Epilogue, the end of our Journey, the beginning of Another

The boat arrives back in Northern Ireland at the end of May 2022 and she is up for sale. I had placed her on several Facebook websites and contacted the broker when in the Azores but the broker suggested waiting until she was home.

Time to empty her of all our personal debris and memories. This was a horrendous physical effort, never mind the emotional effect. I come across things I had forgotten were on board, old friends, my angle grinder, jigsaw, a couple of electric drills, a hot airgun, several soldering irons, spanners, spare spanners, mole wrenches (vice grips in American-speak - The Mole company in Birmingham (uk - not the American one) patented "Mole grips" in 1950) a cubic foot of stainless screws, bolts, nuts & washers, widgets and threaded rods, a small chain winch (a hand operated crane that can lift a ton). Crowbars and a sledgehammer. wow.

Of course there were rocks and shells taken from beaches (oops) as well as hats and t-shirts, woolly gloves, scarfs and balaclavas. My Tropical trousers and shirts (God bless Rohan and Craghoppers), I used to hand wash these and watch them dry in two hours under a tropical sun. Two years of my life were in the boat, and a dozen years before that. Every item has a history, a long history in fact.

The memories are not just mine of course. The years in the Baltic with Shirley, the family holidays,and the other crews who had been on board all carry many memories, happy, serene as well as exciting in both good and bad ways but memorable nonetheless. Shadowmere had touched over twenty people in a significant way over her time with us.

It took a week to empty her, the boat rose in the water when she became an empty shell. We did leave essential gear on board but managed to empty nearly all of her lockers, some of which I had not been in for years. There are a lot of lockers, and often the floor of a locker would lift up revealing more storage space. I just did a mental count and came up with 48 storage spaces.

The boat was in the small marina at Ardglass, a mere 6 miles from the house and my increasingly crowded garage - as I piled up bags and boxes on its floor and then piled up bags and boxes on top of those bags and boxes. 

I would pack things up on the boat and Shirley would bring the car and trailer to the marina at the end of the day, invariably the tide was out and I had to push overladen wheelbarrows up the rather steep ramp, time and time again. Shirley cleaned and cleaned, scrubbed and polished every cupboard and surface until the 45 year boat could have passed for a much newer boat. She did look well (both Shirley and Shadowmere). Shirley also gave her a lick of varnish.

We had a number of visitors to the boat, some had the dream but maybe were not quite ready for a world going cruiser, some just wanted a look, to kick the tires and admire the old lady. Each boat visit and tour was stressful for us; you show off your best and wonder what others think. 

I had a visit from a Belgian family, one guy had sent his mother, father and wife as he was stuck in work. A serious enquiry, an HR41 was exactly what he wanted, he knew there were only 105 in the world ever built - we were hull number 85. I think he was most keen to buy her but it is always hard to judge the state of the teak decks from afar. The VAT rules after Brexit also caused some concern.

The VAT situation was particularly unusual because the issue was not just Britain versus Europe. The UK is comprised of GB and Northern Ireland. GB being England, Scotland and Wales. But Northern Ireland was sort of halfway between GB and Europe. It was in the customs union but not (fully) in the EU. I had taken advice from the legal experts consulting for the Cruising Association. In some ways the position was easier for an EU citizen to purchase the boat. There are two relevant points.

The boat was in the EU (the Azores - Portuguese) on December 30th, 2021, the date Brexit "happened" and hence it was "deemed to be EU VAT Paid".

The boat was in the UK prior to leaving the UK (weird English but that is what you get) and when it returned it was eligible for returned goods relief (RGR) provided it was still owned by the original owner and was the same boat! (i.e had had no substantive works carried out when abroad). It was then "deemed to be UK VAT paid".

All this was despite my having the 1979 VAT invoice which proves VAT was paid when the boat was bought. And in any case UK VAT officials didn't used to worry about boats older than 1992.

The Northern Ireland situation did muddy the waters a bit as regards RGR so originally I had thought I would have to call into Falmouth (i.e GB) on the way home and claim RGR but regulations changed and RGR was implied if you could prove the boats whereabouts at the key dates. I had also talked to a couple of long term UK yachties living in the Azores and they had written to HMRC and got letters saying they were all right, I had the name and address of the poor soul in HMRC and an example letter she had written so selling to a UK, or maybe a GB? person would be ok. In the end I did not call into GB and went straight from the Azores to Ireland.

I know of two friends who had come a cropper with Brexit and boats, they both bought boats in Sweden. One before Brexit and one after. Neither could bring their boat home into the UK without incurring a VAT penalty of 20% of the perceived value of the boat. They are doomed to wander the oceans of the world, never sailing home...Or register the boat as European and owned by a company - there are always loopholes, ask the rich people...

So the boat was snug in Ardglass and we lived nearby, what could go wrong? Well it turns out Arglass marina are happy to have big boats visit but not stay. I had enquired if I could stay a month as I expected to sell the boat and they had been most helpful, but after 6 weeks they were keen for me to move on. A nuisance.

 Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Above is Ardglass Marina, below is Belfast (the marina is bottom left)

Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Every month you keep a boat, it costs money and the less money the better. The big marinas in Belfast Lough are fairly expensive but the tiny marina right in Belfast's city centre was cheaper. Shadowmere had spent all of 2016 and half of 2017 there before departing for the North Atlantic adventure, we had left in May 2017 and got lifted out for a month in Carrickfergus before final departure. So in many ways the journey was complete by returning there. 

So we sailed from Ardglass to Belfast, we stopped overnight in Donaghadee for old times sake and I had a pint in Pier 36 with Ken Walsh, an old crewmember, I had also telephoned Nick but he had hurt his back gardening and was heading for the bath and bed, dangerous things gardens, I'd rather be away from land in a boat.

The next day we had a delightful family day anchored in the Copeland islands, paddle-boarding and playing, eating and watching the myriad of seals and birds that lived nearby. We had spent many days there when we lived in Donaghadee for 25 years. Ironic that moving from Donaghadee 15 years ago had allowed us to buy the big boat that made comfortable ocean sailing possible. We were now back on what we thought would be Shadowmere's last (to us) voyage.

And then to Belfast, Shadowmere's home. Joe and Sasha, the marina staff made us feel most welcome and there were several liveaboards for company, Hilary and her Dutch barge was a friend of Shirleys and Alan and his ketch were kindred spirits - he had also travelled the North Atlantic to Nova Scotia, a lot singlehanded too. He was planning to head for the frozen North next.

