Azores to Lagos

25th June – 38*32’.25 N – 028*36’.85 W

It was great to be finally under way. We said our goodbyes to my Dad and Nita and pulled away from our berth. We raised the main in the harbour with one reef as it looked a little breezy out.

As soon as we had cleared the harbour it became a little rough with a wind against current situation. We set our genoa and made good progress for a little while under the acceleration zone of Faial but as soon as we were five miles out it dies and we had to resort to motoring, which we did not mind as the views were stunning of Pico and the surrounding islands.

We had noodles for dinner as there was quite a swell and our stomachs were trying to get used to being at sea again.

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26th June – 38*32’.11 N – 27*34.’72 W

 It was to be a day of motoring. The evening passed by beautifully and we passed close by the SE side of Sao Jorge. There were two yachts out, us being one of them. The scenery was so beautiful but very much an Azores sight, with lush green islands blanketed in white cloud amongst a deep blue sea.

We were aware that we would have to motor through the Azores high and we believed we had enough fuel to get us through this but things were about to change.

Around 22:00 the engine cut out. This was not right at all but I put it down to there being more silicon blocking the valve. I began the process of emptying the locker and dismantling the valve. Light was fading and there was a horrid swell running but we had to get the engine up and running before nightfall.

I found the blockage and cleared the valve and we started the engine. After a couple of minutes it cut out again. Again I took the valve apart but to my surprise there was nothing blocking it. It appeared that the tank had ran out. This did not seem right as our calculations had given us another twenty hours of motoring left on the main tank before we needed to add our spare. Now, not pointing any blame at Ollie who filled the main tank up in the Azores but it would have appeared that an air-lock would have occurred making him believe the tank was full when it was not hence our current predicament. I was now very thankful that I had purchased another spare can of twenty litres but this discrepancy would have an affect on us later down the line.

Anyway, we hastened to put sixty litres and once the engine was bled we were back in action.

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27th June – 38*29’.80 N – 025*08’.76 W

I awoke to us making slow progress. The wind was fickle and the swell wild. It was extremely uncomfortable for both of us. We were, however over the majority of our seasickness and were happy to have more pasta packets for lunch and dinner.

Quite early on I decided to run the engine. I have no choice and although we have a lot less fuel than expected we have to get out of these light winds as soon as possible.

We motored most of the day and as the day progressed the swell intensified. Sometimes I hate being at sea. Poor Troskala is being battered. We have identified several new leaks Occasionally we fall off a large wave and shock throughout the boat is immense and also makes it impossible to sleep. These conditions are unbearable.

As the day progressed the wind filled from the ENE and we were able to turn the engine off and set the genoa, which calmed Troskala slightly. We had another pasta dinner sprinkled with much swearing.

An amazing thing happened on my watch. I was there sitting comfortably trying not to get thrown out of the cockpit and reading Jack London’s Sea Wolf, when I looked to the right to see a huge light directly ahead of Troskala. I immediately thought it to be a large container ship, which was too close. It was the moon. I had read stories of people thinking that the moon was large ship and never quite believed that was possible until now. I have never seen the moon so close, it was an eerie experience but stunningly beautiful. It is times like this where I wish I had a high-end camera. 

28th June – 38*11’.25 N – 022*30’.43 W

It was a rough night for us. Troskala was being tossed around like a cork. Waves and spray were constantly coming over the deck and cockpit making life on watch pretty miserable. We are now both getting very tired. I meals consisted of tinned pasta and dried pasta dishes as this is all we can realistically cook at the moment.

The sunrise was beautiful but it soon clouded over and we were left with gusty conditions. A lot of sail changes ensued and the only great thing was that we were making storming progress, which made is both happier. We now have 670 miles to Cadiz and soon we will be able to celebrate only 1000 miles to Palma.

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As the day was pretty miserable and based on some fuel calculation I have made the decision to divert to Lagos. After the fuel sender issue we would be pushing it to reach Cadiz with the fuel remaining and know that as soon as I round Cabo De Sao Vicente I will experience light winds and will need to motor.

I changed our route in the system, which left us now with only 550 miles to Lagos. This was a nice surprise for Ollie when he awoke and a nice feeling that soon we would be back on land and able to quickly refuel before heading out to complete the last leg of our journey to Palma.

29th June – 37*47’.93 N – 20*16’.24 W

The wind was light at the beginning of the day. We had now taken out all of our reefs but our overall speed was slowing down. We had made great progress over the passed 24 hours with over 140 miles achieved.

The swell had decreased considerably, which made life around Troskala a lot easier. We had both struggled with basic tasks such as going to the toilet and trying to cook for the past four days so this was very much a welcome break. Following on from this I am sure you sailors will appreciate fully what I mean when I discuss the challenge of going to the toilet on a mono-hull that is healing 20 to 30 degrees. The whole process is a workout and you can guarantee that when you begin to work on the more demanding tasks of the process that is when a huge wave will decide to kick the boat over sending you headfirst onto the other side of the heads

So our mood was better for the calm conditions. Ollie spent some of the day fixing our AIS (automatic identification system), which after our days of battering decided to go down. Also our stereo had developed a loose connection so this was also attended too by Ollie.

I made us a wrap with hard boiled eggs, beetroot, ham and cheese, which went down very well and then spent my afternoon servicing our hobs on the cooker, which were becoming a little temperamental.

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Our mascot holding the Sat antenna.

By early afternoon the wind had died and we went back to the world of flogging sails. I could only put up with this for one hour before the genoa cam in and we motored. After two hours a ten-knot breeze came in and with the swell almost non-existent Troskala reached a respectable six knots.

We had fajitas for dinner – very nice.

30th June – 37*40’.78 N – 017*43.’53 W

We were making good progress in the morning. We had experienced and beautifully clear night with many stars and a huge moon. In the morning we were achieving over six knots, which pleased both of us greatly.

In the afternoon our lovely wind left us and we were forced to motor a while. With our limited fuel supply we had to be careful on how much fuel we could use at this point of our journey.

After calculating that we had 22 litres remaining we had to turn off the engine and drift with our torturous flogging sails. To make good of a bad situation we opened some wine and pate and had a lovely evening listening to some Saint Saen and Albinoni.

01st July – 37*25’.76 N – 015*09,’71 W

When one of the crew creates a new column on the ships log with the title ‘Happyness-Ometer’ you know there are problems. This was what I found on coming to commence my watch. The reason for this was the change in weather. We were expecting the wind to pick up to around 20-25 knots but we were not prepared for what we received over the next two days.

Spotted a container ship in the afternoon. Nice to know our AIS is back working.   We are making great progress but wind is picking up more. Registered 30 knots earlier.

Looking forward to hopefully seeing land tomorrow.

