turns out that charter boats take up the entire anchorage, and even though we tried our best, we couldn’t manage to find a spot that would keep us from swinging into them.  Another 3 weeks spent in a slip.

Arriving to the Canaries was our first sources of anchorages on that side of the pond, although from what we’ve read and heard, they’re quickly disappearing or being turned into mooring fields.  Luckily the only time we had to head into a slip there was to wait out a terrible storm where we needed the break walls of the marina to keep out the heavy swell.

Our entire time over  there we longed for the wide availability of anchorages the Caribbean holds, and truth be told, is part of the reason that crossing an ocean, again, was so tolerable to me after just having done it.  I knew what was waiting at the other end.  Crystal clear  waters over shallow sandy bottoms that allowed us the peace of swinging on the hook.

storm over Marina Rubicon

boats at anchor in Simpson Bay

Serendipity in Bahamas

How’s Georgie doing?

This question originally came about because we almost got rid of Georgie in Guatemala because she couldn’t seem to stand living on the boat. Once she had a taste of land life and freedom, it was like a prison sentence to get her back on the boat each night.  After a stint of us leaving her to be watched for six weeks in Guatemala by a friend, and beginning to travel on the boat once more, she was as happy as could be and it was like we had a brand new, cheerful cat in our lives.

Since we’ve been living on the hard for the past 15 months though, you can tell Georgie misses life on the water.  We let her outside every day on her leash and harness, where she’ll watch all the happenings in the work yard from the shade of the trees outlining us, and occasionally chase a random gecko that crosses her path.  Whenever we’re leaving for a few days though, we bring her to our friend Ellen’s boat in the water where she can not run fast enough to get on deck.  In short, I think she’s tolerating this pseudo life on land, but she’s just as excited to get back to the water as we are.

Georgie & rainbow

Georgie Daze Off

 

 

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: La Bella Isla Madeira

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.

Finally getting our weather window out of Ponta Delgada, we jumped on the first chance we could get to move ourselves to the Madeira Island group about 560 miles away.  Although we were lucky not to have any tropical storms bearing down on us, we suffered from less than favorable winds the entire time.

Doubling our expected time at sea, it may have technically been under the 28 days it took us to get from Bermuda to Horta, but it still goes down in our books as the longest passage ever. Thankfully we were rewarded with the best landfall we’ve ever made, and still our favorite stop on our travels.

You can find the original post here.

Friday October 3, 2014

Madeira

Last night we broke down and finally used the engine on and off through the night to finally get ourselves some speed and pointing capabilities. And partially to dodge the line of tankers that wanted to come just a little to close to us. I had a moment where I was handing the reigns of my shift over to Matt where two tankers were headed right at us, one on each side, but a little too close for comfort. Calling one man on VHF and getting no answers the first few times until I repeated it a few more times with a very stern ‘Please respond’ at the end, I politely asked if he could miss hitting us by subtracting a few more degrees from his current course since I already had a tanker on one side of me and the wind on my nose in another. I barley got a response and wasn’t even sure he heard me until I saw the course on his AIS falling a few degrees. I may have thanked him for his help a little too hastily since that number began to rise again, but by that time it was Matt’s problem and I was on my way to my bunk. A little course alteration on Matt’s part and throwing our deck lights on to make sure this guy knew exactly where we were, and all was good and we were in the clear within ten minutes.

When I woke up this morning, our tenth day at sea, Matt told me there would be a slight change in plans. The wind had never shifted north enough for us to be able to make the easting we needed to get to Porto Santo. But..we could get ourselves on the west side of Maderia Grande, and once there we would be sheltered by the winds and could motor smoothly into the harbor of Funchal. Whatever. If it meant I could fall asleep at anchor that night, I was in. Setting us on a course that was just far enough off the wind that we might actually be able to get there, he let me know that we needed to maintain a speed of 5 knots to get there before nightfall. If we couldn’t do it under sail power alone, the engine needed to be on and running high. Turning off our diesel hog, I was able to get in one enjoyable hour of sailing before we kept dipping into the mid 4′s and a panic ran through me that this had the potential of leaving us at sea another night and I rushed to turn it back on.

As we rose and fell through the building swell that was coming from our back quarter, I read up on Madeira and Funchal through our Imray guide, having skipped it the first time around because I never expected it to be a stop. I found a few fun little facts about the town, a nice black and white photo depicting the harbor and the homes sitting on hillside behind it, and a little blurb that Maderia’s west side, of which we would be passing by in a few hours, contained sheer cliff drops into the water, supposedly the second largest in the world. It also appeared as if this island contained volcanic peaks that almost rivaled that back in Pico, and should also be visible from the water at distances of 30-50 miles. Riding every crest I’d stare out into the distance, waiting for something to come out of the shadows, but it wasn’t until we were less than 15 miles off on this hazy day that I was able to make out an outline through the brume.