Selling Shadowmere took twists and turns, an early contender was referred to us by the broker, a Frenchman - we thought - turns out he was Belgian, had lived in Italy for 9 years and was now working in Paris. He is a European then, I suppose, just like we used to be before the English Brexit. At least we have Irish (and UK) passports...

He came to view the boat and Matt and I took him for a trial sail "out the Lough", a one hour motor and a one hour sail and then a one hour motor back. He was interested but said he was also going to visit a HR41 in Greece in August first. At least he had seen the boat, the teaks decks keep getting described as being in "poor condition" just as they had been described in 2006 when we bought the boat You had to see them to realise they were perfectly serviceable and in 5 years time you will still be running up and down the decks in bare feet in the tropics without worry. You could lift the teak, make good the underlying fibreglass and apply non-slip paint, but personally I would rather keep the teak. 

Anyway whilst he was away I got another couple of phone calls, one through the broker and one through a facebook/website viewing. I took a phone call from a guy who worked on oil rigs for 12 weeks at a time and then stayed "home" for a few weeks. He said his divorce had just come through and he was completing the sale of his house next Monday and could put the money for Shadowmere in my bank account on Tuesday. 

"Wow", I said, "congratulations on the divorce, did he want to see the boat or arrange a survey" 

"no, no, I trusted your description of things, I just want the boat". 

"Great", I said, "call the broker and make the arrangements"

I was somewhat mystified by all this, but, perhaps, what is meant to be, is meant to be. I was a little sceptical and awaited confirmation from the broker. Finally on the Tuesday night I texted the client back and got a brief reply "I am not going ahead with the sale" and thought that was that. But talking to the broker the next day he said that the client still wanted the boat but had been unable to get a residential mooring in Falmouth. He had even talked to both Belfast marina and the nearby Bangor (NI) marina to get prices and availability of residential marinas, I suppose if you spend your working life on oil rigs you can live anywhere. The broker also said there is another guy trying to sell his flat in exactly the same position, if he sold the flat he would buy the boat. Wow, again I thought.

In the meantime the original Belgian (the one who had sent his family instead of himself to view the boat) emailed me to say he had bought the HR41 in Greece and was sorry, if I ever visited Belgium I should contact him and he would take me sailing.

And then the Frenchman came back ( the second Belgian) with a firm offer which I accepted. Shadowmere was sold.

Well, technically, sold subject to survey. He and I moved the boat to Carrickfergus to get lifted out for survey. I was liable to fix any defects that affected sea-worthiness and operational integrity (whatever that is), or at least defects that were unknown or not listed in the inventory. 

Carrickfergus boat yard is to the right of the marina below, to the left of the harbour mouth.


Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

I waited with bated breath whilst the surveyor poked and prodded Shadowmere. I showed him the boat and then got offside, I paced up and down like an expectant father for most of the day. He was most thorough, hitting every square foot of the hull with his hammer, he scraped paint off every seacock and hit the seacocks and judged whether it rang like a bell or sounded like a dull thud. Ding or Dong

He gave a verbal report at the end of the day and we drew up a snaglist of what needed fixed, I had to fix some navigation lights and replace a shackle on the second anchor along with a few minor things. The boat needed re-rigging, which we knew, so the client looked after that. 

The seacocks were an issue. I had them checked in the Azores and the company there had replaced three, that left eleven others which I had  replaced in 2006. The correct seacocks had been fitted then, de-zincification resistant (DZR) brass as per the standard at that time. The EU had decided since then to amend the regulations to say that from now on, only phosphor bronze seacocks should be used and the surveyor said, that whilst the sound emanating from them was a nice ding and they were ok, they should be replaced to meet the new standard. 

Who should pay for this was probably a moot point, but in the interests of a quick sale I agreed I should drop the price by half the estimated cost of replacing the seacocks. The deal was done.

I agreed to work my way down the snaglist the following Monday/Tuesday and then the broker could  arrange bills of sale and other paperwork. I had also agreed to help sail the boat to her new destination in France but I was only available from the 10th September as Shirley and I with 6 others were heading to Alicante and Valencia for Eileen and Reg's 40th Wedding anniversary celebration.

And so it was we set off at 5am on Saturday 10th September to motor South, little wind, and of course what wind there was came from the wrong direction. We arrived in Howth at low water and checking the up to date charts on my phone - using a Navionics app and chart that had cost me £49, I discovered the water was very thin at low tide and we could not get in to fuel up (and wait for tide heading south - my usual ploy). We blattered on into a foul tide at 4 knots and headed towards Dunleary (DĂșn Laoghaire). By the time we got there the fuel dock was shut and, again, we headed on, speed dropped to 3.6 knots in Dalkey Sound but we arrived in Wicklow harbour at midnight. The next day was a rest day, in rain and driving South winds, but we got a good pint of Guinness in Wicklow sailing club.

A mid morning departure had us flying down the coast with the tide and arriving at the corner of Ireland, Carnsore point an hour after slack, the tide was then against us heading the 9 miles to Kilmore quay. The last mile is through a red and green buoy on St Patrick's land bridge which is shallow (15 feet deep) and hence rough, before turning sharp right at a safe-water buoy anf following two transit lights to get up the narrow channel to the harbour, we arrived after midnight, again.

It had been a long time since I had been here and the harbour had had some work done. The pontoons seemed full and were narrow to get into so a hammer head was sensible. there were two boats already rafted up there (and a lifeboat on the other hammer head). We came alongside the two and a very friendly guy called Dougie helped us tie up, when the owners of the inner boat popped up.

and said "no, no, we are all tied up to just two cleats, it won't do"

Frankly, with no gales forecast it would have been fine, 

"we are leaving at 7am for Madeira" they said, 

"so will we", we said, (leave at 7, not head to Madeira)

"but but two cleats are not enough" they said again.

Dougie then quietly remarked, "you can go on the fuel pontoon, I will walk around and take your warps."

This we did, an easy berth, big rubber fenders along the berth.

We offered Dougie a beer but he said he was getting up at 6 the next morning to head North.

"make sure you rev your engine well before leaving", I suggested, and we laughed

There are two types of yachties, you can describe them with various adjectives, helpful and not helpful, perhaps? My overwhelming wish is to think about the kindness of strangers, an (almost) universal truth. Thank you Dougie.

I lied about leaving at 7, it was best to leave later in the day and avoid the last of the strong winds. This we did after a rather good fish and chips, served with mushy peas. The Frenchman asked what mushy peas were and I said like petit pois, only different. They were delicious, adulterated with garlic I think, the frenchman enjoyed them.

