Heldeleine’s Summer Plans 2018

Happy New Year to you all!

It will soon be time to bring Heldeleine home. There are a few reasons for this:

1. I miss having the boat around. Sailing, especially sailing long distances takes a lot of time. We sailed Heldeleine only about 11 days last summer before laying her up for the winter. With a week of preparations in Italy and a couple days of packing up in Portugal for the winter, that is not a very satisfying ratio. We DID cover 1200+miles during those sailing days but I think you get my point. Use it or lose it. Also, I’d like the boat around because I wish to do the work that is necessary myself. It is just how I am wired. I am a sailor and real sailors fix shit. Literally, at times.
2. With one daughter in college and the other one tremendously busy with high school, harp, tap dance etc., they miss the peace and more casual pace of the boat nearby and available for weekends of a couple days and maybe a cruise in Maine. Destinations that do not require air travel and are not 4,000 miles away. They are very aware of how fortunate they have been to have had these amazing experiences because Heldeleine was abroad but, that said, spending only a few days aboard this summer was not enough for them (bless their little hearts…!).
3. Coming back should prove to be a good challenge. As you will see from the planned schedule below.

The Plan:

In early June I will fly to Portugal and spent about a week preparing Heldeleine for the 3,000 miles east to west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. June/July is not the ideal time to be crossing the Atlantic from the east. It is a trip best done in November/December, by going south to the Canary Islands and then on to the Caribbean. The winds are in your favor and the threat of Hurricanes is significantly reduced that time of year. Due to the fact that I am not able to take the necessary time later in the year (prime time for a musician), I am obliged to do this trip during a more challenging time of the year. We made the crossing in 2015 in May/June but that was with mostly favorable winds and early for storms. We will be traveling later in the season and will have to negotiate a course that will stay south of icebergs and north of contrarian winds and potentially nasty weather. Thread the needle, keep our eyes open and watch the weather updates very carefully. I remember a Safety-at-Sea seminar at which Stan Honey (probably the greatest living yacht racing navigator with a dozen circumnavigations and multiple world records) brought out a race chart that showed him the only boat to execute a U-turn as a storm approached. The captain was really pissed but deferred to Stan and they watched and waited as the fleet that did not turn around was severely damaged by the storm with dismastings, sails shredded, and crews beaten up. After 12 hours in the wrong direction they turned back on course and arrived safely and in first place. His lesson: forget the macho crap.  Be smart, be safe and a better result will follow.


Leg 1:

We will sail west from Lagos, Portugal to the islands of the Azores. In 2015, during our west to east crossing we stopped in the Azores for a brief…too brief…visit. We plan to linger a bit this time. The Azores belong to Portugal and are situated 800 miles from mainland Europe, consisting of 9 islands spread over 370 miles to the west. The trip should be less than a week. We will first arrive at Ponta Delgado on the island of São Miguel. Family will arrive (the same cast of characters as the Moroccan Expedition) and we will begin….

Leg 2:

We will remain on Sao Miguel for several days of hiking, horseback riding (sorry, no camels this time) and biking through a fantastic land of volcanic lakes, mountains and lush valleys. We will then sail overnight (110 miles) to the port of Angra do Heroismo  on the island of Terceira. There are many wonderful little towns on Terceira and last time we enjoyed terrific food and witnessed the ritualistic torture of animals during the ‘running of the bulls’. Note: the ‘running of the bulls’ is a hugely popular cultural tradition that is not for everyone. It is a very festive atmosphere with each town proudly showing its stuff. As for the bull part….I found myself hoping that the tethered and bleeding bull would gore one his testosterone-fueled abusers. In fact, a couple people die each year during the festivities. Next up will be a 60 mile day or night sail to Horta on the island of Faial. Horta was our first landfall in 2015 and is a great yacht haven. There is the famous marina walls and docks where you can paint something about your trip and boat (the day we tried to do this last time it rained buckets…). Horta is the home of the legendary Cafe Sport where sailors have congregated for decades. Boat repairs, parts and last minute supplies are available here…oh yes, and the island is also stunningly beautiful. This is also the town where we will sadly say goodbye to those who will be flying home. They will fly from Horta back to Punta Delgado and then back to the US from there. The remaining crew will do final preps on Heldeleine and then depart on Leg 3.

