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To Terciera
Susan Mackay
4 June,2012, Angra

We had supper at six o'clock sharp, then prepared the boat for leaving at seven. Cautious at first, we put up a reefed main and genoa but soon it was full sails as the wind stayed steady around 15knots. Settling down for the night, David took the first watch but had to wake me a little early as we needed to pole out the genoa to starboard, the wind having veered more to the west. Oh, what a heavenly night, a full moon not seen for many a long night at sea. Voyageur started to accelerate as the wind increased to around 18knots. We were doing 8 knots under genoa alone. But just when it was getting exciting the wind died away as it had been expected to do so it was on with the engine to reach Terceira early the following morning. The seas were still lumpy from yesterday's big blow but we were glad we made the decision not to leave when we read 'A Lady's' blog of their experience. According to Aileen the worst they had ever had and that is saying something. We went straight into the fuel dock, the swell smashing us back and forward against the pontoon. We waited an agonizing hour and a half before they came to serve us. With space very limited in the tiny marina we parked ourselves against the big harbour wall which as it turned out was perfect for us, quiet and out of the swell. In the afternoon we joined a walking tour of the town of Angra, visiting the city hall, the botanical gardens, the presidential palace and the cathedral. Our Portuguese guide, Ricardo, spoke the most perfect English and his depth of knowledge of the island history was impressive. This is an island rich in history and the ancient tradition of the running of the bulls still takes place every day in different villages around the island. Unlike in a Spanish bullfight the bulls are not killed. We walked to a village at the very top of the town and took our place behind a very substantial wooden barrier in someone's backyard. The family living there did not seem to mind at all letting us view the proceedings from there. The bulls are released to run down through the streets, a few brave souls including to our horror our own Kieran, wearing a red tee shirt for goodness sake, and Stephen from A Lady, (quite unintentional he later assured us), running madly, only to leap over a wall at the last minute as the bull made his charge. Thankfully no one was hurt although it has been known to happen. Later that evening we dined with everyone from 'A Lady' all having wonderful steaks appropriately enough, the local beef throughout the island in plentiful supply and excellent.

We woke to a beautiful morning, the second since our arrival in the archipelago. Straight after breakfast we went for a long walk around the Monte do Brasil, the impressive headland at the entrance to the port giving great protection to this small harbour. Through forests of tall pines, the hydrangeas were just coming into flower, Arum lilies, lantana and azaleas growing wild all along the route. A military barracks is situated around the foothills spread over several acres and of course we were not permitted entrance. We walked back down into town, through narrow streets of pretty houses, all spotlessly clean.

Having now visited three islands in the archipelago we can see that each one is quite different, each with their own character, each with their own topography but the one thing they do have in common is that they are all volcanic and they are all mountainous.

Last supper with A Lady

You know it is not so very often that people sail around the world but those that do will understand the very special relationships that form between boats and those that do will also understand that when comes to a "parting of the waves" when you have been through so much with this boat and that then it is hard. So it is with 'A Lady'. We have had great times with Aileen and Stephen and their various crews, enjoyed many an evening of good Gaelic "craic" and we shall miss them so much. Tonight we had a final farewell dinner with Stephen, Aileen, Denis and Vera in a local restaurant. It was just such good fun and epitomises what these "cruises in company" are all about and why we choose to do our cruising in this way. It is about making lifelong friends in the company of like minded others. As simple as that. The fact that already we have had three reunions with our fellow circumnavigators from 2005 speaks for itself, with a fourth one planned for 2013. They were without doubt the finest bunch of people we were ever likely to meet and the principal reason that we set out on another world circuit. I have to pinch myself that all this is now nearly over and yet there is so much more to do and to see.

North Atlantic Voyageur
Getting ready to go
Susan Mackay
2 June,2012, Horta, Faial

We are only just recovered and today, Saturday, is our last day in Faial. David and I went for a walk to the islands best beach of black lava sand, Porto Pim, straight after breakfast hoping to spend some time at the sea centre museum but it didn't open until 2o'clock. With far too much to do today we sadly did not have the time to go back. So it was off to the supermarket for some last minute provisions. We cannot believe how cheap the food shopping is here so we will stock up and bring quite a few products home with us. The islands are famous for their excellent cheeses, Sao Jorge recommended as the finest. The afternoon was spent in the most important task of all, our own wall painting. They say it is bad luck to leave without leaving your mark on the breakwater wall. We last did this in 2009 on the island of Porto Santo on our way to the Canaries four years ago and had kept the original stencil. Completed just before the rain came on, we felt proud that Voyageur's painting was there along with the many hundreds of others.
We could see no good reason for leaving. Supposed to slip our lines at 6am for the 70nm sail over to Terceira, we took a rain check on the situation and believe me it was raining.... hard. Over and above that it was blowing twenty five knots in the marina. The visibility was poor, it was just a miserable day. We had a nice cooked breakfast and went back to bed. Eight boats left, the rest of us staying put. The marina staff say that it will blow over by the afternoon so we intend to set off on a night passage when things have calmed down. There is no need for us to leave in bad weather. Around midday the barometer bottomed out at 2009 but late into the afternoon the weather is still absolutely foul. We just don't see the point in going yet and although we do see a couple more boats head out there the rest of us have decided to sail overnight.

