Sail Blue Planet
Updates from Marlies and Boogie
Big seas, big winds, big fun!
Leg 2, day 3, 1700 boat time, 1099nm to go, 9.0 knots, 099T
 
Writing the blog has been something of a challenge lately...before arriving in Horta, we had some pretty rolly days, Horta was hectic and the last two days have been, how shall we say...challenging!
 
As we’ve only managed one blog on leg 1 on day 3 (has got to be something psychological about this day 3 thing), a quick update on what ended up being a very slow Horta trip.
 
THE ENGINEER’S CORPS
We continued to have one more day of good winds and then it sort of died down. Too little to sail by, but also too far from Horta to be able to motor at our normal cruising speed and rpm’s. Good thing therefore that on our last East-West crossing we managed to make 2 days of fuel last 5 days...by doing no more than 1000rpm (compared to a normal 1700) and just going slow. We managed to squeeze lots more hours and more importantly lots more miles out of the diesel we had left. With this in mind, we turned on the engine and put her to work at 1000rpm...but were going really, really slow. Even though being at sea teaches you some patience, having 1450nm to go and doing 5 knots made us all a touch restless...and so the testing and calculations started: checking on the exact litres the day tank could hold between full and the first looking glass, upping the revs up to 1450rpm and calculating....would it work? It seemed that if we had to do this the rest of the way, we might just make it!
To be on the safe side, another test was in order with the complete day tank, confirming our calculations! Yay! Speedy Gonzales here we t come!
 
THE FISHERMEN
Yes, we hooked them! Twice!
The first one was on day 4: a nice, ‘two-meals-for-six’ size Mahi Mahi, which was devoured the next day.
Then day 11 we hit the mother load! Just before dinner, the wheel clicked away at great speed and it was clear this was going to be a big one.
Franky set out to wheel it in and we got all hands on deck...in a bit...fish diving down...in a bit more....with 20 meters to go somebody yelled ‘It’s a shark!’ but it turned out to be a big swordfish!
It took Boogie and Leon on the hook to get it on board with Franky still reeling it in.
After filleting and some ‘straight-of-the-fish-sashimi’ we had 6 massive fillets left...delicious!
 
THE WELCOME COMMITTEE
In good old Acores style, we saw Pico, or rather it’s volcano, from 50nm away...and not much later we had a proper welcome committee in the form of a big pod of dolphins! Close to the boat, jumping and diving, they seemed to have as much fun as us watching them.
Another welcome committee was on the dock when we arrived exactly 14 days and 30 mins after going through the bridge in St Maarten, catching our lines and assuring us we had made it in time to get a drink at Peter Sport Cafe, the world famous sailor’s cafe in the middle of the Atlantic. Well deserved!
 
HORTA
3 nights and 2 days saw us going through the joblist quite quickly, with a new painting next to our last one from 2 years ago, a diver checking out our underwater issues, the black water tank opened and new provisioning brought on board. Franky and Bart managed a quick tour of the island on their cool scooters, marvelling at all the natural wonders Faial has to offer. The rest of us vowed to come back and explore another time.
 
THE SAILORS AND THE SAILOR GIRL
Sunday morning early saw us getting our last things in order, garbage off, water topped up, group photo with the new painting (will post when not on satellite anymore!), last goodbyes to Duncan our trusty local hero.
All packed up in our gear, we left the dock under big rolly clouds and a good 20+ knots of breeze, with the promise of more. Three reefs it was therefore and we set course for the European mainland, while sightseeing the amazingly beautiful islands from the water.
This time we had a double ‘goodbye committee’: not only were the dolphins coming and going and darting around for hours, we got a visit of two majestic whales in between the islands, spouting big plumes of water in the air and elegantly diving up and down giving us a glimpse of their black shiny backs... a fantastic goodbye to a short, but great stay in the Azores.
 
We’ve done some good sailing and have already seen 40 knots apparent (with the wind coming from behind, so true wind a good deal more!) which we harnessed under headsail only. Together with the big (3-5m, the big ones getting to 6m) seas, it’s making for a bouncy and rolly ride at the moment. The waves are magnificent though. Big rollers, one after the other, of deep deep blue walls of water, breaking crests that explode in white water foam. When you’re lucky, you can see the top of the wave going a transparent, almost translucent turquoise blue, making these ‘Caribbean crests’ an amazing thing to look at that never gets boring.
As I’m writing this, bracing myself in the chart table seat, we still have no mainsail up and are under headsail only, as we’re expecting another front to pass, hopefully just in front of, us tonight, which might bring some more 40+ knot winds. So everything is battened down for tonight and we’re continuing eating up the miles going East...
 
More later!
We are sailing, we are sailing.....
across the oceans, across the sea.....
 
Words to live by and we do! Literally!
We finally set off on Thursday the first of May after a few extra days of getting things in order and a few days later than planned.
The crew is gelling well with each other and with the boat – one of the advantages of having had a bit more time in port than we thought. Another one being the considerably better weather than if we would have left last weekend. Always a great bonus!!
 
