Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Leg 6 - 2000 : Azores to Ireland

August 3, 2000 2037
39.45N, 27.12W Log: 39,119 mi Baro: 1033 Winds: SSE @ 12kts
Broadreaching @ 7kts, full main & 130% genoa, cabin temp: 83F!

Goodbye Azores, Hello Ireland!


Horta Marina, Azores.

The Azores High that has gone walkabout for many weeks re-established itself the day Leg 6 began. We had an excellent 96hr forecast from National Weather Service weatherfax station NMF received over our Furuno weatherfax on 9110kHz and decided to stop at Graciosa Island, 45 miles from Horta, enroute to Ireland.

We used US charts 51002, 51041, 51062 and British chart 1956 for the Azores, along with Jimmy Cornell's "Azores Cruising Guide". Mid Atlantic Yacht Services in Horta are helpful to yachties with every service imaginable. We used their office/chandlery to receive faxes, purchase charts and appreciated their directions on provisioning and "don't miss" places to see. For sailors bound for Europe, they stock a good selection of charts and cruising guides. Watch for our upcoming article in Blue Water Cruising on MAYS. Their email address is: mays@mail.telepac.pt, fax 351-292-391656.


Landfall at Graciosa, Azores.


Nikki and Jeff attaching anchor float and setting the second
anchor at an exposed anchorage on Graciosa.

Graciosa, the second smallest of the nine islands has a new breakwater at Praia providing a fairly good anchorage off the town's swimming beach. After anchoring and a spaghetti feast we went exploring the narrow streets. We love any kind of live music and the sound of a band playing Sousa had us following the music. We discovered the town band, members ranging from a kid whose french horn was nearly bigger than he was, to what looked like an 80 yr old farmer having a blast on the cymbals. When they saw the eight of us enter the spotless community hall, they straightened up in their seats and eager to have some audience, sent someone down from the stage to offer us chairs. The music was great and their enthusiasm contagious. I read that the Azores are famous for their town bands, that there are more here than in all of Portugal, and that they often have fundraising concerts to buy more instruments and music.

Yesterday we rented a tiny car, the only one available, and the other half of us piled into a cab for an island tour. Spectacular sea cliffs with breakers below, horse-drawn carts and miles of grapes and corn fields topped by a visit to a huge volcano, into whose caldera we hiked for a picnic lunch made for an enjoyable morning. Next we spiraled down 182 steps into a giant underground cavern and lake formed by lava tubes. Mud pots bubbled like at Rotorua, NZ and the lake gave off wicked odors.

Dinner last night was at the town's restaurant, outside, in 80 degree weather. I didn't want our evening stroll through town to end. Amanda stopped to inquire about the crochet work two women were doing by an open window, we had a pleasant time, hearing how much one of the women who had moved to Boston as a child enjoyed coming back for three months each summer. Many homes and cars had the keys in the locks, everyone smiled or nodded as we walked by, and it seemed that half the town from the youngest to oldest were out walking, or just sitting looking out over the harbor, or chatting with neighbors. We didn't see or hear a single television. Two girls who looked about 10 sat on a park bench in the town square alone, reading a book together. What a magical safe place for kids to grow up.

One of our sharp-eyed crew noticed a little tear in the genoa spreader patch on the sail over from Horta, so this morning Amanda and crew unfurled and dropped the genoa, then hand-sewed the tear.

This has is our youngest and keenest crew yet and they hadn't even unpacked before they were asking about sun sights. Two had been studying celestial navigation before joining us and the sextant was out of the box soon as we set sail.


Leg 6 crew, the Azores.

Marc Emmons, 28 works for a dot.com company in Seattle (used to work for Microsoft) is into all kinds of extreme sports including ice climbing and surfing off the Washington coast every possible weekend, all year long. With his buddy,

Jeff Blyth, 32, also a techno-type who is on ski patrol and mountain rescue, recently purchased a Hallberg-Rassy 31, a sistership to Mahina Tiare I. They have an excellent boat and are enjoying tidying her up and dreaming of distant shores, but for now are having a blast sailing the San Juan Islands with their girlfriends.

Nikki Niemisto, 37 is a dentist, originally from Germany. Juha, her husband is a Finn who works at MSoft and last year sailed from Tahiti to Hawaii with us. Presently Juha is in Finland with their three boys, 5, 7 & 9, looking at having a Nauticat 42 built. They plan on sailing it from Finland to their home near Seattle in a couple of years before their boys become teenagers. As a child Nikki did an Atlantic circumnavigation with her family, an experience she wants to share with her boys.

Doug and Linda Frye, 39 & 38, from the Chicago area are excited about taking a couple years off and taking their 11 & 13 yr old boys on an Atlantic circumnavigation on the Taswell 49 that they recently purchased. These guys are so eager to learn that I think they have already filled a couple of notebooks with notes and answers to their questions. Their boys are meeting them in Ireland.