The sail south was a delight, beam, broad or fine reach in a good sailing wind we managed 7 knots plus for most of it. As there were only two of us, we used two hours on and two hours off for the next 50 hours. Originally I though we might visit the Isles of Scilly, one of my favourite places but we decided to avoid them as inspection by HMRC might prove problematical, we had bills of sale but no (new) ownership registration papers. 


The French coast appeared as we could see lots of racing boats, at one stage 4 came up on the AIS as about to collide with me, they were going up wind at 9 or 10 knots and hence restricted a bit in their manoeuvrability I was doing 4 knots against tide and I turned ninety degrees and wondered if I was fast enough to miss the oncoming traffic. I was, by about 50 yards. The next excitement was about 10 miles from St Malo we discovered a massive windfarm under construction, we got radioed and told to head East for a couple of miles to avoid them. It was going to be another night time entrance. We headed East and then South to approach the 30 or 40 navigation marks that show the way in to the harbour. Tricky.

I navigated and found a more isolated mark to head for, easier to identify and once there we could buoy hop. We didn't identify the mark until we nearly hit it but from there I found another buoy to head for, after that we picked up lit transits and passed the next set of buoys easily enough, it always looks worse than it is. The chartplotter allowed me to work out compass courses between buoys and I double checked using the Navionics App with it's more uptodate charts in case buoys had been moved. The third part of the navigation was to look up and use our eyes! 

Onto a buoy in the harbour to await a lock gate and bridge opening in the morning, we were to go into the inner harbour were there was a berth waiting. My journeying in Shadowmere was approaching its end.


A nice walk up the old town, treated to coffee, lunch and an evening meal, (gallettes and risotto) finished the day and had me on a ferry home, via Portsmouth and a day spent with Alan and Gwen before flying to Belfast. Ferries, trains, cars, planes and more cars. I was home, Shadowmere wasn't

She is to be renamed Colibri - the French name for a hummingbird. A year in St Malo, then taken to Greece for a year before going around the world for 5 or 6 years. Deus Volente. (DV)

Azores to home, the Final Journey (20,000 nm)

Well, the best laid plans... Shirley and I had wanted to cruise the Azores in 2020 but Covid scuppered that idea. Poor old Shadowmere was grounded - ashore for 3 years until May the 4th, 2022 when I returned with Nick Butler and John Henshaw to bring her home. 

I had managed to visit her each year to check everything was ok, no cockroaches or mould! but the sprayhood shredded due to thread weakened by UV, the domestic batteries died of old age and I ended up needing new injectors in the engine. Other minor problems abounded of course but that is part of yachting!

I had to give a anticipated launch date each year despite covid and I had always given the date as May the fourth, this is easily remembered (by me) as it is Starwars Day. If you don't see why, ask a Starwars fan. I like memory aids and always book dentist appointments for 14:30 hours. (Tooth Hurty in the afternoon...) Age does diminish memory, now, what was I saying...

Shadowmere was booked to launch at the beginning of May and we planned around that date. I flew out on April 24th, Nick flew out on the 2nd May and John came out on May 6th. 

The first three days of my visit had really bad weather, which was a surprise, but 2022 ended up with bad weather most of the month - the Azores high might have been over Iceland and the Icelandic lows came down to be over the Azores. This is actually close to the truth as there was a North Atlantic Oscillation happening as a weather event. 

I got most things checked out though, I had meant to service the winches, I had written this down on one of my many "Things to do" lists. I lost the list though but was happy I could spin them around by hand. This proved to be a mistake as once under load they misbehaved, I belatedly recalled one winch gave trouble on my earlier voyage and it turned out that it had a damaged pawl. The other winches had the usual hardened grease laced with black volcanic dust. 

The days before launch were enjoyable, at least when the weather was benign, most days after the first three were ok and Nick and I even managed a couple of swims in the bay. We walked up to the supermarkets each day, had a cheap coffee and Pastel de Nata and bought the heavier items to lug back to the boat. This invariably involved cases of beer or six packs of UHT milk. The beer and the milk lasted well, I was still using them a week after landing in Ireland. We also found a rather nice Portuguese red wine at 2.29 Euros a bottle. We ended up with 13 or 14 bottles on board and as I normally only  allow one drink a day I thought these should last. As captain, I did relent and allow double rations so lunch underway involved a sandwich, beer and crisps and a choice of beer or wine with the evening meal.  No drunks were harmed in the making of this voyage.

On dry land, I had tried to start the engine with the inlet water cooling pipe pushed into a barrel of fresh water and noticed the cooling water started flowing and then abruptly stopped. I phoned Adriano, the (very good) diesel mechanic who had fitted new injectors and ran the engine last. He came and fitted my spare impeller, he used gasket cement and we were unable to run things after fitting as it needed to harden. The old impeller had some tears in its fins but no missing rubber, it had been poorly fitted when the engine was built and had been rubbing on the cover plate.

Two days later we launched and the engine had the same problem, Adriano came back and sucked and puffed through various pipes, I did ask him if my exhaust elbow was ok (they can soot up) and was the heat exchanger blocked/gummed up. "No" he said " very clean exhaust and very forceful flow from the heat exchanger" he made vague reference to "airlock" but I am not sure what he did to clear the problem. A week later when the fault recurred I was most puzzled but did get to the bottom of it.

Anyway, we launched and got ourselves to the marina pontoon and set about bending on sails and filling water tanks, checking gas and generally getting ready for sea. John arrived on a Friday along with more foul weather but we had a rather nice meal in a nearby restaurant called "Pescador" - recommended by Nick's taxi driver. Of course there is no guarantee that the restaurant owner is not the taxi driver's brother, or cousin but I can personally recommend it. The three of us had good fish stews - the house special and an Azorean speciality. The next day we played the tourist and got buses to circumnavigate the island with stops in Biscoitus and Angra. 

On Sunday, we properly finished provisioning the boat with food (apart from previously loaded beer, wine and milk) and finished getting ready for sea. I had been buying various tins of meat and these, along with the staple carbs of potatoes, rice, couscous, noodles and pasta in various guises would form the backbone of our diet, some fresh meat was also bought and some tinned vegetables as well as the sailors favourite of cabbages and onions - the only fresh produce that will last (more than a month). Azorean cheeses were available in rather large rounds and these lasted over the entire voyage (and then some) so all was good. I would have liked to have spam and corned beef on board but we could not find any.

