Sunday, 28 June 2015

Back in the UK

Just a quickie to say that Scrumpy got me back safe and sound after a long slow but gentle sail back, with no damage or drama.

The boat is coming out the water tomorrow so we can repair the hull and give the whole thing a lick of paint before a relaunch and a trip to France. So pretty busy, but I should have time in the next few days for a longer post about the return trip.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Leaving Horta

The work on the rudder went well, and I made two halves that I could epoxy around the straightened steel post:

The workshop was a very pleasant place to be working. Sylvia would always run rather than walk, everywhere. Full of energy. She ran the office, and created the finer bits of woodwork. Her Dad usually worked in the building next door, slicing trees. Her mother, a 60 odd year old in a broad-brimmed straw hat worked in the area between, shoving beams through a thicknesser and planer. I once looked up and saw her pull a 10-12' beam 2" thick and 2' wide from the thicknesser, swing it round and shove the other side in. I think I'd have struggled to lift it. And here's a thing I found in a corner of the workshop, something Sylvia's Dad made in his spare time - a go-cart made from a cast iron bath!

On my last day at the workshop, I got a small pile of money from the hole in the wall to pay for all the use of all these tools and the space, and the help Sylvia's Dad have given me using his moulding machine to cut the round groove to take the steel work. But they wouldn't accept more than 20 euros!

Back at the boat, I glued the two halves of rudder round the post, with a layer of double diagonal glass in the middle. I then laminated it, painted it with hi-build epoxy, and once that was dry, put it into a black plastic bag and lay it in the sun to post-cure the epoxy.

I had time while the epoxy was hardening to stock up with grub. What a selection available here, and cheap, compared to Bermuda and the Bahamas! There was a large bag of strawberries too, but they tasted too good for their own good, and they didn't make it back to the boat.

I figured one thing Sylvia and her parents didn't have at the workshop was a decent brush and shovel, so I returned one last time to give them a present and show my appreciation of their kindness. Sylvia was delighted, and her mother stood in the doorway of the workshop in her straw hat blowing me kisses as I made my way out of the yard.

Sure, there are grand views in Faial, like the top of the volcano in the middle of the island - an 8 mile walk from the boat:

but it's the people I'll remember most fondly.

So, the forecast is fine, the rudder is re-built, food and water is loaded, and tomorrow morning, I lift the anchor and set off on the final leg of this journey. This last island has proved to be one of the most memorable of the whole trip. I'll keep my Azores pilot guide, and I hope to make it back here some time.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Onwards to Faial, Horta, with half of the recommended rudders.

The wind remained in the east for a couple more days, and there was nothing we could do to repair either the hull or the rudder, so we went on a hike around the north west of Flores.

Going up
Scrumpy still anchored - not on the shore again!
There's so much up, it's hard to believe.
Reaching a road didn't make things easier.

At the top, moss two feet deep dripping very drinkable water.

The view after we'd crossed the top, and begun the climb down another cliff back to Faja Grande.

 At last the east wind died. We decided Horta in Faial, 130 miles away, might be the best place to repair the rudder and we set off with a very light westerly. I put both daggerboards fully down to assist the autopilot. I experimented with the boards up, but the autopilot then caused the boat to zigzag quite wildly. I DO need a second rudder to get home!

Faial, with Pico behind it.
I was glad to have a huge and nearly empty harbour to anchor in, manoeuvrability not being Scrumpy's strong point with one small engine on one side, and only one rudder.

After a day's resting and sampling the supermarket which had a stunning (to me) range of food at prices I could afford, and sitting in bars where buying a drink was a simple option, not a financial commitment as in Bermuda or the Bahamas, I pulled the rudder out of the locker (I only had to undo 2 bolts to completely detach the rudder and put it away - a good argument for the value of stern hung rudders!)

I smashed the damaged wood from the steel, looked up a steel worker on noonsite and arranged to meet him the following morning. For the timber, I bypassed the carpenters that were recommended and walked to the sawmill up the hill. They agreed to cut me some strips of wood I could epoxy together and then form the rudder shape from the resulting plates. In the UK, asking when such a job might be done often entails some sucking off teeth, and a great deal of humming and harring, and the answer being a speculative time next week. Maybe. Here in little Horta, the answer was, this afternoon. They'd email me, and deliver the wood to a bar near the boat.

I glued the wood together easily and the next day found it very hard to plane - though I'd sharpened the plane well, I didn't really have a good place even to hold it for planing. I emailed Sylvia at the timber place to see how they could help. Come up and see us was the answer, and so we climbed the hill again with the wood and the now straightened steel and drawings and measurements.

In the workshop, a bench was set up for me, and on the shelf behind, an electric planer, a sander, a jigsaw, a drill, a router - everything I could have wished for. I was delighted. I've made few recommendations in this blog. But should you need any woodwork doing in Horta, I strongly recommend:

Manuel Garcia Borges & Costa , Lda.
Produção e Venda de Madeiras
Zona Industrial de Santa Bárbara - Angústias
N.I.F. : 512025517
Apartado 127 - 9900-408 Horta , Faial - Açores
Telefone : 292.292.586 Fax : 292.292.586

I'd have given you a link, but there's no website I can find. Listen, these people (one family as far as I can tell) are so good and so pleasant to deal with, you'll not only get your woodwork done but you'll come away with an increased appreciation of the human race. You people who arrive in Horta with no broken woodwork to fix - I pity you!

Between rudder fixing work, we invited our rescuers from Flores - who had also sailed to Horta - to dinner. I thought some fish might be nice, and the harbour being very clean I set about fishing. Right away, I caught a big mackerel. This was very nice, but not enough, so I carried on fishing, but got just a few bites and no more catches. A little disappointed, we went to the supermarket to buy more fish. But first I filleted the mackerel and put the fillets out of reach of the gulls. The head and spine, I almost threw overboard, but remembering the shark that had eaten the remains of our big dorado in the Bahamas, I put hook though it's head and lowered it to the bottom. Just out of curiosity.

When we came back from the supermarket, I went to pull in the line. The wind had turned, and so had the boat, and it felt like the hook had caught in the anchor line. Since my fishing line is 100lb breaking strain, I just continued pulling. Our neighbours wee laughing - they too assumed I'd hooked the anchor line and were amused to see me pull the boat along using a rod and reel. However:

it was the biggest stingray I'd ever seen. Sorry, the photo isn't that brilliant, but it was a lot of work to hold the fish near the surface and to shoot with the camera. That's the mackerel head by the ray's snout. The hook was through the tip of its nose, so it was quite easy to unhook it, and I doubt it came to any harm. That was certainly the biggest fish I ever caught, and I don't mind if I never catch anything bigger.