Over the next few hours I watched it become larger and clearer. Finally it came into view and I stood in awe at the massiveness of it. I had not been expecting anything so colossal. For a few minutes as I stood on the cockpit seats with my head over the dodger and letting the strong breeze blow through my hair I had a pod of dolphins pass by, jumping through the considerable waves that followed behind me. They were gone almost as soon as they had come, but I had other more important things on my mind. Land. We were finally within site. We were going to make it there if it killed me.

And that my friends, is when you speak too soon. Although the swell was mostly behind us, by this point it had grown to the predicted 12 feet that our weather report (my dad) had forecast. Up until that point winds were in the mid 20′s and although it wasn’t a calm ride, it was mostly comfortable. Then we came across something I’ve had little to no experience with. Just as we were rounding the western part of the island and I assumed this solid block of land would begin blocking us from the gusts, we hit a wind zone. A little thing I had read up on a bit for in the Canaries, but didn’t know I would come across here. In these wind zones, the wind will funnel itself around a portion of land and increase itself anywhere from 10-20 knots, almost instantly. I had just found myself in one of these areas and now my 25 knot winds were holding in the upper 30′s and sometimes gusting into the mid 40′s. I kept thinking they would go down in just a few minutes and hesitated to wake Matt to help put a reef in the main, the only sail we were running with at the time.

Just as I was contemplating ‘Do I , or do I not?’, one of the large waves from behind us caught us at a strange angle and began rounding us into the wind. Sometimes this will happen by 10° or so and the autopilot will work to fix itself in a matter of seconds, but this was closer to a 90° change, and we showed no signs of turning back the correct direction. Lunging toward the autopilot I quickly threw it on standby and yanked the wheel hard to starboard, slowly putting us back on course, but not before the next wave started to come and tried it’s best to keep us pointed into the wind. As we reached the crest I finally got some semblance of steering back and set us once more to where we were supposed to be. My heart was pounding, but we seemed to be ok. For the moment.

Just as my pulse was returning to a normal rate, it happened again. Once more I flew to the rear of the cockpit as fast as humanly possible, but with my harness and tether on I was only able to go so far. Staring at the stern as my hand once more cranked the wheel to port, I was not able to fight the force that was rounding us up. For one whole set we sat almost at a standstill with our beam into the waves and I was sure the next one to come would be the one to roll us over. Fighting the panic in my chest I moved myself behind the wheel to the best of my ability with my harness still clasped into a pad-eye by the companionway, letting the tether rub across the top of the wheel as I put all of my strength into keeping it hard over. What felt like an eternity later, although I’m sure it was mere seconds, the bow started following my directions and we were out of harms way. This time it didn’t even take me two seconds to yell down to Matt who was still comfortably sleeping in his bunk, that he needed to get his ass up so we could put a reef in.

Changing our course to almost directly downwind so the waves would not keep catching us on our side, we reefed the main and things instantly felt 1,000 x better. And knowing that we were no longer knocking on death’s door (I know I’m being much more dramatic about this than it actually was), we could finally enjoy the views in front of us. The dramatic cliff drops were just as good as the guide said they would be, and the only thing we could do was stand there with our mouths open as we watched them go by.  From there on things just kept getting better.  Just as suddenly as we had entered the wind zone we were now out of it and in the lee of the island.  Winds became just a slight breeze on our cheeks as we could now feel the sun beat down on them as well.

Taking full advantage of the now gorgeous day, I put some music on to blast through the cockpit speakers and opened a beer while I continued to watch our views get better.  It was like the universe was watching out for me and saying ‘Sorry about that earlier snafu, let me make it up to you with some of the most spectacular views I have to offer you.’  And oh yes, they were.  As that weren’t enough, just a few miles further along the coast we were treated with a remarkable dolphin show.  These things were really trying to show off for us.  There wasn’t just your usual swimming next to the boat while sticking their head above the water every now and then to get a better look at us.  For literally hours we watched as groups of these magnificent creatures did jumps, twists, and tail stands.

Then just as the sun was beginning it’s descent and radiating perfect orange beams onto the cliffs in front of us, we neared the harbor of Funchal.  Calling in and getting in touch with the harbor master I found that just as our guide book promised, it was possible to anchor in this harbor.  Finally.  Not having dropped the hook since Bermuda I think all of us, the cat included, were looking forward to a little swinging room on the boat.  Entering the inner harbor and finding the catamarans the harbor master had mentioned to us as the best place for us to be, we dropped the anchor just as the sky was growing dark.