We’ve now been almost 3 days and everybody has found their sea legs, helped considerably by this amazing weather I mentioned: mostly blue skies, with some white puffy clouds, gentle waves...dark, starry nights with a little sliver of a silver moon, hanging in the sky like an elegant delicate boat...you can just imagine the Sandy Man lying in there, watching the world go by.
 
Everybody is enjoying being out here sofar, even though we’re a bit restricted on water because of our watermaker problems. Nothing we can’t handle, though; we’ve got plenty of water with us. Just not as luxury as normal with daily showers and daily boat washes!
Back to basics!
 
More to follow!
 
Sunday 4th of May, 25.30.25N 61.15.23W, speed 8.0knots, course 045, distance to Horta 1822nm
Sailing along...

A new year, new resolutions...I'm not normally a 'resolution-making-kind-a-girl', but realised I haven't written anything in quite some time.

And I miss it. You might not, but I do...so there it is - I'll try and get a few blogs up soon about what we have been doing the second half of 2013: our trip to Bermuda, Bermuda and all the fun to be had in the Triangle (girls, it even has shoes in it! Real shoes! not flip flops, not boat shoes, no the real McCoy, with heels and a fancy name inside and all!), our fantastic return to New York (more shoes, but this time as memories), the cruises through Long Island Sound, Newport, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Sag Harbour and The Hamptons, following the America's Cup in Annapolis and drifting around the Chesapeake Bay, an amazing kite trip to Brasil and rather full on sailing trip back to the Caribbean via Bermuda. It's been a good summer and the year has ended well with fireworks in St Barths.

For now, we've had our first trips over Christmas and New Year's and are now anchored of Saba Rock in the BVI's - still an unforgettable place to sail and play; especially now that we know how to kite and even managed to get some kite time in behind Saba Rock, Prickley Pear and Eustatius in between getting the boat ready for our next trip: a full on kiting trip, where all that will matter is getting the boys to where the best kite spots are. Now all we need is wind!

The Bermuda Triangle

Well, I guess it's true what they say: you get into the Bermuda triangle and you disappear!

Pretty in Pink in the Tobago Cays...

Or at least, that's what it must have looked like to all of you with no blogs coming from Pure after we announced we'd be sailing to Bermuda....

We had a brilliant Caribbean season, starting down south in St Lucia and Martinique, before dropping further south to spend some time in the Grenadines, with some of the most beautiful spots that we know. Turquoise waters, rimmed by white and pink beaches, framed by green palm trees and an azure blue sky with some puffy white clouds. When you get lucky, you might see a little candy pink Carriacou sloop complementing the colours in your Kodak moment...

We got lucky not just on the pink Carriacou but also managed to get the first beginnings of our kite surfing down while waiting for the guests to arrive in Union Island! Quite a nice spot to do so too! (some would call that the understatement of the year).

Sailing to Bermuda!

Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama...the pina coladas are calling you!

Who hasn't dreamed of sailing to the beautiful island of Bermuda? Now is your chance!

We will be sailing from St Maarten to Bermuda in mid May and you can join us as crew. It is an offshore trip of about 900nm and we can expect all sorts of weather, from nice and sunny beam reaching to a beat in rain showers.

We have a couple of berths available for somebody up for a bit of adventure, so if you're interested in this trip, email us for more details!

Sailing to Bermuda!

Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama...the pina coladas are calling you!

Who hasn't dreamed of sailing to the beautiful island of Bermuda? Now is your chance!

We will be sailing from St Maarten to Bermuda in mid May and you can join us as crew. It is an offshore trip of about 900nm and we can expect all sorts of weather, from nice and sunny beam reaching to a beat in rain showers.

We have a couple of berths available for somebody up for a bit of adventure, so if you're interested in this trip, email us for more details!

Star Chaser back out on the water this summer!
Star Chaser, the beautiful Swan 51 owned by Boogie and Marlies, will be sailing the Mediterranean this summer again. She has found great new owners, a very nice Australian couple, who will be sailing her for several seasons around the Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic to cruise the Caribbean. The ultimate plan is to then cross the Pacific and sail her to their home in Australia. You will not see her sailing under the same name though: she will be renamed ‘Red Rackham’ the pirate from the Tin Tin cartoon. We wish the new owners a fantastic time on our old Star Chaser with fair winds and following seas and hope they will be as delighted sailing her as we were. We’ve had some fantastic times and amazing years sailing and racing Star Chaser around the Atlantic and thank her for always taking care of us!
Arrived in St Lucia!
Just a quick note to let you all know we have arrived safe and sound and happy in St Lucia last night at 2am.
 
Needless to say a little deck party ensued!
 
