Hands on adventure sailing
June 24, 2014 by Freya

The best of the Azores

In lotsP1080650 of ways being back in the Azores feels like we have come full circle. It has been just over a year since we started our sailing business in the West Country and in that year we have sailed 20 000 miles taken 250 new people sailing. P1080494We have visited Brittany, Spain, P1080489Portugal, the Canaries, the Cape Verdes, the Antilles and the Azores. We have crossed the Atlantic ocean East and West, our little boy is three and thriving and here we are back in the Azores, back in Peter Sport café where the whole entire idea began over a beer just 4 years ago.P1080362 Sometimes we feel a little over whelmed by our achievements and the look of shock on peoples faces when weP1080349 tell them the boat is only two years old is still hilarious !

The port of Horta is such an inviting place. It is so sociable at this time of year, it is really hard to leave again. P1080617Every day you bump into some fellow sailor that you have met over the Atlantic circuit year. The town is full of amazing shops and boutiques, markets and cafés. Portuguese cakes and coffee stops for me are outstanding and I never get sick of that day time treat !

Time just disappears, P1080629there is a party every night in Peters bar as new boats arrive every day and have their first making landfall celebration ashore. Boats of all shapes and sizes and budgets make land fall here. There is a unique feeling in Horta of equality amongst the marina we have all sailed a long distance to be here and we all drink the same beer in the same bar. Whether super yacht crew, their owners, humble on budget cruisers or traditional ships like us, as sailors we all have a healthy respect for each other it seems. We stayed here for 10 days just absorbing ourselves in all the above bliss. Great to be back in Europe,P1080406 tantalisingly close to the UK P1080388and much loved friends and family. Azorians are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality and they sureP1080357 make you feel welcome and wanted. It is tradition to paint on the harbour walls a mural for the boat so we set to doing that which was great fun.

After 10 daysP1080651 we thought we better move on so left the quay and sailed to Pico. It was surprisingly nice to be away from the crowds and in the peaceful quiet of Pico island life. The dark lava stone dominating the landscape, the earthy colours and greens set amongst the black stone with little white washed houses with red doors.P1080462 A tour of the whaling museum was very interesting !

A friendly local bought us a blackberry liquor to taste at lunch in a café just an example of their hospitality, helped by Grayhound looking stunning in the bay intriguing all the residents. We sailed past our friends Jack and Monique’s place, they run a guest house in Piedade on the Eastern coast L’Escale de Atlantic is their place a must for those who need a get away haven in the Azores, their guest house is beauty and freedom in a place to stay with views of San Jorge and rich bountiful Pico all around. Hopefully they saw us from their balcony.P1080446Terciera bound a brisk sail, Grayhound doing 10 knots down waves. We arrived in Angra de Herisimo under night fall and awoke to another beautiful town much like Horta. Church bells ringing. Great lunch spot with menu of the day 5 Euros a big plate of potatoes and pork and sausage.

Off to San Miguel in lightP1080470 airs it turned into a bit of a motor. Good whale sightings. San Miguel is a very stunning island P1080479with a fantastic interior. Blue and green lakes, steep mountain gorges with green forests riding highP1080523 up around the lake. Almost Alp like. Men walking with their bulls down roads, mobile milking units dotted around the fields. Lots of Geo thermal activity especially in the town of Furnas. Here we experienced bathing in 39 degree water in the public pools set in stunning botanical gardens followed by our lunch that was cooked under ground by the geo thermal heat. Always seems to be a Saints day holiday going on with free food being served in the town square to every body. Where does that ever happen ? P1080532P1080376Hydrangeas about to burst with bloomP1080698, spurts of blue and purple every where. The Azul islands we love you so ……..We picked up our guest crew in San Miguel Katherine from Canada and Helen from UK.. Old friends Helen was keen to introduce Catherine to sailing and lucky for them they had the boat andP1080550 P1080547 P1080534 P1080533 us all to them selves !We visited the Gorreana tea plantation on San Miguel and forged Cargo contacts for the future.P1080676 Drank lots of tea , three types to sip on as you tour the factory. The smell of the factory is intense and quite heady too much even ! Crew member Ruth was so excited to be in a tea factory ( she is fond of a cuppa )

With P1080630Grayhound stocked with tea we set off from San Miguel and re traced our steps back to Terciera. An amazing day of Whale spotting followed. We must have seen 25 Fin and Sei Whales on our 100 mile passage. Big adults coming very close. Even on Grayhound we felt small, they were so black and long and shiny and powerfully graceful. Awesome day at sea with nature.P1080667

In Terciera some of the group went caving, not for me I really don’t like being under groundP1080636 but the others loved it and said they were very impressive to see. Later on their return they went bull running in the port of Angra. Up in the top of town in narrow streets the bull running took place.P1080690 Luckily the girls got taken in by locals and P1080566put in their gardens at a safe distance from the angry bull. They could view from the gardens while having a beer , just great hospitality once again ! Marcus on the other hand could not resist taking part on street level. Luckily Malachi and I were down town eating cake and finding wifi !