Letting out all the necessary chain in this fairly deep port, we glanced around and realized how close we were to not only the chartered dolphin watching catamarans next to us, but the large cement breaker behind us.  After 5 minutes of staring around we made the executive decision to get the anchor up and just go in the marina instead.  Calling the harbor master once more to let him know that instead of anchoring, we’d now be coming in, and where was the reception area and what side should we have our fenders on.  The only response I received was an infuriating “I’ll point you in the right direction when you get in here, but I can’t tell you what side you’ll be on, so just put fenders on both sides”.  Well, not only do we not have enough fenders to go all the way around our boat, but it was literally now getting black out, so how the hell are we going to follow your directions if I can’t even see you?

Arguing with the man on VHF for more information, which he wouldn’t give, then arguing with Matt about the lack of information, and arguing on the VHF once more, we just decided to throw two fenders on each side and get ourselves in with any last little bit of daylight we had left.  Once the anchor was weighed I quickly handed the wheel to Matt and ran up to the bow to watch for our harbor traffic controller.  Fortunately I did spot him just as we rounded the corner into the marina and he yelled out “Follow me!” as he hopped on a little bike and began to race it around the inner breakwater.  Matt was not a happy camper behind the wheel as I tried my best to shout not only directions back to him from the bow, but when to watch out for the mooring lines attached to the bows of all the boats docked here.

If we had to join the ranks of those before us in this marina that backed their boats into sample size spaces in the dark, I think we would have happily turned the boat around and heaved to a few miles off shore until the sun came up.  I think the harbor master realized this and took pity on us, guiding us to a large open space of dock where he instructed us to side tie.  The lines were still a mess since he ‘couldn’t tell us what side we’d be on’, and I did a slapdash job of getting them run through the chalks on our starboard side before handing them over.  Our landing into this spot was not very graceful.  Withing a few minutes though, we were securely tied up and the engine was off.  The longest (perceived) passages of our lives was officially over

cliffs of Madeira

cliffs of west Maderia

dolphins in front of Madeira

dolphin jumping at bow

cliffs of Madeira

Funchal, Madeira

M

You Might Also Like:

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

 

 

You Might Also Like:

Our $70/week grocery cart

Last week we came up in the news again in CNBC with an article and short video, looking more into the monetary side of our lifestyle.   How much did we used to make each year?, how much did we save for the trip?, and our approximate yearly budget.

One of the questions that came up was how we were able to amass the kind of savings we did in the short time we did.  My simple answer was: we chose to live frugally as soon as we knew this trip was going to happen. We stopped taking all kinds of vacations and trips, except for a weekend of camping every year for my birthday, and we cut out all unnecessary spending. Cable was cut back to just Netflix.  Dinners out with friends turned into dinners in with friends. My little shopping sprees at the mall turned into occasional visits to Plato’s Closet (a trendy second hand store if you’re not familiar with them).

One thing that has always worked to our advantage though, and still does today, is because of the fact that we are not really foodies, we’ve always been able to keep grocery costs low.  Or let me rephrase that. We do like food, and we even aappreciate well prepared meals, but we can just as easily go without them if need be.

Personally I can attribute lack of interest in extravagant foods to my life growing up. I’m not trying to throw my patents under the bus here, because I’m sure this is true for a lot of families,  but we never had real homecooked meals. With two working parents and an early dinner time (5:30), our meals were simple. Spaghetti with sauce from the can; burgers or pork chops on the grill; a hamloaf thawed cooked in the oven. Throw in a side of applesauce and a bag of microwave vegetables and dinner was complete. I never minded though. The food tasted good to me, and I always left the table with a full stomach.

Although Matt’s father prepared delicious time laboring works of art every night, he never got the food gene passed down to him. Most days he actually considers eating to be a waste of time and is still waiting for his complete daily nutrition to come in pill form.  Yet one more reason I will never get him to pick up a spatula. So, whenever we need a quick or easy way to cut our spending, food is the first thing to fall by the wayside.

Ever since we moved to Indiantown especially,  our days are so full of work and our bodies are so tired through every stage of the day, what we’re eating is usually the last thing on our mind. Don’t get me wrong, its not like we could satisfy ourselves with a bowl of gruel,  but all we really want or need at this point is something to fill up our stomachs that doesn’t taste too bad.

Let me walk you through an average day of our eating habits:

Breakfast is 90% of the time a bowl of cereal with a cup of coffee. Cream and sugar in mine, black for Matt. Once in a great while it could be a bowl of oatmeal, or if we’re out of both of those (our chosen grocery store is 20 miles away), toast.