02nd July – 37*15.’06 N – 012*50.’11 W

It appeared that we had moved from one evil to another. Instead of flogging sails of a day ago we were battling 30-35 knots on the nose. We were managing it fairly well to start. It is a shame that the weather took a turn when we are both so shattered. Sleeping is becoming impossible with the large swell that is forming.   Again cooking and the basic of moving around became impossible and that fuelled with utter tiredness put both of us in a bad mood hence our new column in the log.   To add to the difficulty we lost our third reefing line our of the sail making it now impossible to reef the sail fully.

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As the day went on Troskala struggled more with the conditions. At 16:00 we were down to two reefs in the main and very little genoa. Troskala felt pressured. She would ride up the crest of a wave and then smash the port forward side into the trough with an almighty bang. I do not normally have to worry about her but at this point I was concerned about loosing our rig or damaging the hull, neither of which would have happened due to her great see capabilities and upgraded rig, but tiredness prevails and you are no longer thinking straight after 24 hours of being battered.

Bad day but progress is good.

 

 

 

03rd July – 37*02.’18 N – 010*18.’66 W

 The morning started as night had left us, with a large swell and howling winds. As the morning progressed the sun-shone and the wind decreased slightly. We were still making good progress under sail and by 10:00 we had shaken out all of the reefs and were now sailing under full sail.

The shipping in our area increased as we approached Cabo de Sao Vicente and the feeling of seeing land soon excited us. Our plan had changed slightly for this passage and we would be stopping at Lagos to re-fuel and spend a night preparing Troskala for the next leg.

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As the early afternoon approached we started to make sight of Portugal, which was very pleasing. With were eager to make landfall and have a shower. As the coast line got closer we could make out buildings and rock formations.

We approached the well-marked entrance of Lagos aroun 18:00. Carlotta had already managed to book us a space and the marina was expecting us. It was a great feeling motoring through the channel at Lagos and finally docking at the marina office. I went to the very impressive marina office and checked in making sure that showers and WIFI was a top priority.

Before we had to time to realise we were docked and I was washing down Troskala while Ollie went to source some cold beers. With Troskala clean we could take ourselves to the showers, which were very welcome. It is amazing what a difference a shower can make after nine days at sea.

You find yourself facing a difficult situation when you arrive in a harbour after days at sea and especially when you are on a tight schedule. Really we should have had dinner and gone to bed to prepare ourselves mentally for the journey ahead but we felt we needed to sample to fine beers of Lagos, eat Sardines and explore what seemed to be a nice town.

Many beers later we stumbled back to Troskala around 01:00 AM totally shattered, but we had had a fantastic night that worked well to relieve all the tensions from the previous rough days at sea.

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The Azores

The Azores

We were intending to spend only one night in Flores. My Dad and his other half were due to meet us on the island of Faial so we did not want to miss the opportunity to catch up and would thus have to make progress to cover the 130 miles from Flores to Faial.

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Enjoying our first drinks in Flores

We spent our first night in a very nice little bar situated up a hill overlooking the marina. There were many cruisers there enjoying the daily happy hour. I do not think that any of us could get over the fact that a beer was priced at only one euro. You can probably guess how the rest of the night panned out.

We met some lovely people on the first night and were invited to a beach party the next day, which we could not refuse so we decided to spend an extra day in Flores, relaxing, tidying and catching up on some much needed sleep.

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Peter’s Sports Bar – Faial.

The following day Will and I woke up and walked around the town in search of food and coffee to cure the massive handover we were both suffering from.

We went on a walk in the afternoon. I wanted to walk to a higher elevation until we reached the low level clouds that cover Flores most of the time. It had been so long since I had experienced the cool chill of level cloud and the views of Flores were stunning. The island is so green and as the name suggests it is covered in some of the most magnificent flora.

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Murals from passing yachts.

We enjoyed a lovely meal out and then made our way down to the stony beach where we joined our newly found cruiser friends and some hippies that seem to have lost there way in life and ended up living on the Island playing guitars and smoking pot each night with their transient party-goers.

We left the next day to around 09:30 to sail to Faial. As mentioned we had to cover 130 miles over to the island. The wind was light and fickle but we made okay speed under sail. The sea was lumpy and straight away we all started suffering from sea-sickness. It was a pretty miserable trip for the most part.

As the dawn drew round we could make out the shape of Pico, which stands around 2,000 meters high. We were nearly there. We motored the last leg around Faial and towards the late morning we moored alongside the harbour wall to check in and get allocated our berth for the next five days. My Dad and Nita met us on our berth and welcomed us in. It was lovely to have them both there and there help during the week was invaluable.

I had anticipated that we would have some time to explore Faial and maybe some of the surrounding areas. I had visited a number of the islands twelve years ago whilst undertaking my Masters degree and creating a feasibility study for a ecological whale watching centre on Sao Jorge and was very keen on seeing what had changed since my last visit. However having any sort of break on our tight schedule was not to be.

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A restaurant in Horta where you are provided with a hot slab to cook your meet to your own preference.

We had several servere issues with Troskala that needed immediate attention. These included the replacement of two engine mounts as a small fuel leak at the secondary fuel filter had leaked over one of the engine mounts and disintegrated the rubber. Our windlass fitted had developed a serious leak so had to be completed removed and re-installed with a new backing place, bolts and seals. As mentioned we managed to snap our kicking strap fitting and needed a new fitting fabricated. We employed the services of MAYS (Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services). I have to say now that the quality of their workmanship, the staff, their knowledge were second to none. It was pleasure dealing with such competence after our time in the Caribbean and each job they did they went above and beyond to make sure the jobs would not need doing within twenty years. Thank you MAYS!

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The new kicking strap fitting installed by MAYS.

 

It was good to know that Horta remained just the same as I had remembered. Peter’s Sports Bar, which is a well know place for any sailor, remained on the harbour front along with the whaling museum. It was felt like I was back twelve years ago. We would spend many nights in Peter’s Bar at various levels of intoxication.

We dined with my Dad and Nita each night and were joined by some of the crew of another vessel called Mary Sunshine who we had met in Flores. Thank you Ziggy and Mark for your help, knowledge and kindness during our stay in Horta. Thank you Ziggy for trying to fix our fuel sender unit.   Again, another thank you to my Dad and Nita for their constant help and support during our time in Horta and for some of the lovely meals we enjoyed together. It was a shame Carlotta was unable to join us due to work commitments but we will be together soon.

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A thank you gift for my Dad’s help./

Our five days in Horta flew. The day was finally upon us where we had to say goodbye to Will and prepare the crew of two (Ollie and I) for the passage to the Med. We re-provisioned Troskala with various treats, fuelled, watered and finally at 15:30 on the 25th June we set off from Horta.

I will be back to the Azores soon. For anyone who has not been I strongly recommend spending some time there although do not go for the Sun, as it can be a rarity.

Bermuda to Faial.

01st June.

We had left later than expected but there was no rush. It was 15:00 as we slowly made our way through ‘Town Cut’ and into the turquoise waters surrounding Bermuda. Again with a heavy feeling knowing what we were trying to undertake would take us over two weeks in possibly challenging weather conditions.