On Monday we had an appointment with immigration (emigration?) at 10:30 and I also had to check out of the Marina. I completed paperwork with Paulo, the Marina Captiniere and then handed him a gift of the RCC Pilot book on the Atlantic Islands, he is featured on page 132 and described as being very helpful, which he is. A most kind man. He was tickled. Getting our passports stamped took all of 5 minutes and then we were free to leave. At 12:30 we departed under (working) engine and motored North for the next 20 hours. 

I had downloaded 15 days of gribs at 3 hourly intervals - the weather is shown as a grid of wind arrows. These are accurate for 3 or 4 days and then indicative but I also had a good, if old, weatherfax machine on board that printed onto thermal paper and I could buy 50p weather forecasts for a single location using the satellite Garmin Inreach that Alan Doyle has lent me. The weatherfax proved invaluable.

The gribs; I showed these to John and Nick and outlined the strategy; go North for a day to get some wind, head East for 2 or 3 days before turning North to North-East. This avoided a string of depressions that were heading up the middle of the Atlantic and passing 3 or 4 hundred miles West of Ireland. By sailing East we could get into a more moderate wind stream to carry us up to the isles of Scilly. This proved a most prescient strategy as one of the lows deepened a few days later and became a rather severe storm, by then I was watching it carefully as it had winds near its centre in excess of force 12 (one forecast said 66 knots+). The weathercharts showed it deepening and becoming rather large so three days in to the voyage it was clear we could not totally avoid the depression, I was into damage limitation mode.

Below is our actual route, as mapped out by the updates I uploaded to the web using the satellite Garmin Inreach gadget that Alan Doyle had lent me. A most useful gadget, never buy an epirb, buy one of these instead. I also downloaded weather forecasts from it, and had a SMS dialogue with Alan for technical advice on the engine, thanks Alan. 

Here are the sequence of Gribs I downloaded before leaving. Followed by a weather chart showing how the gribs put the centre of the big low further North than more uptodate weatherfaxes. I downloaded faxes three times to see how real life was varying from predictions. Quite a bit, and the gribs were wrong but it is a lot to expect them to look a full week (or fortnight) ahead. Faxes only look 5 days ahead.

The Grib above is for the day we left, the one below for 5 or 6 days later, we were still in the lighter winds, or heading for them anyway. At least that was the plan.

But we knew strong winds were coming. Note the gribs show the eye as just South and a long way West of Ireland.

Had the centre of the low and its associated F11 (on this forecast) been as far North as the gribs predicted we would have had pleasant sailing...

So this 72 hour forecast from the weatherfax shows the low West of Spain and 200 to 300 miles from the boats position. By using the Geostrophic Scale you can crudely estimate wind strengths, 

You measure the distance between isobars where you are and then place your dividers on the left hand axis at the correct latitude. The geostrophic wind is at 500m and surface winds will be 70% of this figure but will gust up to the geostrophic value. Not very easy to read but clearly 40 to 50 knots. (the point forecast for near the centre of the eye was 66 knots plus.

I had hoped to be a 100 miles more to the South but the winds made it easier to sail where we did.

Our final route had a couple of days of bad weather, we had a trough pass over us in a couple of hours one morning with force 8 for a while, we saw the seas build but it wasn't too bad. The next day the lower part of the depression passed over us.

We got solid force 9 gusting 10 with seas of 20 to 30 feet. Had we been further South as I had planned I think it would have been F8 gusting 9. The windy bit lasted a few hours and it was all over in 12, although we had winds of force 6 for a few days. I think the wind anemometer peaked at 49 knots but I suspect it stops at 50. Also it does under-read when winds are from the aft starboard quarter (green 150 to 180) since I fitted the LED combined Tricolour and Anchor light - it is a rather tall unit and shades the anemometer. 

Storms do not last forever, after storm clouds come blue skies...

When the wind was at its worst it was nice and sunny which always helps. Nick was on watch when it hit and he loved surfing down the waves, in fact he requested an extra hour on the wheel he was having so much fun. I normally try to be rigorous about watch times as rested crew are vital but I relented.  I wish I had photographed him but my phone was buried in a waterproof box in the emergency grab bag along with our passports, my credit cards and the satellite communicator.

We had about 4 feet of foot showing in the number 2 genny as a storm jib and the boat travelled at a sedate 6 knots unless you went looking for surf. Going downhill Nick managed 11.3 knots and I was delighted that Shadowmere just went in a straight line, easy to control with no worrying gripes. A magnificent lady. Later cross seas did cause lurches and rolls but this was only a problem down below, steering stayed straight and easy. The cockpit stayed dry.

Down below, moving about meant continually tensing muscles and using a lot of physical strength to hang on to the numerous and well placed handholds in the cabin. We did manage to read, cook, eat, pee, poo and sleep).

It is strange how leaving a boat alone for three years makes things break. I have mentioned the winches which I should have serviced. A catspaw of lines allowed winching and tying off the sheets in an effective way. 

One of the pipes under the aft cabin sink leaked and made the water pump came on and dump the entire contents of the water tank into the bilges before we noticed. I had stored reserve water on board in 6L plastic bottles so with rationing we survived. No washing and dishes got polished with kitchen roll, we had a lot of toilet paper and kitchen roll on board.

One of the large tupperware boxes holding first aid had slid around on the cupboard shelf below the sink in the aft heads and this is what had dislodged a water pipe. Hidden consequences of storms!

The next casualty was the gas stove. It had a flame that was sometimes high, sometimes low and I thought if this stops working I would regret not having spam and corned beef on board as our diet might become tins of cold meat and water, bread and cheese. The next day the cooker stopped working. I had to go up to the bow and hang into the anchor locker to swap the gas regulator. Luckily I had a spare, I recall thinking I should keep a camping stove on board as an alternative way of cooking. 

I have used and loved Triangia meths (spirit alcohol) cookers for camping. I bought my first one when I was 18 and my second twenty years later so our kids could cook on one each on hiking expeditions. They take up little space. Mine was taking up little space in my garage back home. Note: always have two of everything. Two is one and one is none should be the mantra when ocean cruising. 

I had issues with both foresails, the reefing line on the drum of the first leading sail (the number 1) was too short and I had to crawl up to the bow one windy day and wind more line around the drum. This is tedious work that is exhausting. Well, the hanging on is exhausting and wetting. The number two had jammed when I first hoisted it and I had gone up the mast in the marina to unwrap the halyard that had rolled onto the forestay, 3 or 4 turns. This happens if the angle between the halyard and the forestay is not in the recommended 15 to 20 degrees. I wondered if we had not tightened the halyard enough. The next time it jammed was as a storm was approaching but we wound in it enough to act as a storm jib. A few days later, rather than go up the mast, we ended up winding the sail around and around the foil by hand and got it furled. We then used the number 1 for the rest of the voyage. I can improve the angle by lifting the clew up six inches with a small strop but the problem needs further examination.

