On the morning of Monday, 25th May, we checked the shipping forecast which was for fine weather and a gentle wind from the northeast. Accordingly we phoned our wives to let them know we would be sailing that afternoon for the Azores, hoping to make landfall in about twenty days at Faial where we planned to clear customs at Horta, the capital city. This island, otherwise known as the 'Isla Azul’ (‘Blue Island’), is dominated by a 1,043 metres high volcano, the Cabeço Gordo. We were underway at 1820, and an hour later we took our departure from the Bishop Rock lighthouse.
Shortly before nightfall we were visited by a large school of porpoises, perhaps the same ones that had cavorted around ‘Zeta’, my junk-rigged Folksong when I was there in 1985. They swam around the yacht at night while squealing their high-pitched notes that vibrated through the fibreglass hull. This time their calls could not be heard. We could no longer we see the loom of the Bishop Rock lighthouse, which meant we were roughly 40 miles to the southwest, well clear of land and all obstructions between us and the Azores.
On the morning of the 25th May we saw several fishing boats and deliberately kept well clear of them. Suddenly and unexpectedly we were blasted by the sonic boom of a Concord jet plane on its way across the Atlantic. We were relieved that our teeth were not shaken out of their sockets and that we were not permanently deafened by the shattering noise! All Concord aircraft were retired from service in 2003, because there were insufficient paying customers to cover the running costs. This, in part, may have come about because of the disastrous crash of an Air France Concord which was engulfed in flames when taking off at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Not long after Concord’s dramatic flight overhead, the Taylor’s paraffin cooker took umbrage and decided it no longer wanted to work. Bill discovered that the copper feed pipe from the fuel tank had snapped. He set about repairing the break by soldering the parts together. This was a tricky business because of the motion of the boat. Having accomplished the task, he surfaced into the cockpit, leaned over the side and spewed his partially digested breakfast into the sea. From that time on he was seldom free of sickness until the 6th June when we sighted land - not the Azores, but the Spanish coast 13 days later.
Text for the Day
Romans 6:23 'The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.'