Beach party tonight, but first cleaning the boat!  ;-)
ETCB...Estimated Time to Cold Beer...
It’s tantalizingly close now, we’ve passed the 100nm to go mark a few hours ago, celebrated by cheers all around from all aboard. The crew is getting excited and everyone’s thoughts are already on the dock...or rather at the bar! It’s not about ETA (estimated time of arrival) anymore, it’s all about ETCB: Estimated Time to Cold Beer!
 
It’s the 17th of December and only Fernando is still in the race for winning the sweepstakes for the arrival time...
The weather has been rather weird compared to all the other transatlantics Boogie and I have done so far. And there are a few: Boogie is on his 20th Transatlantic, I on my 9th...
It already started at the beginning: a normal transat will see you in shorts and tees in the evening after 3, max 4 days (ok, I might take a bit longer but I get could and even wear thin thermals at night in the Caribbean, so that doesn’t count really!). After a week we were still wearing jackets!
 
Also, we’ve had very little of the usual Cumulus clouds on the horizon (the nice puffy white ones) with a brilliant blue clear sky and a big shiny sun...but lots of overcast, although admittedly, very little rain (and yes, I had a good deal of it as usual, but not all of it this time!).  So not a very sunny crossing this time either...the only time Boogs and I were whiter upon arrival in the Caribbean was when we took the plane last year!
 
No sign of the usual middle-of-the-night-you-have-to-get-up-now-to-put-a-reef-in squalls at night either...
And the most frustrating is, that after having had a not unusual couple of days of light wind just before halfway, it looks like we will be having very light winds until the 17th of December. Guess I won’t be collecting the winnings of our sweepstakes, having bet on the 15th at 1930. Theoretically still a possibility, if only we could do an average of 16+ knots for the next 30 hours!
With winds forecast to be between 2 and 9 knots until Monday, we’ll be getting there a bit later than expected.
 
The forecast suddenly changed about a week ago, from having a nice solid 15-20 knots that would see us doing some champagne sailing on the last days of the trip to get to the islands, to several days of virtually nothing...not a good prospect on a boat that weighs over 50T...especially as we’d already had 2-3 days of motor sailing and definitely didn’t have enough fuel to cover the distance to St Lucia if we would have to motor all the way in...
So when we had to start motoring yesterday afternoon, we went for slowly but surely, keeping the RPMs and our speed low, trying to make the diesel last just that little bit longer...
So far the strategy seems to be working and we've got just under 500nm to go...but we’re still hoping for some more wind!
 
To keep ourselves occupied, there’s been baking (bread, brownies, bananarumcake), fishing (lots of mahi mahi and a massive tuna! the sashimi doesn’t come much fresher than this!), cooking (said tuna and mahi mahi amongst others) and some creative stuff: Hans fiddling with his photos, and a crew effort that has produced, apart from hilarious laughter and much craziness, the start of a sailing detective, situated on, where else could it possibly be, a super yacht in St Barths – we can’t reveal the details of course but it’s juicy and has lots of money, sex, deceit and murder in it....how can it not become a best seller!
We will keep you posted!
 
Friday 14 December – 1401 boat time (UTC –3)
492nm to go
SOG 5.0 kn – wind 6 knots from behind
There are numerous ways to decide what half way is on a Transatlantic: you can estimate the number of days and take half of that; you can take the rhumb line distance (the shortest distance between the start and finish, about 2700nm) and half that – but you almost always sail a longer distance; or you can carefully keep an eye at your log and pinpoint the moment where you distance sailed equals your distance to go...
Of course you could have three half way parties, but it would take away the glow of the one big one...
 
So we went with the last option and at 0752 this morning we hit the spot! 1454nm sailed and 1454nm to go!
Whoops all around and preps for the evening’s party are underway, with the Cava and the beer chilling in the fridge and the home made cheesecake all ready to go!
 
Of course, we had seen this point coming for a while, keeping a close watch on the log and we already had a pre party last night! The new outdoor speakers went in overdrive, just before dinner, and everybody was shaking their booty on the aft deck and in the cockpit, on a very eclectic mix of tunes: ”Maniac”, “I’m sexy and I know it” and “Moves like Mick Jagger”. Moves like Pure Crew was more like it!
 
8 December 1403 boat time
1403 nm to go
8.4kn SOG
Sooo, we’ve been underway for a few days now and everybody has settled into the routine of the watch schedule...for those of you who are not familiar with ocean sailing, a short explanation might be in order: as we’re sailing day and night (no, we do not drop anchor mid ocean to sleep! a bit deep! and yes, I’ve had the question!) and we need to sail the boat and keep a lookout at all times, we have a watch schedule.
 
We’ve split up in 3 groups: Doug and Hans (White watch), John and Nikki (Red watch) and Fernando, Boogie and Marlies (Blue watch). You do 4 hours on watch during the day and then you have 8 hours off, and at night you do 3 hours and then have 6 off...your off time gets spent reading, sunning, sleeping and relaxing but also keeping the boat running: doing dishes, cleaning inside and out and cooking!
It means each watch cooks, cleans and does dishes once every 3 days...after a few days you don’t even have to think about it anymore and you settle in to the shorter sleeps.
It also means that your timings change every 3 days, so you do not have the same midnight to 3am or 3am-6am watch all the time. You get stunning sunsets, sunrise, an amazing moon and an incredible starry night on clear nights...
 