Our first evening saw us all feeling a bit low with Will suffering from sun burn and slight sea-sickness and all of us feeling a bit under the weather after enjoying St Georges a bit too much the night before. I could kick myself for allowing the last bottle of wine we drunk go down so easily and we were all paying for it now.

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The wind was light as we headed North. We poled out the genoa but made very slow progress and this was how our night was going to be. Ollie made dinner and we tried to settle into the routine of life back at sea. I can’t say that I was in the happiest frame of mind but this was mainly die to tiredness.

2nd June

As daylight arrived the wind picked up and we headed slightly more East enjoying greater speeds. I cooked a breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiched but Will struggled due to sea-sickness.

The day was pretty uneventful. I tried to take a noon site but it was cloudy so I gave up. We were beginning to receive warnings of storm Bonnie so decided to make some more Easterly progress.

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Winds light again and very frustrating. There is nothing I hate more than flogging sails and this is something we are experiencing a lot of. It will be amazing if I have any sails left be the time we reach the Azores.

Ollie went tin crazy for dinner with three different types of pasta in red sauce were mixed to make a very interesting concoction. It went down well though.

The evening saw some faster sailing but nothing we had become accustomed too on our was up to Bermuda. Will spent the eving re-stringing his guitar whilst Ollie and I looked towards the horizon, sitting and thinking.

03rd June

We were poled out again in the morning with the wind now coming from the West. We are making okay progress to the East now and the miles are dropping although slowly.

It was a hot day but with some very fierce looking Nimbus Cumulus around 5 miles to the North. We appear to be stuck in the middle of the storm clouds in very light conditions.

We had carrots and humus for lunch and I made a chicked pasta dish for dinner. Will read us a very interesting short story about mice and cheese and then I want to bed.

The evening saw us surrounded by lightening but nothing too close to worry about yet. We had received more reports from family that Bonnie was coming for us although my weather reports showed nothing, which is strange. We are prepared though for stronger winds, which would be welcomed at this point.

04th June

 I awoke to the sound of flogging sails. Our wind was now none existent. I decided to motor and remove the poled out genoa and centre the main so at least we could stop the incessant noise.   This, however posed a new problem. Our friends installed our new Raymarine auto-helm had managed to incorrectly wire it up so that when we wanted to set the auto-helm to go starboard it would go port and likewise on the other tack. This was no good and all that would happen is Troskala would try to go round in a circle.

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Ollie and Will were on hand to test the wiring and trace them back to where we swap the connections over. This was no easy task with the engine running and the internal temperature rising to 30* C. Ollie managed to trace them back and shortly after the auto-helm was up and running, which was very pleasing.

Our next job involved the hydrovane. The head unit had worked loose and was twisted, so when we locked the rudder in what we thought was the centre line Troskala would heavily pull to port, which meant that the auto-helm could not cope with the correction and would stop keeping the needed heading. This was fixed by Will and I and Troskala then settled into six hours of motoring.

In the late afternoon we picked up wind from was left of tropical storm Bonnie and we could once again sail, which was pleasing. Our speed increased in the right direction so spirits were lifted slightly.

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We spotted two ships this evening. One was probably the largest container vessel we had ever seen and the second was a very unusual French research vessel. Watching them make there passage passed some time and Will cooked a lovely pasta dish for dinner.

05th June 

No sooner had I written the last blog problems arose on my watch. The wind began to veer to the North. Will was up so in order to make good use of this change I asked if he could assist in removing the genoa pole so that we could get on a beam reach. This should have been easy and as we turned to head on to our next course we found the main sail was strapped to the spreader by one of the reefing ties. No matter what we did we were unable to release it.

I decided that it would be safer to go up the mast in daylight as it would be too dangerous in darkness. Will agreed to go up the mast in the morning so we settled Troskala and eased the pressure off the reefing tie so as not to risk tearing the mainsail. Three hours later Will was up the mast with all hands assisting and we managed to remove the trapped line.

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I made a bacon and egg sandwich to celebrate and then went to bed. The rest of the day was uneventful and there is still very little wind, which is becoming more and more frustrating. I cooked dinner, which consisted of a very nice spaghetti Bolognese.

06th June 

We were notified of Tropical Storm Colin approaching. The storm has now intensified but we appear to be in the right position not to be on its leading edge. To be honest, at the moment I would give anything to have some wind.

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I awoke to the flapping of sails again and got up to start the engine. The sea was like a mirror, which gave us a great opportunity to prepare Troskala for the upcoming weather. We had a tidy up and secured things that may go missing on deck. We dropped the genoa and lubricated the furlex swizzle on the halyard as it had started squeaking. We systematically went through the boat looking for chafe and things that look odd but luckily very little seemed to be out of place and we felt she was ready for the conditions ahead.

After lunch we sensed a good breeze coming from the East so we immediately unfurled the genoa and cut the engine. We may have to head North a bit but at least we can sail and not motor.

Our afternoon turned into a busy one. One moment we were full sail, then putting one reef in the genoa, then two, then one reef in the main and finally full sail again. The wind was fickle in its direction but there was wind and we were beginning to make very good progress in the right direction.

One thing I will mention here, which I think has surprised all of us is the amount of detritus in the North Atlantic Ocean. Every day we have spotted some rubbish from plastic containers to piles of floating rope. Yesterday we spotted a green marker buoy for a channel and the red one a few days earlier. It was quite strange to see a channel marker floating happily mid Atlantic. Lets also point out that these were not small markers and would have easily caused a lot of damage to Troskala. What does worry us is the things we cannot see at night. Only this morning we passed a large bit of floating pontoon that would have taken a nice chunk out of our hull. It is a shame our oceans are becoming so littered.

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The evening passed well. The sea has become a little more boisterous. The phosphorescence is stunning tonight. At night you see such an amazing sight with Troskala’s bow ploughing and displacing thousands of stars twinkling away for minutes on end. Something new I have experienced is that the crests of the waves now glow with this sparkling so all you see are trains of waves with glowing caps. It really is hard to describe and no photo would do it justice.

07th June

 Unfortunately it was a day of breakages; two in fact. Firstly I manged to fall onto out new lee cloth, which ripped the seam and secondly the kicking strap boom fitting snapped leaving us without a kicking strap.   There is a nasty swell starting, which could be forewarning of the impending storm Colin.

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Ollie grinding his coffee.  Only the best fresh coffee was consumed onboard.

Nothing else much happened. We seem to have two birds that have been following us, one swallow looking chap who we have named Simon and another ‘frigate’ looking chap we have named Graham. Every day they make there appearance. We do not know if they are following or if we are in their area, but it is nice company and a good distraction.

Tinned ravioli tonight for dinner.

08th June

I do not think we realised just how big Colin was. We were filly aware that we would experience gale force winds but maybe not as strong as they turned out to be.

The morning was faily non-descript. My watch runs from 00:00 to 04:00 so I am normally asleep until ten or eleven the next morning.

