After more than a month (where did that time fly by?!) on the Azores, some boat projects, a lot of visits and some rest it was time to head off for our final ocean passage, from the Azores to mainland Europe. We waited for a long time for a good weather window, turning down a few options in hope of finding a better window and finally we found a weather forecast and knew that this was probably the best we would get. Even though we were ready with the Azores and the boat was fully prepped to move on again for a new ocean passage, we had mixed feelings about casting the lines and heading out again. We had most definitely had a fair share of ocean time lately and not quite built up a longing for the passage life but still it would feel nice to put the final ocean passage (and all the added risks that these entail) behind us and do a big push home.
We were aiming for somewhere in the English Channel, taking a more northerly route than the classic next stop Porto, as we wanted to avoid the orcas who have been known to mess around with yachts a bit too much for our liking the last few years. So by late April, after a low pressure had made its way over the Azores, we slipped the lines and made our way through some of the Azorian islands heading North East. We had company from some whales and dolphins as we sailed through the islands, cautiously reefed to be prepared for the wind effects between the islands. We started off the passage with winds around 20-30 knots and then the winds just gradually went downwards from there. After the previous passages all being upwind sailing it was a comfortable relief to sail downwind once again.
As the winds dropped day by day we shook out more and more reefs and put up more and more sails. Finishing off with our big Code-0 which magically could keep us moving even as the winds dropped down around 5-7 kts, the amazingly smooth seas were also a big contribution to this and we were amazed that offshore sailing actually could be this calm. It was a cold passage but very enjoyable, we could sit in the cockpit and drink coffee for long stretches and as the sun set in the evening we could get up on deck both of us and say hi to the dolphins from the bow. To be honest we got the moments that we thought we would have had so much more of during this trip.
The weather for the very end had us motoring the final days before we ducked in slightly earlier than expected to escape upwind beating in the English Channel. Not exactly the way we had planned but wow it felt like a luxury to have the option of ducking in where it was comfortable to do so and not have weather and checkin points to worry about. Being from an EU country and all the comfort this brings when traveling between countries is really something we have learned to appreciate so much more during this trip.
We arrived in France and from thereon we took weather dependent hops along the English Channel. Making our way back home but also having the opportunity to visit Belgium and spend more time in Netherlands – both being countries we had to skip due to Covid when we made our way south.
We were close to home and the mix of emotions was almost tangible – both a huge sense of relief but also a realisation that the huge adventure that we had dreamt and planned for so many years was now coming to an end.
It’s now safe to say – see you soon!