Botanical Garden in Horta


DSC06507 We walked about 2 miles from marina in Horta to the area’s Botanical garden.  Some of these plants were along the way, most in the gardens.  Apparently there are 70 plants native to Faial, and over 900 are “invasive” or transplants from elsewhere.  The hydrangeas were apparently brought over and started by the Japanese about 150 years ago.  The above tree is a huge Dragon tree.

DSC06512 DSC06520 Bridge over creek bed in Gardens.DSC06523Holly endemic to AzoresDSC06529 Forget me notsDSC06531 DSC06535 FuchsiaDSC06536 CamelliaDSC06538 Begonia’s growing in volcanic rockDSC06540 OrchidDSC06541 OrchidsDSC06542 Orchid

DSC06544 DSC06548 Invasive tropicals in garden pool area


Wall art in Horta, Faial, Azores, 2015


Well, we are at it again!  Here is our wall art in Horta, Faial.  This insignia is a similar design as to what we have on our mainsail, so we are using it as our “Trademark”!!



Geoff and Marie!


DSC06492 Our “Trademark”!!

Wall art that follows is from the many found on any available wall space in the area!  They even use rocks to draw their masterpieces on!

DSC06604 A boat with a TV series on travel (we met the couple and they were very nice!)  This is a link to their website so you can check them out.

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Geronimo is a 70 ft sailboat, that is from St. George’s boarding school in RI and takes groups of kids sailing to different areas. Next groups sail to Barcelona, then Greece. We have enjoyed spending time with people on Geronimo.

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DSC06610Everybody likes this Dory one!

Les Sables to Horta to Les Sables Regatta

DSC06494The Les Sables to Horta and back race is 2450 miles back and forth across the Atlantic and takes about 4-8 days each way.  The race apparently is held every 2 years.  This one began June 28, 2015 in France.  The 8 racers came in to our marina, starting July 5th, and lined up across from where we are tied up in the marina, as seen above (Steve is to the left of one of the racers).  These are Class 40 racers-sleek, multiple sails, built for speed and racing!!

DSC06495 Leaving our marina, and heading for starting area.

DSC06496As seen from our cockpit area!DSC06498 Passing next to us in the marinaDSC06499Heading out to the starting lineDSC06501The race is on back to Les Sables, France!  LeConservateur won both legs of the race.

Whaling regatta in Horta, Faial, Azores

DSC06471 The Whaling regatta was held in the area between Faial and Pico, but began near our marina.  The whaling heritage is still strong here, so the boats have been restored for sport, and the hunting has been replaced with whale watching.   Whaling in this area stopped in the 1980’s.

DSC06472 Crew person on far right actually holding the tiller, no motors during these races. The crew in central area used oars to reach towing area.

DSC06473Congregating in Horta marina areaDSC06477Starting to line up for raceDSC06479 They are being towed behind each other to the starting area.

DSC06480Still being towed but once sails are up and boats in position, the tow is dropped, they sound the horn and they are off.  The last 2 boats had terrible wind advantage and looked like they gave up and just sailed around without actually ever getting in the race.  Apparently it is a sails only race!  Fun to watch!

Our wall art in Flores

It is a tradition in the Azores for visiting yachts to paint their names on the concrete walls of the marina.  A lot of boats pass through here – some on their way across the Atlantic and some just come out from Europe or the UK, stay awhile, and then return.  The walls are covered with the names of yachts from around the world.  We were encouraged to add our name to the wall, and we did.  We painted this before we left Flores, so we are now a permanent part of the Flores, Azores marina!



Geoff and Marie Knowers, friends  from Seabrook marina


Tour of Horta

On July 3rd, we drove around the island of Faial as pure tourists!  Our first stop was getting pictures of the view of the Horta marina, where we are staying at the present time.  The marina is much bigger then Flores, with ferry and large ship traffic in the outer piers.  Very crowded marina, often requiring “Rafting” up next to another boat (boats side by side).  We chose not to anchor in the center for ease of getting around town.


We then drove to the “Caldeira do Faial”, a vast crater in the center of the island which is the extinct volcano from which this island originated.  It was surrounded in mist from the clouds.

DSC06371 DSC06372 Mileage signs near caldeira.

DSC06379Topographic map showing picture with no mist in center of Caldeira.

DSC06403 ChurchDSC06409 Laura in front of HIGH hydrangea/flower hedge!


Black sand beach with great waves!


Laura on black sand beach.  VERY HOT to stand on with bare feet, but the water cooled that easily!


DSC06432 Lighthouse that was partially covered by volcanic eruptions in “Capelinhos” in1957-58.  The eruption added 2.4KM in area to this western area of the island and displaced 2000 people at that time.

DSC06437 Mid section of volcanic area with lighthouse in background.


East side of volcanic eruption.


West section of Volcano with small archDSC06462 Steve, at top of lighthouse, in front of trail we hiked directly behind him on volcanic ridge.

DSC06469At the end of our drive, this is the View of island of Pico, from coast of Faial, highest mountain in all of Portugal.

It was a very enjoyable day!

Things that worked, things that didn’t

For our sailor friends, I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about all the upgrades we did in preparation for leaving Texas, and how they worked out.  In general, most things worked very well.  But not everything…

First, the Home Runs.

Solar panels – We have three 140 Watt Kyocera panels with a Blue Sky 3024iL MPPT controller.  On sunny days the panels completely meet our energy needs, even underway.  The highest energy consumption is underway since you have the same loads as at anchor (refrigeration, freezer, lights, fans, etc.) plus instruments and radar. The nav lights pretty much equal the draw of the anchor light, so no increase there.  If we have the wind vane steering, our batteries stay over 95% capacity.  Sitting here in the marina we only use shore power for hot water and use the panels for everything else.  At 8:30 AM we are producing 7 Amps of current and it will max out at 30 Amps near noon.  Coupled with our new Lifeline 900Ah AGM batteries, it is a great system!

Storage upgrades – My buddy Ed Lowry did a couple of projects to help with storage on the boat.  The biggest was the addition of three large drawers where the washer/dryer was originally located.  This gave us a lot of storage for canned goods, hardware, and tool bags below.  He also built shelves in one of the hanging lockers to greatly increase clothing storage (we really didn’t need three large hanging lockers for clothing).  Finally, he built a really nice teak trash bin which perfectly fits the available space to maximize trash capacity.  It has a tight-fitting lid to minimize odors.  On the trip across the Atlantic, we filled this bin twice and had no trash smell in the galley.  A big thanks to Ed!

Instruments and AIS – We have Simrad instruments, autopilot, and radar with a Si-tex AIS.  First off, the Simrad and Si-tex components work together seamlessly.  We bought the Si-tex unit since it was so much cheaper than the one from Simrad, and we are very happy with it.  For those who have not used AIS, I will tell you that at night it is invaluable for maneuvering anywhere near ships and commercial traffic.  I have trouble estimating distances at night and the AIS takes all guesswork out of it.  Ships appear on the chart plotter as triangles, and, since the chart plotter is a touch screen, all you do is touch the triangle to select the target, hit one button, and you have the name of the vessel, it’s heading and speed, and radio call sign.  The unit utilizes our speed and heading along with the target’s to calculate the closest point of approach and what time that will occur.  This is incredibly useful when you can’t tell for sure how close you are going to get to ship at night.  Even better, it broadcasts OUR information so other ships see us as well.  This greatly increases our visibility to ships and makes sure we show up on their displays.  We talked to a couple of the ships via radio and they were very professional and responsive to us.  It seems to be SOP that they maintain one and a half miles distance from other vessels to prevent collisions.  Fine with me!

Remote mic for the VHF – I got this idea when I saw one of these installed on my buddy Bob’s boat.  For anyone who is still on the fence as to whether to install one of these, I highly recommend it.  It is extremely convenient when talking to marinas, conversing with other boats, and, when in the ICW, talking to the lock masters.

Wifi Booster – We installed a Mikrotic Groove router that I bought from Island Time  and it has been great.  While at anchor in St. George, Bermuda we paid for one week of internet access from one of the sail lofts that caters to cruisers.  They were shocked to learn we had great signal as far away as we were anchored.  One rainy afternoon we streamed a movie to pass the time.  Here in Flores we have free wifi and the booster really brings in the datons.  It has really made life more convenient having internet access readily available.

85 lb Mantus Anchor – This thing grabs the bottom like no tomorrow.  We used it from Texas, through the ICW, then on to Florida.  When we left Florida we disassembled it and stowed it in the cockpit locker to keep it off the bow in case we hit heavy seas.  Boy, was that a good move!  The trip to Bermuda was rough and we had days of 20 knot winds and 6-8 foot seas on the nose.  The bow was repeatedly buried and that big Mantus may well have come adrift.  Being able to stow it was a big plus.  It will stay in the locker until Portugal, when it will once again become our primary anchor.