Lunch is a ham or turkey sandwich with cheese, and some chips for snacking. On very rare occasions we might have a bowl of Kraft mac’n'cheese. Water or soda for a beverage.

Up to this point there is little to no variation to our daily eating habits. This is what goes in our stomachs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At dinner I can get a little more creative, but still try to keep total costs of ingredients under $5/night.

Some of my go-to favorites here are still hamburgers and chips; spaghetti and a meat with homemade sauce; shredded chicken tacos; and grilled pork tenderloin with baked or mashed potatoes. Sounds pretty tasty still, right? And because I did use my previous 2.5 years of cruising free time on my hands to brush up on my skills in the kitchen, they usually are. You’re still able to do that with a $70/week grocery cart?, you may ask. Yup, and that is because we have lowered ourselves to shopping at Walmart.

Not only do we make our weekly trips there, but we buy store brand as much as possible. And as much as we dislike the corporation, our wallets do appreciate the visit there.  Check out their prices of a lot of staple items we purchase.

Milk: $3.50/gallon

Malt-o-Meal cereal: $4.50 for 32 oz.

Great Value brand coffee: $6.50 for 32 oz

Loaf of bread: $0.98

Lunch meat: $3.50 for one pound

Sliced cheese: $2.25/8 oz

Potato chips: $1.85 a bag

Boneless skinless chicken breasts:1.99/lb

Ground beef: $3.50/lb

Pork tenderloin:  $2.99/lb

Flour tortillas:  $2.00 for 20

Ice cream: 3.00/gallon

Oak Leaf wine: 3.50/bottle

2 liter of soda: $0.99 for RC Cola from our local Circle K

Drinking water: $0.35 per gallon at a local filling station

We snack very little, and treats for us usually include a bowl of ice cream for Matt, and a beer or wine for me. We’re simple people with simple needs, and it has really helped us keep costs down in many areas of our lives.

Although I still really enjoy a good meal every now and then and would love to be set free in a grocery store with no budget, I’m ok with basic at the moment when it comes to food. Basic keeps the dream going. It puts miles under our keel and new stamps in our passports. So if you ask me if I’d rather have a high end meal or spend an afternoon swimming with pigs in the Bahamas, its a no brainer for me to put my culinary needs second.

I’d like to know about you though? Are your meals on board extravagant or ordinary?  What’s your favorite meal to cook on board? And most importantly, what cheap meal tips do you have for me? Jessica cooking first meal on Daze Off eating my birthday dinner   *Just a side note thatI’m without an actual laptop for 3 weeks while mine is being serviced, so I apologize for the few or off topic posts that you’ll be seeing over the next few weeks. Its hard to type out a post on my little tablet, and almost impossible to edit photos to the degree I’d like.

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: Cave Dwellers

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.

After we found out we had in fact just purchased a new boat in Florida that was now sitting around and waiting for us to come fix her up, we had to make plans to get back to the US.  Instead of trying to time a passage into Gibraltar now and into the Med, we had to set our sights on getting south to the Canary Islands where we’d make our jump back to the Caribbean.  Since that jump wouldn’t happen until November, it left us plenty of time to enjoy a few more Portuguese islands before getting on our way.

Having landed ourselves in what seemed to be the very bustling metropolis of Ponta Delgada, or at least it seemed after Horta, we spent a few days exploring on our own, and even had our first tastes of McDonald’s in three months.  A few days into our stay we ran into another American couple and soon made plans to do a little exploring of the island together.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday September 10, 2014

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:

Light Rock Climbing & Hiking at Mt. Lemmon

I somewhat feel like I’m recycling activities from my last visit from Arizona 3 years ago, but that’s only for 2 reasons.  The first is they were so great the first time around that not only would I want to do them again anyway the next chance I had, but the other reason is because Matt wasn’t there to experience them with me the first time and I wanted to be able to share in them with him.  Plus, with the visit to Mt. Lemmon on this day, it helped knocked two birds with one stone in a second way: this is another high elevation destination to escape the heat of the valley and get a little greenery in.  Remember Matt’s complaint that Arizona is all…oh, what was the color he used to describe it…adobe?; well, we were still determined to show him how colorful it could be.

The last time I made my way to Mt. Lemmon was in January of 2013, and when my dad and I happened to make the trip up after he finished with a recruitment seminar at one of the local technical schools in Tuscon, we actually found ourselves in a blizzard once we made it to the top.  A blizzard so bad that the roads threatened to close down and we were a little unsure of how his two wheel drive truck would handle the steep hairpin turns on the way back down. On this visit we were escaping Phoenix’s first 3 digit temp day, and even though it can be up to 30 degrees cooler at the top of the mountain than in the valley, snow was of no concern this time.

