MW Ship’s Log May 15 – Saint Michael

Dateline: 4:00 P.M. Wednesday May 16

33 nautical miles out of Ponta Delgada Marina on Ilha de Sao Miguel with about 800 nm ahead of us to complete our transatlantic sojourn. Sailing in 20+ knots of wind.

The blog is running a little behind due to a debilitating hangover suffered by one of the crew (who will remain nameless). We were 22 hours sailing from Faial to Sao Miguel Island and spent 18 hours on the Island before setting sail again this morning.

Our passage between the Azore Islands was notable for the three man crew and 2 hour on / 4 hour off watch rotation. I was surprised at the difference. We were all accustomed to the rhythm of life aboard with a the four man rotation. Our crew usually awaken on our own – standing by and ready at the watch change. Everyone had to be prodded awake for their watch during this short island hop. We sailed most of the way, motoring only to charge batteries and for a few short lulls in the wind. It started with a pleasant sunny sail around Pico Island. Once out of the island’s protection we were in shifting gusty 16 -25 knot winds with big confused swells most of the night. The short crew*, quick rotation, and weather kept Captain Jim even more on edge than usual. This may have contributed to his decision to give the crew shore leave in Ponta Delgada Marina.

El Capitan prepares the way into town

We arrived around 1:30 PM and found Bob waiting for us at the greeting dock. After we secured Morpheus safe and snug in her slip we set out to explore the neighborhood. Which – with this crew – means bars and restaurants and more bars. Another oddity of the shift change is that none of us felt much like eating during the passage.

We had little more than trail mix and oranges since leaving Faial. Now on land, those who arrived by boat were pretty darn hungry. This triggered a Hobbit-like* dining schedule while on shore.

First Dinner:
First stop was at a cafe directly across from the Marina Ponta Delgada. Their “Happy Hour” special was a selection of tapa-like appetizers and a medium beer for 2.50 euros. A good deal. We each ordered a beer and tapas plate, then ordered another beer and tapas plate. Among the tapas shared – octopus salad, shrimp, conch salad, lima beans, snails, new cheese, and French fries. It was all good. Perhaps an indicator of how hungry I was – I forgot to document any of the dishes.

After wandering a bit, we found a small neighborhood bar with a big screen TV. A big soccer match between Chelsea and Benefica was on tap. We joined the crowd and cheered for Benifica. Beer and batavas bravas (spicy potatoes) softened the blow of Benefica’s heartbreaking loss. Despite outplaying Chelsea the entire game, they were beaten on a sloppily defended goal during the last penalty minute of the game.

Second Dinner:
An Italian place called 44 – presumably named after our current president. Or maybe because that is their street address. I couldn’t say. Kim found it during our earlier meandering and noted the pasta carbona on the menu. Bacon! That decision was made. An intimate dining room, good service and great food.

 We started with garlic bread, olive & tomato brucheta, and grilled porcini mushrooms. I was the only one that did not order the carbonara, opting instead for a pasta dish recommended by our server.

 I’ll never remember the name of the dish, but fresh mint was among the herbs and spices. Dinner was accompanied by several bottles of good Portuguese red. Everything was truly excellent – prepared and presented with care. After accepting our effusive compliments Philip the chef offered us a coffee / coffee bean infused liqueur of his own concoction. Exactly the kind of thing you never want to have more than one when finishing a long night of eating and drinking.

Quote of the Day:
“I like it!” – Saint Michael after his fourth shot of Chef Phillips coffee liqueur.

*Not intended as a slur about any particular crew member who may or may not be a member of an altitude challenged protected class.

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT Morpheus




GPS location Date/Time:05/16/2013 02:54:58 PDT

Message:Just wanted you to know that all is well. Everything is good!

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-25.61740&ll=37.72079,-25.61740&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1


You have received this message because Morpheus has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure

MW Ships Log May 14 – Whale Tails and Long Goodbyes

Dawn – Pico Island from Faial

Dateline: 8:00 A.M. Wednesday May 15

42 nautical miles to the harbor in San Miguel. 822 nautical miles to Lisbon. Mostly sailing since leaving Horta. 19- 25 knots of wind. Some squalls overnight and another one on the horizon. 

El Capitan is a little nervous with a short handed crew

Before departing Faial Tuesday morning I took the opportunity to join an 8:30 AM whale watch tour aboard a zodiac.

It was a bone-jarring ride to the South side of Pico Island but worth it for some spectacular sightings and (relatively) close encounters.

Three species of whales spotted (Blue, Sey, Fin) as well as dolphins, turtles, and sea birds.

Worthy of a stand-alone post which I will update on the blog with video at some unspecified time in the future.

At 3:00 PM we extricated ourselves from the double mooring, motored over to the marina office, re-docked, and checked out.

 By 3:30 we were underway and heading for Sao Miguel Island.

A sunny pleasant sail around the south side of Pico Island following the same route of the zodiac whale watching tour earlier in the day.

It’ll be a 3 person watch rotation until we pick up Bob – two hours on, four hours off. We figure it will take Bob about the same amount of time traversing airports and flights from California as it will take us the to sail the 108 miles to San Miguel. We should be back to a four man crew in a few hours, then on to Lisbon and the end of our transatlantic passage.

Cold pizza

 It looks like we got out of Faial just in time.

 As we departed we noticed the notorious catamaran Firefly ominously lashed to another catamaran of similar design. No doubt the Reavers aboard were already feasting on their brains.  A fate we narrowly avoided only a few days before.

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MW Log – May 12 & 13 – Happy Birthday Mrs. Branstad wherever you are.

A belated 100th birthday wish for Bob’s mom from the crew of the Morpheus. It’s a big day and Bob flew back to California for the family celebration. The plan is for the three of us (me, Jim, Kim) to sail Morpheus to Sao Miguel Island where we will meet Bob on Wednesday the 15th.

The marina is getting crowded as more boats arrive (including three J-Boats), and few boats are leaving.

We are in good company here in Horta with the J Class Yachts Velsheda and Rainbow on the docks

Many boats seem to be targeting departure on favorable conditions forecast Tuesday – as are we.

One consequence is that we now have another boat double parked on our mooring and walking across our deck to get to the dock. This helps Jim keep his edge.

Not a lot doing over these two days besides getting Morpheus ready for the next leg on the passage – fuel, propane, food & clean-up are tops on the list.

She doesn’t really need much, so plenty of time to explore the harbor community.

We’ve taken a few walks around town and our excursions have are falling into a familiar pattern.

 Start at the Marina cafe for a beer or coffee.

Then up the hill to Peters Cafe Sport for a gin and tonic.

 We stop at one of the cafe’s on the way back for a snack and another beer.

Then finish at Cafe International before returning to the boat.

On Monday’s afternoon excursion our favorite taxicab driver hailed us and waved as we walked to a pizza place for lunch.

While eating, our favorite bartender from Cafe International walked in, recognized us and chatted at our table for a while about the NBA (he was trying to get the Bulls game for me on the cafe’ TV Friday night).

Quote of the Day:
“When you start recognizing everyone in town – it’s time to leave.” – Jim
“Or even worse – when all the locals recognize you.” – Mike

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Departure Day

Our plan is to leave Horta this afternoon at about 2pm and sail to San Miguel Island which is about 150 miles to our East.

Bob Branstad returns from the 100th birthday celebrations for his mother tomorrow morning at 0930.

If all goes well, we will arrive at the marine in Punta Delgado, check in, add Bob to our paperwork, check out and then be on our way.

Next destination is Cascais, Portugal.  Debbie (remember Debbie?), plans to rejoin us in Cascais on the 20th!!