We had the genoa poled out and were making fairly good speed. Shortly after lunch we put a reef in the genoa and one in the main as the wind began to increase and Troskala was feeling heavy on the Hydrovane. One our later the pole was removed and another reef put in in the main and Genoa. Shortly after we fitted the third reef to our genoa.

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Colin arrived in a bad mood. Our pressure dropped six hpa’s within four hours, which was a clear indiction that Colin was upon us. The wind increased to over thirty notes true around 16:00.  By 17:00 we were reaching wind gusts of forty-five knots true with a constant thirty-seven knot wind.

The sea state was becoming overwhelming. Will was sat on the stern locker, harnessed on and enjoying the spray and the sheer chaos that was our view. All of a sudden a monster wave rolled into the cockpit. Will was pinned against the push-pit for what seemed over a minute. Water cascaded from every angle and we were left with over ten inches of water in the cockpit. The sheer panic on Will’s face once we knew there was no danger was priceless but it does drill home how powerfall these waves can be out here.

By now Troskala was setting new records. We recorded a speed down a wave of 14.6 knots. Her propeller would start singing as we reached these speeds. I did not feel we needed any more reefs in the main but the speed we were reaching at times was concerning but this was more to do with wave height than wind speed and the Hydrovane seemed to manage fairly well, which is a good indication on how stressed she is.

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Shortly after our monster wave came another first. We were still joking around about Will’s near swim when he turned to us and sail, ‘theres a f*****g whale in front of us’. It took us a second to take him seriously. On looking over the spray-hood I saw nothing and then, after Troskala come on-top of a crest we saw the beast. The whale was the size of a bus. What the hell do you do in this situation? We were on our way down the wave to meet our new friend at around ten knots. I pushed will out of the way and dived for the helm. We had seconds on which to overt a near disaster. Troskala lurched over to starboard clearing the whale by two feet at least. As we went past it spurted some water out of it’s blowhole. We were silent and then our fears were met as the beast starting to follow us. Luckily after five minutes it stopped and we lost sight of Walter the Whale. We did not really know what to say to each other apart from that if it came back we could throw some pork pies at it to try and deter it from using us as its new ball, but I really do not know what the best option is in this situation.

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Our friend the whale.

We all stayed up during what was to be a challenging evening. The wind howled and the waves came in. Every fifth wave would hot one of us and by 03:00 AM it was not funny any more. We were all cold and tired but we persisted.

I managed to get a little bit of sleep before the morning.

Pasta from the night before for dinner.

09th June 

I woke up to flogging sails. I hate flogging sails. We tried to pole of out the genoa but this helped little. I was then about to make a breakfast omelette but we have somehow ran out of eggs, so not a good start to our day at all.

By lunch time the wind increased again and we had to put two reefs in the main and two in the genoa. The wind was back giving us a consistent thirty knots. The sea remained aggressive and we experienced numerous squalls. It was another day of just surviving. I do not know how people do this for month on end when completing round-the-world voyages. I could not even comprehend another month of this.

I managed to rest in the afternoon and when I awoke I cooked a fisherman’s pie, which went down a treat with a glass of wine mixed with salt water to celebrate our half way mark.

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Cooked in a force eight on the beam.

Celebration was a bit short lived though. As we were running our engine to charge it cut out displaying signs of something in the fuel as we had experienced in the early days. Our main tanks are fairly empty and we reckon that another piece of sealant is blocking the valve. We will take it apart tomorrow and top up the main tanks with our reserve fuel, which should help the situation.

10th June

I awoke to the sound of rushing water against Troskala’s hull. For me this is a pleasing sound and indicates good progress. It always seem to be disheartening wakening up to flapping sails. As I made my way to the saloon I could see that our speed was six knots and over, which was very pleasing. We were making good progress and the miles were falling off.

As I was in a faily good mood seeing our progress I cooked bacon sandwiches for all. Unfortunately because we have ran out of eggs the sandwich was not as good as it could have been.

In the early afternoon we were forces to put a second reef in the mainsail. The Hydrovane was struggling to keep a course and this is always a good indication that Troskala is over-pressed. Ollie and I went about our business of preparing and executing the reefing, whilst Will kept Troskala to wind to enable us to easily reef to main sail. Out of the corner of our eyes we spotted something in the water, in fact we spotted three large objects. We at first thought they must be dolphins but to our horror and surprise we saw that we were being chased by three large killer whales. One came up on the starboard side, twisting its body as it went past, whilst the other two made for our rudders. There was silence amongst us while we watched what their next movement would be. I have heard some scary stories of what angry killer whales can do to boats and I just hoped and prayed that they came in peace. After five minutes they dropped back and then followed from a distance. We still cannot believe what we experienced and luckily it was a good one at that.

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Two of the three Orca’s can be seen above.

The rest of the evening went without incident although we experienced a lot of rain. Nearly every item of clothing we own is wet and we have not managed to dry anything since storm Colin.  The boat is wet and the evenings are becoming colder the more North we are, which is making our evening shifts more uncomfortable. Ollie cooked a lovely dinner and the evening fell upon us. 

11th June 

I awoke of the sound of frapping sails. We were still making some progress however and after two hours the wind picked up to a lovely 15-20 knots. I cooked bagels and baked beans covered in cheese and ham, which went down well.

Will slept for most of the day as he was not feeling all to well. The weather in the morning was overcast and wet. By mid-afternoon the sun was coming out and by three we had everything open and all our clothes hanging off the guard rails. It was fantastic to see the sun after nearly five days without it.

The afternoon was spent cleaning and removing rust-stains from the deck. We managed to dry the majority of our clothes.

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A day of drying out.

We were joined on the early evening by a pod of Dolphins. We must have had at least eight of them. They stayed with us for twenty minutes, splashing their fins and looking pretty happy to have some kind of distraction in the vast ocean.

Will cooked dinner tonight. Will dinner tonight that was similar to a corned-beef hash – very tasty. Ollie washed up the dishes.

We celebrated in the evening. We celebrated because we had out-run storm Bonnie, survived storm Colin, missed a humpback whale by two feet, survived a visit from three killer whales and seen Dolphins. We put some music on and enjoyed a couple of bottles of wine and some rum for the nightcap. It was a lovely evening and one of those evenings where you would not want to be anywhere else.

12th June  

No wind! We knew this day was coming and here it is. We were making no progress so had to resort to the engine. We still have 60 litres spare so we decided to empty forty litres and burn this for as long as we can. After that I will have twenty litres of fuel left to get me safely into Horta.

The day was pretty uneventful. We were all suffering from the night before but this did not last. After lunch we all felt normal.

I replaced the main halyard today as some chafe had occurred at the masthead. I also replaced a shackle from the main sheet travelled that had split in the storm. Apart from that Troskala is running well.

More dolphins joined us this evening and we managed to motor through a pod of roughly twenty of them. The water is like glass today, a very strange shade with an amazing sky.

Ollie cooked a lovely smoked salmon, pea and pasta dish with cream cheese. I ate too much of it though.

It looks like we will have to prepare to be becalmed for the next two days, which is frustrating. The wind will hopefully pick up on Wednesday morning.

