03 July 2022

Day 29 -- Arrival

 2242 nautical miles.

I’m just letting that sink in to my own brain. That’s how far it is, as the albatross flies, from Cape Henlopen in Delaware to Angra do Heroismo on the island of Terceria. We’ve arrived. We did it. It’s still not real, maybe because my brain is more than half asleep!

We had another very slow night sailing with a 6 knot breeze on the beam. This petered away to nothing during Helena’s watch, as it often does in the small hours of the morning, but by the time I came back on watch at 6am, the wind had picked up again and we were sailing nicely, in the channel north of São Jorge.

Speaking of watches, I don’t think I’ve mentioned how we stood them. We divided the day into six 4- hour watches, 6am-10am (John), 10am-2pm (Helena), 2pm-6pm (J), 6pm-10pm (H), 10pm-2am (J), and 2am-6am (H). We chose 4 hour watches because that’s what works best for us after trying just about everything else. 4 hours is long enough to get a decent amount of sleep, and if you really need it, you can get almost 12 hours sleep a day, which is more than enough. I rarely felt tired on the voyage.

Also, my first watch at 6am was a great time to gather the days weather forecasts, make a plan, adjust sails for the reviving wind, and generally get us off to a new start. This sometimes cut into Helena’s sleep time, but to make up for that, I would often get up at 5 or 5:30 to minimize her sleep disruption. But I’m sure she has her own thoughts on how well I did with that! Thank you, Helena, for putting up with those early morning sessions with rarely a complaint.

Anyway, it was a pretty gloomy morning, with low clouds, drizzle, and fog hiding the islands to either side of us. Visibility was bad enough that we had both the AIS and Radar going. But we hadn’t seen another boat for nearly two days, so it was quite a surprise to get a call on the radio. I went down below to listen more carefully (I had the volume down so as to not wake Helena.)

“American vessel this is #$*#@“, came the call (I missed the name of the boat.) it was a woman’s voice, which is not rare.

American Vessel? That’s a weird name for a boat, I thought.

The same call came again. Now I thought that maybe she was calling an American boat. But which one? VHF radio can cover a lot of miles. How would you know if she was calling you? It wasn’t us, because nothing showed on AIS or radar.

Suddenly I remembered we were flying a rather large American flag. The radio down below had distracted me, but now I popped my head out of the companionway and did a quick scan of the horizon. There, on our starboard bow, about a half-mile off, emerging from the gloom, was another sailboat, which looked like it was going to cross our bow!

“This is Petronella,” I said into the mike.

“Good morning Petronella, this is #$*#@.” I never did catch their name.

I hurriedly changed course by 20 degrees to starboard, just to be absolutely sure we weren’t on a collision course.

“Are you the boat that is just about to cross our bow?” I asked.

“Yes, we are. Do you need us to alter course?”

By that time I could see they would cross well in front of us, even if I hadn’t changed course.

“No, I think we’re good,” I said, probably sounding a bit annoyed at having my adrenaline level raised unnecessarily, but it was probably obscured by the radio.

We chatted a bit. They were coming overnight from another island and heading for the same town as us. After crossing our bow, they turned onto a parallel course, on our port side. Naturally, when two sailboats are headed in the same direction, a race inevitably breaks out. While this woman was distracting me with idle conversation, her sailing partner was out on deck tweaking his sails! I was glad ours were already perfectly trimmed and we were making a robust 6.5 knots. Nevertheless, I bid her a good day, made a few tweaks of my own, and we gradually pulled away from them.

Most satisfying!

So that was a good start to the day. And shortly thereafter, the clouds lifted their skirts to reveal the green and lovely island of Terceira, just a few miles to port. There were green fields on the hills above a village hugging the shore line. The morning sun lit the island and made it look like what I would imagine Ireland looks like from the sea: a green and pleasant land.

Suddenly, I was anxious to arrive!

