Brian and I said, “Farewell, Maine!” and set sail one evening from Portland. The forecast looked uneventful, and we headed east.
There were only hints of a breeze as we crossed the Gulf of Maine; this being our third time through this area of ocean, each trip having had incredibly settled weather and glassy seas. I’m convinced the Gulf of Maine is always peaceful. Detour‘s spinnaker was incredibly useful during these conditions, and flew often including one overnight which is a rarity. The Gulf of Maine is teeming with life; we often spotted dolphins, ocean sunfish (mola mola), sharks, and were joined for some time by humpback whales. This was an easygoing beginning to a long passage, so Brian and I were able to adjust to our new sleeping pattern for 6-hour watches. Our only excitement was when I managed to snag an deep water fishing buoy; Detour sailed straight through between two, tied, enormous buoys. I was alerted by the sound of metal on metal, “THWAK, THUNK” of a radar reflector (also enormous and tied with yet another line to the buoys) bouncing along the side of our hull. Raising the centerboard released the line on the radar reflector. Fortunately, the removal of the remaining entanglement did not require a dive, although Brian did have to dangle himself over the swim platform with his goggles on, boathook in hand, to push the lines off the propeller. We think these buoys were marking swordfish fishing gear, which could be miles of rope below.
We had the opportunity to try our newest sail, a drifter. It flew beautifully and moved Detour with ease! But after wrestling it down, we’ve decided to add a furler to this sail for the next passage.
A low appeared on our extended forecast and we decided to sail south to avoid the low for fear its intensity might grow. It did. The low became a tropical storm, named Debby. We’d planned to use Debby’s wind to jettison ourselves east as she moved past us. Debby’s projected course was north-east of Detour. We adjusted our course back to east as soon as we were able, thinking Debby was ahead of us, but Debby changed her course also. I looked out during my sunrise watch, the rain had not yet started, and my views toward port, bow, and starboard, were ominous very dark grey clouds. I actually woke Brian, “Should be turn south again? I feel like we are sailing directly into this storm.” We were sailing along nicely, waves had been building but that was expected. We’d agreed Debby should still be north of us. However, that little course change she did was just enough to sail us straight through the storm! Ugh! It was a very wet, uncomfortable two days!
screen shot of our course, and Debby’s location
After Debby cleared out, we have 5 fabulous days sailing on a broad reach in the sunshine. Brian caught a Mahi Mahi, which tremendously improved our bland canned diet!
We’d spotted the island of Flores as we passed about 37nm south. Al day we gazed out at Flores, anxiously awaiting our arrival day…
We’d spent 19 days at sea. On the morning of our arrival, we were greeted with a fabulous view of the island of Pico (highest peak in Portugal) rising out of the ocean at sunrise.
clean Captain, tidy ship; approaching Faial, we are READY!
Welcome back to Europe! We cleared with ease, and docked Detour in the port of Horta on the island of Faial, of the islands in the Portuguese Azores.
Here is a glimpse of what our days at sea are like – not much happening, but each something a little bit unique.