We had an interesting time on Santa Maria with Susan and Andrew from Andromeda, during which they hired a car and we did two days of touring the island. The map of it looks a lot like that of Australia! The eastern end of the island was very hilly, and to descend to the villages on the east coast there was only a death-defying gravel-ridden track zig-zagging down the cliff. Andrew is a terrific driver, but I had my eyes shut a lot of the time, watching my life flashing in front of me as we descended.
We left at five o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, in the dark, and spent most of the day motoring north towards Sao Miguel, where Ponta Delgada is the capital of the archipelago, and there is a large marina where we are to leave the boat for a few days while we travel west by air to Flores. Sue doesn't like the holding there, so flying was a good way to see another island, possibly two, as Corvo is close by and probably reachable by ferry.
On Wednesday morning we set off with cabin baggage, one hold bag, and a cauliflower. We had bought it to have for our evening meal on Tuesday, but in the event we ate out in a marina restaurant, to the sound track of Portugal being gubbed by Spain in the world cup.
So Sue had it in a carrier bag, then decided to put it in her backpack. But first we were put on the airport bus, then after a delay, taken off it again. The flight had been delayed due to adverse weather conditions, apparently, so off for a coffee........
Flight cancelled, but airline provided us with a hotel and taxi and meals vouchers so we are having another day in Ponta Delgada before trying to get to Flores again tomorrow. Watch this space!
After a four-day sail from Porto Santo, we arrived here this morning at 7.30 British Summer Time, which is the same as elsewhere in Portugal, but at 6.30 am Azores time. We are 25 degrees west of Greenwich, so dawn kicks in here at the moment around 6.30 am BST, much later than at home in Ardfern!
Waiting for us to take our lines and provide us with a rousing breakfast of bacon and mushroom butties and copious amounts of tea and coffee, were Susan and Andrew of Andromeda, who had preceded us two days before. We took with us our bottle of Glenlivet, the closest the Porto Santo duty free could get to Talisker, ie not close at all, and we had a small dram with Andrew to celebrate our safe arrival in this lovely archipelago. And the sun shone, and is still shining!
Our journey was conducted entirely on a starboard tack, reacting to NNE and NNW winds ranging from 1 to 4 on the Beaufort scale. So the engine was used, in moderation, to help us along and to recharge batteries driving the boat's electronics. Our best day's run from midnight to midnight was 149 nautical miles! An average of over 6 knots!
There were not many seabirds to be seen, only a few Cory's Shearwaters and Bulwers' Petrels. But on our last 24 hours of the journey we notched up a huge pod of dolphins (not sure what variety, Ju will advise me), two turtles swimming past the boat, and this morning a sperm whale, swimming calmly along on the surface not far off the south coast of this island, blowing its breath before it in highly visible puffs of vapour, and showing its dorsal fin just breaking the surface. We watched it for about ten minutes, while also tying on the fenders and ropes to the boat for the imminent docking in the marina.
There were also few ships, but those that did appear kept their dramatic entrances until darkness had fallen! Sue's Sea-Me Radar Reflector kept bursting into life with its little red light, indicating that we were being picked up on somebody else's radar. This was not always followed by the sighting of a ship, yet conversely a ship appeared on one occasion without the flashing light being triggered. So the Sea-Me became known as the Phantom Flasher, sending us scurrying on deck and panning carefully round the 360 degrees of horizon to try and spot a vessel!
What we did not see were any other yachts. And now that we are in a marina, there are not many here either. The Azores marinas have been heavily invested in in recent years, apparently, and the Azoreans are now waiting patiently for the yachting fraternity to turn up in their droves and contribute to the local economy. And why not? But in a recession......
After breakfast this morning we cleaned the boat, dug out our washing, and collapsed in a heap to catch up on our sleep. Watch-keeping disrupts normal sleeping patterns, and we are staying here a few days, so we will be able to sort that out before moving on. Keep this page bookmarked! I'll add a picture later.
After an interesting day on three separate flights, Glasgow- Gatwick, Gatwick- Funchal, Funchal-Porto Santo, we arrived in time for a sundowner with Sue T and with Andrew and Susan from Andromeda who are here at the moment, en route for the ARC.
That was Thursday. Yesterday we helped Sue T organise the boatyard staff to remove the wind generator temporarily so the boat fitted into the hoist, then place the boat safely in the water. All went well, and we berthed the boat next to Andromeda in the almost deserted marina. There are only two other yachts, and one other arrived and anchored in the harbour while we were heading for our berth. The other boats are two Dutch, and one French.
Today Andromeda left for the Azores, and we will leave on Monday for the same destination, Santa Maria. Weather is cool, sky overcast, wind variable but mostly northerly, and at the moment it's raining.
More when I can post.