On Monday Andrew and Susan and Ju and I hired Carlos, the taxi driver, for the day, and had a great tour of the island. He took us to a number of places of interest, including a tea plantation which came as a real surprise, and sulphur hot baths, basically the outpourings of a volcano. 60% of this island's electricity is provided by geothermal power!
On Tuesday we left Andromeda and Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel and set sail for Faial. There was a concert the night before we left but it didn't keep us off our sleep.
At first we sailed, as we had a good north easterly wind, but around 2am on Wednesday the wind died and we had to motor. The islands slowly came into view, and we saw the base only of Pico, as there was cloud covering the peak. We arrived in the harbour of Horta around 4pm, as we had estimated, and stopped on the reception pontoon for clearning in and allocation of a berth. To Sue's surprise we were granted a pontoon berth, and soon we were snugly berthed on pontoon B, a short walk only from the showers and loos.
Our first impressions of Faial and Horta were totally positive, and staying here over the last couple of days those impressions have intensified. This truly is the yachtsman and yachtswoman's choice port in the mid Atlantic. The harbour is festooned with paintings of boats and boat names, dates, sailors' names, and the harbour has a venerable history of welcoming these eccentric nomads since the days of Joshua Slocum (no relation to Mrs, or her pussy!). He was the first person to sail single-handed around the world, in a boat he built himself, called Spray.
We are now given over to preparations for the big hop, over 1200 miles direct from here to Plymouth, or Falmouth. We'll be buying provisions, fuel and the like over the next couple of days, and we plan to leave around lunchtime on Monday.
By the way, Ju took this photo of the marina, the painted wall, a cargo ship unloading containers for the island, and the neighbouring island of Pico, with its 2351 metre high volcano which we previously saw from the air!
Our stay on Flores ended with a flight back in perfect weather. It took us from the two westernmost islands of the archipelago over the five middle ones, to one of the two at the eastern end. The one that stole the show was Pico, which caused half the passengers on the plane to get up from their seats and peer out the starboard windows. It was amazing, the island itself was covered in fluffy white cloud, in a level carpet, but through the cloud came a perfect cone of Pico's volcano, complete with crater at the top. It looked black against the cloud. I gazed at it and couldn't stop saying 'Wow!'. Sadly both our cameras were out of reach, so this description is going to have to do!
We got back to the boat and chilled out for a while, then met up with Andrew and Susan from Andromeda who had meantime arrived in our marina, after a foggy crossing from Santa Maria. More anon
Above is a pic of Flores' flowers
So the cauliflower did its bit last night, and delicious it was too. Sue is wondering what to put in her backpack instead, for the journey back!
Today we had breakfast, got in the car and headed off south to the island's only viable harbour at Lajes, to find lots of yachts at anchor, rolling about, and one tied up to the harbour wall, rolling about, and loads of works going on in the harbour to create Flores' first viable marina. The photo shows this. Work is well advanced, and next season possibly yachts will be able to come in and tie up to a pontoon!
The flowers on this island live up to its name. Hedges between fields are of hydrangeas, and every village has a riot of colourful blooms to delight the passer-by. We headed north, and made about the same time on the journey as the Corvo ferry, which we had watched being loaded in Lajes harbour, and which left there aqt the same time as we did. The reason is the zig zag nature of the road north on the east side of the island, past the dramatic airport with its airstrip which is really quite short, and built with steep cliffs at each end! The cliffs are what you see if you look out of the plane window on the approach, and for all the world it is as thoughnthe plane is about to dive into a cliff! Corvo is the other westerly Azorean island, difficult to reach, and quite lovely.
At the north end of the island we descended into Ponto Delgada, where Helen and Mike from Island Drifter had recommended a fish restaurant, O Pescador, and we decided to try it out for lunch. It was superb! We had grilled limpets for starters, Sue had grilled prawns, then we all had parrot fish, which was lightly fried in batter and served with tomato and boiled potatoes. It was great, although we had to be careful with the bones. Then we headed south across the island and took in some of its volcanic craters, or caldeiras, most of which have water in them, but all of which are spectacular. We took lots of photos today, and I will attempt to put them in a gallery so have a look once you have read this. I'll call it Flores.
Dinner was the picnic lunch we were going to have until we decided on the restaurant, and we ate it at the picnic table in the garden of our old house here. We watched the shimmering seas in the evening sunshine, and we were visited in turn by a cockerel and two herns, he splendid and just like the totemic Portuguese cockerel on all the tea towels and bottle stoppers (thank you Bev!) then by a donkey, to whom we gave bits of apple and finally a whole apple, which he just loved!
Tonight we are packing up prior to heading for the airport tomorrow for our return to Sao Miguel, where we know our friends on Andromeda have already arrived. Hopefully rhe plane will fly, and hopefully we will leave on it.........