13th June

I stayed up for a while over my watch to over sea the burning of the last of our fuel apart from the twenty litres saved to get us the last step of the way to Horta. After we reached Empty and the clock turned 05:00 we turned off the engine and let Troskala wallow in the swell. I took this opportunity to have a couple of hours sleep before I heard the wind generator come to life indicating the coming of a breeze.

I got up and we decided to set the main and our large light-weight gennaker to make the most of the light breeze. Unfortunately we managed to get the main halyard trapped around the radar reflector so Will had to take another trip up the mast.

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After this was completed we spent the morning making food. Will made some croissants and I made bread and together we made a casserole to slow cook for dinner.

The weather is bleak and the wind is light, which is not helping our spirits. We are heading at least in the right direction although slowly.

14th June

We are making very little ground tour waypoint. The wind is coming from the East stronger than expected so we have to head North close-hauled, which is making life uncomfortable.

We removed our Gennaker last night and have run under genoa, which is sufficient with 17 knots apparent wind. Last night I made the decision to now head to Flores. We can see that the Azores high is still settled over Faial and we risk not being able to make it there with our limited fuel supply. Also, as our heading is more North is makes more sense to stop by and collect more fuel before pressing onto Horta.

We had pasta for dinner and it rained all day. It does feel like sailing in England and is just as cold. We hope the weather improves soon and that we get at least one day of sunshine to dry out our belongings.

15th June

I woke up to us heading more North than we wanted but there was very little we could do about it. I decided the throw the last container of fuel in the main tanks and motor for a while. I calculated that I could get away with running under motor for six hours, which would leave us with 9 litres to motor into Flores. It is also good for morale that we are making way in the right direction.

After our six hours was up the engine was turned off and all went silent. We had no wind and were left with no option but to drift. We took this opportunity to fix things. I spend most of the day whipping the ends of all the lines and cutting new fender lines, which now look very smart. I also fixed the forward navigation light, which had developed a loose connection.

The wind came in in the evening and with no swell we were making good progress. We saw another whale in the distance and were joined by more Dolphins. We celebrated with wine again although had less than the last time.

16th June

I slept in more than usual but Ollie and Will kept a good watch. We had started to see more birds and more tankers, which would lead us to believe we were getting closer to our destination.

We were excited as we knew that all being well we would be arriving in Flores the next day.

This day was pretty uneventful. We had light winds but a calm see so Troskala was making way at around 4.3 knots, which we were not going to complain about. At least we were moving although a little North than we had anticipated.

As night falls we are looking out for the lighthouses of Flores. The fog has again descended and visibility is down to less than half a mile. We have decided to go around the North of the Island as it makes more sense in relation to our limited fuel supply.
  

17th June 

The sight that welcomed me when I arose was outstanding. To the right stood the island of Flores and to the left Corvo. It is an amazing sight. The island is stunning. We can now see waterfalls. Will mentioned that it looks like something out of Jurassic Park, and have to agree with him.

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We had coffee and sat in silence watching the island as we approached and making out more detail with every mile. We could not wait to be on land.

As we came over the North side we lost our wind and had to use the engine for the last two hours. It was however a beautiful journey, the island really is stunning as seen from the sea.

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At around ten we could see the South East side and shortly after the breakwater outside Porto Das Lajes. We were all tired but excited. We prepared Troskala with fenders and lines and with only 5 litres of fuel left on-board we nudged our way into the marina dodging the rocks as we entered.

Luckily there was a space for us in this pretty little marina. We were back in Europe and I could not be happier. I went to clear customs, who were very polite whilst Will and Ollie went to get fuel before everything closed for the weekend. Can you believe that it only costs ten Euros a night! We cant wait to sip a beer and relax. It has been a tough passage but successful in every way.

Latitude:        39*22.75N

Longitude:     031*10.18 W

Time:              11:00

Miles:             2084

Engine:           102.9

 

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British Virgin Islands to Bermuda

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 Sunday 22nd May.

The time was fast approaching for our departure to Bemruda. As we sat having a couple of ‘Pain Killers’ (cocktails) you could see the worry and fear in Carlottas face. I always experience a sickening feeling before doing a crossing of any length and maybe it was just the tiredness or the stress of preparing for the voyage over the past few weeks that the sickening feeling was back. My mind was playing over all the scenarios that could potentially destroy our trip if not our lives. I always thinking of the what if’s and the whys so much so that I get very little sleep before setting off.

We were joined by somne very good friends in our anchorage and these were the lovely people we were now having dinner with in Saba Rock. It was hard to talk and although enjoy every bit of their company it was time to leave. They kindly offered us showers aboard the luxury catamarans they worked and one of the crew were kindly housing Carlotta before she caught her flight on Monday.

So this was it. At 02:00 AM on Sunday 22nd Troskala pulled out of Eustatia Sound and headed East to clear Anegada’s Horse Shoe reef, the third largest reef in the world. All was good but the mood was sombre . Olly was positioned at the bow to look out for lobster pots, which were everywhere. After a short period the anchors lights of our friends yachts faded and we now truly on our own.

All was going well until the engine cut out. This was not good news. I hurried below and tried to turn over the engine again but to no avail. We sensed that it was a fuel issue and I noticed that the bleed screw for the secondary fuel filter was loose s maybe this was causing air to get into the system.

We set our genoa in the mean time and sailed south whilst eye removed the plug, cleaned it, bled the system and tried to prime the fuel. The engine started but soon cut out. I repeated the process but to no avail. I was not dog sick and completely worn out. My only option was to turn back as we were now only ten miles away. This is what we did.

I phoned Carlotta and had her on stand by. We would have to sail through the reefs and anchor under sail in the lee of Eustatia Island. This was going to be a challenge but I know the waters well and we had a full moon which assisted us. The mood on board was very bad. To have to turn back after mentally preparing yourself for a long voyage is something no-one should have to go through. I felt bad for the crew and could only think the worst that maybe our left-pump had failed and that it would days before a new one could be sent to the BVI’s.

We made our anchorage around six AM and tacked up to our friends yacht before dropping anchor and furing our genoa, We had anchored under sail like professionals and could now access our situation.

Carlotta was on hand to call the contractors who has cleaned our fuel tank and installed the new filters. A gentleman by the name of Shadow was to bring his riob from Spanish Town to North Sound and assist us. We had managed to diagnose the problem somewhat and could see that there was no fuel coming from our fuel tank. I knew we had enough in the tank but something was stopping it.

We took the opportunity waiting for Shadow to have some sleep. He arrived a few hours later and agreed that the issue was related to the tank. Upon stripping the valve we found a certain amount of silicon plastic blocking the value. This was the culprit.  How it got there we can only imagine but upon repairing the fuel sender unit the other day I think it we would not be far wrong in saying that was where the problem came from.

All was good and we decided that we would leave in the afternoon, twelve hours after our initial departure. We took the opportunity to rest, swim and thank our friends. Mentally we felt better to leave than we had the night before.