So let’s get you a little bit better acquainted with our crew:
Nikki is our youngest on board, with only 19 years she’s raking up the miles young! She’s been sailing for a very long time thought and is going to be working for Girls for Sail, a great charter and race company we know well from our Star Chaser days. They race the Caribbean regattas and cruise the islands, mostly with all girl crews, an absolute hoot! She’s our baking queen on board, with fantastic brownies and cheese cakes and my ally in the girl power department. She came on board already in Palma, so she knows the boat well by now.
 
Hans also joined us in Palma. Another Cloggy in his early forties just like ourselves. He arrived with an extra bag, full of Dutch delicacies! We straight away liked him! He’s taking some time off from his IT consulting, to sail across the Atlantic and will travel some more in the Caribbean once we get to the other side. He’s also brought a bag full of camera gear, including 5 cameras (2 Nikons, 1 Canon and 2 GoPros), 2 tripods and numerous lenses...he’s been documenting the trip and we hope to show you some pics once we get there! He also brought a bread book in the food bag and has been experimenting with making fresh bread: yummy!
 
John joined us in Las Palmas, almost straight out of Burma (or rather Myanmar these days), where he’s just done some travelling with his wife. He’s one of our crew we already knew, as he sailed with us from Greenland to Iceland and back to the UK on Polar Bear. He’s from the UK (near Newcastle) and our resident engineer and has brought along his own gadgets: a SPOT tracker, a GPS tracker, a power gorilla and a laptop with the full MaxSea planning software. Boys and their toys!...he’s an old salt (literally as he’s in his 60s ;-) ), having done lots of miles, lots of which were on merchant ships! He’s also a key member of the Pure fishing team!
 
Then there is Fernando, our Argentinian airline pilot who lives in Qatar (he’s in his 40s). Quite the international man! He’s brought some very nice Argentinian sweets (dulce de leche, yay!) and mate tea and has already done some very tasty steak fajitas...it’s interesting to see how many overlaps there are with the running a ship in the air or on the water! He’s also a keen astrologer and has some wicked apps on the iPad, including a sextant app! Learned yet again a lot about the stars.
 
Last but not least, we have Doug, our American friend that we know from the 2010 Newport Bermuda race (which he won incidentally!). He’s married, has 3 sons who sail as well (and are very jealous of dad heading off across the ocean on a 70fter). He’s full of stories and cooks up some mean dishes and doesn’t do too badly and hauling in and filleting fish either!
 
And then there's us of course, Boogie and Marlies. We’re running Pure together, trying to keep her ship shape and sailing her from A to B, this time with the help of our great crew above. We’re both Dutch, early forties, crazy about sailing and each other, and haven’t killed each other yet, even after 5 years together on boats...
 
We’ve once again been very lucky and got ourselves a fantastic crew, a group of very different but great people who all get along pretty well, especially keeping in mind we’re living on a relatively small space with 7 people. Then again, can’t complain too much as for a yacht she’s still pretty big and definitely has a bunch of mod cons that not all yachts have! If anything, the crew has complained we have totally spoiled them for any future transatlantics!
Sunday December 2, 2012 – 1400UTC – 1400 boat time
Position 25.15.51N – 19.17.71W
8.9 knots – COG 260T
2434nm to go to the top of St Lucia
 
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon on board Pure as we speed along the deep blue ocean waves, under a light blue sky dotted with puffy clouds and a bright sun.
We’ve been underway almost 44 hours...yes, you got that right, 44 hours only! Despite our very organised planning and actually being ready to go, with all food on board and fruit and veggie hammocks hanging everywhere, the job list (mostly) ticked off, the boat decided differently and our alternator (the contraption that turns power from the engine into power that we can use, a back up for the generator) packed up. Instead of it being an easy repair that would be reinstalled on Tuesday, leaving us free to leave on our scheduled Wednesday, we needed a new one...It’s times like these where you wish you were not on an island, and a Spanish one on top of that...
The new generator finally arrived Friday lunch time, we installed it, tested it and by the end of the afternoon we were off!
 
We started out in some pretty heavy winds, leaving the island with 2 reefs, speeding along at 9-10 knots. Soon after our lovely spaghetti dinner (thanks Hans!), we were seeing steady 30 knot winds, gusting 40 knots – time to put the 3rd reef in!
A great sailing night followed, with us speeding along under a great starry sky, with the night lit up by an almost full moon. We’ve had mostly good winds since then, with only a short motoring stint yesterday and varying between 1 to 3 reefs in the main. We’ve done 325nm so far, averaging a nice 7.4 knots...speed record’s on the Blue Watch sofar, with 11.7knots!
 
