Heading home – Azores to Scotland

After 2 weeks in the Azores we decided to head off to complete the Atlantic Passage. We were tempted to spend longer exploring the islands, but we really wanted to get home, maybe another year? After clearing out, we extracted ourselves from the inner harbour and Thomas and Tania and Adrienne saw us off, sailing in sunshine.

We started off slowly due to little wind, heading north to get the other side of the high pressure. On Day 5 we gybed and altered course to follow the Great Circle route to Fastnet Rock off the SW coast of Ireland, and after this we made good speed with more and favourable wind, we were running wing and wing for several days, just like in the Trades.

The sunny skies at the start changed to grey and it got colder and colder (both air and water temperature). Fortunately the heater worked having not been run for 5 years, but we had to dig the thermals out of the bottom of the clothes locker. As before we checked into the OCC net, but there were less boats now, mainly we were talking with Hilary and Jim on Altarama who were heading for the south coast of England.

As we got closer to Ireland we started to see familiar birds – gannets, kittiwakes and later guillemots close to the coast. Landfall at Fastnet was around 2300. The weather and we could see the lighthouse and above it a comet, which was a surprise as we hadn’t heard about Comet NEOWISE. It was calmer and therefore slower off the south coast of Ireland, but we had good wind up the Irish Sea until it went away at the border with Northern Ireland so we motorsailed the last part in order to catch the favourable tide in the north channel. More traffic than we are used to – quite a few fishing boats at night. Back in the Clyde there were yachts, ferries and fishing boats. We headed up past Alisa Craig and anchored off Whiting bay on Arran for the night, very strange to be at rest. No phone signal or internet there so we went into Brodick Bay in order to fill out the new Government Passenger Locator form and we phoned the Customs who weren’t that interested (though very polite and helpful) as we were coming from an EU country (Azores). Midway through this we realised that the bilge alarm was going off and the bilge was full of fresh water. This turned out to be a broken valve at the foot pump and was relatively accessible, but mopping out all the water took a while so we elected to spend another night at anchor (off Brodick Castle) before arriving “proper”.

Good friends Malcolm (current boat is Cirrus Moth), Val and Dugald (of Tulla Mhor rally mates on World ARC 2017) were waiting to take our lines on the pontoon when we arrived. With a bottle of champagne even. Dan and Em (of Skyelark also WARC 2017) arrived soon all the way from Buxton. It was lovely to have a friendly reception, we hadn’t felt able to plan anything with the current pandemic virus situation.

From Azores to Scotland, Timshel was 14 days on passage. Total 1605 nm, 12 1/2 days to do 1574 nm and 2 days to do the last 31 up from Arran to Inverkip. We put up all the courtesy flags from our travels around the world, and the ARC rally flags.

Tracks of Ocean Cruising Club yachts from Azores across the Atlantic. Timshel is the blue line heading up the Irish Sea

Finally managed to count up all the miles. Simple from Australia onwards as the new chart plotter gave cumulative miles over the ground, but before that we’d had two different water logs which (especially in the tropics) didn’t work a lot of the time.

42809 nautical miles over 5 years and one day.

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