to begin.


as wicked storms rolled into spring park bay tyler, mike and i would plop a 6 ft sunfish into the angry, angry waters. our knowledge of sailing was nonexistent, and our ignorance made us fearless. 3 high school kids were beyond capacity for this mighty boat. and when the gale force winds got the better of our overzealous heeling, we'd capsize.

stretch, stretch to save our fallen crewman, scramble on the belly of the boat, and then heave all our weight on the keel to flip the beast back over.

soaked and with furious gray clouds above, we sailed onward, only to repeat this joyful turmoil.

ooh the beginning.

the answer to a legit experience on the ocean sea comes from a 35 ft ketch named cappella. she's on her way home to sweden. as of 2.17.11 mats, the 45 yr. old captain, is awaiting my arrival in st. vincent & the grenadines.

the following gnarnia is an attempt to document the journey from the southern caribbean and beyond.

i am no writer, i've never sailed in salt water, i haven't journaled in years, i have no idea what to do when i return home…but…i just bought my first pair of shorts in like 10 years…so…

these entires are meant for myself and anyone remotely interested.

this is.

The Valinor Collective

Thursday, July 14, 2011

azores. faial. horta.

The Azores, Faial,'s as if my idea of a quaint fishing town in the pacific northwest was injected with a little european culture. brisk, but cozy sunny mornings. back to bow stretching ritual; watching fisherman and their run down vessels putt out to sea at sunrise, then returning at dusk. tiny, intricately layed brick streets and sidewalks, buildings pressed into one another with decaying facades; huge, green wooden doors and shutters with peeling paint and inviting shops and cafes. the gigantic volvanic island of pico seen south just miles away. all this seen from our berth in the simple harbor that Capella now rest.

first day was an acclimatization day. impossible to walk in a straight line, my brain was saying wtf when my legs began moving and my body was propelled forward on solid ground. after just a few minutes of civilized walking, i had to retreat back to the subtle sway of the boat to supress the gradual onset of landsickness.
we were lucky enough to be berthed alongside our good swedish companions mats and alina aboard their 47 ft steel cutter Elan Alida. they invited us aboard for a some local boxed wine they got for like 6 euro. surprisingly not bad. we discussed battle stories as the effects of portuguese boxed wine gradually took its effect.

Peter's Sport Bar. THE Effin Bar. errbody knows bout Peter's. takes the cake for best sailing pub in the world, and to be amongst the crusty, old sailors who sailed from lands afar for years and years was super awesome. warm bellied and content, we found our way into Peter's that evening and got down on their famous gin and tonics and 1euro brews. floor to ceiling wood doors are always open to the streetside welcoming in those who've sailed many a mile. dirty, ragged flags signed by loads of crewmembers are draped throughout the warm, tiny interior as bearded sailors guzzle dranks. mail and post cards are pinned above the bar addressed to those whom are expected to arrive in horta...could be weeks, months or years. with the hope the recipient will find their letter. super sick idea. in the company of our other swedish sailing companions who had safely arrive on faial, i could finally soak in the glorious glory and feeling of accomplishment of our endeavors. fantastic.

day 2 on land was a total nourshing, cleanse fest. capella was cleansed of the grime produced by 3 people in 26 days, clothes warshed and cleansed, and a hot, fresh shower for the first time in over 3 months gave deep deep soul cleansing . with a cleansed body and fresh fresh clothes we got down on the very first indoor, sitdown restaurant with a legit established roof since my arrival in march. i devoured the meal i had been craving for weeks. salad. we ate like kings. fruit and salad plate; corn, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, kiwi, grapes, apples, bananas, with a side of local sausages and cheeses and olives and garlic bread. washed down with 1euro brews and fries. holy shit. what mirth and inner belly happiness.