We enjoyed a scenic ride from Phoenix down to Tuscon, with a great drive past  the Santa Catalina mountains.  The drive through Tuscon itself was terrible though, and I feel terrible for anyone who lives, works, or goes to school there and has to traverse those roads and sit through their endless red lights on a daily basis.  All was forgotten though as soon as we picked up the road to take us to the little town of Summerhaven at the top of Mt. Lemmon.  Finding an attractive scenic overlook about half way up, we stopped the car for a few minutes of wandering.  Although Matt and I had both brought sneakers for once we reached the top, we roamed around this area in our flip flops.  Maybe not the wisest decision we could make, and for scaling a few of the rocks we actually opted to go barefoot for better traction.

Mt. Lemmon Tuscon

scenic ovelook Mt. Lemmon

overlooking Tuscon

Jessica overlooking Tuscon

Mt. Lemmon Tuscon AZ

Back in the car we began on the rest of the drive up, our necks craning to take in the view with each turn we made.  Luckily for us we were making this trip in the middle of the week and traffic was low, sine we’ve heard there can be backups for hours on busy summer weekends.  When we did reach the top it was apparent that breakfast had been hours ago, and all of our stomachs were growling and ready for lunch. I will say there aren’t many places to eat out in the town of Summerhaven, but I did remember the sweet potato tots I had as a side on my last visit to the Sawmill Run restaurant with my dad, and it was an easy choice to go back a second time.

Sitting  out on the patio we had a nice combination of sun and breeze, although the umbrella did help to keep Matt cool since he was apparently still overheating when the sun would run across his skin.  I have no idea how he’s going to survive this next summer in Florida! There were so many delicious looking choices on the menu that it was incredibly hard to make a decision, and in the end I ended up splitting a ruben with my mom and we each picked our own side.  When the food came out I couldn’t imagine trying to eat the full sandwich myself as the portions are huge!

Sawmill Run 1

Sawmill Run 2

(Photos courtesy of Sawmill Run)

Sawmill Run 3 Trip Advisor

(Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor)

Once our stomachs were full and I felt like I couldn’t even stand up, it was time for hiking!  Driving further up the road we came into a little park with a stream that had some nice trails around it.  The last time I had been up there this part of the road was closed, so it was nice to do a little more exploring this time around and actually see the place my parents keep telling me about where they sometimes pack a picnic to escape the heat of summer in Phoenix. The four of us took a stroll by the little brook, but when Matt and I decided to venture further, my parents were happy to sit back at the picnic tables and enjoy a glass of wine while we explored.

Since we opted to go off the beaten path, there were a few awkward moments of how to get over the stream in certain areas, or around big boulders that towered over us.  Thankfully we had changed into our sneakers now and staying adhered to the ground was a little bit easier.  Except in the areas which were carpeted in pine needles.  Those still sent us sliding a little bit.

After forging our own path up a ravine with thrilling views of the drop below us and forests of pines in the distance, we were feeling quite proud of ourselves.  That was, until we saw families with little kids just up ahead of us.  Every damn time!  This is just like when we climbed the Red Rock Canyon in Vegas and worried we were putting our lives in danger while getting to the top, only to find five year olds scampering past us once we reached the top.  It turns out in this case there was a much easier path we had missed in the beginning.  We had only found it half way through after basically scaling up logs and boulders.

It wasn’t a long hike for us as the trail we eventually caught onto kind of petered out into an area of dead trees which had most likely suffered from the terrible fire that ravaged parts of this town about 10 years ago.  We followed our path back, but before joining up with my parents again we took a detour up to the top of hill to see what kind of views we could gain. It turns out we liked looking down the ravine better than we liked looking across to the next hill of pine trees.  The views were still of course really nice, but we, or at least me, were craving the panoramic views of the valley below us.  Sitting back down with my parents at their picnic table I took in a few sips of Gatorade before enjoying some wine and cheese before our drive back down.  Another perfect day spent in Arizona surrounded by the people I care about most.

Matt & Jessica in Summerhaven

Summerhaven, Mt. Lemmon AZ

creek in Summerhaven

hiking in Summerhaven, Mt. Lemmon

Matt walking on boulders

 

 

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: Our Never Ending Atlantic Crossing: Aka We Bought a New Boat & We’re Headed Back to Florida

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.