We are all getting our sea legs, getting to know the boat and trying our hand at cooking on a roll. The food has been excellent sofar: Doug has shown himself an excellent lunch cook with pasta salad yesterday and pancakes for sunday brunch! Yay!
It’s going to be another Transatlantic with food so good that it will be hard to keep the pounds off, let alone loose some. Ah well. Maybe the next one...
 
For now, we’re just ‘gone with the wind’ sailing where it will take us, heading west towards another Caribbean season!
 
More soon!
 

Pure on the waterThe boat is a beehive of activity tonight as our last crew member, Doug, has just arrived from the States, and banter goes back and forth. We are now our full crew of seven and are on the dock in Las Palmas; not a normal dock, though that we expected to be on by tonight, but the reception dock...we arrived here yesterday, one day ahead of the start of the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, or so we thought...turns out the start of the Cruising divisions of the ARC has been postponed by 2 days, so where we expected to have plenty of dock space all to ourselves after the departure today of 238 boats, only 34 yachts (27 racers, 7 cruisers) started, leaving the other 200+ clogging the docks and the restaurants in Las Palmas.

Lucky thing that we had been cheeky enough yesterday to just park ourselves up on the reception dock of the marina office and with a bit of sweet talking in Spanish, they let us stay the night...and now another one...guess we'll be here tomorrow night as well. We had a pretty straight forward trip from Palma, where we left last Sunday after several days of crazy preparations. It was a relief to get out on the water and away from land! We did some wicked sailing the first night, with 30-35 knots on the beam and just aft of the beam, but the fun didn't last long and we were soon back to motorsailing. Relaxing at least.

Just a very quick update on our last few months!

We had a fantastic season this summer: after Corsica and the Cote d'Azure we spent a great deal of time in Italy, cruising around Napoli, Capri, Ischia and the Amalfi Coast. For good measure we threw a quick trip to Malta in, luckily enough joined by some good friends! It literally was a flying visit and as soon as all the paperwork and repairs we're done, we headed back to Napoli, this time double handed...Napoli treated us well and after 2 more trips around this amazing area, we headed back up north, joined by our trusty sailor friend Leon (who also happens to be Dutch!). We had to take refuge for the night at Elba, to avoid having to go around the infamous Cap Corse with 35 knots on the nose!

We made it just in time for our owners to join us for the Voiles de St Tropez, the place to be to close of the Med season! A hectic but great 10 days followed and that was the season done for us...now all we had to do was get the boat to Palma, to do some maintenance and go off on a holiday! It was great to be back in Palma again and we managed to find a great little place to stay in our fav quartier, Santa Catalina, and catch up with some good friends, before heading off!

Barcelona, for a quick visit to Star Chaser, and on to Egypt for a kite surfing and diving holiday! Yeay! Was great to have some time to ourselves and discover some new things and places.

We're now back in Palma and have another two weeks before we head out to Las Palmas, to start our crossing back to the Caribbean!

Italiaaaa!!!!

Very quick update from Malta...after a fantastic cruise around the Gulf of Napoli, taking in Napoli, the islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri (stunning!), Positano on the Amalfi Coast, we set off from a water drenched Napoli (one of the biggest rain and thunderstorms we've witnessed passed over Napoli on Friday night, stadion lighting was nothing compared to it!) on Saturday morning joined by two of our good friends and crew from the UK.

Been great to sail with them and spend some time together!

It has been a trip with a bit of everything: rain to start with, beautful sunshine with nice winds in the Messina Strait, heavy thunderstorms that made us take shelter in Syracuse bay, lots of wind, no wind, confused seas, wind all over the place...

We arrived last night around 9pm in Malta, happy to be here!

Sometimes having no wind but knowing you have enough diesel to get there under engine isn't as bad as it may sound to you: wildlife becomes great!

Within an hour out of Antibes, we had our first dolphins. I say first, because we had 4 or 5 sightings before dinner!

(talking of which, cooking becomes a doddle as well conpared to doing it at a 35 degree angle!) Then, just before 8pm we had our first whale. A massive one, with at least 4 meter between its blow hole and its small fin...and we didn't even get to see it in all its glorious length...guessing about 9, maybe 12 meters long. It stayed with us for 7 or 8 blows before majestically disappearing below the surface with a polite high bow of it's sleek back.

It's boating after all...and if there is one part of life that adheres rigidly to the adage of 'the only constant is change' it is boating, or, as we say rather fancily: yachting...

Leaving Cascais on the Thursday, we had to turn back due to some technical issues and finally set off again on Sunday early. We had the most glorious sail south along the Portuguese coast: a good 20-25 knots over the starboard quarter propelling us south at about 9-10 knots, while basking in sunshine...what else can one ask for?

Alas, it didn't last; the first indications arose when we turned the corner at Sagres, and Gibraltar remained shrouded in clouds, with the occasional top of the 'monkey mountain' tipping out of the clouds....the next morning, as we were pulling into Almerimar along the Spanish south coast, things got lively....and by the time we turner the corner again, all we could was head north to beat ourselves out of the most of harms way....