Leg 3:

2,000+ miles back to the US. Jimmy Cornel, in his ‘World Cruising Routes’, suggested the rhumb line (straight) route west from the Azores to NYC. We will use that as a starting point and deviate as necessary for weather issues that arise. When we leave land we will have a weather forecast that is only really accurate for 3-5 days. I will have satellite weather to update the information but we must be prepared to cope or turn around, as needed, (thanks Stan Honey!) and arrive safely at home. The trip itself will take 2-3 weeks. Hopefully, we will clear into to the U.S. in Newport, RI, depending on weather and wind directions as we approach the coast. As you can see from the map below, any strong SW winds could head us to Newfoundland….lovely but not ideal. Crew needs to be flexible and enjoy the zen-like pace of long distance sailing.

So, here comes the invitation. Do you want to sail across an ocean? I have a confirmed crew of 3 for the crossing so far. Ideally, I would like to have an additional 2 crew members for a total of 5. We had 4-4-5 for the 3 legs of the 2015 crossing. It worked wonderfully, and they were a spectacular crew. My Dad, my sister, Tom, Pierre and Eric: The Best. For this trip there are 3 Legs. Leg #2 is pretty much family and space aboard is limited, though we will also be using hotels ashore. Delta has just added direct service to the Azores from JFK/NYC. When we bought tickets a few weeks ago they were really cheap. If you want to do all 3 Legs, we can discuss that. Time commitment is usually the issue. As I stated above, ocean sailing takes a lot of time. Basically the month of June and most of July for the entire crossing. Leg#1: 1 week, Leg #2: 2 weeks and Leg #3: 2-3 weeks. Remember, sailing experience is not a prerequisite. We can sail the boat just fine with the crew of 3. What you do need to join is a positive attitude, a desire to learn and an adventurous spirit.

So, please give this some thought and contact me through this website’s email and we will talk. Priority will go to those who have previously sailed aboard Heldeleine, family, friends, gourmet chefs, sail makers, diesel mechanics and olympic sailing team members. Seriously, don’t hesitate to contact me. It should be one hell of a good time.

Finally…..after this crossing Heldeleine will be a coastal voyager for the next couple of years until both girls are in college. Then, who knows….It’s a big world and most of it is covered with Water….


Heldeleine’s Summer Plans 2018 — 11 Comments

  1. Excited! Looking forward to cruising the Azores and to having Heldeleine back home. Thanks, as always, for being our fearless leader, Dan! Love you!

  2. Hi Dan,

    We have been in touch in 2015 to sail across the Atlantic with Heldeleine to Europe.
    But, I could not make it !
    I have been following your adventures in Europe as I was on your mailist !
    I will be interested for the leg 3 to help you to sail across back to your home !
    I will be able to join Heldeleine in Horta, 3-4 days before the start to help you to prepare the boat.
    Let me know !
    Cheers for now!
    Mob France : 00 33 6 50 48 34 03

    • Bonsoir Marcel!
      Of course I remember you. I am very, very happy to hear from you. I will contact you by email and we will make this work!
      Talk soon, Dan.

  3. What an adventure Dan, thanks for allowing us the opportunity to sail with you vicariously. I so wish I could crew but I think I am now limited to short distance sailing now. Doesn’t help that while hurrying down some steps at Thanksgiving I launched myself onto a concrete driveway and broke a hip. 6 weeks ago today. Doing better now but I’m told full recovery is closer to 6 months.So, guess I’ll be back to teaching basic keelboat lessons on the Chesapeake this summer. I did some training aboard the NAVY 44’s (USNA crusiser/racers) last fall so I know that a big cruising boat can become a beast when the winds/seas kick up. Wish I were 20 years younger…

    • Claire,
      So sorry to hear about your hip. It must be a very difficult time for you. As you might have read on the website my uncle Pete broke his hip in Rome last summer. He is getting around much better now but is a long recovery. Wishing you a swift return to normal and look forward to getting you on a shorter sail in the future. Regards, Dan.

      • Would love to crew a shorter sail once you get her home!I did know about your uncle. Did he require a hip replacement? I had a clean fracture that was able to be repaired with titanium screws, so probably not as arduous a recovery. My starboard femur now has screws not unlike those on a turnbuckle so think of me as crew who carries onboard spare parts – LOL.

  4. Fabulous post Dan! Just wish I were a gourmet cook, mechanic, or sailmaker!!! Seriously though, love to follow your adventure, and wishing you a safe and fun passage. Will be on board in spirit, and in Gaeta watching on line in reality. We’ll all be toasting to you at the YC! XO

  5. Hi Dan
    I would love to join you on the journey home, and am available for all three legs. I’ll be in Lagos this weekend and will keep a lookout for Heldeleine. I replied to your post on oceancrewlink so that can review my sailing experience.

    Best regards

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