So how did we get ourselves in the mess we’re currently in?  Having spent ONE YEAR now working on this boat we spotted after just arriving to Ponta Delgada in the Azores.  Had we known the project was going to be this big or take this long, we may have reconsidered, had we had all that information while we were still on the east side of the Atlantic.  Cruise the Med in a perfectly good boat that we had just gotten across an ocean?  Or take a chance on a boat that had amazing potential, but also a few defects that we knew of which would needed to be addressed in addition to the complete face lift we wanted to give her.

In the end I’m sure you can tell what we decided since we’re not currently sitting in the Greek islands or floating though Malta, but this post will help to give a better explanation of how and why we made that choice.

*Let it be noted that we still love this boat and what it will eventually become. She’ll hopefully be as wonderful to us as we’ve tried to be to her, and I envision many great seasons on her once we finally get out of here. Just with a lot more effort than what  we originally thought.

You can find the original post here.

 

dazeoff12

So it looks like after all of our hard work to get ourselves from Miami to the Azores, we will not be sailing the azul waters of the Mediterranean this year. Or next. Maybe the year after that.

This is because we are now turning our butts around and hightailing it back to Florida. What?! I know, something about that state just has a certain pull on us. We also have something waiting for us there in the form of 37 feet of aluminum hull.

But I am getting way, way ahead of myself here, let me back up a moment. First just let me say that we love Serendipity. She’s been a great boat to us and we’ve never been openly seeking to get rid of her. I just happen to be married to a man that spends a fair amount of hours cruising Yacht World, just for fun and just to see what’s out there. A little pastime of his. I have blogging…he has researching boats for sale.

We’ve known since we bought her that Serendipity would not be our forever boat, but she fit the bill for what we were looking to do at the time. A young couple that could comfortably cruise around for a few years in 34 feet. In the back of our minds though, there’s always been what we want in our next boat. The next boat will have a bigger galley (me), preferably be an aluminum hull (Matt), have more general storage (me), and have a pilot house (Matt). Plus we both agreed that an extra 8 to 10 feet would be pretty nice, something we can grow into and maybe eventually start a family on. Nothing that we needed right away, but something to keep an eye out for in case it came along.

Well, it did. While sitting in Horta, just as we were about to cast off the lines to sail the remaining 1,200 miles to Gibraltar and really begin our European cruising, my ever searching hubby came across a 48 foot aluminum boat with a pilot house sitting back in Rhode Island for a very affordable price. Introducing the idea of this new boat to me, I was a little less than enthusiastic about not only giving up on Europe, which I’m dying to see, but crossing back over the Atlantic so we can get this new boat and probably have to spend a year working in restaurants or Bed Bath & Beyond to build up the kitty again. When I say it was affordable all I mean by that is we have the money to buy it, but it would have taken up just about all of it.

This would be however, our f-o-r-e-v-e-r boat. Worth the sacrifice in the end, so I told him to go ahead and put an offer on it. A little bit of a low ball offer, and I’m not sure what I was expecting from it, maybe a big ‘eff you!’ from the current owner, but imagine my surprise when the broker came back the next day stating our offer had been accepted.

But wait? Didn’t you just say that this new boat is 37 feet and sitting in Florida? Yes, I did. Keep following along, I promise I will explain everything and it will all make sense in the end.

With this 48 foot boat we were not going to have a survey done since it was recently purchased by it’s current owner and a full survey had just been done last October. We felt comfortable that this recent survey along with a disclosure agreement from the owner, as well as a flight from Matt to view it in person, would be enough for us. When the disclosure agreement came back though we found there was corrosion by the stern tube, information that was not on the listing and we had no prior knowledge of. The current owner had already had a quote done for repairs, and with this new cost added to it we didn’t know if it was still in our budget. It was something we wanted to mull over for a few days.

Thinking about it long and hard we decided that we’d go back to the owner and say that if they were willing to lower the price to cover half the cost of repairs we’d still take it. Unfortunately the owner was quite firm on the price, especially since our initial offer was already at the bottom of what he’d be willing to sell for. We were disappointed but at the same time could understand. We thanked him and moved on. It appeared as if the Mediterranean was still in our future, but now we were two weeks even further behind. Fall weather was coming along and those last 1,200 miles were not looking too appealing. Seeing there were very high winds sitting between us in Gibraltar, we decided to break up the trip and get ourselves to Sao Miguel, an Azorean island 150 miles east of Faial.

The trip was a quick 36 hours, but still gave Matt enough time to think about this new dream boat that he was letting slip through his fingers. As soon as we pulled up to the docks in Ponta Delgada and aquired an internet signal he was online with the broker stating that we’d take the boat, corrosion and all, for the originally agreed upon price. Au contraire….., things do not always work out the way we hope. During our little sail in the Azores, other potential buyers had gone to see this boat and new offers were coming in. We found ourselves in the middle of a bidding war, and even though we had upped our previous offer by 5k, we still lost in the end.