P1080679Bull running is a old tradition in the islands and especially on Terciera. It happens seasonally and the season is in full flow in June. The idea is as follows, the bull is on a long rope and about 6 men are trying to hang on to it while it trucks its way through a village.P1080623 The professional bull runners taunt and run in-front of the bull provoking it into a fury so it runs around entertaining all the on lookers and nearly chasing down the bull runners who scuttle up lamp post to avoid it. It seems a relatively dangerous sport at ground level. But it has been going on for generations and the bulls are well looked after and do not get hurt. Gets your heart pumping though!

We P1080672stopped off on Pico heading North towards Faial. Pico’s distinct volcano mountain towering above us in the sun light. Lovely high pressure gave us settled weather and calm harbours to over night in. We ate fresh tuna and drank local white wine from Pico which is delicious.

A fantastic sail took us back to Horta, tacking up the channel P1080662Grayhound sailing at 8 knots up wind, loving it. We hired mountain bikes on Faial and toured the island before our crew left us the next day. So now sitting in Horta back with cruising friends drinkingP1080610 too much wine ( those Cornish Smugglers on Cariad are a bad influence…….) laughing and laughing as we folk tend to do quite a bit when we get together and all beginning to get very excited about our next land fall …..Cornwall.

Written by Freya sitting in the pilot house at anchor in Horta Faial.

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May 27, 2014 by Freya

Antigua Classic Regatta news 2014

IMG_7923Antigua Classic Regatta was held in Falmouth and English Harbour in Antigua on the 16th – 22nd of April. P1070952P1080053P1080080About 50 classic yachts took part. The racing was exciting this year with strong winds on most of the race days.IMG_7933 Every day P1070954we had a full crew of 17 onboard . Gill, Sheila and Don had flown out from the UK to race and the rest of the crew was made up of fellow cruisers, local friends and opportunistIMG_7942 onlookers. Roti Sue supplied usP1070966P1070972 with the most awesome Rotis every day. Rotis are a CarribbeanIMG_7984 meal and the most awesome lunch. A flour wrap filled with meaty curry, we never got bored of them. We loved them so much we filled the freezer with them for the voyage back to the Azores. Our good friends from Vixen raced with us all week which was a lot of fun.

We walked away from the Regatta with Concours d’elegance 1st place in our class. The Den Phillips trophy for the most photogenic yacht and the John Leader trophy awarded to us too ! IMG_7985We won a beautiful photograph by Den Phillips of us sailing during the Regatta. The John Leader trophy is voted for by the regatta fleet and from what we know is awarded each year to the boat who is showing to be teaching the old skills to the younger generation and participating in sail training.P1070951

All together a great week, much fun had by all, lots of parties and socialising with friends old and new.

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May 27, 2014 by Freya

Atlantic Crossing Antigua to Lajes to Horta

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On arrival in Horta in the Azores we learned of the news of the lost yacht and crew, having left Antigua about a week after us. As a concerned boating community everyone was talking of it and sharing stories. Since the tragic news has come that the crew are indeed lost, we all take time to think, as sailors crossing the same oceans, racing in neighbouring regattas, winning prizes on the same stages it seems close to our lives. Our thoughts are now with the families and friends of those winning sailors. The ocean can be a cruel place for sure. It can also be a goodP1080126 place and now I will tell you our fair tale of our Atlantic ocean crossing onboard the Grayhound.We left Jolly Harbour on the 29th of April , relaxed and ready with our clean bottom and smart new look. The Grayhound was full up with water, fuel, food, crew and Children’s DVDs.

Myself Freya, Marcus, Malachi, Ruth and Sarah headed the permanent crew. Marina Hogan a fellow Classics racer joined us to bulk up our numbers. P1080139Voyage crew booked through Classic Sailing , Julia and Tom flew out to join us. We were a nice number of eight, a jolly group. After much frolicking around in the water, last Caribbean swims and lovers goodbyes we waved a friendly and sad goodbye to islands that we love so much. The Caribbean season had been so good for us, it twinkled and shined all season. After 3 months we felt so at home it seemed sad to leave. But the fresh cool air of the north was calling P1080150and we up anchored and sailed at noon.P1080147

“We have got a Fish !!!” I heard someone call, brilliant a beautiful Bonito for supper I was happy. New potatoes and salad were served up with the fish, what a great start to the voyage. The weather was benign and we set sail on a Northerly track with decent wind making a steady 6/7 knots. The first few days flew by with great wind and weather pushing us north. The stars were out to impress us all and the magic of the ocean enveloped us . A lot of interest was shown in the sextant, so with so much calm and lovely weather Marcus taught the practical and I taught the theory. Soon Tom and Marina could do it themselves. Astro nav is tricky to get your head round and takes a lot of concentration. With Tom’s new phone App he could test my accuracy and I was pleased with the results. I found myself very annoyed with ease of the App and what seemed like a right pa-larva doing it the old way but I still like working it all out.

Malachi was a darling, bubbly and fun and full of energy. We were all getting fed up with his DVDs already and it was only a few days in. Julia took our advice and used the shower ie the bucket and sea water and loved it of course. Everyone spent time preening and cleaning, washing up and eating lots.