Troskala left again at 15:00.   We motored East for three hours to clear the reef and had no issues with our engine. We set sail around 18:00 and set off on our course of 2*.

The sea was lumpy and we were already all feeling sea sick. I prepared bangers and mash for super but my beloved sausages took a swim as we just could not keep them down.   We were making good speed with the wind around fifteen knots on a broad reach.   The Moon was stunning as were the phosphorescence but our moods did not lift as we were so tired.

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Exceptional Speed for Troskala.

Monday 23rd May

 The morning brought with it strong winds. We were storming along at seven knots and recorded nine knots the evening before,   We had some cereal as we were all still feeling a little sick. I think was suffering the most. It was wired being out here on Troskala again. We felt so small and with such a long journey ahead I could not help to feel apprehensive and doubt as to why I was putting myself through this again.

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Pork Tenderloin with roasted vegetables and potatoes.

Jovita made some lovely wraps for lunch, which managed to stay down fully. For dinner we had a stir-fry. The moon was yet again beautiful. We recorded a daily mileage of 165 miles, which is fast for Troskala. At this rate we will be there in six days.

It was nice to be able to use our sat-phone to receive emails and an updated weather forecast, something we could not easily do on our voyage across the Atlantic in 2012.

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Checking our Noon Sights.

Tuesday 24th May

 

It does not feel like the second day. It feels like the fifth day. My stomach has settled but I am so tired. It is hard to do anything. Ollie is suffering from an ear infection, which is not helping him.

We had cereal for breakfast. We managed to catch three flying fish on deck but only small omes. We had wraps for lunch again.

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Jovita taking her sights.

We all slept in the afternoon and felt much better for it. The seas have calmed but with that our speed has reduced. Just received an updated forecast and the winf is set to fill in ahain for the evening.

As I felt mush better and my spirits were up I cooked pork tenderloin with roasted vegetables and mashed potato. This went down very well and the crew spirits lifted. We had a lovely evening and felt that we were finally in the swing of things. It is so beautiful out here.

We are set to complete another day of achiving over 160 miles. Fantastic!

Wednesday 25th May

We continue to make very good progress. For two days we have made over 160 miles, which is pleasing.

We have started getting into a routine now. We adopted a fixed watch schedule. My shift starts at 00:00 to 04:00 and 12:00 to 16:00, Jovita starts from 04:00 to 08:00 and then 16:00 to 20:00 and Ollie completes the day starting at 20:00 to 00:00 and then 08:00 to 12:00. I have not received any complaints and we all seem happy with the plan.

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We normally have breakfast when we are all awake at 10:00 AM and will lunch together also. We then spend the afternoon sleeping and then cook dinner around 19:00.

Today we managed to complete our first noon site to find out our latitude. I was first and managed to get a fair result. We will try each day until we are very happy with our noon accuracy before then obtaining our afternoon sun sights.

The sea became more lumpy towards the end of the day. We can see some squalls on the horizon so expect a disturbed evening but everyone is currently in high spirits.

Ollie cooked chicken wrapped in bacon with a lovely vegetable ratatouille and then started his shift. Another day has past another 162 miles achieved. Troskala is performing well and taking each wave in her stride. She seems happy to be back out at sea.

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Thursday 26th

We had quite a lumpy night and some discomfort. Jovita experienced an amazing sunrise. We ate avocado on toast for breakfast and then ran the engine for an hour to charge our batteries.

I cooked a tortilla con patatat for lunch with crispy bacon, which went down very well with the crew. We had enough for breakfast the next day. We feel like we are eating like kings and queens and I personally love the distraction of cooking rather than looking at our miles.

Jovita took her turn in taking our noon sight with some success. It is certainly one thing to do the theory in a classroom but a completely different experience doing the sights on a rocking boat. A lot more practise is required.

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Nearly there.  One hundred miles to go.

The day came and went as they do although the evening sky caused concern. Clouds were rolling in with a line of squalls apparent on the horizon. We had a couple of showers but it was not until the start of Ollies watch that things started to get difficult. Carlotta sent a text on the Yellow Brick tracked highlighting a very deep area of low pressure close to us but heading west. We found ourselves right on the edge of the high and forming low. This brought gusts up to twenty knots at the start of the evening.

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By the time my watch started the weather-deteriorated somewhat. At midnight the Yellow Brick sent out a position recorded a height above see level of six meters. Yes, our waves felt that high. The wind then increased to 28 knots. All crew were summoned on deck where we put two reefs in the genoa and one reef in the main. This settled Troskala but the howling of the wind and the motion were not nice and we spent a very uncomfortable night at sea.

We cannot complain to much and although the above was a challenge we have been blessed with fair winds for much of our journey and like all sailing journeys we have to take the rough with the smooth. Looking back our experience last night was useful to the crew and me. We performed well together and carried out a very calm and well conveyed reefing. We discussed prior to doing anything what was to be done, how it was to be done and by whom. All in all a successful evening.

Friday 27th

This was a day of catching up on sleep. We were all so tired from the previous night. We finished the Tortilla I had made for breakfast skipped lunch and finished off the lasagne I had made the previous day for dinner.

We managed to get another noon sight but not as accurately before. The sun was not in its best state to be viewed.

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Enjoying a glass of wine to celebrate our last night at sea.

A fairly uneventful day today. The wind eased slightly but we were still achieving over five knots, which was pleasing. We found out that the weather from last night turned out to be a very deep low heading to the US coast. Fortunately for us we were East of it but were only a few miles from it, which explained the strong headwinds we were experiencing.

Saturday 28th

Ollie cooked a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, avocado, bacon, smoked salmon and toast. It was a good start to the day. The sun was beating hard and although the sea temperature has gone down to 23.9 degrees from 28.5 in the BVI’s it still gets hot during the day. At night we have to now either wrap up in blankets of sleeping bags on watch as the air temperature drops to around 18 degrees.

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Hair washing time for Jovita.

We had a bit of a tidy up on deck as we know we will be entering Bermuda tomorrow we want to look like a yacht that has not spent six days at sea. I cleaned the top decks removing any rust stains and gave Troskala a fresh water wash-down and chamois to get her looking very clean. Ollie washed down the cockpit and Jovita made a lovely lunch of ham, cheese and tomatoe wraps.

We celebrated our evening with some wine as this would be our last night at sea. We were given a superb sunset and just at the end of nautical twilight we saw Dolphins, which excited Jovita no end.

As I wright this we are sitting 17 miles off Bermuda. We have made contact with the very official but very professional Bermuda Radio to let them know when we are arriving. We have slowed Troskala to a crawl so to make the entrance in daylight. We have been gifted to see over ten shooting stars in one hour over Bermuda and with the moon to rise at any moment the sight should be fantastic. On one hand it is nice to arrive safely to land but it is a shame to miss the beauty for three nights and unfortunately it is the last night for Jovita. William Bates will be arriving in Bermuda tomorrow ready to take her place.

