Florida to Bermuda to the Azores – Crossing the Atlantic again

After arriving in Miami, we spent about three weeks there to get some boat repairs done, explore Florida and do a big provisioning because we knew that Bermuda will be very expensive.

View from our mooring ball in Dinner Key Marina, Miami
Broken strands in one of our lower shrouds
This is the same cap, one brand new and one after only five months of tropical UV radiation.
Biking to Key Largo
325 horsepower rental car

Since Colombia we knew that one of our lower shrouds had a broken strand, but it was impossible to get a proper repair there. So we added a dyneema backup shroud and decided to wait with the repair till Florida. In Miami, we discovered that the other lower shrouds also started to get broken strands, so we got all of them replaced. In Miami it was easy to get the job done properly, and while it wasn’t cheap it was worth it.

We also had some fun workouting in a nearby park and rented two roadbikes for a day to do a 130km trip to Key Largo and back. Biking in Miami is very nice, there are many bike lanes and except for us nearly no one was using them.

Mila stayed in the Dinner Key Marina mooring field the whole time of our Florida visit. This was much cheaper than paying for a marina berth but we could still use the showers and get stuff like spare parts delivered to the Marina. After such a long time without the ability to shop online, it was excellent to use services like Amazon again.

Our friend Henning from Germany who sailed with us in 2016 visited us again and we decided to rent a car for some days to provision and drive to the Florida Keys and the Everglades. We decided to rent a big (for european standards) truck to have enough carrying capacity and have a comfortable ride. Strangely, the rental price for the big Pick-Up for four days was less than half the price of the two roadbikes for one day.

One of many giant grasshoppers in the Everglades
Everglades Gator

When a good weather window came up, we departed for Bermuda. This leg is about 1000nm and took us eight days. We sailed north first to make use of the Gulf stream and then went on an easterly course to Bermuda. All in all, it was an effortless sail with no serious problems. Apart from some squalls we had mostly light winds and had to use the engine for the last part of the leg. This was our first multi-day-passage with a third person on board and it was nice to be able to get a little bit more sleep than usual as Henning was doing some of the morning watches.

Bermuda is a cozy little island with super friendly locals. The only downside is that due to being one of the richest countries in the world, everything is very expensive. Including the fixed service charge, a beer in a bar is at least 10$ and food is expensive as well. We tried to keep expenses down by going out less than usual.

Arriving in the Town Cut Channel in St. George’s, Bermuda
Beach fun at Jobson’s Cove, Bermuda
St. George’s anchorage, Bermuda
Fort St. Catherine in Bermuda

Initially we planned to stay only for about one week, but then we got delayed because first I catched some kind of infection and then we had to wait for better weather. When a good window came up we finally went out on the evening of July 6th. Normally, the cruising guides suggest to go north from Bermuda to get stronger winds for sailing to the Azores. But as there were very strong winds in the north when we left and Mila sails quite good in lighter air, we decided to try a very unusual route and just sail east first. This worked well for nearly a week, but then we had to motor north for several days to get on top of the Azores high. We got excellent weather routing from our friend Dirk through our satellite communicator which was a big help.

Twin jibs and mainsail, our mostly used sail configuration for broad reaching, long legs and lighter winds.

After motoring to 38N, we could set sail again and get on course to Horta on Faial in the Azores. We had to alter course several times, either to the south to get out of the way of the next low coming through (tropical depression Barry passed north of us) or to the north to get enough wind for sailing.

After 16 days and 2000nm of sailing we were very happy to arrive in Horta. For crossing the north atlantic at the beginning of the hurricane season, it was pretty uneventful. Nothing serious broke, only the normal wear and tear that always happens on these long legs. The crossing took us two days longer than expected, which is not a big deal but meant that Teresa’s brother Steffen and his girlfriend Katja who wanted to visit us in the Azores were already waiting on the dock when we pulled in. So we instantly got that hard-earned welcome beer which was very nice.

Arriving at Faial, Azores
Raclette with our visitors
Mila artwork production in Horta
Mila artwork

Like all sailors who come to Horta, we visited the famous Peter’s Cafe Sport for a beer and Teresa put a painting on the dock. We also did some hiking and visited a volcanic landscape in the North of Faial. Getting around was pretty easy with acceptable Taxi prices.

Volcanic Landscapes on Faial
Pico, the highest mountain of the Azores
Hike on Sao Jorge
Hungry fish in a natural pool

From Horta, we went out for a short daysail to the next island named Pico, because we wanted to hike up the volcano. This didn’t work out because the planned anchorage was way too deep and rolly. So instead, we set sail over to Sao Jorge. This turned out to be a good decision as we went on a nice hike there as well. After two days, we set sail again for a little bit longer leg (120nm) to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel. This is the capital of the Azores and also where the planes to mainland Europe are leaving from. We had to use the engine for most of the leg but as it was the first overnight sail for our visitors it was nice to have light winds.

Lago di Fogo, Sao Miguel
Sete Cidades in Sao Miguel, Azores

In Ponta Delgada we rented a small car for some days to get around the island, did some more hiking, provisioned again and bought a lot of the excellent local cheese. The town has a lot of nightlife, just yesterday there was the “White Ocean Party” which went on the whole night and where everybody has to dress in white.

There are excellent local cheeses in the Azores
Marina Ponta Delgada
People on the Azores know how to party, this picture was taken 4:07AM

From here, we plan to sail directly to northern France. Initially we had planned to leave today, but yesterday when we did our usual pre-departure rigging inspection we noticed a broken strand in one of our forestays, so we’ll have to fix this first. Hopefully we will be able to leave in the next days.