Ruth had been doing some last minute sail repairs in port and had pricked her finger with the needle before we left, like we all do all the time. But this time the pulp at the end of her right index finger decided it would go and get infected. Poor Ruth was struggling with the pain and pressure building up . Marcus the ship’s medic and voyage crew Julia ( a Dentist) both monitored the finger over the next few days and started Ruth on some antibiotics to fight the infection. We all felt for Ruth, she was very stoic and carried on her watches regardless of the pain she was in. It is not nice to have to deal with medical situations out there. You feel the isolation and you are so glad of all the endless preparation you have done on land so you have all you need when you are out there. The infection was not clearing and the finger was getting white and numb. On the allotted day, a minor finger operation was performed in the makeshift surgery in the saloon. They anaesthetised the area and cut open the finger pad and let the pus ooze out. They then carefully dressed the wound and gave Ruth some strong pain killers. She then was told to rest for a couple of days.

A big thanks to Marcus’ mum Wendy for doing some research for us at her end and great use of the sat phone our end to help deal with the situation. Ruth soon recovered and the pain subsided. And she got out of the washing up for the rest of the voyage ! Well done Marina for doing it all on their watch. During the finger days we had a bit of weather. Probably a force 7 at most, Grayhound was flying and we put in a reef which is easily done on deck. We had a good solid , classic cold front pass above and a good dose of rain. Not so warm and no showers this time not like the Atlantic passage over. Now it was full oilskins and hats, brrrrrrrrrrr its getting colder. Though Sarah was still stoically donning her bikini bottoms all the way to the Azores. The depression past and the lighter airs arrived.

The calms came and the ocean turned to a mirror pond. Turtles swam by with seagulls perched on their backs, we spotted whales and dolphins and a dead octopus. The engine went on and 5 knots was maintained. Then one beautiful morning we turned everything off and breathed the stillness and the quiet. P1080184P1080163Then one by one we took off our clothes and jumped into the blue ocean which looked like a mirror. Those of us who feared the sharks and hated the cold didn’t stay in long. But Sarah and Marina fearless and bold swam around for a while and collected a bit of floating rubbish, we called them the no P1080194knicker litter pickers of the Atlantic. We do take our litter picking seriously on the Grayhound ! Even Ruth got in with a glove for her finger. MalachiP1080209 was on shark watch and stayed on deck. After a refreshing and liberating swim, we all sat on deck with a coffee and ate chocolate biscuit cake. Rejoicing in our activity and its remoteness. The calms continued for another 24 hrs then a breeze sprung and the sails went up topsails too this time. Topsails out there wow what a treat. A mega yacht past us heading for Horta what a sight we must have been for them. So 700 miles to go , we said come on wind , we could be there soon we thought. P1080216The wind dutifully built and soon we were flying again with topsails up under the stars. This lasted for another 24 hrs, so lucky for us. We reduced sail to the lower courses and headed for the islands. The wind crept around to the South East and then East we were getting pushed north and West of the Archipelago. We kept on to windward with a stiff breeze. The plan was to sail north of Flores, then tack. The forecast said it was going NE and this direction would take us to Horta. We had been tracking the weather twice daily on the SSB weather fax picking up Boston’s transmissions.

30 miles to the north west of Horta we heard a noise up forward and saw that one of the forward chain plates had failed. The shroud was quickly lashed with block and tackle and secured. But the fore had to come down. The wind stayed in the SE which was straight on the nose for Flores, what a pain. We had to motor in through thP1080248e night. As dawn broke the wind diedP1080315 and the island of Flores was right there. I made us smoked salmon quiche with potato wedges and peas for lunch as we all sat in the sun and looked at this amazing island before us. P1080285Waterfalls running down the mountain cliffs. We arrived in Lajes that afternoon and dropped the hook after being at sea for 19 days, Grayhound made a 130 mile a day average which we were pleased with. That afternoon was spent cleaning and airing, clean beds made up and a trip ashore for a glass of Vino Verde. Well done crew what a smashing passage.

RIP the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki.