North Atlantic Voyageur
Weather on the wild side
Susan Mackay
1 June,2012, Horta , Faial

By late afternoon the weather began to deteriorate. With two loads of washing done Voyageur's interior was like a Chinese laundry as it all had to be brought inside to dry. We had a surprise visit from Elaine Bunting of Yachting World who is covering ARC Europe for the first time. That evening we attended our first ARC Europe function of this stopover, the "hot stone" dinner. Presented with a platter of pork, chicken, beef fillet, tuna, swordfish, octopus, it was DIY on a hot lava stone. It was a great evening all round, the skipper of Aniare leading everyone in a round of Scandinavian singing. Overnight the wind started to build. We did not sleep well. By morning gusts of over forty knots swept through the port. We checked and rechecked our lines. As well as all the usual rafting up lines, we used our Panama warps for fore and aft lines ashore. I was waiting for one of them to snap but everything held fast. However we did not leave the boat just to be on the safe side. By late afternoon the winds abated.

Marina gale

A day on Pico
With the wild weather of yesterday blown through we took the fast ferry over to the port of Madalena on the neighbouring island of Pico as they have no facility for visiting yachts. Although the island is large the population is small, many of them having emigrated to Canada and the US. Most of the houses are built in black lava blocks, whitewashed in between giving it all a very uniform look.

Typical Pico house
It was so unspoiled, green and fertile on the lower slopes, wild and rugged as the land rose up to the towering peak of Mount Pico.

Lava cliffs
Our half day tour covered the whole western half first visiting the lava arches at Cachorro, then climbing up to Lagoa do Capitao, the crater lake.

Overlooking Lajes
At Lajes we had a lunch of fresh tuna sandwiches followed by a visit to the old whaling station there which has been turned into a museum. The archive film footage of the Pico whaling men going out on a kill was a real highlight. The south west coast is a world heritage area with 8km of vineyards. Tiny pocket squares of black lava walls make the whole area an extraordinary landscape. Our time is so limited, so precious but it was so well worth the effort to visit, even more so because we bought two bottles of their beautiful liqueur wines, one honey (David's choice), the other fennel (mine).
We went out for dinner with everyone from 'A Lady' before the prize giving, receiving a bottle of whisky along with our plaque but we are still a little unsure what the whisky was for. Perhaps simply due to the fact that we have been good customers of World Cruising Club having done the Arc, World Arc and now ARC Europe. The following day an island tour was laid on courtesy of the tourist board. Like Pico the island is very volcanic and green, forests of Japanese Cedars growing in abundance up to the tree line, but there was no evidence of the wine growing that is so much in abundance in Pico. Climbing high there were some spectacular views and the hydrangeas that the islands are renowned for were everywhere, and only a matter of a few weeks now before they come into full bloom which is why this island gets the name Ilha do Azul, "The Blue Island". It was 15 degrees by the time we reached the lip of the caldeira. We were very glad we had our woollen jumpers and jackets. There are ten volcanoes on this island and the walking trail takes nine hours. The north part of the island the landscape was excoriated by the lava flow from the eruption of Capelinhos in 1957 and is now densely covered with Candleberry trees, or fire trees which gave the name to Faial. The harbour port of Horta is the real hub of this island, a crossroads for visiting yachts on their way to and from Europe to the Caribbean evidenced by hundreds of colourful harbour wall paintings.
After five days I have finally got to the bottom of the laundry pile. The trouble is we have to wear so many clothes now to keep warm and dry. Not what we are used to. It has rained every day. The good news is that David has tested the central heating and it works but we are not quite at the stage of having to run it. Looking around at the rally boats there seems to be quite a bit of damage. A broken boom, torn sails, a damaged spray hood but following an ocean passage perhaps not too surprising really. The boat rafted alongside us suffered a knockdown. All the shelves fell out across the cabin. According to the local marine engineer the most commonly seen fault is desuaging of the rigging at the bottle screws. You could almost put this passage on a par with the Indian Ocean crossing although we very deliberately steered our way clear of the strongest winds. Oh yes, we are very dull but we are not here to break records or anything else for that matter. Stuart and Ann Letton from Time Bandit came aboard for supper. They are as yet undecided as to whether they will head back to their base in Oban or into the Mediterranean. Anyway it was nice to meet up with them as you do and they also knew of other cruising friends from back home, John and Liz Gordon of Jalan Jalan.

North Atlantic Voyageur

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