To say that Matt was let down would be a complete understatement. The next 48 were spent with him sulking about Serendipity, lamenting how he screwed it all up. The overcast skies and rain we were getting complemented his mood perfectly. So while he was going back to his favorite pastime of hunting new boats on Yacht World, his mood cheered a little when he found a 37 foot aluminum boat with a pilot house, sitting in Florida, with a very affordable price tag. He was so hopeful and excited when he looked at me with big saucer eyes, asking if he could put an offer on it, that there was no way I could turn him down. Just to see what we could get away with though, and I think part of me still hoping that we’d make it into the Med, we put in an extremely low offer of ten thousand less than the asking price.

This broker was very quick and efficient and within a few hours we had a counter offer splitting the difference between the two. The big saucer eyes turned me to again. I knew it was all over. Just like when Matt knew we’d be coming home with a cat the moment we walked into the rescue shelter in Georgia two years ago, I knew we’d be heading back to Florida with a new project boat on our hands.

Ok, now for the details! Our new boat is of French design, a custom built Trisalu 37, built in Quebec in 1983. It’s a shoal draft cutter that has a center board with a draft of 7′, but when raised we’ll be down to 3’6”. Something that will be great for the Caribbean. One of the things Matt likes best about it is the deck salon, and was a big selling point for us. There’s been recently replaced sails and engine, but there are definitely areas that need work as well. We’ll be going through and replacing all the wires and hoses, and transferring over some random items from Serendipity, like the water maker. To see a list of all her features, check the link here.

This new purchase is definitely going to be a project boat for us. As Matt likes to say, it’s basically going to be a gut and rebuild. But we’ll be able to make it exactly how we want it, so I think it will be worth all the time and the effort in the end.

So what does all this mean for Serendipity? She’ll be coming back to Florida with us where she’ll promptly be put up for sale. The plan is to get ourselves to the Canary Islands shortly, spend a few months exploring them, and then depart in December or January with a planned landfall of St. Martin. From there we’ll do a bit of quick island hopping on our way north, hopefully still making visits to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, skipping the Bahamas, and getting ourselves to the new boat sometime in March.

This is definitely a huge change in plans for us, which is why I told Matt that I’m never making plans again. They just never happen. So if you ask what we’re going to do when this new boat is ready to cruise, I really couldn’t tell you. We might hang around the Caribbean or we might do another Atlantic crossing, finally seeing Europe. I don’t think we’ll know until we’re out on the water and we’ll see how we feel at that point. I do know however that this extra time back in the States will allow us a visit out to my parents in Arizona (who I haven’t seen in almost two years!!), possibly a visit back to Michigan to see friends and family there, but best of all, a chance to cruise with our boating besties, Jackie and Ron of Skelton Crew, who should be arriving in Florida with their boat just as we’ll be getting ready to toss off our lines. And isn’t that worth going back for just in itself?

dazeoff1

dazeoff6

dazeoff7

dazeoff8

dazeoff09 dazeoff

 

 

You Might Also Like:

Pure, Simple Beauty; In Mountains & Wood Watches

Its no surprise that part of the draw of visiting  Arizona is for it’s mountainous landscape.  It’s rare you’ll find a flat piece of land here, and even if you happen to be in one of it’s few valleys, you’re never far from a spectacular view of peaks in the distance.  Vacationing over from one of the flattest states in the US, these sights were a welcome change from the horizontal grounds we’ve been living in for the past year.

One of the exceptional things about all the ridges and sierras we’ve seen so far is not only how beautiful they are, but how simple they are in their beauty.  There’s nothing flashy or flamboyant about them, yet they are so mesmerizing you can’t take your gaze away.  One of nature’s best canvases unfolded in front of our eyes.  No bells and whistles needed, just pure, simple beauty.

Not only have we noticed this trait about the vistas around us, but also from our new JORD watches.  This is a company we’ve worked with before, who offer unique timepieces made from wood.  Directed at those who lead an experiential lifestyle, this company is all about individuality and a touch of natural elegance and practicality in their products. It’s hard not to find yourself getting lost in the wide series of time keepers offered through their site.

When they contacted us to work with them again, we jumped at the chance.  There’s already been so many compliments to our first set of watches that I couldn’t wait to grow our collection.  This time around, Matt picked the Fieldcrest  in Dark Sandalwood, a choice that he almost went with last year.  Since I’ve recently fallen in love with maple after we’ve begun using it for the counters and floors in the new boat, I selected the Ely Series in Maple.