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April 11, 2014 by Freya

Our voyage by guest crew Sharon Jarvis

P1070724”Imagine leaving Devon early on a Wednesday morning and landing in Antigua Thursday afternoon. Arriving at English Harbour to see The Grayhound anchored. What a wonderful sight.P1070880P1070751 Two weeks full of discovery and new experiences. We sailed to the volcanic isle of Montserrat, and being the intrepid explorers we are, taking full P1070788 P1070787 P1070783P1070797P1070820 P1070811P1070887P1070890P1070895P1070911advantage of Joe’s ( taxi driver) local knowledge we viewed the pyro clastic flow that enveloped Plymouth. Sarah , Grayhound crew managed to get herself a little part time job at Moose’s Bar. And didn’t she serve the rum with flair. The Blackwood Allen nature trail saw us the next day climbing through the undergrowth and trying to break into coconuts, unsuccessfully I might add. Lovely sightings of Humming birds. Ruth (crew), working her charm on the taxi man Rueben,  ace Goat water maker of renown on Montserrat, managed to secure enough of the mixture for supper later in the week. But that is another story! As if that wasn’t enough for one day Mark (guest crew) walked along the bow sprit to the end and managed a magnificent dive. Along with Ruth who nearly got to the end, before jumping in but did climb up the anchor chain after. Tuesday, Sarah’s birthday- mission Redonda to land and conquer! Four fearless swimmers managed to secure the small uninhabited island for the Cornish, Welsh and not forgetting Essex! With a specially made flag. Our first overnight watches sailing from Redonda past Nevis to Saba. Actually the experience of three hours sleep before getting up again was not as bad as I imagined. Sarah enjoyed long distance swimming being escorted by Terry the Tarpin. Now back to the goat water story. We enjoyed a tasty supper of Goat water and afterwards threw the left overs to the one shark off Saba. A good hour of entertainment. But it worried Sarah to reflect on her swim in the shark infested waters earlier that day. The waters being a bit choppy did not allow us to visit Bottom and the Lace making ladies of Saba , so we sailed on to St Maartin. Just as we were leaving we sighted two Humpback Whales at very close quarters, what a sight. A visit to Philipsburg and Marigot the next day allowed us to catch up with the sights of the Island of St Maatin. We walked up to St Louis Fort in Marigot. We continued our journey back to Antigua taking in the Dolphins feeding along the way. We anchored in Jolly Harbour on Antigua and were able to visit along the coast in a motor boat owned by a friend of Grayhounds’. Lots of time to snorkel and enjoy the day. Nowhere else can you celebrate Christmas in March except on the Grayhound. Some of the crew being poorly at Christmas they could not celebrate it in the traditional way, so we enjoyed a late celebration with the crew. We even had a Christmas card, and hats to create the atmosphere. Plus a few bottles of wine and plenty of party games. A superb 2 weeks of many many great memories. We enjoyed excellent food on the boat and good company. Freya and Marcus could not be better hosts with Ruth and Sarah supporting. Malachi is a bundle of energy and full of joy”

 

By Sharon Jarvis

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April 8, 2014 by Freya

Rainforests and waterfalls in Dominica

Dominica other wise known as paradiseP1070534

P1070544Green, vibrant, genuine, bananas, flowers, thermal water, rainforest, fruits, spices, essences, rum, history, plantations, Carib Indians, local food,P1070558P1070559 big smiles, passionate people, dirty, rugged, battered, faithful, invested in, changing, markets, medical centres, lemon grass, mountains, views, beaches, twisted vines, P1070594spooky trees, inventive locals, striving people. Determined to succeed, rivers, rain, roots, boiling lakes,P1070605 gorges, fresh water , water falls, deep damp forest, giant butterflies, parrots, dragon flies, bay leaf tea, smoked coconuts. Old sugar factories, remnants of the past. New roads , new construction, new ideas. More tourism , will it change ? Did we visit it at the right time ? We had conflicting feelings of this island being a rare jewel a rich natural land and it been swallowed up by the future the investments the desire for more European ways.P1070589

The boiling lake hike walked by Marcus, Steve, Jen, Xander and their guide Frances.1890987_878386728854048_1668898998_n 1907573_878386332187421_1754686030_n 1920168_878386778854043_1012736220_n 1970536_878386868854034_250065916_n 1979717_878387055520682_1468294493_nP1070588P1070574

Our island tour with Winston. Portsmouth to the north east coast, Woodford hill, Wesley, Marigot, Bataka, The Carib Indian territory, Salybia. Through the Central forest reserve, Spanny falls, Wotton Waven, to Roseau and down the west coast to Soufriere then back to Portsmouth.P1070569P1070581P1070622P1070524

High lights of the day Winstons’ knowledge and thorough guide around all the old plantation factory’s, his own home village. Hiking in the rainforest to waterfalls with a 2 and a half year old on our shoulders. Well done Marcus for climbing with him so we could all experience swimming in the cool fresh pool under the waterfall.  P1070598

walk to a rain forest waterfall Rum testing in a local bar in the middle of no where when visiting the native Carib territory. Trying local produce picked from tress and bush seeing the progress in infrastructure colourful streets of Roseau ending the day sitting in a thermal pool on the oceans edge as the sun went down on the horizon. At anchor in Portsmouth. Green green green forest in every direction , efficient and supportive yacht service , beach bbq for the PAYS team ( Portsmouth association for yacht security) a great group of guys who look after all your needs at anchor , organise laundry, food, tours and in return earn a living and they take such pride in their work. Thank you Jeffery who was our guy.

Rowing up the Indian River with Jeffrey . P1070530P1070528A water nature trail, in silence , listening to the birds and insects, creeping through tree roots and vines, palms rustle above you and fish swimming around. A quiet time to be rowed around ( a real treat for us lot ). collected beads in the forest to make jewellery, saw hummingbirds dig for nectar while sipping on a bay leaf tea in the forest cafe.P1070508P1070507

 

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March 21, 2014 by Freya

Eating local, healthy home cooking on Grayhound.

