"Rosita" Reports - Leg 6

Ship Bar

09 20 00 400 m. to Madiera. Sam wrote this to his godfather: Dear Goddaddy Al, I have lots to tell you. For the last 3 wks we have been in the Azores having great fun. 1st we spent a week in Horta on Faial. The second day there we hired a taxi to take us around the island. The whole thing truly is spectacular. There are a number of volcanoes on the island, though I think only one is active. 1 that went off 40 years ago looked like a huge pile of ash. The caldera that made the island in the 1st place was about 1500 meters across and about 400 meters deep. There were a few lakes in the bottom of it, but 5 or 6 years ago an earthquake made some cracks in the bottom of the caldera and the lakes drained out. Now only in winter are there some small ones at the very bottom. There are also huge walls of Hydrangeas and Agapanthus feet thick that wind for miles around the fields.

Flores is much the same only high up in the hills there were huge deep lakes. Also on the west face of the island there was a lovely waterfall flowing down the cliff in a very fine mist. Our taxi driver told us that in the winter it is a huge torrent of rushing water. Santa Maria, which we are on now, is the best so far. In the lower parts of the island it's so dry and barren you could be in the Great Plains and not know it. The only thing is that you can see the water. The strange thing is that higher in the hills every thing is lush, green, and livid with trees flowers, bushes, nuts, berries, grapes, and people. The churches here are completely different than the ones in Horta. In Horta there were enclosures completely covered with gold leaf, tiles, statues, and images of Christ on the crucifix that were so gruesome and vivid that they made my stomach heave. The churches on Santa Maria were white walls. One or two smallish enclosures like those in Horta but not so gruesome. Unlike those on Pico the vineyards here were all geometric shapes placed orderly all over the cliffs. I miss you a lot, Love Sam

09 21 00 35 16N, 21 41W 275m NW of Funchal, Madiera.
Dose of hi pressure nothings out here. Wind up & down & around & about. Happy for enuf fuel. Y'day saw spinnaker airing briefly. Not for long as the wind died, but ok to admire the bottom paint and dry the wetness it acquired the day before, when we somehow hoisted it under & over the bow all at once.. Hearing sperm whales & dolphins periodically but seeing narry a spout. Grand backdrop for reading Moby D. Re Sam's missive yesterday, he showed greater sensitivity to religious icons than I ever did at his age. I included his words to share the spirit of his enquiring mind. Hope it was not irksome to any of you all out there. Passage making routine continues to solidify - the pleasure of watching ones children grow in understanding of ships in the night, weather systems and swell, and of their parents continues. Being on 7/24 family watch is an ongoing treat for me. Mkl. PS Moonrise as I wrote this was beyond words tonite.

09 22 00 0040UTC 33 43N 1850W. 120m NW of Madeira.
Much debate as to where to in Madeira. Porto Santo is small isl. to NE. Dry, great beach, better anchorage. Funchal on Madeira Grande has limited dockage, but access to whaling mus. with right whale skull and main island. Decided on Madeira Grande. Maybe road trip to big island in store. Time for some serious beach engineering. Fall weather has driven us S. faster than that last NE Atlantic right whale could be expected to have gone, so have time to wait up. Looking at literature we should be off the W. Saharan African coast in Jan and Feb but the pilot talks of pirates and rocket launchers. So we will keep to Madeira/ Canaries/ C. Verdes in the hopes of finding some of these ghosts coming or going. Tonight an air of mischief aboard Rosita. Always seems to be last night of a passage. Hard to figure, but lots of impish grins. Great Venus shine and ph'escence also. Y'day saw 1 turtle, 2 Cory's sh'waters and 2 gull. .Mkl

09 23 00. Arrived Porto Santo, Madeira 2200 last night. Interesting gradient as we came up the rise in to the island: fishing gear, domestic trash, turtles, phosphorescence all on the increase. Looked hard for signs of homeothermic marine life with no luck. Feel like we've pushed far enough south now to face whatever autumn weather as is, so time to relax and let that mythical herd of eastern right whales headed for Cintra Bay catch up with us........... Beach here looks spectacular: debate re likely dress code rages - a weekend destination from Funchal it seems. E-station Rosita probably off air for next few days. Michael

09 30 00 Porto Santo, Madeira.
'ere we sit recuperating from a vicious gastrointe stinal hurricane that swept prostrate the ranks of Rosita over the past 5 days. Dropped like flies. Sam the last to succumb - tonight. Once all have regained a state of relative homeostasis will visit Madeira Grande. Meanwhile y'day saw docking here of the Santa Maria, a spectacular 1998 replica built in Funchal, here to deliver said Columbus, family and entourage to partake of local fiesta in his honor. (Wife hailed from here). Their arrival aboard said ship at the town pier had great entertainment value. The Santa Maria's pilot needs some time in the "ship under power" simulator. All's well here in spite of all. Pto Santo for us been rechristened Potti Insanito. Mkl.