A major potential problem was the engine not starting when we were 48 hours away from the Azores. I contemplated returning, I also contemplated heading for mainland Portugal or NW Spain a few times over the next few days. I was worried about charging batteries until I discovered that the new replacement solar panels were producing lots of charge, we did not need to run the engine over the next two weeks for charging, although we did not run the chartplotter.

In fact the GPS feeding the chartplotter was not working, I fixed this a few weeks later by ordering a new cable junction strip - the NMEA 2000 system uses fancy cables, terminators and special junctions "T" pieces. I recognised it as an RS422 communications system used in some CAN systems in cars and could have jury-rigged something up as I had been an RS422 "expert" in my professional career but that would have been a bit nerdish and wasn't needed. The VHF radio has its own GPS and we could read our latitude and longitude from it and use paper charts for our navigation. The chart plotter still showed AIS targets and actual charts, we could move the cursor to where the radio GPS said we were and get some tactical use out of it.

It is handy having a second GPS - two is one and one is none, always have two of everything. In fact the AIS has its own GPS too, and of course the three mobile phones and the satellite communicator all have their own GPSs. I also had a GPS puck that could plug into my laptop. So we had eight GPSs on board! I also have two sextants as well. Always good to have spares

Back to the engine. After the weather settled I crawled into the engine room and methodically went through the system. Water comes in from the hull fitting, through a seacock, up to a water strainer which has a transparent (sealed) lid. From there it goes to the impeller and from there across to the heat exchanger. The output pipe from the heat exchanger goes up to just under the deck where there is a wee grey plastic thing, I think it is an anti-syphon valve but it might have a different purpose in this installation. There is a spring loaded valve in it that allows air in if there is a vacuum or very low pressure in the pipes. At least I think that is what it does. The downward pipe from here goes to a T junction near the engine exhaust, one pipe of which has a half open valve; to adjust the percentage of water in each downstream pipe. Water goes into the exhaust and cools it, and the other pipe goes direct to the back of the boat, as does the cooled exhaust - there are two exits out the hull at the stern.

Water was not flowing. I removed a pipe from the outlet of the heat exchanger and briefly started the engine. Voluminous flow! this was a good thing... The next candidate for inspection was the wee grey plastic thing. I removed it, John the technician stripped and washed it and we found a tiny black spec of dirt (volcanic cinder?) that sometimes kept the valve partially open. Why this stopped the flow without flooding the engine compartment none of us knew. Perhaps water impellers can't pump uphill 4 feet unless some type of syphon assists the flow. (this is not an explanation anyone I have talked to actually believes so it is a bit if a mystery).

After a good clean and connecting it up the engine started perfectly with good water flow and has never faltered since. Note to self, clean it every year!

So there it is, a boat sitting doing nothing for three years has things go wrong. Carry spares, tools and miscellaneous bits of junk, duct tape and aralidite to allow jury rigging, and have a good Heath Robinson attitude. (The American version of Heath Robinson is called Rube Goldberg)

As to the journey, after the storm, the force sixes, the things breaking and getting fixed, the rest was uneventful. Storms never last and blue skies will return. We enjoyed many days of the 13 day passage it eventually took to get to Kinsale. It was a shock to the system to have to do coastal navigation when we finally arrived in Ireland. After nearly missing the entrance to Kinsale I downloaded charts and a Navionics app to my phone and resolved to repair the chartplotter.

Kinsale was a welcoming place, it, and like the rest of SW Ireland, has changed a lot in the last 40 years. Lovely wee cobbled streets, gift shops, cafes, restaurants and places serving Guinness, what's not to like.

Nick took his leave from John and I here, a bus to Cork airport linked into the airport to airport coaches and from Dublin airport to Belfast was straightforward. Public transport in Ireland works very well. All free for 65 year-olds too!

After a couple of days awaiting weather John and I headed East, we were boarded a few hours later by customs who inspected our passports, we had flown the Q-flag when entering Kinsale and reported our arrival to the harbourmaster and asked him to let customs know, he later said they were aware of our arrival and might or might not visit us. The customs guy was a very pleasant retired guarda officer and I showed him the white powder I had sprinkled throughout the food lockers. It's Boric Acid to kill cockroaches I told him, best to be upfront about these things. He did not taste it or sniff it up his nose to check.

Our next stop was Dunmore East were we waited another couple of days before heading around the corner to Wicklow, Howth and Ardglass were I considered the voyage complete. It was good that John had started the voyage and ended the voyage, even if the gap in the middle was 5 years. We had left Ardglass marina in June 2017 and here we were back in June 2022. I had mixed feelings of course, I will have a think about that and write an epilogue. For now we had to empty the boat and clean her, she was up for sale!

Looking back over the final journey it occurred to me that after leaving the Azores and getting good strong winds, Shadowmere wanted to come home. 

She had picked up her skirts and ran and ran.

Puerto Rico to Azores, Across the Atlantic (18861 nm)

I point my bum in your general direction, with apologies to Monty Python fans

Having flown home for two weddings and no funerals (plus two more weddings to come in July) I return to the boat where Jens has been boatsitting for 10 days waiting for Nick and I to arrive.
The wedding reception of Kylie and Kenny had been at the Royal Irish YachtClub in Dun Laoghaire  so there was a nautical connection and the Wedding of David and Valerie was in the Inshowen peninsula near Malin Head - the coast at Ireland's end. So my thoughts are still of the sea.  After the wedding, Shirley and I visited the head while a Force 10 blew through.

The seas were magnificent and I got to wonder how Shadowmere would survive a testing storm. She (and I) had not been truly tested - or at least she had been tested somewhat and not found wanting. A strong boat, stronger than me. I was returning to Puerto Rico to cross the Atlantic from West to East - much more of a challenge than from East to West where the trade winds blow steady and sure. The crossing to come had much more chance of very strong weather. Still, it is in the nature of men (and adolescents) to test themselves though I had realized (only very recently) that I was not actually invulnerable and resolved to avoid "exciting" and try for "unexciting" in my adventures. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Shirley and I retired to a Bar, close to where the Millenium Falcon had been filmed in the making of the recent Star Wars film, over a hot port I reviewed my passage options while the Atlantic Storm raged outside. We walked to the car as the wind plucked at us. "Shit it's windy" I thought.

