Jun 24 2003

The Azores

Shortly after finishing painting a square commemorating O’Comillas visit to the port of Horta I realized that my hands were full of paint. I was going to visit a local artist at his home and decided to first wash my hands. I borrowed some paint thinner from another guy that was painting a masterpiece square on the dock. Went to a water faucet, took my watch off, and proceeded to watch my hands thoroughly. I returned the paint thinner, walked up to the street, got in a taxi and fifteen or so minutes later arrived at the artist’s home. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me because the view of Horta from John’s house was incredible. He was having lunch when I arrived. I had a glass of water and just looked around his work area. When he had finished his lunch, another ten minutes or so later, I looked at my watch to see how much time I could spend looking at Scrimshaw which is art carved into whale teeth.

To my huge surprise, I didn’t have my watch on. I had left it back in the marina and this was now over half an hour ago. Plus it would take me another fifteen minutes to get there after calling a taxi. John noticed I had suddenly gotten very worried and asked me what was going on. I explained to him that I had just realized that I had left my watch in the marina, but not to worry, it was sure gone by then and we should get on to business. He inquired further as to where and when this had happened. After I explained it all to him, he told me he will take me to the marna and that my watch would still be there exactly where I had left it. He proudly added: We are in the Azores!

So we got in his car drove down the mountain and back to the marina. Fifteen minutes later I walked up to the water faucet where I had taken the watch off. The watch was one of those fancy Suunto computer watches that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about anything, but which I mostly used for the barometer. Well, John was right. The watch was there, exactly how I had left it. This was a huge surprise to me. In my home country of Venezuela, the watch would be gone before I got in the taxi to get to John’s. On the other hand, this was the Azores and John was now displaying a proud smile in his face. He drove me back to his home and then proceeded to explain to me that I should in no way feel obligated now to buy anything from him whatsoever.

The whale teeth John gets nowadays are recovered by scuba divers from old whale ship wrecks. I spent about an hour with him looking at Scrimshaw and just chatting. I had a great time. I did purchase a piece, but I felt I had gotten so much more than art. I had gotten a taste of the Azores, of its people; and I left the island just a few hours later with a desire to come back.

Perhaps one day I can bring my family to the Azores, flying of course.When we get there, John has already offered to show us around.

Jun 22 2003

Close, but not quite there yet.

Almost as a reminder that we are still in its domain, the Atlantic Ocean has given us 48 hours of 25 knots of wind and waves directly in our path. Lots of bouncing around inside O’Comillas and a lot of walking at an angle doing balancing acts. We have also been soaked in spray from the waves a couple of times.

If the wind just shifted a little that would be great. Need to check the forecasts again today to see how likely that is.

We are currently at less than 400 nautical miles from our destination. Since we did immigration, customs and all that in the Azores, we have technically already entered the European Union. Therefore, we will pass by La Coruña but instead of going into port we will go directly to Sada, home of O’Comillas. We are planning, weather permitting of course, to arrive Tuesday afternoon Spanish time.

Jun 21 2003


It has been three weeks since I last saw Andrés Miguel & Lucía Isabelle. A couple of days ago, I sat down in front of the computer to see photos I have saved of them prior to the trip. Here is one of the three of us (unusual since I’m usually the one taking the photos) on the sailboat in Newport prior to our departure. This has been the longest I have been away from them, and I want to hug them and kiss them so much.

For them, on the other hand, life is business as usual. They have their school routines, their little friends, playing with their toys at home, with Mommy. Oh, yes. Every so often they get to talk to daddy from a satellite phone, read sloopy, and tell their friends or teachers that daddy is sailing across the Atlantic. According to my wife Kristi, they say this completely matter of fact. Like, doesn’t everyone’s dad just disappear for three weeks to go sail across the Atlantic? One of Andrés’ teachers asked Kristi one day about it thinking that the kid was probably confused or making it up.

What to tell them prior to the trip was an interesting balance for me. I didn’t want them to be scared or worried for me. I wanted them to do exactly what they are doing now. Being adjusted and going on with their lives. But one is human, and I did rejoice when Kristi told me that whenever Lucía gets upset about something, she eventually will say: “I want my daddy!”

I want them too…

Jun 20 2003


We are currently at less than 660 nautical miles from La Coruña.  There is a low pressure system between us and Spain that we are watching closely.  We’ll see what it does so that we can adjust accordingly for favorable winds.  We’ll keep you posted

Jun 20 2003

How eerie

It is 4am (we are now at UTC time) Friday morning June 20th.

There has been absolutely no wind for the past few hours. I mean none. The sea has barely any ripples whatsoever.

If I were to make a film about a scary sea monster attacking an innocent sailboat. This would be the climatic scene. The crew is asleep, except for the poor soul doing his early morning shift. Yup, this is what it would be like. Now, all I need is for some dolphin or even worse a whale to come out and scare the living crap out of the pour soul, me.

Scary music …

It is now 6am. No scary monster has disturbed my shift which has now ended. Dad is still sleeping so I let him sleep longer. There is still no wind but that eerie feeling is still in the air even after a beautiful sunrise.

At 7:00 am, I decide to wake up Dad, he takes over the watch with a very sleepy face, a few grumbles, and a few smiles. I go back for a quick snooze.

At around 8:30am, Dad yells “WHALES!, WHALES!” Get my DSLR go above deck and spend about an hour shooting photos of whales while Dad masterfully keeps a safe distance. We are followng the same protocol used for whale watching in the Azores: We approach very slowly from a rear quarter and stay parallel to them, we also depart slowly. Never closer than 50 meters (except for one of them that comes after us and within 5 meters as it dives below our sailboat) We also don’t attempt to get so close that we could feed or touch one.

It is 9:30am and we are going to have breakfast now. I’ll take a look at all the photos and pick a few to post later in the day.

Thus far, this has been a thrilling day!!!