next to Dominica, Faial provided some of the most rewarding and stunning hikes and views yet. isabelle, from St. Martin, safely arrived in port aboard Olivia with her sister louise and her bf peter. so awesome to see they survived the haul. mikkel, isabelle and i explored the nearby area to the west. passing lush green meadows borded by the coast, black sand beaches, old, old whaling station, crashing waves on black chunky sea boulders and a coastline that could be seen more miles ahead. the black boulders strewn about catching white heaps of water as far as the eye could see. trekked a foot path leading us up and up through wild gardens of dill, corn, berries and orchids. up and up a dirt stair way under dense over hanging shrubs until the top rest a one roomed, white church. of course a one roomed, classic looking white church was up there. insane view of horta and its red clay roofs and white cluttered buildings, green rolling fields meandering their way up to the centralized volcano in the center of the island. we sat and ate our local fruit and bread snacks on the brick wall overlooking Faial.

the quality, amount and prices of local fruits, veggies, breads and olives is ridiculous. the portugeuse know whats up in this department. so glad mikkel shared the same passion and devotion to such things as i. we shared renobs and excitement of the loins when we stumbled upon their town market and bakery. fatty dense loaves of delicious bread and super effin cheap produce. stunned and mouth agape we freuqented these places. always with loads of shiz to bring back to boat. mats dug it, but no where nearly as stoked as mikkel and i.

without out the turmoil of a rolling sea, we got down on some bomb ass meals. able to use the electric stove instead of kerosene and without constantly bracing yourself, cooking soo much simpler.  we fixed up salads, burgers, pastas, fatty spreads of freshies, eggplant lasagna, and fresh shrimp. washed down with local portuguese wine. eff.
even though being about 1000 miles west, the azores are on mainland portugal time. something to do with their TV schedules? we were given 4 additional hours to  our clocks when we arrived. sunlight til like 10 o'clock and darkness round 11 gave us cool, cozy, late dinners and total chill sesh in the cockpit til the moon glow bright.

a tiny open door caught my eye while roaming the town. inside were shevles and shelves of books. in no real order or organized fashion. way in the back, an old portuguese dood was on the phone behind his dishevled desk with a single source light above his head. this effin guy. once he saw us inside, he stood up and got super stoked. he did that thing when you're on the phone, you're trying to get rid of the person on the other end..."si, si, okay, sisisi, okay."  his ear, hand and head slowly, slowly began titling closer and closer into the phone cradle. his body wanted to get away but was tethered to that effin phone and that effin person on the other end. the eagerness in his eyes to get away was clear. he really really was stoked to have us in there. slammed the phone down and scurried over. "speak portuguese?" no, english..."francais?" oui, un peau...aaah!? oui!?....and so it began. this winkly old guy whose name i can't remember kept us there for like 45 minutes. showing us pictures of the architecure his dad did in boston, the boat models he'd constructed and book after book of the history of faial. all in broken, simple french. we'd pull a random book off the shelf to find it'd been printed over 100 years ago. none were for sale. they were just there. dusty, old, moist paper smells in a cramped dark hole in the wall. a stoked old, portuguese man speaking broken french to us while classical music play softly in the background.