Nick and I returned to the tropics and the storms raging further North seemed remote. Jens picked us up in a hire car from the airport as there is essentially no public transport in Puerto Rico, no matter how poor you are, you still have a car. We got to the Palmas del Mar marina near the bottom of the righthand coast of PR (East) and Nick and Jens provisioned the boat while I got the boat ready. The mince (ground beef) and sausages allowed good passage food for the 8 days it would take to get North from Puerto Rico to reach Bermuda.  Four days of Chilli con carne and 3 days of Sausage Casserole. what's not to like! - I did adulterate the saucepan with American baked beans and other goodies as the levels in the pan went down. Easy cooking with rice, pasta and potatoes. (not all at the same time)

I begin my Chilli with frying mince, liberally coated with Cumin, add a teaspoon and a half of chilli, a heaped tablespoon of drinking chocolate powder. Add two coarsely chopped onions and a lot of garlic. After a bit, fire in a couple of tins of chilli (or black) beans, a tin, sometimes two of chopped tomatoes, fill the saucepan to the top with beer and stock. when it boils, put it in "Mr D" my slow cooker that needs no power (bit like a hay box) and you have a meal that keeps hot for 12 hours (longer if Mr D's outer pot still held its vacuum - its a but like a vacuum flask shaped like a saucepan).

The Sausage Casserole recipe is even simpler. Fry sausages (pork is best but others are ok) in Mr D's inner saucepan (a wonderful thing - the base is half an inch thick cast iron/copper) remove sausages and add loads of chopped garlic and stacks of paprika, preferably smoked (4 teaspoons) with maybe a bit more oil depending how much came out of the sausages. Turn heat off and don't get the paprika mix too frothy, do not burn the garlic!. After a minute add loads of chopped onions (two), stir and heat for a couple of minutes. Now add root vegetables - cubes of raw potato and carrots. At home I would use parsnips as well as, or instead of, the spuds but it seems that the UK is parsnip rich, the rest of the world parsnip sparse. I have used turnips and swedes <sic> ( the vegetable, not the person) Stir vigorously to coat the root vegetables. Add stock and a tin of tomatoes. When boiling add the browned sausages back in  - cut into smaller pieces if you like. If you forget, rename the dish sausage surprise - the surprise being there are no sausages. Add green herbs (two tablespoons).  Boil for ten minutes and then into the outer Mr D for an hour or as long as you like. The pot loses between 2 and 4 degrees an hour and once you get below 60-65 you run the risk of bacteria multiplying so take it out of the outer pot of Mr D whilst still more than hand hot. Cool and refrigerate as soon as possible.

We also shipped 96 tins of beer and 30 bars of chocolate -a treat a day! We should have put more aboard in PR as things in Bermuda were outrageously expensive I had reckoned on 8 days to Bermuda and 18 from Bermuda to the Azores. The 18 days was hard to plan - we took 15 in the end but there had been the possibility of wallowing about in a calm for a week near the Azores with no fuel left. We arrived in the Azores with 18 hours of fuel in the tanks - Shadowmere carries 240 Litres in her bottom tank and 140 Litres in jerry cans (there is also a top tank that holds 220 Litres but I don't use it - it needs an inspection hatch cut in it and emptied and steamcleaned.

We elected to leave Palmas Del Mar at 8am, motoring into a brisk headwind. We were only doing 1.8 knots and I decided something was wrong so we returned to harbour where I dived on the propellor and scraped the barnacles off it. This was after staying still in harbour for 4 weeks. The tropical soup in the harbour is good at growing things and the hull was heavily weeded too. I recall diving in my knickers and a dive mask in Strangford lough to examine Christine and Clifford's propeller on their Elan 33 after it had sat on it's mooring for 8 weeks and we had seen 0.8 knot under power - barnacles 1/4 inch thick at 100% coverage. I only had about 75% coverage but obviously it was enough to drastically slow us down.

Next day we motorsailed at 5 knots, up the East coast of Puerto to an island just south of the Marina del Rey.  We anchored and scraped the hull clean - large inch thick carpets of weed came off easily with 2 inch paint scrapers - remember to carry a couple of these. It is difficult to do this with a snorkel so I used up the last of our diving air while Jens and Nick snorkelled and cleaned as best they could. We got most of it off and motored at 6.5 knots (2000 rpm) to the marina for the night and to clear out.

I had phoned the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) when I arrived in PR on the 29th April as my 12 month cruising permit had ran out that day. They cost 25$ but the boat is supposed to leave for 15 days before renewal and it is supposed to leave before the permit runs out. The Americans are very literal in their adherence to bureaucratic rules and I was a bit worried about this. However a kind man  - let's call him M to protect him. Said "Nay bother - just call in and check out" - my plan was to leave on the 1st and on the 2nd I took a 15$ taxi from the marina to the CBP post where a lady looked suspiciously at my paperwork. She was hot and bothered and very pregnant but still at work in a hot office. Eventually stamped my papers when I mentioned that "M" had told me it was ok and just to call in... thank you M and thanks to the hot office - too hot for complex paperwork I suspect. Phew.

We depart PR and head due North, 4 good days of fast sailing on a pleasant reach and four days of little wind.  Jens is prone to seasickness and he lives in the cockpit, I give him a rubber coated picnic rug and a wee-wee bottle and he survives.

We motor when the light winds arrive but I calculate I still need some sailing to avoid running our fuel too low. At 200 miles to go we have 80 miles of motoring left in our tanks and jerry cans so we take a day or so sailing at 2 to 3 knots and just make it to St George's harbour with 4 hours of motoring left. 8 days for 850 miles is ok I suppose.

En route we notice plastic bottles floating in the water every few hundred yards, thousands and thousands of them. Our disgust is somewhat dissipated when we discover they are actually Portuguese Men of War Jellyfish - these are about 6 to 8 inches in length and we learn later that their tentacles can be 30m long. Yes, over a hundred feet! Their sting only kills small children and the infirm as a rule but probably not worth checking that assertion.

Maybe the blue ones are boys and the pink ones girls...

Porpoises feature most days but play games with the cameramen and we resist photographing patches of sea which had held the beasts a split second earlier. No Flying fish which I find surprising, we are further north than my East to West crossing so perhaps that is why. Sargassum weed is also present at the beginning which makes for difficult fishing. No bites.  And we are reminded that we are near the Sargasso Sea of deadly calms and we go through the Bermuda Triangle. As an engineer I ponder how a massive release of bubbles from rotting weed on the seabed coming to the surface, reducing buoyancy instantly, and dropping Shadowmere 10 feet underwater would be a bad thing... Although I see no evidence of this; the rational and irrational mind fight each other for a while. In the end we survive and coast into Bermuda at 3 knots boat speed.