The city we were aiming for was past Monte Brazil, a mountainous peninsula which loomed out of the sea before us. It looked like a jagged rock made from lava, which is exactly what it was, but as we approached, I could see it was not bare black rock, but covered with green — grass and other vegetation, and even some trees. It actually did remind me of Brazil, as it probably had whoever named it.

Monte Brazil as we approached

Monte Brazil, with Angra opening up behind it

I’d let Helena sleep as long as possible, but she had to see this reminder of her homeland, and also, we needed to think about anchoring soon!

Helena oohed and aahed at Monte Brazil as I knew she would, and took lots of pictures, but then it was time to work. The bay leading into Angra do Heroismo was starting to open up, and I didn’t want to sail past it.

On came the engine, down came the sails that had carried us so far, and up came the equipment we needed on the bow to drop our anchor.

But first I wanted to find our friends Trip and Nicole on Kalyra, who had arrived several days earlier. I called them on the radio, and soon they were waving at us from their cockpit, and advising us where to anchor. Another boar had just left, leaving a good spot for us between Kalyra and the shore.

We glided past them, found our spot, and with a roar, dropped our anchor and 50 meters of chain into 10 meters of clear green water.

We set the anchor well in the sandy bottom, turned off the engine, and looked at each other. It was quiet. The boat wasn’t moving. We could smell the land smells, and hear the distant voices of children playing on the beach, just a few hundred yards away. The city with its brightly painted buildings climbed up the hills before us. A church bell rang.

“We’re here,” Helena said. “We’ve done it.”

We slapped five, hugged and kissed, and poured a will deserved shot of rum each. Who cared if it was 9 am? We still had to launch the dingy, go to shore, check in with the authorities and Portuguese immigration, and make a start on turning Petronella back from a dedicated ocean crossing machine back into our home, but that could all wait for a few moments while we enjoyed the moment.

Yes, we’d done it. Wow! That was going to take some time to sink in.

And now for some accounting and time stamping. I never did this on my voyage in the Blue Moon, and I still get confused when I try to figure out when I left, etc.

So, 2,242 nm from port to port, but how many miles did we actually sail, according to our log (kind of an odometer that measures the miles as they are reeled off)? 2,383nm. That’s not actually as much as I would have guessed. Our detour to get south of the Gulf Stream seemed much longer.

And let me finally sort out the days here. Why I started counting from Annapolis is lost in the dim inner reaches of my memory, but it certainly left me confused. We actually departed the Cape Henlopen anchorage the afternoon of Monday, June 6 2022, and we arrived the morning of Friday, July 1. So, just under 25 days. Not too far off our original estimate of 3 weeks, considering we raised Flores, the first island in the Azores on the morning of the 28th, or the 22nd day of the passage.

The marina with Angra behind it

And that is that! As I write this, we’ve already been ashore, checked in, met our friends for drinks and food, and otherwise wore ourselves out.

Time for some much needed sleep, on a boat that isn’t moving, without alarms rudely waking us for the start of our watches!

Pictures of the actual voyage tomorrow!

On solid ground!

With shops!

Petronella (red boat in the distance), under Monte Brazil 
in the Angra anchorage.


  1. Congratulations! I was so excited for you!

  2. "We copy you on ground. You got a lot of friends about to turn blue!!!
    Were breathing again!!!"

    1. lol, sorry about that. I knew I was leaving people hanging for the arrival, but I was too tired to tackle it. I have a lot of respect for people who make a living blogging, or even worse, YouTubing. No idea how they find the time to sail, fix things, take care of routine life junk, make and edit videos, all the while looking glamorous and happy. It must be an enormous amount of work!

  3. Tony,Pauline, et al

  4. Wow, this is Tom Lohre, Captain Eric Forsyth's crew. What was your track? Sailing from Cascais to Azores then NYC in Nov - Jan 2024/5

  5. Congrats to you both. What a great milestone! Enjoy!

  6. Congratulations to the three of you. Great to see P sitting there at anchor. Always the prettiest boat no matter where she arrives.


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