Croatia, where we were supposed to go, was some 1450nm east of us...and in the last few hours we sailed 45nm...making a disappointing 15nm easting...even motorsailing, things were not getting any better. With a rather flat bottom, we couldn't motorsail close to the wind without slamming the life out of the boat, so we were back to beating our way north...

or rather, and more precisely I guess, on the sea again...doesn't have the same ring to it though and it isn't quite grammatically correct either...suffice it to say that we are going back out to sea today.

After a month in Cascais and our eventful arrival here, the boat is again in tip top condition and we are getting the last things ready before we leave this lovely town of Cascais and it's very friendly people. If you've never been to Portugal, do! And if you have, go back! You'll know what I mean: there is history and culture in oodles, nature surrounding you with the most amazing cliffs and beautiful forests, watersports to drown yourself in, more great food than is good for you and people who are just the nicest ever.

We managed to go and see Sting and the Buena Vista Social Club, have a first crack at kitesurfing, go biking and running, see castles, hike.....and get the boat back in order of course. THank you Cascais for a fantastic time!

We're off to Croatia now, sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar and then heading East, past SIcily and then up into the Adriatic Sea. We'll try and get in a few blogs on the way, so don't forget to check back! And you can follow us on the Spot tracker of course!

It's our 7th day at sea and we have already sailed almost 1150nm, with another 1250nm to go to our first stop, the Azores.
As usual on this route, we've had a bit of everything sofar: champagne sailing under bright blue skies and with 18 knots on the beam, doing 9s and 10s; a big squall with 30-35 knot gusts and rain pouring down on us (yes, you got it, that was obvioulsy MY watch, the rain is still loving me!), very light winds in which we luckily enough were still doing 5+ knots, and now, about 12-14 knots from the beam and just aft of the beam, with overcast skies...but since yesterday we are pointing straight at the Azores!
 
Until now, we've had to aim well north of our actual course, so that we could sail around the top of the 'Azores high', a big high pressure system around the Azores that moves around and is holding court particularly north this year, so that we can avoid the big windhole (big area where there is no or very very little wind, meaning we cannot sail, something to avoid when on a sailboat!) in the middle of the high pressure system.
We are very impressd with the performance of the new boat we're running, SY Pure. She is a 70ft performance cruiser and if you want to get some information and photos of her, surf to www.pureofvalletta.nl
 
Spirits are great on board and we're eating extremely well, not in the least because Sara and Mercy, our two American sailor sisters, are baking wonderful brownies, muffins and other baked goodies (afraid this is going to be another Transatlantic where loosing weight is not going to happen).
 
Keeping it short, more to follow once we're in the Azores!
Fair winds!
 
Thursday 24/5 - 11am boat time
33.56N 54.00W
COG 065T
SOG 8.1kn
1255nm to go
you can also follow us via 'Where are we now' on the right hand side of the homepage

PURE in Horta

Yes, you got it: we made it in one piece to the Azores!

Arrived in the middle of the night Thursday/Friday after a fantastic trip.

We left St Maarten after a little hiccup and an extra night on anchor and headed North on a comfortable starboard tack, just off the wind in a nice Force 4.

After a few days, everybody had found their little routines on board and our bodies had adjusted to the rythm of the sea...and the watch schedule of course. For those of you who are new to our ocean blogs a little explanation: as we keep sailing 24/7, you need to have people on watch 24/7. To get this organised, we run a watch system: we have 3 teams of 2 and each team does 4 hours 'on', 8 hours 'off' during the day and 3 hours 'on', 6 hours 'off' during the night and the on watch team sails the boat...the rest of the time we cook, clean, read, eat and chat! Oh, and sleep of course!

We've had a bit of everything: dark overcast days with bursts of pouring rain (the curse is still holding, always on my watch!) alternating with blue skies, trade wind clouds, lovely sunshine and a nice breeze; lots of wind (43+ knots) to hardly any (motoring...); going 5 knots and clocking 19.2 knots under 3 reefs and a handkerchief with Boogie on the wheel, racing down a wave!

SY PureThey have recently moved from Lady Ann, the stylish modern classic they have been running and introducing to the charter market last winter, to PURE, a fantastic modern sailing yacht. PURE is a 70ft performance cruiser built by the Dutch Nordia van Dam yard. She is a luxurious, beautiful aluminium yacht that comes with a carbon rig and 4 cabins and lots of little extras. For more photos of the yacht, have a look at www.pureofvalletta.nl

Boogie and Marlies are sailing her to Croatia, via the Azores, Gibraltar and Messina with the help of an excellent crew:
* Sara, an amazing American sailor who very successfully raced with Marlies in the Voiles de St Barths, where they took 2nd place with an all girls team.

Your Sail Blue Planet team wishes you a very happy, healthy and brilliant 2012, filled with laughter, good friends, great family moments and lots of unforgettable sailing trips!

