Friday, June 14, 2013

Homeward bound

Lisbon, very late. In Lisbon airport at stupid o clock and everything, and I mean everything, is shut for the night. There are plenty of peeps wandering around, so you would have thought keeping one all night caff open would be doable, but no. My flight gets called at 0520. just hope my luggage goes to Manchester with me. .................................................................. It's now 2am ............Does anyone remember the film 'In Transit'? That's how I feel at the moment. No one around except a few stranded souls and the night shift cleaners. Only difference is that Tom Hanks got a place to sleep. I'm reduced to attempt it sitting up in chair, not even a comfy chair at that. I daresay I'll wander around some more and then contact any fellow insomniacs out there, always assuming I can get some more wifi time for nowt ............................ ................... It's now 3'30am and for a place that has only a few over-nighters and security staff, it isn't half noisy, what with all the chillers and freezers going full blast, and for some unfathomable reason, myriad tv monitors all on different channels, but with he sound turned down just far enough that you cannot hear what is being said, but it's still loud enough to annoy you. Can't get any zzz's, too noisy, but not helped by the itching mozzie bites I collected last night when the local population decided to invade the boat and proceeded to dine on me. Dennis escaped without a bite. Staff now starting to turn up, maybe I'll get breakfast before I leave ............ .............................. 4'50am and /shock/ I dozed for like an hour. A quick wash and brush and I feel more awake. The place is starting to come alive now, and praise be, I can smell coffee and toast! ................................................. 0612, and I've made it to the international gate, about a km and a bit of walking, fortified by the first cup of coffee of the day. No one else here at the moment. Dawn is breaking, late here, it would have been light for an hour or so already at home. With luck I should be home by early evening- the train from Manc to Bangor takes longer than the flight! ............................ Well I made to the plane, fully loaded up with a couple or 3 strong portuguese black coffees and had an uneventful flight back to Manc. The landing was somewhat 'hard', due mainly to the strong cross winds buffeting the plane. Caught my train to Crewe which was a sub zero windy hell hole.... I'd heard that the weather had'nt been that good but this was back to January! The weather was much improved by the time we got to Chester, but things were to turn very bad... a huge fire at Flint had closed the line to Bangor and around a thousand frustrated people were waiting in vain for the fleet of buses to carry them onwards. To be fair the railway had got a fleet of buses but there were just too many people to move. I spotted someone I knew and we decided that there was no point standing in the cold so we went had a coffee. By now I needed one as the earlier caffein had long worn off. We decided to stay put since, we argued, the queues were so long that by the time they were loaded the fire would be out and the trains running again. And we were right. Suddenly there was a mad rush of people back to the station and onto a Llandudno bound train. Hurrah. We had another coffee as we also argued that another would be along in an hour or so and less crowded. By now we had been joined by another, heading to a job in Abersoch. I needed to get from Bangor down to Pen Llyn and Gwenan came to our rescue. She would pick us up and bring us down to Pwllheli [so she could go shopping in asda on her way back to M. Nefyn] So after being on the road for over 24 hours and not having slept properly for more than 48 hours, I was finally home and a sound nights sleep awaited. And this morning [lateish] I awoke to clear skies and bright sunshine. Pen Llyn at it's best.

back in Terceira

This morning dawned grey and not a little damp. By 11 it was beginning to brighten and we prepared to move Gwawr over to the dock, in readiness for the hoist. The boat is 4.80m wide. The dock is 5m wide. A bit of squeeze then. 4 of us walked her in carefully and she fit, just. Out she came and was duly chocked off on the hard, ready to be powerwashed and antifouled.. Went down to the capital, Angra, yesterday. Interesting, but I prefer Pria. Had thought about hiring a car today, but time's getting on and we're yet to have lunch so might just leave it. Sun has just come out and it's quickly warming up, so I think a cold beer and a good book will suffice for the rest of the day.

Photo: Madalena front and harbour. The guilty boat is one of those tied up. I suggested to them that when it comes to buying a new RIB they get a twin engine setup.

Azores 2013 Day 5 Pico.

Well what an epic day. Started off ok on my whale watching trip. There were whales off Sao Mateus on the south west coast of Pico, so that's where we were going. Down to the RIB we went and off on the 20km trip out to where the whales had be spotted. And there they were, a pod of sperm whales. I got a couple of decent photos, but getting shots of any caetacean is never easy, and today was no exception. When the dolphins arrived there was great excitement aboard, which continued when the radio crackled with news that a blue whale had been spotted, some 15km further out. Of course everyone wanted to see a blue whale, so off we went. Blue whale was duly spotted and oooed at, and so we started for home, only for the engine to suddenly cut out after a few minutes. The guys fiddled around, but to no avail and pronounced that the fuel was contaminated, but a boat would be sent for. This was at 2pm. We fiddled some more, but the problem seemed insurmountable. So there we were, now around 20 something miles south of Pico and drifting off towards Brazil, with broken engine and several passengers starting to feel rather queasy. A sea anchor was devied from the ropes we had aboard. This at least would slow our drift and bring us head to wind. We fiddled some more with engine. It was now 3pm. After a while the call went up that the replacement boat was nearing us. Pretty much the same time the guys discovered a split in the fuel filter, the cause of the problem all along. 5 minutes later it was fixed. However it was decided that all of us passengers should be transferred to the big RIB, just in case. This turned out to be easier said than done, and in the end a couple of us stayed on the original boat to help bring it in. We eventually got back in at 4.30pm, somewhat tired, and one or two rather ill and a little 'emotional'. We were offered our money back, but no one took the offer. It was, as one lady said 'an adventure' and no one lost out and we all saw the whales. Back to Terceira tomorrow and a less than good wireless connection.

Day 4 17th May

So, today I rented a car and went exploring. First I headed through the vinyards, huntinh for a restaurant reputed to be the best on the island for the money. I must of driven past it, but I never found the place. I'll try again later. Afterwards I drove down the coast to Lages, where most the whale watching trips leave from, but nobody was heading out this afternoon. Come back tomorrow they said. Unfortunately, I won't have car then. I took the highland road back, which was like a back road in NWales, except it went up to 1000+m (that's nearly as high as Snowdon). Lots of the ubiquitous white cows taking the place of our sheep (white to stand out against the black lava, reputedly). Overlooking all of this was the brooding bulk of the Pico volcano, which as you drove towards it, you never seemed to get any closer, so high does it stand. Sorted a trip out to spot whales for tomorrow morning, when I got back to Madalena. Now where's that restaurant?

Azores 2013

this may I took advantage of the fact that Dennis has his boat out in Terceira and so I visited the Azores, a place I always wanted to go to. Here's a potted resume form my FB postings. Day 3 Well I made it to Pico. A very bumpy ride, which the pilots and air crew took in their stride, ulike the passengers, who were somewhat put. out, judging from the groans emanating from behind me. I, of course was made of sterner stuff, until particularly horrible jolt had me looking for bag, 'just in case'. Mercifully it was only a short flight and I caught sight of the summit of the volcano as we descended into the murk. Safely landed we all exited the plane into the warm drizzle of a Welsh summer, except that we were 2000 miles south west of Pen Llyn. The weather here was worse than it was back in the marina at Pria Vitoria. But now I'm comfortably ensconced in the b&b, with cup of coffee to hand, I'll try and work out how to post a few photos.