Sunday, 30 October 2016

A map will appear when you click the link showing where Taipan is currently located. This will update hourly and will show boat speed and Latitude and Longitude.
For photos of the adventures of Taipan click.

Monday, 25 July 2016

LEPRECHUNS AN GUNNESS ANYONE? July 24th 2016

Thats Taipan in the distance.

Eight days and nights of rocking and rolling across the last 1140nm stretch of the North Atlantic to Ireland and we arrived in Bantry Bay on the 21st of July in the windy, foggy  rain.  We first had to struggle with the main sail as a result of a broken lazy jack . Eventually we managed to tame and bag the unruly beast so we could maneuver between the extensive mussel and salmon farms. Bantry harbor is about 20nm up a long narrow bay and once tied alongside the lovely new floating dock we were well protected from both wind and swell. Customs and the Harbor Master were there to greet us and complete formalities. Very informally.

Bantry Bay on a foggy day.

Needless to say the first job was the Irish Pub and a Guinness or two. Then the normal clean up after a passage before the serious jobs. Not much to do really considering all the miles we've covered since the Bahamas in May.

Now we will be slowing down not just because with the local tidal range of around 5 meters we will be reduced to shorter legs or pushing current and years in the Kimberley in Australia's north west has taught us that pushing current just a waste of time.

Bantry House.
Bantry House is  probably the major attraction in Bantry. Dating back to the 1700 and open to the public it is also a B&B. Very attractive topiary gardens, inspired by the gardens of Europe, and expansive views over the bay make for a pleasant diversion.

Castletownbere
 Fresh provisions and we again headed to sea. Well the bay this time. Just 20nm out to Castletownbere a very busy fishing port with up to 80 large trawlers based from here. Nestled at the base of the rugged Caha Mountains with a very protected natural harbor this picturesque little town has also some renowned walks and is frequented by trekkers from around the world.



The forecast is not great but we will endeavor to move on towards the East along the southern coast of Ireland, making leisurely day sails as weather permits.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

FABULOUS FAIAL ANOTHER JEWEL IN THE AZORES. 13th July 2016

 
A new peninsular.


Such a lot to see and so little time. our Azorean adventure is drawing to a close but not before we take a look at Faial. Volcanic in origin, as are the rest of the islands, this one has a recently active volcano with attendant lava fields and an amazing volcano museum. Situated at the far western end of the island is Capelinhos lighthouse, which was buried to above the second floor when a new vent spewed pyroclastic material and ash for several years during the 1950s. 

Another lighthouse falls victim to a massive earthquake
A small village was buried and several thousand people fled the country entirely. Migrating to America and Canada. The new museum is also buried thus not impeding the spectacular view of the lighthouse and the new peninsular built by the latest activity. The island has also been subjected to multiple earth quakes during its history and the ruins of many buildings are testament to their destructive capacity.

Towards the old Whaling Station
Faial is nevertheless a beautiful island with spectacular views in all directions and also decked in the blue hydrangeas for which the Azores are famous. 

Sao Jorge

As we near time to leave there is the provisioning and farewells to make. The Azores has lots of great wine and cheese at very good prices so the boat is full of it.
Ian and Lynn joined us for a sail and overnight aboard to Sao Jorge. What a fun day in beautiful sunshine. Farewell new friends and beautiful Azores.

More photos from Faial and Sao Jorge.

Friday, 8 July 2016

PICO. VOLCANO IN THE MIST. 7th July

Pico in the early morning. Highest mountain in Portugal at.2,351 m (7,713 ft) Rarely seen in the past month.
Arising at zero dark hundred a couple of days ago to make our way to the inter-island ferry we were granted a rare glimpse of the volcano, Mount Pico. The excuse for dragging David and Paddy from their comfortable nests was a proposed visit to the nearby island at the invitation of Ian and Lynn Bashaw, "Windward", a couple we raced with at the George Town Regatta in 2015 aboard "Geniet Lewe". We didn't know Ian and Lynn very well but they took the trouble to call on us in the marina at Horta and invited us to come visit and welcomed us to stay. They also offered to show us the island they now call home for several months of the year. How could we refuse.

Lagido. Walls around each vine. No trellis
We were collected at the Ferry Terminal and after caffeine reinforcement commenced the island tour with a visit to the Lagido vineyards, apparently established by monks around the beginning of the 1800s. We sampled many a bottle over the next two days and can attest to their excellence. The vineyards themselves are on rock with black volcanic rock walls very close together, with only one or two vines growing within the walls which create a micro climate very conducive to grape growing and wine production. There are acres of these fields. I can only think of all the ruined backs!
 
Homes constructed with volcanic rock. It is cut for tiles, bench tops and numerous other things.
Next we drove to the Mountain House on Pico from where the hikers leave on their 6 to 7 hour climb. Our mountain goat friends Sven and Gerda climbed it and when asked if we would manage it..... they muttered something in German and laughingly agreed that it would be impossible for us!!! Thank goodness!! So we returned in automobile comfort to continue our tour of the fringes. 

Farming of cattle and some crops inside the stone walled fields on steep hillsides.
 Whaling was a primary source of income for a couple of centuries and the return of these leviathans had spawned a new tourism industry. Blue whales and Sperm Whales being commonly spotted from the boats. 

Overlooking Sao Jorge.

The countryside is just spectacular and Ian and Lynn have a fabulous home with history dating back a couple of hundred years on the north eastern end of Pico. The view is just magic overlooking Sao Jorge about 10 miles north. Pico's first settlers arrived as early as 1460. Pico's average minimum temperature is just 11°C and the average maximum is 25°C with ocean temperature fluctuating between 15°C and 21°C. Very little need for air conditioning or heating. Perfect  temperate maritime climate. Rich soil seems to grow anything. Strawberries were growing wild on the walking trail!
Housing is cheap as is the local wine and local cheese. What else does one need?

Feasting on Pico
 We had a wonderful feast with our hosts neighbors and friends on Monday night and so much fun was had we stayed on Tuesday night as well. More touring was followed by an hour walk down through the most beautiful mountain trail.

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   We returned to Taipan weary but excited to have been able to spend some time with Ian and Lynn, to have seen their beautiful island and to have the opportunity to get to know them. Wonderful new friends.

Maybe this could be our next challenge?


Sunday, 26 June 2016

AN ISLAND DRESSED FOR A WEDDING. 24th June


 
The whole island has fences overflowing with Hydrangea and wild roses. Magic.

The  nine Azores islands are volcanic in origin and approaching Flores the coast line looks very formidable with a high hinterland where the major industry is farming. We are tucked into a tiny marina for our stay in Flores.

One of the many crater lakes.
After a rudimentary attempt to bring order to the disorder and disarray aboard Taipan after the passage, we were delighted to be invited by the intrepid trekkers Gerda and Sven of Safari Njema fame, to join them for a "medium difficulty" trek in the high country. Being Swiss, and part mountain goat, we were also somewhat skeptical of the term "medium difficulty"; however, undeterred, we ventured forth with enthusiasm.

Sven Gerda Kris and David.

Christian, a local German guy picked us up in the morning and we drove through glorious sunshine ever higher to the caldera. The scenery is spectacular and its all framed by hydrangea draped in pink wild roses. The rock walls are testament to generations of tenacious Portuguese settlers who have cleared them from the small fields to create rich fertile farmland.

Just before we dropped over the edge!

We commenced walking at the top of the island where several beautiful lakes cluster in the base of the caldera. Low scrubby vegetation interspersed with flowers and moss threaded with sometimes boggy, but predominantly grassy track, provided pleasant strolling for the first few kilometers. Gradually we climbed up to the rim and over the edge where we lunched, overlooking the Atlantic all the way to USA. The next section of the trek was indescribable!! The track suddenly disappeared over a vertical wall and fell several thousand feet to the rock walled fields below.

That is steep!

By the time we had made the decent both David and I were feeling very much in need of a horse or two. Legs were wobbly. Sven and Gerda showed no sign of the ordeal!. Confirming my previous speculation that they are indeed half mountain goat! Upon reflection, it was a fabulous trek however had I know what was involved I would not have gone! 

Thats the cliff we climbed down!

Fortified with coffee and cake at the small restaurant at the base we were collected by Christian and had a "cooks tour" home to the boat to be greeted by Hunda crew and several new boats arriving from Bermuda. Wine o'clock at the neat little cafe overlooking the marina finished the day off nicely.



We hired a small car from Christian to complete our exploration of the island. Weather was not so good. Very foggy but it has a charm of its own the fog!. We managed to get hopelessly lost in it adding excitement to the day. It was only a mile or so from the marina that we realized where we were again. The villages and road verge displays made it totally worthwhile and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Another of the stunning little villages.
Its so unspoiled here. No pollution. The water from the taps is pure fresh rain water!  We have even sourced fresh eggs from the chicken!... and fresh milk, straight from the cow and I cant begin to describe the coffee we make with that.  And to top it off.... its unbelievably cheap!  Great little marina with a good price and a terrific little cafe overlooking the boats.

Christians home on Flores.
Christian and Honee took us too a local German Restaurant on the hill and then to their beautiful home overlooking the sea. They have 2 lovely chalets for rent so if you are visiting Flores they are a good recommendation as hosts and have accommodation.  
Christian's contact is :   christian.pfeiffer53@web.de. 
Ph. 00351 292 593 101
Farewell beautiful Flores.

However its time to move on. Another 140nm to the east to Horta a small city on Faial Island. 





Monday, 13 June 2016

HELLO FLORES. 13th June 2016


This morning in misty damp conditions we made landfall in Flores, the most northerly and westward island of Portugal. We left Bermuda on the 1st of June in sunny conditions with favorable, if light, wind. The next several days were light as we made our way eastward and gradually north for 1756nm

The sail boat in the middle of the Atlantic is us!
The bulk of the journey was reasonable weather bar the last couple of days which blew over 30kn. Still manageable but less comfortable. This was not a fast trip. Quite and amount of unfavorable current, light wind and then too much sea.



Tuesday, 31 May 2016

FAREWELL BERMUDA 31st May




Today we received confirmation that the weather window has opened! We are going to leave beautiful Bermuda and head out again into the big blue briny. The total length of the passage to Flores is roughly 1700nm. Not a really long passage but we are expecting less predictability of the weather on this run. We hope to be in in less than 2 weeks. It will of course all  be in the hands of the weather gods. Check out our track on the link to follow our progress. The Iridium Go also enables us to Facebook and post to this blog which we will do if there is anything interesting to report.
Royal Naval Dockyard.
 
A very small piece of Grahame Fosters amazing mural in the Museum.

Bermuda has been a great stopover and we have languished here for nearly 3 weeks enjoying the sights.  We sailed the 17nm down to Hamilton, the capital, and explored the sights for a week. There is plenty to see and do in this delightful small city.

The Anglican Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity.
There are a number of impressive Churches, parks and Historic buildings within easy walk of the waterfront. 


Bermuda Day, a national holiday came and went amidst much frivolity and fervor. The whole island population seemed to be in attendance. Streets were lined with revelers.

Small boat house.


The Royal Naval Dockyard, site of the next Americas Cup and the cruise ship terminal was an entire day outing. There has been a huge effort to restore the old Fort and the National Museum before the Cup.  We caught several glimpses of the Cup contenders practicing in the bay and enjoyed beautiful anchorages in the "lakes" area just off Hamilton. The Cruising brochures could have been filmed here.
One of many beautiful secluded anchorages. Hawkins Isl.
 So now its time to move on. Next adventure beckons.

For more photos from Bermuda click this link.