Now that we are about to leave the Azores I thought it would be nice to write another update about our time here in this wonderful place. It has been a while!
The day after being tested for Covid-19 we hear the relieving words on the VHF: “Everybody is tested negative.” Finally we can switch off channel 10 and go ashore. We run around, sniffing every street corner like two runaway dogs. After such a long time on the ocean our senses are sharp as a knife and it feels great. We can’t immediately get used to wearing the mouth-masks, which you have to wear in every public space, including bars and restaurants. It makes us feel like movie extra’s in a bad science-fiction film. When we go for an ice-cream I forget to put it off, printing a nice round chocolate stain on the blue mask.
Most of the sailboats that cross the Atlantic make a stop in the Azores and Peter Cafe Sport is the legendary place where you meet up. It is great to see our friends again after a long time of ocean crossings and Covid-quarantines. It is so true that friendships amplify with every port you meet again.
Our friend Jeroen borrows a car from a friend and drives us around the island of Faial. We make a walk around the Caldeira volcano. All the Azorean islands have a volcanic origin and the last eruption on Faial occurred on 1957, near the lighthouse of Ponta dos Caplinhos. It formed a whole new piece of land next to the lighthouse. Instead of moving the lighthouse to the new land corner, they made a nice museum in it.
Caldeira volcano, in the distance you see Pico (the peak of the next island):
Ponta dos Caplinhos, the volcano that erupted in 1957 and the lighthouse:
On the seaside we see a million Portuguese man o’ war, blown onto the rocky shore, forming a strange looking and extremely poisonous pink dumpling bath. We saw a lot of them during the crossing, but this looked quite interesting.
Their is a lot to explore in the Azores, so after two weeks we decide to sail to the next island, Sao Jorge. Before we go, we paint our names on the famous walls of Horta Marina. It is nice to recognize the paintings of sailboats who we know and have been here before us.
Sao Jorge is just around the corner. We anchor in Velas, a beautiful, quiet little town. Except at night, when the shear-waters (pijlstormvogels) make an interesting oea-oea sound around the bay. The island itself has (like most of the Azorean islands) a lots of cow fields. All the milk is used for the production of cheese for which Sao Jorge is famous. We rent a car with our friends of Twoflower, who have the same cheese obsession as we do. Due to the Covid thing we can not visit any of the cheese makers, but some allow us to buy and taste cheese. So we do multiple times, in search of the ultimate cheese. Since there are almost no tourist this year , we got nice discounts (and nicely ripened cheese), the positive sides of Covid-19!
One of the most beautiful things of Sao Jorge are the Fajas, flat pieces of land originally created by lava or landslides. Many have little villages built on them. Some are hard to access, like the Faja da Caldeira do Santo Cristo. One of the most popular hikes of Sao Jorge is the one that starts at Serra do Topo and descents to Caldeira do Santo Cristo and Faja dos Cubres (because our car was parked on the topo we climbed back up instead of going to Faja dos Cubres). It was really beautiful. On our way we took a short swim in the waterfall.
After the hike we went swimming in this beautifull place, the Piscina Natural (natural swimming pool) “Simao Dias”. You can find a lot of natural swimming pools in Sao Jorge, but this must be the most spectacular one!
Stuffed with cheeses in the bilge (the space under the floor of the boat) we sail towards Terceira. Our friends of Twoflower sail along and again we get to explore the island together. After Terceira our paths will split, so it is very nice to be able to spend time together. We anchor close to Angra do Heroismo in a very nice bay with good holding on the west side of Monte Brasil. A week later we move the boat into the marina after 7 months of only anchoring! And because we were send away by the maritime police, anchoring is probihited in that bay. Angra is a charming little city. After an earthquake in 1980, it was restored and received the Unesco classification. It is nice to stroll around in the streets. Normally during summertime Terceira holds its famous bull running festival; a bull runs through the streets while people tease him and run away to avoid a beating (the bull is never killed afterwards). Due to Corona the festivity is cancelled, and we can’t say we are sorry. A lot of shops have televisions with a best of video playing in the windows, as a pour substitute, but enough for us to stomach.
We visit the furnas do Enxofre, where sulphir steam of secundary volcanic activity comes out of the ground. Some local dish is made in these furnas, but here cooking was not allowed.
After that we walked the paths of Misterios Negros, a small path between the cedar trees and volcanic rocks.
The village Biscoitos lays on the north side of the island and is known for its vineyards. The big houses and a busy natural swimming pool tells us that this is a popular vacation place.
It has been great to be here and there is so much more I could tell about our stay here. We have again experienced how friendly and helpful the Portuguese people are (again a stranger drove us around to find some part for the boat) and are amazed by the beauty of the islands we visited. We will be back!
We are ready to cross to Europe. The plan is to sail in one go to Holland to meet our family and friends. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to activate our Garmin Inreach yet, since Garmin is being hacked with ransomware. It looks like it can take a very long time until they resolve the attack. We will probably not wait for it. The weather looks good and we can get weather information with our SSB-receiver, so we’ll be fine. But it would be very nice if the problem is resolved before we take off!
*UPDATE: the Garmin Inreach is working again! You can track us through the link https://share.garmin.com/J22AJ
See you in Holland!