10 02 00 - The following was written by Oliver Moore - he's 14 - no doubt too young to legally stand watch - but I thought this essay, which he wrote as part of a school assignment, expresses rather well some of the aspects of what we are up to, in a way that Hannah or I can't begin to verbalise. It's rather long, so don't start it if the phone is ringing off the hook. Michael

Watches
by: Oliver Moore

October 1, 2000
Whenever a boat is traveling for more than twelve hours the crew is divided up into sub-crews called watches. The different watches rotate on a time schedule that lasts day and night. They are maintained in order to allow for the whole crew to get enough rest without leaving the ship uncared for. As my family takes a year off from work and school, in order to look for right whales in the north Atlantic, we have taken many overnight passages where we have used watches. The watches consist of my brother Sam and I from eight p.m. to midnight, my father from midnight to four a.m. and my mother from four to eight a.m. During the day everyone who is awake contributes and keeps an eye out, however during rough weather we carry the schedule throughout the day. While one is on watch you take complete and utter responsibility for the boat and all the people on board. There are many jobs that you must complete as you are on watch, most of which are summed up in being alert and aware of what the boat is doing and what the surrounding sea is doing. This includes avoiding other ships, figuring out when to change sails, and navigating. This seems like a lot but all it really consists of is every five minutes taking a good look around the horizon, listening and looking at the rigging, making sure you're on course, and filling out the log every hour. Needless to say you need to be awake to be able to perform these tasks. Staying awake is a critical part of the personal challenge of taking control of the boat.

When I am on watch I usually work with Sam. I am better at staying up late and he is better at getting up early, so he stays up as late as he can and then he relieves Mom at eight in the morning. By ten p.m. I am usually on my own fighting sleep: the only sure way is to keep busy. So I usually end up reading what ever is lying on the chart table, this usually consists of some riveting texts such as thesis papers on right whales or nautical almanacs. This usually works, if I don't get bored to death, and all that remains is to make sure I keep a good lookout. To do this I set my watch to go off every five minutes, this does the trick quite well and hasn't failed me yet. However the beeping isn't loud enough to wake me up, should I fall asleep.

The only time I have fallen asleep on watch was when we were hove-to (back winding the jib so the boat stays almost stationary) for the night south of the Azores while we were looking for whales. Even though the boat isn't moving you still need to keep a watch. As usual I was on watch by myself with twenty minutes till I was off and I didn't want to go find another book so. I laid down and started to watch the stars. I guess I fell asleep but I don't remember. Carolyn Miller, who is a scientist helping us look for whales, was awake at the time and says when I woke up ten minutes past twelve there was a flurry from a stumbling body muttering "Shoot! Help! Dad!" In a dazed stupor I found myself in front of Dad's bunk waking him up. Thankfully nothing had happened and I got lucky but it was a wake up call. This is just how easy it is to fall asleep, your body wants to go to bed after a hard day but you have got to stay up for another four-hour vigil. No matter I just have to stay alert because I have to take care of the boat and my family.

The first real eye opener of how important it is to keep a good watch came on our second night off shore. We were off Ireland having just left Scotland and heading for the Azores. Sam and I were on watch at about ten at night when we saw a couple of lights dancing on the horizon. We turned on the radar and kept an eye on the lights, however nothing showed up on the radar. Then there was a call on the radio from a ship trying to contact a fishing vessel with almost our exact location. Also at this time three boats suddenly showed up on the radar at once. At this we got Dad up and we told him what had happened and he thought the vessel that had called us was a guard vessel. Dad called them back, found we were the supposed fishing boat and the vessel was indeed a guard vessel. He told Dad that he was escorting another vessel towing a three-mile long cable setting off periodic explosions, traveling four knots directly across our bow and would we please go four miles behind them. As it was we were heading directly over their cable, which would have done a lot of damage. On top of all this there was a fishing vessel forty-five degrees of our port bow, just sitting there. We eventually managed to wriggle free of the whole mess and continue on our way. It was a very big and early welcome to all the responsibility. Thankfully we dealt with it right and nothing happen but it could have been really ugly and a big mess. This is one of the purposes of why you stand watch and shows the importance of keeping a good watch. Watches are an extremely important part of sailing a boat over long distances and they entail a lot of responsibility. By taking a watch I am stepping up to that responsibility and taking on a huge challenge. It is not just a challenge were if I fail you say "oh-well, better luck next time." There probably wont be a next time if I really mess up and that's a huge consequence. When I take a watch I'm giving everyone my promise that I won't fail them and they are trusting you. You take the life of all the people on board into your own hands and do your best to protect it and if you can't you call others for help. Taking a watch may not at first seem like that big of a deal but once you've seen and heard what the ocean can do and you understand the consequences it takes on a whole new level of importance.