Bermuda is a pleasant place but very expensive, lots of gardens, original buildings and some nice churches.

Large lagoon for yachts

Bad boys

It has had hurricanes but there is obviously sufficient money to rebuild as was - note the story of the unfinished church below, this was politics rather than money though. The island is green (i.e it has rain) and cruise ships call at the main town, we choose to stay in St Georges rather than Hamilton as it is closer to a gap in the reef that surrounds Bermuda and will make for an easy exit. Also time is pressing as Nick has to get back to work.

Nice beaches, shame about the cruise ships

A slow property being developed

Always good to see skiffs

The day we intended to leave Bermuda for the Azores had a front blowing so we delayed a day and departed into 3 days of light winds that had us motoring for 2 of the days and trying to sail on the third. This helped Jens acclimatize and I am pleased to report he didn't boke once on this leg. Boking or not, he takes his watch like a true trooper, good crew Jens!

We ended up leaving at the same time as ARC Europe - this is a collection of 33 boats who have various things arranged for them. Much smaller that the main ARC that leaves from the Canaries to the Caribbean at the end of November each year - that can be just under 300 boats - some do the ARC+ which leaves a smidgen earlier, stops in the Cape Verde Islands and catches up with the main ARC in the Caribbean ( Rodney's Bay Marina, St Lucia this year I think)
I am not a fan of Rallies, once you delegate planning to someone else you might relax too much. Best to be responsible for your own destiny.

However the social aspect of these rallies is good, we snuck in to a meal hosted by the St George's yacht club, on advice by a helpful barmaid's advice the night before. The boats were split over the weather routing, I had already worked out this was tricky. Conventional wisdom is to leave Bermuda, travel due North until 38 to 40 degrees North where you are guaranteed wind the whole way East from there until near the Azores. Turning right sooner reduces risk of stronger weather and increases risk of calms. Above 40 degrees there is a risk of ice in early summer.  The main source of information for these decisions is a 600 page book by Jimmy Cornell entitles "World Cruising Routes" and the raw source data are the pilot charts of the North Atlantic, you can buy the UK Hydrographic ones or download the US ones free. There are 12 sets of charts with historical data giving percentages of wind from each direction, chance of gales and even "predicted" wave heights and temperature data. "Predicted" is the wrong word as the charts are only historical and even if you are not a believer in global warming you can see that weather is much more unpredictable and different than from some or many years ago. Caveat Emptor.

Alternatively some yachts motor for 1800 miles in a straight line, right through the Azores high, I discount this option.  Two sensible possibilities with the problem of deciding when to turn right. Normally either 38 or 36 degrees.

This year the Azores high was small and all over the place and I knew I had to be careful. I have an old Furuno Weatherfax that prints onto thermal paper and also Alan Doyle had lent me his Garmin InReach - a satellite communicator that does text messages (but not voice). Equipped with an SOS button that makes humans text you for a reassuring two way dialogue in an emergency this was much better than the EPRIRBs we also carried (two of).  The InReach allowed me to send a position report to loved ones which I did at noon UTC every day.  You can also get a text based weather forecast (at 50p a time) for one particular spot in the ocean - not that useful if you are moving!

The SSB radio was still not transmitting properly (shame on me as an Electronics Engineer and a radio ham) but I was able to receive net messages from the nearby ARC boats).

Most cruising boats download binary files that give a grid of wind and weather. These GRIB files are the raw data for all weather forecasts and can be downloaded for up to 15 days ahead, though only 3 or 4 days ahead is accurate they will show major disturbances a week or two in advance. The gribs I got in Bermuda showed such a disturbance travelling from the East coast of the States and then heading along the 38th and 39th parallel. This had started life as Sub tropical depression Andrea, reminding me that the hurricane rule of "June too soon, remember November" was only a guideline. my weatherfax eventually showed this as very sustained and extensive winds of 45 knots, which probably meant gusts of 55+. I was keen to avoid this. So heading to 38 degrees North was a mistake.

Some ARC boats did seem to go this high, I suspect they had racing crew on board, I hope they had racing crew on board. Why head to places where boat damage and hurt people where likely? just to get a fast passage, what's the rush?

I used the 15 day gribs downloaded before we left Bermuda to plan a route and worked out what lat/long I should be at each day. I plotted this in a table as our initial plan. It suggested heading north and branching right a bit to get up to 60 West and 35 North and then Eastwards until 50 degrees West and then up to 38 degrees at the Azores - much lower than the books suggest. However the up to date weather charts I printed from the weatherfax showed rapid changing pressure maps that differed from my out of date gribs, so by 4 days in I changed my plan to sail an 'S' shaped route to minimise the incidence of 40 knot winds and also calms.  We stayed down at 33-34N for the first 600 miles of Eastward travel, curved up to stay on 35N for a bit and then headed up. This worked well, even if I did have to study 12 foot printouts of weather charts every couple of days. I used American transmissions from Boston coast guard. Thank you Boston.

This is an out of date plot, the low was further south - B is Bermuda and A is Azores! Half a wind arrow barb is 5 knots. a full barb is 10 knots.

 In the end we had an initial period of 3 days of light winds a couple of days of 28-30 knots broad reach (odd 40+ gust - God bless Shadowmere's pedigree, we barely noticed) and then some more light winds (5 knot boat speed, just) and finally the last three days of brisk beam to fine reach to get up to the latitude of Azores. During the light winds whilst motorsailing I notice the sternseal is leaking water requiring pumping the bilges every 6 hours. We are sinking. Well, we pump for 5 minutes but there is the risk that the leak could turn into catastrophic failure.  The gland does not leak if the propeller is not turning or at least not yet. I am keen to get this fixed. I review my emergency plan for this scenario which involves cable tying an old bicycle inner tube round and round the shaft seal, sliding jubilee clips up and stopping the water. Not a pleasant thought when the nearest land is 1000 miles away, well actually the nearest land is 2 miles away but I'd prefer not to go in that direction.

The rubber stern seal is a sore point, the boat used to have a lovely brass or bronze stuffing box type of stern gland/stern seal. These traditional items have a square section cord stuffing, a foot of stuffing laden with grease that goes around and round the shaft inside the fitting, a hollow nut screws down on this and you do this up finger tight, lock it and check you get a drip every 10 seconds when the engine is running. There is a gland that goes to a beautiful grease tube with a screw down piston. You give this greaser a turn every 5 hours of the engine running, check there are still drips and that the fitting is not too hot. This arrangement lasts for scores of years provided you replace the stuffing every now and again and look after it. Good engineering even if considered old fashioned, but most people don't like the drips, although that is why you have bilge pumps.  The mechanic that fitted the engine replaced this with a so called maintenance free rubber stern seal. Maintenance free! Ha, yes but you need to replace the entire fitting every 5 years. Mine lasted 4 years, although I suppose my mileage was high (the new replacement is quoted as 500 hours running) So instead of replacing stuffing, which I could do in the water (most boats don't allow this easily, Shadowmere was easy as the stern tube is very long and probably full of grease) I have to now lift the boat out. <sigh> at least I didn't sink.