I hope to send as many photos as possible of Bermuda.

 

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Troskala sitting in Captain Smokes Marina – St Georges.

Time To Cross An Ocean

I feel the pressure as I sit here in Nanny Cay sweating in what is a very natural oven. Troskala is almost ready to go and our final crew member will shortly.

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Words cat really describe how busy we have been over the past ten days. We spent another day catching a lovely ferry to Virgin Gorda. We had quite a few issues with Troskala especially with the mast lights that had corroded and other electric discrepancies that had to be rectified. There was also some incorrect wiring that delayed us immensely but after two days working in the marina we had to leave. Our time was running out and The Moorings were already kind enough to allow us to extend our stay on Sofia. The last thing. I wanted us to do was to over stay our welcome.

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We left Spanish Town Marina at 21:00. We had ran the engine for about an hour but I still felt unsure about going out to sea at night after not using Troskala for three years and with no sails. On reflection I feel it was a silly thing to do and I would not perform a task like that again especially navigating through reefs.

As it turned out all went very well. I soon became used to the heavy tiller steering but the sturdy feeling of being on Troskala (a proper boat). Half way into our journey and as we passed the the southern cardinal off Beef Island we were actually enjoying this unique experience. It was like we had travelled back in time three years and nothing had changed.

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We met our Disney Cruise ship again that decided to make way just as we cam into the main shipping channel for road town. They kindly held off there departure until Troskala had passed their stern.

At 0:00, we gently brought Troskala along side Sofia. We were shattered. I have never felt so drained but we made it together and finally had Troskala to ourselves.

Although we had brought her to Road Town there was still a lot of work to be carried out to fix our tricolour light and our Raymarine instruments were not fully functional.

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The days at The Moorings past by quicker than we had expected.  We managed to get most of our belongings on and contractors finished the work that had too but we did not leave Road Town until Monday and at the point we headed straight to Nanny Cay.

We managed to spend our evenings sailing Troskala out of Nanny Cay Marina and then back.  We were joined by Ted, a great friend and professional sailor who has not only given us a lot of time but also a lot of his skills, which we greatly appreciated.  The support we have received from so many friends and companies is amazing and we feel so lucky to have met the people we have through our work in the BVI’s and the people who have given a lot of time to get Troskala ready for her next adventure.

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Troskala is now ready and tomorrow we will be leaving Nanny Cay and heading up to North Sound.  We plan to depart from Necker Island for Bermuda on Sunday 22nd at 03:00.  Please do track our progress on the following link:  https://my.yb.tl/yachttroskala

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We will be keeping a very detailed log of our experiences and I look forward to sharing the first part of our  journey in a weeks time.

Thank you to all of you who have posted such kind comments on our blog.  I will email you all individually once I have time.  Your kind words and support make this adventure even better for us.  Thank You.

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Not What We Expected.

Well, it is 9:00 in the morning on Tuesday the 11th and I am sitting on a ferry with 100 American Disney Cruise ship passengers heading to Virgin Gorda. For those of you who know me well you know that this is my idea of hell. If the lady in front says ‘Awesome’ one more time I will throw my iced coffee at her head.


Unlike the Disney Cruise ship tourists who are going out to destroy ‘Natures Little Secrets’ at the Baths in Virgin Gorda, we are going to find out how after seven months most of the things on Troskala fail to still work after the re-fit.

We were launched yesterday a week late than scheduled. We floated, which is a start although we did take on quite a bit of water while the stern gland was adjusted. As I walked around Troskala I could see that the was more work to be completed than they were letting on. Anyway, the launch was a success and Troskala sat pretty in the marina at Spanish Town. We had six people toiling and the atmosphere was tense. The clock was ticking. We were trying to leave by the evening but as the temperature alarm on the engine started screaming and all mast lights failed to work we saw it fit to leave Troskala in the marina and pay another small fortune for the privilege.  


It was 20:30 before we just about made the ferry and one hour later we made it back to Sofia. I felt mentally more drained than I have for a long time. After a small glass of wine we fell asleep at 22:30.

Please see the list below of things that still need to be rectified today in order for her to be safe to sail:

1.Volts not registering charge

2.Compass light not working and compass not installed correctly

3.Tricolor mast light not functioning

4.Steaming light not functioning

5.Deck light not functioning 

6.Heads light needed

7.Raymarine cable for sea-talk

8.Navtex no power and not functioning 

9.Screws missing in Windows 

10.Engine water sender not functioning 

11.Grease gland to be removed from engine bay

12.Old chart plotter cable to be removed and fitting.

13.Labels for switch panel

14.Fridge control not working 

15.Fuse box behind panel to be secured and cables tidied.

16.Battery volt ‘2’ needs to be set up for starter battery on switch panel. 

17.’Decca’ fuse box from old GPS to be removed. 

18.Damage to sliding hatch fiberglass to be repaired. 


So he we are with our lovely American friends taking the passage back to Virgin Gorda. The Americans are excited to tick off another destination that they experience for twenty minutes and we a here filled with trepidation and stress about getting Troskala ready to face the ocean and now I have just lost my iced coffee by throwing it at the awesome woman.

Delays, Delays, Delays.

It would have been great to be able to post a lovely photo of Troskala floating in Spanish Town ready for trip to Tortola but unfortunately it was not meant to be.

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Cleaning Troskala’s Spray Hood.

Our launch has been delayed until Monday 09th and this is due to two reasons. Firstly our switch panel has not arrived. Apparently some dates were miscommunicated and the panel was not sent out in time.   Secondly, the weather decided to take a turn for the worst and we have been dogged by three days of constant rain, which is very rare for this time of year. So, without a switch panel we are unable to complete the electrics and with the rain the yard are unable to finish the varnish work.

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The new lining for the windows.

I did manage to visit Troskala on the original launch date of the 02nd. I went with an open mind. I did half expect to see her almost completed but instead I was greeted by the same mess as I had seen the previous week. It is hard to imagine how disheartening this is but after a talk with the project managed and upon closer inspection I could see that a lot of work had been completed that was not there before.

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New Engine panel, which now displays Oil Temp, pressure and Volts.

Our fridge has finally been installed. Troskala is now displaying a new winch on her deck, which has been very well fitted. Our new engine control panel has been installed along with two new domestic batteries. The windows are now all mounted and the lining, which is made out of sintra board has been fabricated. I took a look at our fuel tank, which has been fitted to a very high standard with a new bulk-head being installed between the tank and the locker. The varnish work has also come along and our forward cabin looks and smells new.

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The varnishing expert.

We are lucky enough to be still living on Sofia and have started moving Troskala’s belongings onboard ready for the transition on Monday. Our upholstery has finally been completed to a very high standard, to which Carlotta is very excited. We took delivery of out new Achilles dinghy yesterday and plan to spend the next couple of days running the new outboard in to save time for later.