If both of our watches have one thing in common, along with these astounding mountain views, is they are also pure and simple in their beauty but uncommon enough to make you turn your head with a second glance which turns into a long gaze as you try to pinpoint what it is about it’s simplicity that makes it so fascinating.  The oiled woods themselves are gorgeous and the faces bring your eye in with their intricate markings.

I’ve already begun pairing mine with as many outfits as I can, and whenever Matt slides his up his wrist I can’t help but blurt out, “That looks so good on you”.  I’m sure we’ll receive just as many compliments on our new set of watches, and who knows, maybe we’ll keep our collection going!

Back to our original subject though….  Although it would be almost impossible for me to write posts on all the marvelous sights we took in and stops we’ve made with our time in Arizona, I thought I could at least put together something on our favorite landscapes during our time here, and also sneak in a few photos of our impressive new watches.  Included will be a few tidbits about each stop, although you’ve already read about our first one to Payson.

Rim of Payson, AZ

JORD Fieldcrest & Ely

Another great stop on our visit to Arizona was Sedona.  Famous for it’s notable red sandstone formations, this area is a must see for anyone passing through the state. Taking a run over to Cathedral Rock, one of the most photographed sites in Arizona, we were able to get a wide assortment of amazing photos as Matt and I scaled the steep rock.

I’m saving this destination for a full post, but here’s a few snippets of the day.

Cathedral Rock Sedona

JORD Ely in Sedona

Cathedral Rock Sedona AZ

Cathedral Rock, Sedona

In the middle of the week we took off from the house to view some of the best ‘close to home’ sights.  Things that weren’t more than a 30 minute drive away.  A place I had visited before but wanted to see again was Fountain Hills, just outside of Scottsdale.  Every hour on the hour, there is a  large fountain in the center of a pond that will shoot up 560 feet in the air, the fourth tallest fountain in the world!

Filled with playgrounds for kids and shaded picnic tables for the adults, its a great place to pack a snack and a few drinks to sit and relax before or after the big show.  Or if you stay long enough, you get the chance to see it over and over again.

Fountain Hills, AZ

Fountain Hills, Arizona

On this busy local day of ours, we also made a stop at Saguaro Lake.  Just 20 miles outside of Mesa, this is a reservoir on Salt River that becomes a very popular spot for locals once the temperatures start going up.  We’ve heard that if you try to get in here on a weekend during the summer, there can be a wait of an hour just to find a spot in the parking lot.

Getting a close up look at this lake, we could see why it’s such a popular haunt for anyone looking for time on the water in the middle of this desert.  The water was extremely clear, and dipping a toe into it, was refreshingly cool.  With the impressive mountains that drape as a backdrop, it’s the best of both worlds as you cool off from the heat and take in the bouldered landscape.

Saguaro Lake, AZ

JORD Fieldcrest

Saguaro Lake

The drive home took us back to the outlook we visited our first day here, overlooking the Superstition Mountains.  Because the sun had been in our eyes and blinding us a little during our first visit, we thought we might get  better views by stopping once more in the afternoon.  By this time the sun was resting behind us and highlighting the mountains much better.  We could clearly see Salt River winding in front of us, and fly fishers wading through.

We’d heard that tubing season on the river just opened, and although it was the middle of the week, you could see the stray person here or there floating through the water.  Another great spot to cool oneself in this climate while enjoying breathtaking views. In the distance we could just make out Four Peaks, another recognizable landmark for it’s 4 peaks, which also grace the state’s license plate.

Superstition Mountains, AZ

Four Peaks, AZ

 The last extra local sight we took in was one I had been begging my dad to bring me around to after I’d seen an amazing photo of it online, and that was Red Rock.  Originally he’d told me that there were no good roads leading up to it and the closest you’d actually see it was from the expressway.  Luckily for me, as we were taking a county road home one evening we found a park that offered xx views from just across a small river.

Pulling into the parking lot, we wandered up to the waters edge and caught a few glimpses just as the sun was starting to go down.  This is still one of my favorite sights of the trip, and coming upon this park was a complete act of Serendipity.

Red Rock, AZ

Red Rock, AZ

A special note from JORD, right now they are offering a special $25 e-gift card toward any purchase!  Sign up for yours with just your name and email address here and have yours sent over.  You’d better hurry though, supplies are limited, and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

JORD Ely Maple

You Might Also Like:

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

9.6.14 (3)

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.

9.6.12 (1)

9.6.14 (2)

9.6.14 (4)

9.6.14 (5)

9.6.14 (6)

9.6.14 (7)

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.

9.6.14 (8)

9.6.14 (9)

9.6.14 (10)

You Might Also Like: