Sunday, 21 August 2011

Teceira Part 2 -16 to 30 July 2011

Angra Town Hall

After my friends on Rona left for Flores I stayed on a few days in Angra to enjoy a little more of this attractive city.It has an impressive Town Hall with some furniture that caught my eye. Maybe not to my taste but well made and clearly barley twists were the in thing when they were made. There was a small exhibition of photographs of the ancient oxe cart tracks on the island. The iron clad wheels cut deep channels in the bassalt rock.
Oxe Cart Tracks

Door in the Library

Tiles in Library Stairwell


Balconies are a common feature

70 year old Biscuito wine stored in a shop roof-not for sale

Angra marina

They decided to give the troops from the nearby fort some air experience,closed the marina for a couple of hours and ferried them from the dock. Tax payers and EU contributors got a chance to see where their money goes.

Shop's logo built in to Pavement

The shop has it's name and logo built into the pavement. Not a bad idea to catch the eye.

Moving round the 15 nm to Praia da Vitoria was a pleasant afternoon sail where I dropped anchor for the night. The next day an alongside berth was offered and the cost at this municipal marina is very low. Friends in the UK who occasionally drift into a marina may have trouble believing it is 6.5 Euros per day, elctricity and water included for a 12 metre yacht.

I was keen to visit the marina as I plan to lift out here in Oct for the winter. As in so many enterprises it is not what you know but who you know that is important. My research indicated that it would be next to impossible to organise a lift out without the assistance of Pedro so I was very keen to make his aquaintance. He turnd out to be knowledgeable ,friendly and business -like so I now feel reassured the ducks are in line for my liftout and not too much will be left to chance. And for my yachtie friends in the UK let me just say the over winter rates are so low it would have serious health repercussions if I were to divulge them.

Praia da Vitoria has some fine examples of pavement and wall art. It boasts a long sandy beach with a recently completed promenade getting on for a mile long with cycle track and lots of benches. I was interested to see good citizens of the town are commemorated with tile cameos on walls around the town.

Main Street Praia da Vitoria

If you were drunk and walked along these nice wavy lines would you think they were straight?

Praia da Vitoria Beach

Jester in Praia da Vitoria Marina
You would have to be a true devotee of the class to do an Atlantic circuit in this one. No cockpit-you steer from inside. The owner had no time for anything other than his beloved Jester and he was at great pains to be sure you understood what a remarkable vessel it was. I realised too late showing an interest in it would cost me a great deal of time if I was to avoid offending him.


Monday, 8 August 2011

Kari Blackmore-An extraordinary Woman of the Sea

One of the great delights of cruising is the people you meet. The majority are wonderful company sharing a common interest and these encounters are often intense because everyone knows that they are all too often brief and you have to make the most of them. Once in a while someone exceptional appears and Harold La Borde was one I wrote about. Kari Blackmore is an extraordinary woman and so I devote an entry in my blog to her.

I first encountered her in Antigua where her yacht Zahlia was anchored not far from Plane Song. She was noticeable not because she was a rare female solo sailor but because she effortlessly rowed a small dinghy quite a distance to shore and always hauled it out at night. I met her again in the Azores in Horta, then in Velas and later in Praia da Vitoria where I had time to learn more about her achievements. She is modest about them and the story has to be gently prised from her.

Before sailing became central to her life she worked as a cook in London and Porto Santo, Madeira. During her back-packing days she travelled extensively. She casually mentioned that she had cycled around Thailand as though this was nothing out of the ordinary.

In the Cape Verdes she met Jean-Yves, a French sailor and after both had separately crossed the Atlantic they decided to circumnavigate in Jean-Yves' 32 foot steel yacht. Kari sold her yacht in Trinidad. They spent 6 years sailing round the world. This experience helped her formulate her ideas when she decided to have her own yacht. She commissioned the hull of a Wylo 32 foot steel gaffer from a yard in Penryn which by good fortune was familiar with the design, having built two previously.

Fitting out a yacht myself taught me the perils of such an enterprise. That Kari achieved this in two years with no previous training in the skills needed, whilst living aboard, is a considerable feat. To have designed and built in all the features her previous sailing had taught her were important adds another dimension to this remarkable achievement. There isn't enough space to include them all but I mention a couple to give the flavour.

Water inside a steel hull is to be avoided at all costs. To ensure she could easily replenish fresh water from an anchorage, her domestic supply is held in carriable plastic containers, each with its own secure storage compartment. The one in use slots under the double sink unit, located on the centre line to ensure good drainage and is hand pumped to the sink.  Fool proof and well suited to someone who prefers to be at anchor.

 Stowing anchor chain is something of a compromise on many yachts. In most cases the sea water and muck that comes with raising the anchor finds its way into the bilges which on a steel boat is a potentially serious problem. Kari's solution is to have a large robust plastic container positioned under the chain pipe. The bottom has a skin fitting and a pipe leads to a container where the salt water is collected. Because the chain container is very accessible, rinsing the chain with fresh water is simlicity itself. Nothing enters the bilge.

These are but two of the sensible and practical ideas she has built into her unique yacht. Everywhere you look above and below deck there is some very practical solution to make the yacht safer and more easily handled. Astonishingly, she also made most of the rigging and all of the sails, not to mention the upholstery and her own clothes.  Being a traditional gaffer, Zahlia has some 30 blocks-no prizes for guessing who made them. Oh, and that nice little dinghy,a Nymph design, was built by Kari.

Fore Hatch-hinged from front or back

Forward View from Galley

Full Size Chart Table

During my stay in Velas, I met Jim and Becky, a wonderful couple from the Shetlands.  They organised a musical evening and invited Kari, who plays a penny whisle. Jim is a talented fiddle player and Becky is learning to accompany him with a concertina. Kari played really well and it was a delight to listen to live music again. I then discovered Kari is entirely self-taught. I'm wondering what she will turn her hand to next! Whatever it is she will be the master of it.

I'm not sure I have captured the essence of this remarkable,energetic and likeable character but I am grateful to her for allowing me the opportunity to try.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Terceira-July 2011-Part 1

Arriving in Angra do Heroismo, to have your warps secured by a seriously attractive woman and then be treated to a breakfast of scrambled eggs is not a bad way to begin your stay in this World Heritage city. The marina wasn't here when I anchored in the harbour in 1998 with my son Daniel. I think the build shows a degree of sensitivity to fit with it surroundings and I am pleased they retained a good piece of the beach.

By comparison with Horta and Velas, Angra paving is not quite so good but their Cathedral, churches and public buildings are much grander.

The stem cell reseach scientist and mathematician, Jim and Becky, are the couple who welcomed me on arrival at the visitors pontoon and you would be very hard pressed to find a more interesting and lovely couple. Certainly I have not on my travels. They did what I did in my Contessa 12 years ago -popped over in their Rival 34 s/v Rona from the Shetlands to enjoy a bit of sun in the Azores. In reality they had a bit of a testing time but came through smiling and the better sailors for the experience no doubt.

I had got to know them in Velas and was so fortunate to continue to enjoy their company. We prepared each other some memorable meals and swapped stories over extended night caps. An early event we shared was the bull running.

The 5 smartly turned out guys try to prevent serious injury to the few brave souls who encourage the bull to go for them. He doesn't need much encouragement as he has been cooped up in a transit box, had brass caps screwed on his horns and ropes tied around his neck, none of which are good for his temper. In any case he's probably done this a few times before and is keen to toss a few of these 2 legged creatures dancing around in front of him. Videos played in shops and cafes show scenes where people are tossed about, some pretty badly hurt.

I like the picture of the 5 restrainers leaping over the fence just in time!

Our next adventure was a tour of the island by scooter which I reckon is the best way to see the countryside and is less economically challenging. Jim led the way as Becky could navigate from the  back so I had an easy ride. From behind Becky looked rather like ET and I could see the reaction of guys sitting around at the roadside-a lot of heads tuned in unison as we passed!

The wine museum at Biscoitos was interesting with artifacts that showed how wine was made locally. The stone vat in the picture was hand carved from the solid as were the cone shaped pressing weights. Vines were grown in small enclosures protected by stone walls and ground warmth retained with bassalt stones.

In the same museum there was an example of rope made from whale ligament demostrating that nothing from the whale was wasted.

Not far from the volcano we visited in the centre of the island was an area of steam vents. I found this active demonstration of being on top of the Atlantic Ridge a reminder of the earthquake I experienced in Horta in 1998. It made entering the volcano a little disconcerting but the staff told me that there were no rock falls there during the large quake that severely damaged Angra in the 1980s.
The tour took in some recommended view points and other features that caught our eyes. A wonderful experience.

The harbour in view is Praia do Vitoria where I will lift out for the winter in October. Some view!


Hedges and stone walls to protect the crops .

It was very tough to say good bye to Jim and Becky who had been such wonderful companions-they say grown men don't cry-well I've got news for you! They sailed to Flores and on the way saw Northern Bottlenose Whales.