P1070080P1070475P1070546Freya is a busy mum and is always cooking for her family aboard. P1070470We offer our customers good home cooked food using as much locally sourced produce where ever we are. We like to eat healthily with lots of salads, soups, stews and pasta. This Caribbean seasons favourites have been stewed chicken with pumpkin P1060891 P1070574and ginger, rum bananas, goat and chick pea curry. Avocado salads, quiches, home made pizzas, plantain curry, pork and eggplant slow cooked. Freya also loves to cook big bowls of seafood pasta with fresh Tuna. We have been eating Freya’s home made ginger and banana cakes daily. What makes Grayhound a little different is that she is a home and people feel that and love her for it !

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March 3, 2014 by Freya

Guest blog written by Joe & Sue Graham

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Freya & Marcus

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Sue

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Crew Sarah

Having witnessed Grayhound take shape from trees arriving by lorry at our boatyard, it was with excited anticipation that Sue and I flew to Grenada to join her for a Caribbean cruise through the Grenadines to St Lucia.Marcus and Freya run the boat with 2 year old Malachi adding entertainment. P1060722P1070165After a relaxed but thorough briefing we are straight into hauling ropes and winding up the anchor.On day one I am seriously worried as to whether I will cope. After a spell on the windlass my lungs are aching and a pain in my left chest makes me wonder if I am suffering a heart attack. P1070360Freya is unsympathetic telling me cardiac exercise will do me good. However, less than two weeks later I work so hard on the windlass that Marcus opposite laughs that he’s not doing anything. Then we run aft to the tackles and the mighty main yard seemingly flies into the air. The feeling of fitness and achievement is immense.We have a short sail to start with to learn the ropes and then an anchorage where friends of the vessel immediately appear and there is diving and swimming before pizza’s ashore.The next morning we are off on an overnight romp to We have good sailing through the day and gradually beat up towards the island. The lugger rig does not point high but we regularly make 8 knots.As the night closes in we start watches and Sue and I enjoy a spectacular scene, powering along through the darkness, the seas surging out to leeward, dry decks, steering with the tiller lines, gradually picking up the lights of Carriacou.

The following day we motor to Sandy Island and have our first taste of snorkelling in the warm clear waterP1070417. Then after clearing customs out of Hillsborough we have a perfect beat across the channel to Union Island.Half way across it transpires that Sue and Freya have both bought new dresses in Hillsborough so naturally a fashion show is called for as we sail along.P1070344We creep around the edge of the reefs into Clifton, Union Island as the sun sets to leeward and are soon anchored within a crowd of cruising and charter boats. Grayhound is so distinctive that as soon as the anchor is down friends will appear in dinghies and be welcomed aboard. An impromptu party soon began, including guitars and singing and Malachi dancing.P1070022

Life on board was taking on a relaxed routine.P1070080 At 7 Malachi would wake with good natured chirruping from his cabin, the squeak of the galley foot pump would be followed by the low purr of the generator starting up. When the generator stopped you knew the kettle had boiled and if you pretended to be asleep somebody would bring tea to the forepeak. Breakfast would start with muesli and fruit but would then be followed with toast and occasionally eggs too. A planned early start would regularly turn into a relaxed late start because we were too busy eating and chatting.Freya’s cooking never ceased to amaze us. While the tiller was being repaired she produced a delicious quiche. In the middle of a long sail she would produce a freshly baked cake. Going to windward in a metre swell we would get a hot lunch. The galley was spacious by small boat standardsP1070326 but it still pitched and rolled as anybody who has tried cooking at sea will know.We motored up intoP1070416 P1070414 the Tobago Cays through eye watering colours to anchor before diving in to swim with turtles and rays.The next morning we set off to locate the treasure on Malachi’s treasure map which had mysteriously been found in the chart draw. He was rather bemused by us all being in pirate fancy dress but he could see that we were enjoying ourselves so he played along.Once the treasure had been dug up (Lego!) we swam, made a sand car for Malachi and turned Ruth into a mermaid.P1070402 P1070401 P1070400 P1070399 P1070398 P1070397 P1070395 P1070394P1070432

After a day in the Cays we navigated out through the northern reefs and headed for Bequai. Another classic Tradewind sail brought us to the beautiful Admiralty Bay in early afternoon. We all go out for a splendid meal in the evening followed by rum punches and dancing to a steel band. Malachi takes his parents home early and the rest of us follow at intervals

P1070412Once clear of the P1070371island the wind hit us hard as it accelerates around the high volcano, what surprised us however was a heavy tidal overfall that reminded us of Portland Bill. For a while the bowsprit was digging into the steep seas and we had wet decks for a change. However, we were soon through this and sailing across much calmer water as the current set us fast to the west.DSCF2218 DSCF2210

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Joe & Sue

We arrived about 5 miles to leeward of the Pitons in late afternoon so decided to motor up to the anchorage before dark.A boat boy came out in a tiny dinghy and said we could not anchor between the Pitons where we were heading and all the moorings P1060891were taken.He directed us to the shore north of Petit Piton where we were meant to drop the anchor close to the shore and he would take a line ashore to a palm tree.However, it was so deep close to the steep shore that with the manual windlass we could not anchor far enough out to be safe. We had to call for the shore line to be released as it was by then too dark to safely experiment so close to the shore.We headed up the coast to Marigot Bay where we felt our way in and found a mooring buoy.After a rest day spent on the beach, on board making wind scoops and doing the books, P1070446and for Marcus repairing another boat, an expedition set out to climb Gros Piton. At over 2700 feet in the tropical heat this was a daunting prospect but it turned out that just getting there and back was the biggest challenge.

