Ponta Delgado-St mary's 01
07 June 2019 | 38:15N 024:41W
Trip:74 Distance to Waypoint 1045; Bearing to Waypoint 042deg 38deg 15'N 024deg 41'W COG: 041 SOG:5.0 Wind N f2-3; Satus: Motor Sailing
Boat time 05:00 (UT)
Day 02 at sea
Farewell to the Azores
We are now en-passage to St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. Sailing to the Isles of Scilly has always been another of my sailing goals, but time and weather have always thwarted my plans, but this time they are on the way, well one hopes. The wind is not looking favourable to take us there at the moment, for that matter nor is the current. The wind is coming from the North at present, it may go round a bit more to the NW may be more to the NE, but whatever it seems to be coming from the direction we want to go, and at the moment wind has dropped off to next to nothing and I have just recently resorted to the Iron Topsail again, and we may be motoring for the rest of the day. As for the current we are in the Azores Current which has a definite set to the SE of over 1kt, so without enough wind to push us through the water at a reasonable speed the current was taking us toward the Canary Islands rather than the Scilly Islands. However nice the Canaries are we would like to go home now please.
When I went on deck at 3am for my watch it was very dark, the thin cheesy crescent waning moon of earlier had long since set but up above was the white cloud of a billion tiny pin pricks of the faint stars making up the Milky Way, interspersed with the bright stars and planets...no matter how many times i see this I am still in awe of the spectacle. Off to out starboard quarter are the lights of Sao Miguel falling behind in the distance, the last vestiges of land disappearing behind us, the last land we she see for the next 10 or days.
The Azores has been a wonderful stopover. The islands are truly green and verdant with an abundance of flora and fauna. The hydrangeas and lily like flowers that grow along the roadside are quite stunning. Although the hydrangeas are non native, they do not appear to be invasive and are the plant that really defines these islands. The hillsides and plateaus are extensively, but not overly cultivated with small fields of crops each field separated by a drystone wall and the roads wind they their way through the hedgerows sometimes cut into embankments, sometimes you are taken back to driving through the lanes of Cornwall or the hillsides of Wales. We have seen many cattle farms and far more cows than any of the other 50+ islands we have visited so far. All the farming seems to be carried out in a sustainable way. Of course the reasons why their is so much farming is the rich volcanic soil and the climate, they do get plenty of rain and moisture from the clouds and mist that consumes the mountains and north coasts, but they also get plenty of sunshine to and it can get quite warm during the day, but also quite cold at night, yes, we know we back in Europe and coming home, oh and there is an abundance of interesting wild song birds, and I guess many migratory birds.
The people of the Azores are one of the nicest and friendliest communities you would ever wish to meet. Shopping in the farmers market was a delight, I do not speak a word of Portuguese, and many the stall holders much English, but it does not matter, one always can get by here. The market is a colourful array of locally grown fruit and veg with great big red tomatoes, pineapples, strawberries, potatoes, nectarines...you name it they have it. The fresh meat of is of excellent quality. Now what are all the cows for, we could not get any fresh milk anyhwere...cheeses, Azorian cheese, many different varieties, soft, hard, crumbly, strong and mild...and all very tasty. The farmers market, as with the supermarkets represented excellent value for money with prices a fraction of any of the islands we have been to and far cheaper than at home...and all served to you with a smile, what more could one ask for. Of course of the early immigrant settlers where Flemish farmers escaping wars and persecution in Flanders back in the 1400's
One of the many delights of Sao Migual, that I do not think you will find on any other Atlantic island or even Atlantic mainland country is the Tea Plantation, this is a must to go and visit and sample the delicious Orange Pekoe tea...mmmm...on of the best teas I have tasted. The plantation and tea factory is open to the public, you can walk around a working tea factory and sea how it is made still using the original British made machinery, and the landscape of the tea bushes growing up the hillsides is quite something to behold.
Of course these volcanic islands are stunning and landscape is adorned with waterfalls and thermal springs, mountain lakes in the calderas. The Azores are one of the few groups of volcanic islands we have visited where they really make use of the geo-thermic and hydroelectric power, making the islands virtually self sufficient for renewable electricity. Not only that they cook their dinner using the geo-thermic heat, placing the stew in a pot and lowering down specially constructed shafts into the ground in the morning and taking out 6hrs later fully cooked.
The Azorian as with the other Portuguese obviously have a natural and in-born talent for art and design, this is evident in the unique architecture. The pavements, like other Portuguese territories are cobbled with black volcanic basalt cobbles and patterned into wonderful designs with white marble cobbles. Again in common with other Portuguese territories wall art or graffiti which is celebrated and of exceptional quality, although not as much here and more restrained than that in Porto.
The modern architecture is quite exciting, bold and unique, well almost unique, I found similarities with some of the exciting bold architecture in Santa Cruz in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, what I call MId-Atlantic Architecture.
It is now 6:15am and the sun has poked his head up to say hello with a bold display of orange and yellow, Alison is up to take over the watch. It is time I went to bed. With Alison's brother Richard S on board there are 3 three of us to share the watches, so we are doing 3 hours on and 6 hours off, hopefully that will be less tiring than the 4 on and 4 off me and Alsion was doing with just the two of us.
Richard and Alison yacht Cerulean of Penryn
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