10 07 00 Porto Santo, Madeira.
Returned last night on the ferry from a touristic interlude on Madeira Grande. Major object was a pilgrimage to the Whale Museum in Canial, where the literature (a Dave Sergeant paper), reported the museum to have a skull of a right whale taken north of Madeira in 1967. Even the bones of right whales have a hard time surviving in the NE Atlantic. Luis Freitas, who now runs the museum has been looking for the skull - it having disappeared some time before his tenure. So we consoled our failure to pay homage to said relic by spending two special days hiking two different Levada systems. Since the 1500's Madeirans have been building small irrigation canals from high in the mountains for irrigation, and more recently, hydroelectric power. Often these canals are cut out of cliff faces, with narrow maintenance paths along the drop off into the valley below. Periodically they cut through bluffs and ridges with tunnels that vary in length from yards to miles. Taking Luis' advice we found a spectacular circuit way off the tourist track. Short tunnels, great views. The most remarkable part to me was the fact that the incline of the canals is such that rarely does the water make a single sound. It just flows along at about 3 knots in total silence. Day 2 Levada was a tourist trap. We (less Hannah and Chris who was not well - he's fine now) Ódid" the waterfalls and then struck off down a side trail to look for a less populous circle back to the car. Map, and map-reading, was sub-optimal and succeeded in misreading crucial data such that what we thought was a short tunnel back to the car was in fact about a mile long, exiting in the middle of nowhere. Not having flashlights this rapidly degenerated into a foolhardy excursion. Happily we saw discretion as the better part of valor and after about 40 minutes of the light at the end of the tunnel not growing we retreated and found the trail we had missed. Cost 'a dunking for Sam, some bloody knuckles, and a boat load of chagrin on father's behalf. Regaining daylight was sweet indeed. Our last day at the Jardim Botanico in Funchal was welcome in its security in the aftermath. After celebrating Oliver's 15th birthday today we will head for the Canaries once we get shipshape, in a day or three. One other aspect of our time in Madeira was a Portugese folk concert in Sao Vicente, sponsored by the Partida Socialista - elections here are in a week. To see the sheer delight these folks had in participating in their relatively novel democratic process made us both weep for the level of US apathy in the voting process and look with fresh understanding on what was unfolding in Serbia. It was great to spend the past few days with evening access to CNN & BBC newsreels as the events in Serbia unraveled. All the best, Michael. PS Rosita now sports a Partida Socialista flag: appropriate hull color. Michael

101000 2200UTC . Departed Pto.
Santo this afternoon. Combination of a week of sickness, then tourist time on Madeira Grande, and a seductive beach (aka nature's rock tumbler to quote Oliver) held us there longer than expected. Weather about to further detain us, so headed with all due decorum to Graciosa, a small island at the north end of Lanzarote in the Canaries. Had hoped to spend time on the intervening sea mounts but likely weather precludes this. Will take a look around the east of the Canaries before heading to the western half and then Cape Verdes. Broad reach in 16 knots of wind - doing about 8. Charging half of the inverter seems to have turned up its toes - or "popped its clogs" to quote a memorable Greek/English scientist. At this point we seem to fall back in to a sea routine very easily. Mutual expectations are understood - but it comes as a real pleasure to find one's kids getting bunks ready for their parents. They'll be picking nursing homes before we know it. Mkl.

10 12 00 0010UTC 30 15N 13 47W 60m N of Graciosa, Canary Islds.
So far an uneventful, if fitful and somewhat rolly run. Seeing more ships - presumably keeping an offing from the unpredictable African coast. The Canaries are only 50 miles offshore at their closest. If sperm whales are here they are mighty quiet.
Just starting to hear some dolphins. Should be on the SW edge of Conception Bank, NE of Graciosa at dawn. Will take a peek there before hopefully finding a berth in the small fishing harbor on Graciosa, before clearing in to the Canaries on Lanzarote in a day or two. Thankfully these folks don't require clearing in and out in triplicate at every port, in contrast to the dear, but bureaucratically p reposterous, Portugese islands. Tom's 9th birthday yesterday. Mkl.

10 12 00 1940 UTC Anchored 1500 UTC today @ Playa Francesca, on isl. of Graciosa, N tip of Lanzarote, Canaries.
No stop at the Islas Salvegas - unsure of weather to N, & lacked permit. Have yet to explore ashore here, but has distinctly Saharan impressions. Hills with awesome swirling strata of sand. This place seems to be a popular Canaries landfall for migrating yachties - 18 in this bay tonight. AUS, US, CAN, FR, UK, DK, - fewer Scandinavians than we saw in Azores and Madeira. Detour today to Conception Bank on way in, 40 miles NE of here, yielded a few dolphin squeaks, and a distant sperm whale or two, but nothing visual. Initially had high hopes for Ireland and Scotland. Still hoping to see something useful in the Cape Verdes, Bermuda or Newf/Lab. Predictably this is turning into the cruise of the right whale ghost. Expect to day hop, with sorties offshore, thru' Canaries till leave for Cape Verdes first week in Nov. Email will be intermittent till then. Mkl.