Boogie and Marlies

The beautiful Lady Ann - ©SY Lady AnnAfter an Arctic Summer up North and a Racy Autumn in the Mediterranean, your Sail Blue Planet team is heading over for a Sunny Winter in the Caribbean!

Boogie and Marlies will be running the lovely 'Lady Ann', this winter in the Caribbean. They will join the yacht in Antigua after her Transatlantic voyage and invite you to join them for some relaxing cruising in the blue waters of the Windward or Leeward Islands, or some exciting racing in the trade winds under the sun.

'Lady Ann' is a beautiful, elegant yet fast 'modern classic' 65ft sailing yacht designed by the famous yacht designer Gerard Dijkstra & Partners,

RainbowThat's it! We arrived back in the Royal Quays Marina in North Shields (Newcastle) this morning after a great last night's sail under an almost full moon and with the wind (finally) being nice enough to come around so we could make landfall in only one tack.

A quick boat clean up and a lot of packing later, we are now snugly ensconced in the front of a VW van. "We" being Boogie, Luke and myself with me, you guessed it, right it in the middle - good thing I've got such a tiny bum (ahum)! A van, yes, as we did take a lot of stuff on the boat - after all, we originally got on for almost a year before the owner suddenly decided to cancel the warm Caribbean part of the trip - so we had a lot of stuff to get off! It's all packed up in the back now and we're headed south, direction Hamble, to put our Arctic gear in the container before really heading south to Barcelona and Palma. Sunshine and warmth here we come, we've got the skirts and shorts ready baby! (nooo, skirts is only me, no worries!)

The skies are wicked at the moment: (the remnants of) hurricane Katia are about to hit Ireland and the West of Scotland tomorrow and it's creating some amazing views. Looking out to the West the cumulo nimbus are so packed up that it's almost like looking at a snow capped mountain range! At the same time, we have very dark and ominous clouds to the East, coloured up by a double rainbow! And one of them is the whole Arc! We're about to get hit by torrential rain though... Sure, the effects of hurricanes are mostly not so good but you can't deny it creates some fantastic weather phenomena!

Well, a bit more on our last 'sailing' trip in the next few days and hopefully some photos, so stay tuned...

A happy Boogie and Marlies

Just a quick line to say we are back in Lerwick - had some wicked sailing last night and this afternoon doing 9s and 10s and made it just in time for a lovely Shetland Lamb Dinner ashore.

Will tell the stories later, about how I lost my new favourite furry hat to Neptune, the ghost birds, the fantastic sailing and the approach to and our trip through the islands to Lerwick. Just thouhgt I'd let you know!

Tuesday 6 September, 10.43 UTC, Faroer Islands 50nm abeam to starboard -
Shetlands 182nm ahead, SOG 5.8kn, 215nm to go

Just come back down after my watch and still on a high!
Although our watch was uneventful, with Marion luckily enough back in full
force, with too little wind from behind to keep the headsails flying, we
ended it on an absolute high note.
The new watch, Luke, Paula and Seppo, was up on deck to take over and we're
just chatting a bit as Luke says, looking past me: "Wait a minute, what's
that? A whale??" All three of us look around and yes, we see some small
blows, followed by a black back...and then see 2, 3, 5 very spiky and tall
fins sticking out of the water: ORCAS!!!
We call David back up and have a general call for Orcas.
They are a good distance away, so we don't bother with getting the cameras
out, we just record it in our minds and heads...it's an amazing sight, and
the total pod must be around 10 Orcas or so, with splashes around them and
their fins moving around fast through the water, with the occasional
distinctive blob of white and black showing.
Boogie is still not up so I quickly go down to get him and as we get back
up, they are still there, but have already moved a good deal further away,
travelling in the opposite direction to us. We still get another good look
though...
Were they just passing by? Thinking back about it, the first whale we saw
seemed like a 'normal' one...were they hunting it down with their group? I
wish we could have been closer to find out...
Even so, it has been an amazing experience - I had started to doubt whether
there were any here this summer as we hadn't seen a single one so
far...turns out, they are around!
Monday 5 September, 15.12 UTC, somewhere in the Norwegian Sea, 332nm from
the Shetlands

We left Husavik at first light, a very early 5am, to start our trip again
under grey skies, in damp weather, with the wind right on the nose and a fog
bank looming on the horizon...we weren't too worried though, as we were to
have several course changes, so the wind would surely free up. Little did we
know then that it was to be the tone for the next two days.

