28 May 2018 | North Atlantic
04 July 2018
With 95nm to Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel it was to be an overnight trip – as usual, little or no wind so we managed to sail for only 1.5 hours.
We had “arranged” to leave MINNIE B in the marina for a trip back to the UK. The marina will not take a reservation but we had corresponded about our intentions, so we were expected and there was a comfortable berth for us.
The town itself has magnificent buildings, squares and gardens but is much busier with tourists than the other Azorean towns so has quite a different ‘feel’.
Again, car hire took us to the outstanding sites of Sete Cidades and its blue and green lakes deep in a volcanic caldera.
Furnas in the east of the island is where people cook cozida nas caldeiras by digging holes in the hot volcanic earth and lower containers of meat and vegetables for about seven hours. We bathed in the Poca da Dona Beija 39degC thermal pools – a well-appointed and popular facility in the town.
Then a drive around the eastern coast, stopping at viewpoints and picnic stops with remarkable facilities, gardens and attention to their maintenance, such as Ponta de Madrugada.
Altogether another splendid island.
Amazing Azores eh ….?
Sadly we had to say goodbye to Des and Alma as they returned to Northern Ireland. We had a great time.
Now a break of a few weeks for a visit to family and friends in the UK and Belgium.
Lots of photos in The Gallery.
04 July 2018
Monday 18th June saw us off at 0830 for the 51nm to Terceira and the port of Angra do Heroismo. Another flat calm, no wind and motoring - aargh, that Azores High.
This turned out to be our favourite island. Busier than Faial, Pico and Sao Jorge with a fascinating, historic town, lovely architecture and the start of the Sao Joaoninas Festival.
Angra do Heroismo is in an imposing location with the bay formed by the Monte Brasil promontory and itself the site of massive Spanish-built fortifications from the late 16th century, Fort Sao Joao Baptista. Still used by the Portuguese military, we had a guided tour.
Highlights on the island are the wild hinterland and a visit to Praia da Vitoria. In the former we explored the outstanding caves Gruta do Algar do Carvao and Gruta do Natal along with the fumaroles of Furnas do Enxofre. Praia provide the excellent Restaurante O Pescador where we had a sumptuous lunch … fish of course.
As time had moved on then so had the brilliant hydrangea-hedged roads with the blue and white flowers coming into bloom and creating a sensation of driving through an enormous garden.
We were looking forward to seeing the bull running (different from Pamplona in that only one bull is on the street at a time and usually has a rope attached so that it can be partially controlled) but our timing was out. The bulls were being rested for the Sao Joaoninas Festival and our schedule meant we could only see the start of the festival.
We did watch a horse-riding bullfighter - a cavaleiro - a going through his paces in the Praça de Toiros.
However, this was a major compensation – floats and people processing through the street in costumes depicting the history of the island, balconies enlivened by hanging quilts, streets decorated with lights and ornamental hangings and a very appreciative crowd lining the streets and cramming the balconies. With pop-up bars, restaurants, food stalls and live music we could have stayed for days.
04 July 2018
We left Horta at 1030 on Friday 15th June for the 23nm to Velas, Sao Jorge. We were a bit sad to go as the OCC Azores pursuit rally was taking place with lots of celebrations coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Peter Café Sport.
The departure from the quay was somewhat tricky and the skipper misjudged the conditions so we became the entertainment for a while. Boats were rafted up in trots of three and we were the inside boat. There was a raft close ahead and close astern. The wind was blowing off the quay and the plan was to shuffle forward a bit and astern a bit, and let the wind blow us off but this did not work as the stern was blown off and the bow came in … lots of windage at the stern and the wind blowing over and not onto the bow was unhelpful. We went back alongside and in a rather unseamanlike manner did a kind of springing off the bow which we should have done properly in the first place.
With little wind we only managed to sail for about 30 minutes so the other 3.5 hours were motoring.
The harbourmaster at Horta had phoned his colleague in Velas so they knew to expect us and provided space rafted to a Spanish Amel, the crew of which were not overly welcoming. A pontoon party that night had us introduced to a crowd of other yachties, including some OCCers.
We hired a car again for a couple of days and toured the island – the drive along the south coast with steep cliffs and hillsides (more mountain than hill) was magnificent. Flat areas on the coast, Fajas, formed either by volcanic flows or massive landslips provide space for villages and fields.
Cows are in abundance and we visited the Finisterra cheese factory for a tour and tasting – marvellous.
On the north coast we hiked from Faja dos Cubres to Faja da Caldeira do Santo Cristo where only about 10 people live but there is a nice church, bar/restaurant and a museum. A splendid island.
04 July 2018
Then a ferry to Pico and another hire car to tour the island: passing the tiny black stone walled enclosures for vines (square) and figs (round); calling at Porto do Cachorro with its old wine warehouses and crumbling black lava cliffs and arches; visiting a developing winery and museum (Adega ‘A Buraca’); lunching in Lajes with its magnificent church; making purchases at the Escola Regional de Artisananto in Santo Amaro; then Prainha with its church and slipway.
The wine producing area of Criacao Velha with more dry stone wall enclosures and a well-preserved windmill was unlike anywhere we had seeen
Back to Madalena for a drink at Caffe 5 and dinner at A Parisiana just a short walk from the ferry terminal where we caught the 2100 boat for Faial.
04 July 2018
We climbed to the top.
04 July 2018
Alma, Des’ wife, arrived in Faial on 12th June and the large scale tourismo began.
We hired a car and toured Faial visiting the caldera (covered in cloud), the idiosyncratic windmills, and the Capelhinos volcano with its brilliant underground interpretation centre alongside the part-buried lighthouse, stopping in Porto Pim for a different view and a beer.