10 17 00 Puerto Castillo, Fuertoventura, Canaries. 3 nights in Graciosa.
Strikingly beautiful island nature reserve. Hiked 1 of the 2 major sand/lava hill systems: then to "town" for gelados. Town has no paving - just sandy streets, white block houses w flat roofs. Millions of empty snail shells, & low desert plants.
No bureaucrats. Then down Lanzarote coast to clear in at Arrecife. Mkl's dim distant Paraguayan "espanol" not up to task of navigating multitudinous Policias (Civil, Nacional, Local, Maritima, Marina etc etc) in search of rubber stamp to enter Spain. Finally achieved same in Autoridad Puertas. Pto Naos in Arrecife v crowded: "safe but grotty". Today ran down to Fuertoventura. Heard distant sperm whale today but nothing else since we left Azores. Inverter/charger still ailing, but not dead. Kids building ships models in Marty's shop. Tomorrows quest is buy an ex-rental windsurfer. Pto Castillo is mega resorto turistico allemagne. Next headed for Gran Canaria. Mkl

10 21 00 2125 UTC 2752N 1456W To Pto Mogan, Gr. Canaria from Pto Castilla Fuertoventura.
NE 20. 8-9 kts. Flying fish in scuppers. Bought used windsurfer to keep guys on toes. F'tura an island of barren rock & resorts. Extent of ongoing development astounding. Yesterday rented 2 sub compacts & had a rental car rally over some minimal roads. Inspected a spectacular beach, Cofete, on SW edge, renowned for whale strandings. Only beached mammals we found had full body tans. Dress code au naturale down here. Taking a while for us prudish yankees to adjust. Whale hunt taking a back seat to school routine at present - pace will pick up in Cape Verdes where Lisa Steiner will join us. Pto Castillo was an experience: blend of Butlins and Disney. Full of tattooed northerners from UK, with horrendous sunburn, and copies of The Sun, & many Germans. Everybody having a grand old time. Us too. Once we get the charger looked at in Mogan, it's on to Gomera to stock up, then Cape Verdes early Nov. Mkl.

10 29 00 28 03N 1643W Anchored Los Cristanos, south coast of Tenerife.
Reach over from Gran Canaria today. 25 knots on the beam. 2 reefs in the main. No jib. Held a steady 9 knots. Hank burbling along at the wheel. Happily steered around a large foam core yacht rudder floating amidst the many white caps. No sign of its owner. Conditions not good for sighting blows. Last time I was here was in 1979 waiting to cross to Antigua with Hal and Kathy prior to a winter on Silver Bank. Hotels have grown like concrete weeds. Chip shops too. Good for UK newspapers tho'. Spent most of last week anchored outside of Puerto Mogan, on the south coast of Gran Canaria, doing battle with Rosita's charging system. The inverter/charger turned up its toes first as a charger, then as an inverter. Happily Mogan has possibly the best yacht repair resource in the Canaries in the form of a couple of folks from Hull UK - Mike and Marla at Sunshine Maritime. Insanely busy as they have a unique reputation in the migrant yacht crowd but willing to advise and supply what they can. In addition to expanding our catalog of bad jokes over dinner the night before last. Combination of their resources, and skill, and my willingness to poke around in the engine room - happy to report no frizzy hair - lead to a restoration of the AC charging system in the form of a couple of switch mode chargers from Stirling Chargers in the UK, that seem to put out a much more efficient charge curve than is the case for the transformer based unit as we had before. We now get a steady 95amps till charged. Time will tell how this technology and the batteries stand up. These chargers can take an AC input that ranges from 80 to 240V & 50 or 60 Hz. Good news for US boats in Europe. Still waiting on a new inverter from the US. (110 inverters cant be had in Europe). So are headed for Gomera tomorrow to poke around on the less touristed west Canarian fringe until the part arrives in Las Palmas, when we'll head back to here, to allow a ferry trip to Las Palmas to pick up the part. We lie in the hands of Airborne Express.......we have to leave for the Cape Verdes by the end of the week to ensure being there to meet Lisa Steiner on the 12th. Of course Tim and Pauline Carr would be laughing at the above, wondering what is wrong with a kerosene lamp and a compass. Ythe above however reprents not only the need to navigate, cook, etc, but also entertain and educate four burgeoning young minds. Said crew somewhat taken aback by the observation that the most brazen exposure au naturale to date has been on the foredeck of a vessel anchored 20 feet astern of us .....from Michigan, US......so much for us prudish Americanos. We are keeping our tan lines and proud to do so! Michael


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