We started our watch at 6am, motoring and with 3 reefs in the main, and had
the pleasure to go in between the two islands and the shore again, that we
had navigated around on our way in in the pitch dark, with nothing but the
two lighthouse to guide us. And a gps of course (as usual when it's pitch
dark, it felt like the lights were right next to us even though after a
check on the charts they were still 2nm away. Just like before). It was
pretty cool to see the islands; the northern one was just a big rock, but
the one closest to shore was like a very wide pillar sticking up out of the
sea, cut of diagonally on the top and then had a nice green carpet put on
top. While going past, it looked like there was something on the steep dark
cliff wall, almost like an arch, but no, the see through was too uniform
grey for that surely? Some snow maybe, or a very light coloured rock?
No, it wasn't: moving a little further, the scenery changed slightly and it
was indeed a triangular arch! Quite impressive! It was clear that in another
50 years, we'd probable be having 3 islands...

As we continued to motor past the islands, the looming fog materialised
close up to veil the islands in grey clouds and soon we were in proper fog.
For the next two days, and 5 watches, making it seem forever, the only thing
that would change about it was how far, or rather how little, we could see.
The two course changes did nothing to free up the wind - it seemed that no
matter how far we changed course, the wind would just follow suit and just
stay bang on the nose.
Every time we would come up for our watch, the spiel was the same: motoring,
wind on the nose, foggy, damp and cold. There were only two variables:
dark/light and the visibility, which would range from 30m to 300m. It felt
like being in a Ground Hog Day or, as Luke remarked, being in one of those
50s movies where they are filming the hero driving a car and it is not the
car moving, but a revolving screen that moves in the background, giving the
illusion of the car moving...
It seemed we had our own personal fog bank that had been following us ever
since we left Husavik...
On top of that, the nights were very very dark, with no moon until about 5am
(not that we could have seen it through the fog if it would have been up
earlier, but still) and our last night's watch, with the fog closed in and
a viz of about 30m, one was starting to feel quite disorientated.
We kept ourselves busy and entertained with radar watches, following the
fishing boats on AIS, talking to passenger ships passing by (we could not
even see a 90m one that passed at 1nm from us), telling stories and making
cups of tea and hot chocolate. And of course trying to make the stay sail
fly. I don't think there have been many watches where we would not at least
try once to see if it would fly now...but no. Not until yesterday afternoon,
when we were able to shake a reef and finally get the stay sail flying! We
were still motoring, but at least now we were motorsailing...

The combination of fog and motoring, makes the 2 days that we have been out
here seem like twice as long. Unfortunately one of our crew was feeling
rather unwell and it just added to the feeling that we all just wanted to
get out of this fog and sail! Surely this fog bank couldn't extend all the
way to the Shetlands?

This morning before our 10am watch, we heard encouraging noises while still
in our bunks...engine revs down, the sound of another sail going out, engine
turned off...would it be true? Were we sailing?
When we came up at 10am, we were indeed! The Yankee and staysail were
proudly flying, we were back to handsteering and all this in a fresh breeze
and under a glorious sun and blue skies!!
It's been the best day so far, sailing along, coaxing Polar Bear at times to
get the most out of the sails and do our utmost on the helm to keep her
going in the right direction with a decent speed...
Brilliant!

Our ever-present Fulmar friends have been joined by Gannets galore. Mostly
juvenile ones, that at first sight look just a little bit like the Fulmars:
white underbody, grey markings...until you start looking at the
beak, the head and the way the wings are attached to the body. Quite nice to
be able to compare them, flying so close. Luke just mentioned there is a
juvenile Gannet out there now that is easily the biggest he has ever seen,
must be at least 6 feet wingspan!
One Fulmar was just gliding right next to boat, keeping up with me at the
helm, before soaring up and over the boat and going for a long accelerating
glide down on the other side...I couldn't help but wonder if he (or she)
would feel the same at that moment as I do when helming a yacht, surfing her
down a wave, and just feeling that acceleration in the wheel and your body,
feeling the adrenaline going, feeling simply exhilarated.
Does a Fulmar feel exhilaration??


Note:
While I have been writing this, the wind is once again playing tricks on us
and instead of making a course of 130, we were doing 92 and with the wind
dropping further and further, our speed was done to less than 5 knots. It
means we're back to motoring under main with the headsails rolled up. At
least the sun is still shining and we're pointing in the right direction!!

Just a very quick update for all of you following us on the spot tracker on the website and wondering where the heck we went...

While making our way East, we received a severe gale and storm warning on the VHF from the Icelandic coastguard. Turns out that the big system that was supposed to have passed by last night (when we were getting to the NE corner of Iceland) hadn't moved as fast as predicted by the forecasts...(oh dear, the forecast got it wrong??? You don't say!)

They were predicting Force 8 to 10, right on the nose while we would be rounding....not exactly a good place to be, so the decision was made to go south there and then  and pull into Husavik. It was an interesting little trip, even though it was already 25nm. We had to navigate our way between some offshore islands and the shore, while having anywhere between 5 and 35 knots blowing over decks in a pitch dark night (moon not up until 5am). We made it to the dock at 7am and went for a well earned sleep.

It's given us the chance to go and visit the fantastic whale museum here, well worth the visit, that we didn't manage to include last time.

Going south second try will start tomorrow morning at 5am. Gotta run now as dinner is almost served onboard!