Offshore Cruising Club

News from Bob & Elaine Hazell - June 2017 - Pipistrelle at Horta

We rejoined Pipistrelle in mid-November 2016, after an enjoyable break in the UK, which included 2 weeks sailing in Sweden, Bob sailing the 120ft Damahwil from Corsica to St Raphael, and the highlight for us both being the OCC Regatta courtesy of Brian and Helen Verstage!

After a week of hard work in Grenada Pipistrelle was launched, Swedish friends arrived, and sailed with us to St Lucia. Elaine and I then sailed to St Anne in Martinique where we had a superb Christmas and New Year with 6 sailing friends. A shame to move on from this quintessential French island, but Brian and Helen were meeting us in Dominica so we were on a mission to head north. They flew from Antigua to Dominica via Barbados with the airline LIAT, which we now know stands for Left It at Another Terminal! Sure enough having left with two bags only one arrived, and Brian spent a week trying to find the missing luggage. It was in Barbados! Unfortunately, it overshadowed a lot of what we had planned for them but we did manage to see some of the island. We finally left minus the bag for Les Saintes and Guadeloupe, then Antigua, where they were reunited in time for their flight home.

For us it was on to the British Virgin Islands and then to Culebra, the Spanish Virgins east of Puerto Rico. A first for us, and very enjoyable apart from stormy and cold weather, but a good place to return to sometime in the future! Friends from Farnham were meeting us in Tortola, so we had an interesting beat back to the BVI’s, and then spent a very enjoyable week on a circuitous route around the islands. All extremely expensive, but certainly the BVI’s offer some of the best cruising in the world.

We returned to Antigua via the French/Dutch island of St Martin to reprovision French-style, and unexpectedly Bob’s son Andrew and family came out for a week, a first for the grandchildren (aged 6 and 3) to be on Pipistrelle! It turned into a very enjoyable visit, but it was certainly no holiday for us! Peter Stone then joined us as crew for the passage to Bermuda and on to the Azores. Bermuda is another expensive island and a favourite of the Americans, but unique in so many ways. A fascinating history with a superb museum in the old Navy Dockyard depicting so much of the island’s heritage, an incredible coastline dotted with hurricane holes, and every dwelling on the island has a ridged white painted roof, as there is no mains water, it is all rainwater collected from the roofs.

Bob Tuckwood, a friend of Peter’s, joined us in Bermuda, Elaine flew home, and we set sail for the Azores on the 19th May. The passage was not uneventful. Motoring north in a flat calm to find the wind from Bermuda, hundreds of yards of fisherman’s rope got caught in the propeller. Peter dived beneath the hull to remove it. On 25th May in another calm spot, at 21.25 a plastic bin liner wrapped itself round the prop. The wind then picked up during the night and we sailed to Flores over the next 7 days where we found a sheltered coastline to drop the sails and remove it. Over a 1000 nm knowing we could not use the engine! But we did enjoy watching many dolphins and whales on the approaches and in Azorean waters.

After 13 nights at sea we arrived at Horta, where we hope to find the Overlord crest on the sea wall, painted by JP’s crew many years ago. A caricature of Pipistrelle will join it.

Bob Tuckwood and Peter leave in Sao Miguel where I skippered Overlord in the 1980’s, and the plan is then to sail to Kinsale, of which more later. We still have one berth free if anybody fancies a 1200nm passage at the beginning of July. Please contact Bob at bob.pipistrelle@gmail.com.