for like 20 bucks per person between the 3 of us, we rented a 1.2L opel for the day. pure european muscle. one of the best decisions ever. cruised nearly the entire island on a perfectly sunny clear day. starting with the volcanic rock pools with towering, black, chunky jagged rocks that formed years and years ago when liquid hot magma (sinister grin, pinky to corner of mouth) found its way to the cool sea after a volcano began spewing. a local fisherman sat amongst the rocks, wielding a bamboo pool and single line, baby crab for bait, cig dangling from his mouth. we humbly watched as he pulled in a couple fish. cruised onward, stopping when something interesting stood out, snapped loads of pics, scrambled this massive deteriating volcano crater by the sea that once atop we marvelled at the sloping green plots of land rolling up and up and on and on. plot after plot of land, bordered by dark green shrubs giving the rolling hills the apperance of a custom made quilt that'd been patched and re-patched generation after generation. back in the late 50's one of the seaside volcanos erupted liquid hot magma (sinister grin, pinky to corner of mouth) and covered a nearby lighthouse in layers of molten shiz. we were able to walk around this barren, eerie landscape with the feeling of walking on the moon. no vegetation in sight, all gray rock, dirt and dust. onward down the tiny paved roads, in and out of village after village with all the same quaint, white facades, red clay roofs and crumbling walls. picnic in a field with local cheese, bread, brews and jam. cruised onward up and up, twisty twist of bright red roads, green fields and blue skies until some 6000 feet up into Cedaira. the abandoned volcano where you can walk to the edge and peer into the some 1500 foot deep crater that spans over a mile across. blessed with a clear day we could see the entire son uva bitch. so effin gnar. mosied down the slopes, passed classic red, rundown windmills and took a dip into the ball shrinking, brisk atlantic waters that crashed onto black volcanic sand beaches. Faial had been conquered and with all things considered was shaping up to be my fav island no doubt. dominica? i dunno.

it was awesome having an exploration partner, a partner in crime and one with like-mindedness when it comes to wandering. after getting a tip from a cute whaling expert chick, we managed to find our way to the city limits with vague directions. passed the stage with blasting, corny portuguese tunes as a circle of locals danced their native jig. passed the wrinkly, old portuguese folks stepping in time, being shuffled from partner to partner until our noses led us to our real destination. noses following the smell of poo. cow poo. until the poo fumes lead us to a full out fair. a rural agricultural fair. complete with stables of cows with prize winning ribbons, farming equipment, cheese samples, hordes of short, dark haired portuguese folk, beer, sangria for 1euro, wine for 50cents, heaps of food and a cheesy band playing songs everyone knew the words to; whom apparently are the bees knees of faial?? a baking powder? made our laps around the grounds, scandi-man mikkel sticking out like no other with his lanky tall, fair sinned, blonde haired doodness. the two of us, drinks in hand soaking up the local natchral vibe. fantastic.

Faial was a location where we left our marks...or it left a mark on us. after getting a tip about a local tattoo guy, it became mikkel's mission to find the elusive dood. after searching and searching and a couple failed attempts, a address was texted to us, a car ride was hitched, an insanely long ass walk up and up through this tiny villge was walked, the tiny abode was found and we entered the home of louis the tatto guy. complete with a modern, black ikea living room, a 13 month old, 2 rowdy kids, his wife, his cousin and his uncle. with the nephew as an english interpreter, mikkel showed louis some pics for ideas. louis drew up something mikkel dug and after a day of thought, discussion and persuasion, the next day we repeated the exact same process with the same packed living room and he left with an anchor on the inside of his left bicep. indie tattoo louis. total baller.

there's a tradition that exhists for sailors and their vessels coming into Horta. if neglected is sure to bring bad luck upon departure. you must paint a mural on the harbor walls, the cement docks, or the edges of the peer. pretty much wherever you can find a spot that is free, or the exhisting mural is aged beyond recognition. we got down. no doubt. after a mock up rough draft and 4 days of taping off and painting and drying we left our mark on the sea walls of Horta. until the sands of time and sea elements decay our marking. Capella had been to Horta.

it was a day of goodbyes. mikkel caught a flight home. our 3rd crewman had left. bummed to say goobye we were back to the original Capella crew of 2. familiar faces like the Olivia crew, Nada Crew, nils, Elin Alida and jason & rosy were said farewell to.
goodbye european pacific northwest. goodbye port wine and phenomenal bread.
mats and i set sail from another island that was sad to see us go. with overcast skies, bye bye waves to the docks, a bit of nervous anxiety tum tum and a still growing atlantic sea beard, we set out for the last leg of the atlantic journey.

to england we go. planned for 1300 miles and MAYBE 2 weeks of sailing. just the two of us and Capella. expected exhaustion, expected a new challange, expected easier weather and planned for a fran rendezvous.

but, holy balls did i underestimate.

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