Mark Gonsalves, 41 is originally from Guyana, but now lives in Arizona where he is a tester for GM. This guy is keen to learn, he not only flew to SF for our weekend Offshore Cruising Symposium, he also drove to San Diego to see MT and meet us during our Open House. His wife, Melissa and kids, 5 & 10 are meeting him in Ireland.

August 5, 2000 2031 43.42N, 22.59W Log: 39,418 Baro: 1030
Winds: SE @ 11kts Beam reaching @ 6.8kts, smooth seas


"Come swimming John, there are no sharks mid Atlantic!"

With only 703 miles to Fastnet Rock, it's hard to believe we'll pass the halfway point on our passage to Ireland in the morning. The North Atlantic has been surprisingly mellow with winds 10-15 knots, always abaft the beam we've covered 168 and 153 miles noon-to-noon on our first two days. We've seen tons of dolphins, whales, turtles, ships, had two great mid-ocean swims, got our first sun shot within 2.7 miles of the GPS and have an amazing sunset tonight. The only thing missing is fresh fish!

Aug. 14, 2000 1924
51.48N 8.18W Log: 40,180 Baro: 1017+ Air Temp: 74 F

The Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven, County Cork, Ireland

Those last few hundred miles whizzed by when the wind moved aft and piped up to 30 knots - just the type of sailing this crew was after. They relished the heavy-air, reefing and steering with fierce competition to see MT perform. Nikki hit 9.5 kts with ease, not even stirring John from his bunk to suggest another reef. On the backside of this cold front winds were light and the sky patchy with fog and drizzle but crew spirits ran high.


Linda attaches the Galerider drogue to a warp during storm practice.

We have chosen to use Imray charts (a private British chartmaker) for Ireland and Scotland. They are less expensive than British Admiralty charts for the same coverage and each chart has up to a dozen detailed inset harbour charts plus valuable tidal stream diagrams. In the US, Bluewater Books in Ft. Lauderdale and Armchair Sailor in Seattle stock them. We used Imray C56 & C57 for landfall and will use C55, C54 & C53 on Leg 7 for Ireland's west coast to Scotland.

In addition we have the British Charts on MaxSea CD's and are busy learning their program which differs from the Nobeltec/Maptech charts which we've used to date.

Our choice of Ports of Entry to clear into Ireland included Bantry Bay, Baltimore, Kinsale and Crosshaven (at entrance of Cork Harbour). Because of our excellent winds and a crew attentive to sail trim we were arriving early, having sailed 1250 miles in 7 days and Kinsale looked good in terms of daylight and tide.


Kinsale, Our first Irish landfall.

We sailed into a narrowing natural harbour through headlands dominated by impressive stone fortresses. The harbor quickly became a river and we glided past colorful stone houses nestled in Summer Cove rounding a bend to view a picturesque town with an 11th century cathedral perched above the marina.

Kinsale Yacht Club's visitor dock was chocka, so we passed and tied up at Sail Ireland's fuel dock next door. The manager was sitting with the yacht club harbormaster, tipping back some Irish ale and said they would call customs for us and that we could stay on the fuel dock for the night. Billy, the yacht club harbormaster was competing for our moorage and said he'd make room for us as his marina had better showers!


Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger entering Kinsale Harbor.

Kinsale is fun but making a decision of where eat and drink in this lively gourmet capital is a challenge as it seems every building is either a restaurant or a pub with live Irish music. Our crew were out to the wee hours tapping to the tunes and sampling the brews as sailors are known to do.

The following day Amanda and crew serviced winches for class, then the rest of the day was for a historical walking tour of the town and exploring Charles Fort. Saturday brought sunshine and a following breeze for our passage to Crosshaven.

Crosshaven's narrow channel was jammed with boats heading out to race but Jeff carefully piloted MT into the club docks. Started in 1720, the Royal Cork is the world's oldest yacht club and probably one of the most active and friendly. The staff looked a bit shell-shocked and explained that they had recently hosted Cork Race Week - 600 boats and thousands of international sailors. We found lots of empty berths, only two visiting cruising boats and the quaint little village of Crosshaven ashore.

Our keen crew took Amanda and I out to dinner, then stayed out till the wee hours listening to music. They had expected to hear traditional Irish music, but the open mike evening produced a line of guys crooning Glen Campbell and Neil Diamond tunes, with the entire pub singing along!

For our arriving Leg 7 crew, Crosshaven is a 20 mile bus ride from Cork, past the airport and towards the harbour entrance. The yacht club is in the middle of town and MT is visible on the first dock.

In the meantime, we're off to explore the Ring of Kerry for three days with my brother David and his family, joining us from their home in France.

Sail on to Leg 7, 2000

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures!



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