At dawn Marcus, Ruth, Sarah and myself set out, leaving Freya, Sue and Malachi to a more leisurely day. The taxi seemed too extravagant so we started hiking out of Marigot Bay up a steep climb. Then a bus caught us up so off we went with high hopes, only to notice that the next bit of coast that we saw was north of Marigot and therefore the wrong direction. Once in Castries we quickly found a bus back to Soufriere, passing a sign saying 1km to Marigot Bay, so at least we thought we knew where to get off on the way back.P1070335P1120434

Then after some bartering, a taxi took us to the village at the base of the mountain where a friendly guide led us off into the thick jungle.

The path was steep but well made with useful branches as hand rails and while sweating profusely we found it reasonably easy to make it to the top. Marcus of course insisted on doing the climb in bare feet to the amazement of guides and walkers coming down.

On top the view was spectacular and a platoon of French soldiers arrived complete with two St Lucian soldiers with automatic weapons and side arms which was a surprise.

Going back down was worse on the knees than going up and the mosquitoes were appearing en mass. However, soon we were back in Soufriere and seeking juices at a tiny bar. When I returned with a second round the entire crew had fallen asleep on the table with exhaustion.WeP1070441 then found that to get back we had to get a bus to the very southern tip of the island, then one to Castries in the north then after an hour’s search around the dark dubious streets a bus back to Marigot Bay where a relieved Sue and Freya picked us up in the gig.And so ended a very memorable holiday with great people on a great vessel.P1070428 Before we knew it we were saying a sad farewell. We flew back the following day after an air conditioned taxi ride to the airport, I couldn’t take another day on the buses! Strange to be back in long trousers ready for the chill at Gatwick.

Written by Joe & Sue Graham 

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January 31, 2014 by Freya

Family & Group booking discounts

Ask for the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ Family Package

Aimed at families of 4 or 5.  As long as there are a minimum of TWO full fare paying adults, two children (of school age and still agirl powerttending school ages 5-18) can sail for HALF PRICE.

Children under 5 as part of a ‘Swallows and Amazons’ family package can come sailing on Grayhound for FREE.

Ask for the ‘Dolphin Pod’ Mini Family Package

We recognise it can be difficult to take the whole family on holiday for a multitude of reasons. It is not unusual for one child and parent to be mad keen on a sailing adventure whilst other siblings or partners are really not into it.

We have a ‘mini family’ price package for any mother and daughter, father and daughter, grandfather and grandson type combination…..as long as the child’s legal guardian approves.

One full priced adult and oneschool age child at 75% of full price.

 Ask for the  ‘Wahoo and Flying Fish’ Adult Package

Never fear, we can do sophisticated travel experiences for groups of adults too….and you can still benefit by booking as a group of 5.

With 4 full paying adults, a 5th adult can come FREE

‘Divvie out’ the discount between you.

- See more at: http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/grayhound-family-and-group-booking-packages#overlay-context=vessels/grayhound-lugger

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January 31, 2014 by Freya

The Atlantic blog written by crew member Chris

Grayhound is run by a young family. As Grandpa in that family, I used my Christmas holiday this year to sail with them across the Atlantic from Cape Verde to Barbados. A chance to share the benefits of all Marcus and Freya’s hard work over the last three years. What a trip it turned out to be!P1060726P1030529

 

Uncharacteristically light weather – a strong bond in the group – the unique three-masted lugger Grayhound – plus the unexpected. It was a safe, well managed passage but fair weather does not mean without incident. I will try to convey the experience of an ocean passage on Grayhound – and how problems get dealt with.P1060724

 

27th December. Day 4 out of Praia, I’m on 8-11 pm watch with Tobi – Grayhound P1060722rolling along at six and a half knots in the long swell. Standing bare-foot, left hand on the tiller, right holding tiller line. Warm NE wind, force 4, wind on the quarter. Exhilarating sense of channelling balanced forces in a powerful forward surge. Dark timeless outline of a traditional vessel, rakish rig, blocks and heavy tackle. Steady rumble of the bow wave, the creak of blocks and thrum of sails. Another sound too, a child is crying. It’s P1030512coming from Malachi. In the subdued light of the pilot house I can see the forms of my grandson and Marcus snuggled together on the leeward seat. Both running high temperatures – My daughter kneeling beside them squirting water into Malachi’s mouth to keep him hydrated. Everyone else is sleeping.