As compensation for the worry of the stern seal some whales come and visit.  We had hoped to see these on our way to the Caribbean and I had a brief encounter with one at night mid Atlantic - close enough to smell its breath (hint - fishy) and make out the outline of a 20 foot by 6-8 foot across black something. This time we see a much bigger creature. 3 or 4 smaller whales and one big one. We can't get very close and they are not curious about us.

Glad we weren't that close to this big one.

These are magnificent creatures. Porpoises and Turtles fill me with happy thoughts and make me smile. The sharks of the Bahamas make me uneasy with a primeval fear that makes hair rise, coldness in my stomach and a metallic taste in my mouth. Whales fill me with awe and wonderment at their size and their uncaring ignoring of insignificant man. We are a very small part of this planet.

15 days is a reasonable passage time for an old man.  We landed at the first island in the Azores group - Flores, most boats go 100 miles more to get to Faial, it's main port is called Horta, famous as a yachting destination for cross Atlantic boats. Flores is much less visited, and once you reach Horta, you are unlikely to cruise back, so I was keen to see it.

The Azores is a group of nine islands, the layout as 2-5-2. I.e there is a pair of Islands to the West, Flores and Corvo then a cluster of 5 islands in the middle (100+ miles away) , Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira and finally a pair of islands to the bottom right 85 miles (South East) called Sao Miguel and Sao Maria. The main island is Sao Miguel and Ryanair fly to there from London, as well as TAP Portugal from Lisbon. There are international flights to Terceira and Faial too. Terceira (where I end up) has TAP Portugal and Ryanair flights to Lisbon (and Lisbon to Dublin with TAP and Ryanair). In practice there are many interisland flights, there are interisland ferries but they don't run that often, the flores ferries only run in July!. The Portuguese government (or the Azorean Government?) have some really sensible rules; if you arrive from Lisbon on a TAP Portugal flight you can have an interisland flight free - so the islands that don't have an international airport (six out of the nine) are not disadvantaged. Nick was able to use this to fly from Flores, to Horta and on to Lisbon.

There are other sensible rules where if you have residential status then any other interisland flights are capped - the government gives you a refund if you pay too much for a flight. And the marinas are one third of the normal rate as well. To get residential status a yachtsman just has to stay on the islands for 183 days. The checking of this used to be lax (i.e you could  leave the boat and nip home) but you now need to actually live on the islands, this would not be onerous as it is a lovely place, albeit with a winter that means usually lifting yachts out. A lot of summer marina places are untenable in swell in the winter, there are a few liveaboard berths but not many.

 One of our 15 sunsets
 Jens holding her steady

Nick steering with one hand

 The two crew, happy speed merchants

Number two genny, 30 knots of wind, 6.1 knots boat speed (just visible on the VHF screen)

AIS was invaluable, we avoided crashing.

This ship is finding rough weather!

So, we arrive at Flores, the tiny harbour of Lajaes, actually the island has a population of 3,500 and only two towns of note.

The island of Flores, like many of the Azores is shrouded in mist, this is very common. We can't see the top 80% of the island due to the moist airflow. We see a map later of the shipwrecks of boats that probably didn't see the island at all until it was too late. Good diving!


Every circle is a dive!

I do like scrimshaw - the Azores has a lot of it of course, a museum in Horta which we missed but we saw these in Flores

The one above is scrimshaw, cotton and bronze!

The harbour is in the background, small and tight

We hire a taxi to take us to the airport and a car to drive around the island (it doesn't take long!) the island has some Volcanoes with sunken Flooded Calderas and is characterised by the waterfalls that go over the edge of the rocks.  The rocks in the Azores are a mere 4.5 million years old (the canaries are 120 Million) so they are very young, geologically speaking.

The rest of the island has lovely villages and scenery, famous also for its flowers.

We do like the old buildings, very quaint style. And the churches all have a very typical style of twin square towers capped with a spire each. We see this on the other islands too. The azores has a ricj history of providing cheese and dairy products, there are a number of vineyards but none on Flores as far as I know.

And soon Nick must leave, work beckons. Jens too must leave soon but agrees to stay until Faial and in fact Terceira as air travel is slightly handier for him. We depart for an overnight run to Horta, on the island of Faial, not much wind and an easy passage.

We stay long enough to walk the town, have a drink at Peter's Sports bar (with a few score of other yachties) and paint Shadowmere on the "wall" at Horta Marina, actually, all the walls are full, and all the piers, I find a nook on the pier near where we are rafted three boats out. By waiting at Flores we let the other ARC boats move on from Horta to Terceira - a good plan as spaces are limited.

I do see Hecla's name but am unsure if it is Donaghadee's own... (Ken?)
And then an early departure to Terceira, passing Pica which has the highest volcano in the Azores, shrouded as usual by the usual mist. And sailing between Sao Jorge and Pico and then on to Terceira. We bypass the main town of Angra as the second port/marina at Praia is much closer to the airport. I phone them and they say there is room, and telephone the security man when we arrive, I do but he doesn't answer and we have a tricky wee manoeuvre to get docked. The marina is off one end of the beach and the buoys delimiting the swimming seem to come with twenty feet of the first pontoon. We scrape around it in 9 feet of water, I hear later that a catamaran once did pick the buoys up.  We phone a taxi and arrange an 8 am pickup for Jens. Later that day Shirley arrives and we have a pleasant week puttering about, a few days in Praia and then we sail around to Angra to the marina and to arrange getting lifted out to replace the sterngland, realign the engine and to antifoul and polish the hull and topsides. A thank you to Shadowmere for 20,000 miles of faithful adventuring.

 Praia's outer harbour - by the way, Shirley says the crew is now much more glamorous!
The inner harbour, note the tight corner

I will do a further blog about the Azores, Shirley and I are back here at present for a 3 week holiday in August after which we will lift out the old girl again for the winter (the boat, not Shirley)

Next April/May/June here should be good. Though we are putting Shadowmere up for sale, we sort of hope she doesn't sell (immediately).