Leg 3, Day 1 – June 12

Engine hours at start-up:  4212.1

Weather:  mostly sunny, high haze, light winds, 64 F

Sea state:  rippled

Barometer:  1012.5 mb 

Water temperature:  64.6 F

Departing Horta

Exit paperwork needed revision because of crew changes on Relish and Angela, so we didn’t weigh anchor and get out of the harbor until 1100 hours.  Crew on Angela has increased by one body, Eric, to five.  Crew on Relish is also up one, to four, with Michele transferring from Jura; Michele the Québécois (man) and Michelle the Texan (woman), ought to make for a least a little confusion.  Jura left a bit ahead of us, operating independently.  We’ll match their course for a bit, before they veer northerly, off towards their Scottish destination.

It’s a treat to head off into a set of islands, instead of out into the void.  It was a great day for photo opps of Relish, as we passed by Pico, Sao Jorge and Terceira.  Pico has the high volcano, almost 8,000 ft.  Sao Jorge has some remote villages/settlements in remarkable topography and spectacular waterfalls near the east end.

Until we were beyond Sao Jorge, some six hours into this leg, there was lots of boat traffic, mostly fishing boats.  We encountered three two-man dories that were several miles offshore.  It’s a really nice day, with negligible swell and light winds.  I wonder how much conditions need to deteriorate before it’s too nasty for this type of fishing.

Speaking of fishing…  It wasn’t 10 minutes out of the harbor before Jason had our lines wet.  Unfortunately, our easy prey, the dorado, is a warmer-water denizen.  Only as the water heats a bit in July and August, do the dorado roam these waters.  We could snag a wahoo, but we’ve gone 2,600 miles when that was true, without result.  Yellow and bluefin tuna are around, but our dumb-luck trolling style doesn’t offer much temptation.  Still, we’re tryin’.

In the 9-mile wide passage between Pico and Sao Jorge, we saw numerous whales, close enough to tentatively ID: Fin whales.  They’re the second largest of the rorqual (baleen) whales; blues are the largest.  The fin whale can run up to 24 m/75 ft and weigh as much as 74 tons.  The N. Atlantic population is estimated to be around 17,000 and their lifespan can be 80+ years.  They could have been Sei whales, which are a third shorter and weigh less than half.  We went with Fin, due to it’s large size.

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