 Marcus needed nerves and leadership skills akin to a 18th century privateer captain to build Grayhound to Cat Zero so they could trade worldwide. All these qualities were apparent at the briefing when guests arrived, he let everyone know how his ship would be run. But on the second day out he had taken to his bunk with a high fever, unable to stand. It’s a one way trip for the 2000 miles from Cape Verde to Barbados, no turning back. Sickness at sea is a serious matter.

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 Grayhound is a small ship, an informal but tight command structure. Freya being responsible for the ship, as well as cook and caring for Malachi, who had become ill on Day 3, with a temperature of 39.6. Spontaneously crew and guests collaborated to support her and the watch leaders. Watches were adjusted – Adam, a director of Classic Sailing, had the experience to offer to lead a watch and set about researching the medical books with Freya. Careful logs were kept for both patients. The only outside medical aid could be by satellite phone – a detailed medical history was also prepared. Meanwhile we would have to wait and see.P1060741

Ocean sailing suits self-reliant characters but also requires everyone pulls together. Fear is not out of place, so long as it doesn’t become immobilising, it ensures survival. The Atlantic swell was often large and uneven, the motion of the boat relentless, sounds below can make it P1060816difficult to sleep, while coming on deck in the dark can be challenging and disorientating. Self-confidence helps to master fear and a symbol of this for me is standing your watch. The dramas and emotional currents on board are regulated by the rhythm of the watch. Standing steady, keeping the boat going steadily, you do your spell and hand over to the next watch, in doing so you resource yourself against immobilising fear.P1060721

 At night, 3 hours on, 6 hours off, longer intervals during the day so no one gets stuck with the ‘graveyard watches’. We settle into a rhythm. Night vision, no moon, Tobi steering, I’m lying on the bean-bag gazing up in awe at the depth of the Universe, when a flying fish slaps Tobi in the face, a thoughtful pause, then “I think tomorrow I start fishing again!” (he never caught anything, final score 1-0 to the fish!)P1060714P1060729

The ‘girls’ follow us. Ruth, on board since August, knows her way around Grayhound and her playful personality makes her a connector in the group as a whole. Liz, experienced in larger traditional boats on the eastern US seaboard, is impressive with her deck skills. Watches create their own bonds. Two and half weeks of the highs and lows of night watches shared with a partner make for special P1060727connections.

 

No one is sure when to celebrate New Year, (or how, as we are a ‘dry ship’ at sea). Freya makes dinner (moussaka and mixed berry flan) just as it is about to be served a loud distress signal on the SSB radio requires her full attention as Radio Operator. It was an error, appears to have emanated from Istanbul, but it has taken an hour. The moment has passed – watches want to get their heads down – so prematurely we toast the New Year with champagne, sing Olde Lang Sine and I read ‘Christmas At Sea’ by Masefield, sent by Liz’ father.

 Adam and Grisha make up the third watch, they wake us gently with cups of tea and reports of conditions on deck. 2nd January and it’s Grisha’s birthday. P1060756Started with dolphins and a rainbow, scrambled eggs and ham and went on to card and cake (let’s hear it for the cook), ended with a call to “All hands on deck” in the middle of the night in rain and lightening to attend to the fore lug yard which had snapped. Gear damage is a theme in ocean sailing on a traditional boat. The skipper says this is a ‘proving passage’ – no one knows the last time a three-masted lugger crossed an ocean.

 

The lugger rig demonstrated its flexibility, at sea stuff happens and you deal with it. In the morning under Marcus’ instruction the mizzen, which is not used running down wind, was hoisted on the fore mast. In combination with the jib it provided enough power in the rising wind to drive the boat at 7 knots a bit north of our westward track. P1060790Satisfying after frustratingly light winds, much of it going in the wrong direction in order to stop the sails and spars from flogging. Some days later we gybed to work south again. Following damage to the mizzen yard (again impact damage from flogging, not enough wind and too much swell),Marcus and the crew set to setting the main topsail in its place as a square sail (with the main staysail), for the last week and the run in to Barbados as the wind finally did what the Trades are supposed to do, and blew force 4-6 from the NE through to E.P1060722

 

And what of Marcus and the cabin boy’s health? Malachi’s fever dropped quite quickly but he was not his normal self for another week until suddenly his exuberance and energy returned, and we knew it! Marcus took longer to recover, his energy was depleted for ten days, he had to conserve it and had to rest after attending on deck – it didn’t stop him going up the mast to recover a loose block! Likely cause of the illness? Maybe a virus picked up from kids in a playground in Praia, where the two of them hung out while Freya was shopping?