 

We have been working a lot on communications and have had no end of problems trying to connect our Iridium satellite phone with our Mac. Luckily we were saved by Mailasail and their new Red Box system, which acts as a router and gives Troskala her own WIFI hotspot and connects all of our computers.  It means now that I can send emails and receive weather reports from my Iphone, Ipad and Mac which is quite amazing.

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On a more serious note I am running out of time and my plan to have a week to test sail Troskala is slipping away. It looks like I will now only have four days to sail her properly before she is based in Nanny Cay marina undergoing rigging checks, Raymarine warranty checks and further upgrades before she sets sail on the 22nd.   This is far from ideal but at least we have some time and it is important that we make every use of the days by putting Troskala through all kinds of conditions.

 

I am still positive about our situation to a certain extent and at least we have finished our last charter and can now truly focus on our preparations.

Tense Times

It is now only three days until Troskala is launched and only 23 days until we set sail to Bermuda . I think that I have finally come to the conclusion that we may be slightly delayed in the launch of Troskala. This is not what I wanted,or needed but it appearsthat there is so much still to complete with such little time available.

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No words can express the amount of work that needs to be completed.

As the photos suggest there is still an immense amount of work to be completed prior to Monday mornings launch with the electrics, varnish, seacocks and windows to be completed not to mention the fuel tank, upholstery, fridge and gas-locker. I tried to calm myself down as I walked around her the other day but a sense of panic came over me. I have done well to so far keep calm when dealing with the yard but as the time of launch draws near I cannot help but be very concerned about their progress and quality of some of their work.

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New chart plotter but the wooden finish is below standard and needs to be changed.

It has now been five months since we asked the yard to move the refit forward by a year and have Troskala completed by the 02nd May. I do not know if it is normal that things are often left until the last minute with a panic occurring towards the lead-up if the launch but this is the case now.

I do feel angry that there is such a rush to have Troskala ready for launch and in hind-sight I would have asked for the completion date to be 01st April instead of the first of May but there is nothing I can do now except hope that all is completed to a high standard by Monday.

 

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New red navigation table light.

At the moment we are completing our last charter on Sofia. I would give anything to jump ship and spend the next few days in the yard overseeing the work and making sure it is up to standard. I feel like my hands are tied.

Anyway, only two days left until I never have to charter again and from that day my attention and focus are spent on Troskala and or course Carlotta.

Lets see what happens on Monday.

 

All the best.

 

 

Onwards & Upwards

Onwards & Upwards

 We were caught in such a problematic and expensive situation. On one hand it made logical sense to sell Troskala three years ago and claim back some of the money we had invested into her, but on the other hand we could not cut the emotional ties we both shared and on the final day of closing a deal to a Canadian who wanted to buy her we pulled out.

Troskala provided us with the dream of escape, she gave us the possibility of sailing to far away horizons. For that dream we have paid heavily in marina fees over the past three years not to mention the cost to re-fit her ready for another ten years of sailing.

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Carlotta looking her best and Troskala not so.

Although I managed to perform basic maintenance over the three years of her being on the hard I was unable to give her the full attention she deserved and she quickly deteriorated in the Caribbean sun. In hind-sight I should have paid to have her professionally covered to try and protect her from the harsh sun and 30*C+ temperatures.

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Preparing for a full varnish

We found that after three years all of the upholstery and curtains had perished. I only had to touch one of the curtains for them to fall apart in front of me. Our beautifully varnished interior also took a hit and faded in most areas internally and our external varnish no longer existed. The cost to rectify the upholstery has reached $3,700 and the varnish $4,000. We could have protected ourselves from these costs better if we had hade her covered.

We are now coming to terms with the expense of a yacht. I don’t think you ever truly realize how expensive it is to run a yacht even a small one at that. But we had no choice and we both knew we did not want to sell her. It was time for a new adventure; a chance to pass my Ocean Practical exam, a chance of a new career on a new island and the only vessel I wanted to begin this journey on was Troskala.

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It is hard to think that she will be launched in ten days.

Improvements were needed. We had managed to put away some money and I was happy to spend some of it upgrading Troskala for the next ten years. I say ‘I’ as I believe Carlotta would spend the money on better things than a boat. Anyway, it was clear she needed some attention and this was the time to get some things completed that we had failed to complete before leaving London.

It is always a good idea to compromise in any relationship and when it comes to a boat Carlotta had to have an input in the improvements we were about to undertake. All work on Troskala has been carried out by Work Bench Virgin Gorda. At the moment we have to say the quality of their work is outstanding.

Carlotta decided that we needed a fridge, so this was the first upgrade. We have now installed a top-loading, keel cooled Penguin fridge. This is not a bad idea and something we really needed whilst in the Caribbean and it will make food on passages easier.

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New Seacock 

My big change was to finally remove the old fuel tank, check it, clean it and re-fit, but this time with a fuel gauge. I decided to have all windows removed, cleaned, resealed and re-fitted as most of them had started leaking and all the sealant had perished in the heat.

 

I decided to replace all the electrics onboard. We were still running Troskala with her original wiring and after over thirty years it was time to have a full refit. I have had installed LED lighting throughout Troskala and have installed extra lights in the heads, engine bay and lazerette. We have installed additional 12V sockets near the navigation table and fans to cool the forward cabin and saloon down. I decided to replace all our instruments and have to moved to a full set of Raymarine navigational aids, which consist of a chart plotter and two multifunctional display. (photos to come). All transducers were replaced at the same time.

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Our New Racor Filter.

We have upgraded our Rutland wind generator from the 913 to the 914i, as the bearings had failed on our precious one and it cost nearly more the replace them here than buy a new one.

I had our engine mounts replaced. This was not a necessity but more of a safety procedure. One of the mounts was beginning to look slightly worst for ware and it is not something I want to have to think about in bad weather on our passage.

I have replaced our old fuel filter with a racor filter and water separator. I hated the old CAD296 filter and I am pleased with the new one and its ease of use.

We have fitted an electric bilge pump to supplement our manual one. This is something I always wanted but never managed to get round too, so this was a good time to get one installed.

I have had all my seacocks replaced. I had installed DZR’s three years ago and all of these had started to show signs of corrosion. I decided to install Marelon plastic seacocks through out Troskala. I have become used to these seacocks as they have been installed on the past two yachts I have worked on and I am now more than happy in taking one apart blindfolded.

We have ordered a new light-weight spinnaker pole, which arrives this Wednesday. Those of you who have read a previous blogs can probably remember the amout of curing associated with our current pole.

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Old windows removed ready for the new ones

That is about it. It goes without saying that within the next couple of weeks Trosksla should be polished and her bottom painted. I believe she will look and feel like a new boat. There is only two weeks to have her completed before we start her sea trials so the stress is mounting and my faith lies with Work Bench BVI.

I will try to keep you all posted on the progress and I look forward to sending you photos of some of our new kit.

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On Sofia, trying to get our Sat phone working.

P.S. My gratefulness goes to Antonio Alvarez who has kindly offered us a new SSB radio in exchange for a day sail on Troskala. Words cannot express our gratitude to you and your family.