Icom M802 SSB radio and P4 Dragon modem – I have been using the radio for talking with Chris Parker (the weather guy), chatting with other folks, sending and receiving e-mail while underway, and downloading weather faxes.  All of this proved to be very useful.  Connecting to the servers for e-mail takes a little trial and error, and I discovered I have some electrical interference between my Simrad instruments and the radio.  Still working on solving the noise problem.  I actually had to read the directions of the Sail Mail manual in order to receive weather faxes.  After reading, it took me all of ten minutes to start the download.  It’s pretty easy!

Tasco stove – we replaced our aging Force Ten before leaving Seabrook and are very happy with it.  Laura gives me big hugs and kisses every night and tells me how much she loves me for installing it.

Qualified successes

Wind vane – We installed a Scanmar Autohelm wind vane before leaving.  For those not familiar with it, this is a trim tab unit which utilizes a separate auxiliary rudder.  The process is to first balance the boat as well as you can using sails alone and then let the wind vane handle the final steering.  Orontes II balances very well, so this was not difficult to do.  We promptly named her Wendy, and she has steered over 1000 miles so far.  She does a great job close hauled and on a reach, and we are still working out how to use her on a broad reach.  The only downfall is that it has been hard to keep the cables properly tensioned.  After a few hundred miles of usage, the cables slip through the clamps to the point that the unit no longer steers at all.  I worked on this several times underway, perched up on the davits and hanging out above the solar panels.  Yes, I wore my inflatable pfd while doing this, and only in daylight with other people in the cockpit to watch me.  I think I finally have it fixed and am looking forward to the next few legs while in the Azores to test her out.

AC power system – I installed a Charles Marine isolation transformer and it works great.  Since Europe (and the Azores) are 230 Volt, all I had to do was rearrange two small jumpers inside the transformer to give me 120 Volts for the boat.  Once I emptied the cockpit locker to give me access, it took all of ten minutes.  Where I messed up was by not preparing a european shore power cord.  I should have brought about 75 feet of 3/c #14 SOW cord to make my new shore power cord.  This would be a lot smaller, lighter, and more flexible than the big, bulky cords I have now.  In Europe, since the voltage is double the US voltage, the current is half, so you can use smaller power cords.  I just never thought about it before leaving the US.  Everything on the boat seems to at least tolerate 50 Hz power, with the exception of our air conditioner.  Even though it is rated for 50/60Hz it doesn’t work very well.  We didn’t give it a very long test so I will continue to try this to see if it improves.

Swings and misses

Bow roller extension – Our two bow anchors are the 85 lb Mantus and a 60 lb CQR.  These two are both very large and they interfere with each other when both are stowed.  There just is not enough room for both of them with them rubbing against each other.  Some of my friends advised me to dump the CQR, but I want two anchors and I think the CQR is a good one.  I did remove the 75 lb unit since it was too large, but I kept the 60 lb anchor.  To keep the CQR and Mantus separate, I installed a bow extension to keep the Mantus farther forward and separate it from the CQR.  This way, instead of having two big anchors sitting side by side, I had one about 16 inches forward of the other.  Well, this didn’t work at all.  There may be a way to weld an extension in place, but trying to bolt one on is just not rigid enough for the loads involved.  I removed the bow extension before leaving Louisiana.

Hawsepipe for secondary anchor rode – To go with that second anchor on the bow, I needed a way to get the rode down below to the chain locker.  My solution was to cut a hole in the deck and install an oval hawsepipe with a hinged cover to keep out water.  I located the hawsepipe aft of the windlass, and could not think of a way to drain the locker.  I actually drilled a drain hole for this area but it was so low (actually in the boot stripe!) that it let in a LOT of water while under way.  Luckily I found this out while still in Texas.  I plugged it and just resolved to try and not let water get below when retrieving the anchor.  Well, this didn’t work at all.  While pounding into those seas on the way to Bermuda, we had sheets of water going over the bow.  The cover for that hawsepipe does nothing to keep out green water; it is only good for keeping out rainwater.  So we had lots of water pouring down into the chain locker with each wave that swept the foredeck.   When the chain locker was full of water, it started overflowing into the vee berth and soaked our mattress.  The water then started draining into all those big lockers UNDER the mattress.  It was an awful mess.  In Bermuda it took us days to remove everything from these lockers and clean and dry them.  Some things were ruined, like our space heaters we had bought for use in Europe.  Laura’s sewing machine may or may not be a fatality; we are still working on it.  I don’t think I lost any tools to rust, but we will see.  To fix this I now have a drain for the forepeak that comes down to the bilge.  I also taped the hawsepipe with duct tape before the trip across the Atlantic.  So far, no more water down below.

That’s it for now.  In summary, most of our upgrades and equipment additions have worked out great.  A few are still works in progress and I have more left to do.  I’ll let you know how things work out.