 9th January. P1060802Final night, Southern Cross to port, Plough and Pole star to starboard. Started seeing fishing boats in the morning (1 ship and 2 planes is the tally for two weeks). Barbados showed up about 9am local time, bluer sea, and P1060826planes flying in and out all the time. Tied-up under the bows of a gigantic cruise ship in commercial dock in order to clear immigration, later to anchor off the beach in Carlisle Bay. Meanwhile everyone disappeared to get currency or clear with officialdom, leaving me to guard the boat before going to investigate wifi in a grotesque cruise terminal full of ‘lost’ tourists. It was a brutal re-entry from wilderness to civilisation and the dissipation of our group’s energy. Later that energy came to a satisfying conclusion as we swam and then celebrated with rum punch (plural) at the Boatyard beach bar, young P1060827Malachi running and running on the sand to the sound of a steel drum, while our good ship lay to anchor silhouetted against the tropical night sky. Two and a half years since Grayhound’s keel was laid and Malachi was born. Take a bow Marcus and Freya!  Written by Chris HartP1060732

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January 18, 2014 by Freya

Grayhound in the Cape Verde Islands

Grayhound arrived in Palmeira on the island of Sal. Palmeira is a small fishing village with a new break water. Small cruise ships are starting to come,P1060594 tourism is in its infancy but feels like it’s growing quickly. With no hotels there one of our voyage crew stayed in a local fisherman’s house in the village prior to coming on board. Locals are keen to make money from the visitors but with a friendly approach . Here in this tiny village life goes on around you and its a pleasure to witness it.P1060598 Fisherman sell their fish on the quay, peoples homes are basic and open to see. Little tiny front rooms sell basic dry goods, the odd tin of this or that. The bakery is a tiny concrete room with a bed in the corner and a few loafs under some tea towels.P1060608

We took a bus ride to the bigger town a short bus ride away to try and find fresh fruit and veg. The buses are all Toyota Hias and they are every where. They hover around touting for trade until the bus is full and off they go. Locals seemed pretty non fussed about us white Europeans getting in their bus, they were more intrigued by little Malachi and his mop of blond hair.P1060606P1060661

The bigger town has bizarre Christmas decorations up ( feels strange to be nearly Christmas in this hot dry climate) women selling bananas line the streets so I get one for Malachi…and fresh herbs coriander and parsley yummmm green fresh things !

The super markets are better stocked than I remember from five years ago but still very sparse compared to what we are used to. A few yams and sweet potatoes, shrivelled up apples and cabbage. How do I make dinner from this I wonder. Meal times are going to have to change , rice and beans is the local staple so it will be for us too. My freezer is full of garden peas and meat from Tenerife but it is to last us six weeks so I will have to be canny.

Quite pleased with my purchases I find frozen broccoli in the freezer , fresh papaya and some natural yoghurt so we can start to make our own.

Cape Verde Escudos very pretty notes.

Cape Verde Escudos very pretty notes.

Marcus’ brother Guy arrived to spend a week with us and the rest of our crew arrived Ali and Phil both ex policemen, unknowingly from the same division. Button stays on from the previous voyage.

We bought some food for supper and made a banana cake for pudding every one settles in…Marcus helped a cruising boat diagnose a problem with their engine and sent them ashore to ask for a welder. Sure enough they found one who not only fixed it but made them a spare. These islands still have a strong sense of fix it culture . Next morning we still ask , where is the wind ? We start off early for Sao Nicolau West of Sal about 93 miles away but still no wind and it’s hot. Sao Nicolau is a island I had previously visited five years ago and lots had changed. Lots of building along the fore shore for one,P1060637 tourism is arriving here in a serious way. A French cruise ship in the anchorage shows another change, before you saw just a scattering of yachts. Once anchored we all jumped in and had sea showers and sat on deck eating fresh papaya and oranges . Later a gig row ashore where we were met by a group of kids wanting to be boat watchman while we are away. Always a bit of a shock to know how to handle all these eyes wanting your coins that are in your wallet. We set off up the beach our crew set off to the other side of the island on aP1060654 Toyota bus while Marcus and myself set about trying .P1060657 Once all where back on board that evening we all started to feel the effects of a slight virus that stayed with us for about five days effecting most people on board which was a bit miserable. But every one rallied around and kept the boat a happy place. Mindelo on the Island of Sao Vicente was the next stop for fuel and water and a trip around Santo Antao. There is now a big marina in Mindelo which this year hosted the ARC plus rally again another sign of change in these islands. The marina was chaotic with no one seemingly to be in charge. P1060624We nestled our way in and filled our empty fuel tanks with diesel. Then for the sake of ease getting ashore and for getting water we found ourselves a fore and aft mooring in the marina for a couple of nights.P1060650 This meant the guys who were feeling well enough could enjoy the evening bars and live music in the city and a shore party could explore the neighbouring island Santo Antao the next day.

What a great day that was. The guys got the foot ferry to Santo Antao and hired a Aluguer ( a open back pick up with bench seats in the back) They drove across the old cobbled roads through the pine forests and across the top of the mountains and ravines to the other side of the island. They took the driver out to a local cafe for a bite of lunch. Visited the old fishing towns and drove home arriving back just in time for one of Freya’ much loved pizza nights and fresh salad from the market. Every one seemed to be well again and ready for the major sail of the trip to Santiago 150 miles away.P1060669

After a exciting sail south of Santiago through the acceleration zones we sailed through the night and arrived late morning in Baia do Tarrafal on the island Santiago.

P1060693On our way to Praia we stopped for a swim in a anchorage off the small fishing village of Cidade Belha on the Western coast.

We ended the voyage in Praia, the capital of the Cape Verde

 

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