Well I've been here in lovely Velas for four days now waiting for the winds to go round to the east to for a good passage to Flores. The trouble is the forecast keeps pushing the arrival of the easterlies back. First it was Tuesday, then Wednesday, now the lasted is Thursday, but now they look even more fickle than previously. We seem to be sandwiched between two areas of high pressure and looking ahead more than 12 hours is pretty hit and miss in that situation. I need to be in Horta for the 7th to meet David so I've still got a few days to play with. It will take the best part of two days to get to Flores and the same to get back and there's no point in getting there just to turn straight round; so fingers crossed.
Fortunately there have been compensations. Firstly, Velas and Sao Jorge are simply' delightful.
The marina itself is a splendid setting....
|Arctic Smoke - left of centre|
|A posh Dutch Yacht|
There's wonderful snorkeling just round the corner from the marina at the locals swimming spot. One of those numerous "rock pools" that dot the Azores. This part of the Atlantic is teeming with fish compared with the Adriatic - the only other place I have snorkeled. Indeed one does not even have to leave the marina to see numerous fish. Throw a piece of bread over the side and within seconds it's surrounded by scores of fish. The "rock pools" though have even more, many of them highly coloured. Then there's the experience of swimming in say 2-3 meters of crystal clear water, which suddenly plunges to depths of 100 metres or more and all you can see then is blue.
This evening I went in search of a walk that new friends Andy and Linda of "Coromandel" told me about. First I spent the day doing a few jobs on the boat after yet another late start. First I stuck back on some wood trim that had come adrift in the heads weeks ago. Then I tackled a job that I only realised needing doing yesterday when trying (yet again) to seal the windows. I noticed the decks were spattered with thousands of little rust dots. I think they must have been deposited from our time under the Lisbon suspension bridge, but not being an avid deck scrubber I had not noticed them before. Most of the deck is painted and so I'm not too bothered about that because it needs repainting anyway - a job for next year. However, the gel coat areas are another matter and whilst the rust spots are definitely unsightly they may also be damaging the gel coat so something had to be done. Fortunately I had some mild abrasive to get rid of the foreign particles and then I painted on and washed of a mild sulphuric acid (I think) compound that bleaches the rust stains away.
Then I went over the side with the snorkel and cleaned up the water line which is particular liable to fouling with the constant change between water and air providing ideal conditions for weed to grow. The rest of the hull still looked pretty clean apart from the very bottom of the keel which was sporting a short beard. I was not up to diving down that far through so the beard will have to stay for now. I also noticed that the anode that I'd attached to the back of the propeller had disappeared which is a bit more worrying. Currently that means there is not protection against galvanic corrosion to the propeller. I'll have to re-rig the old hanging anode that I used previously so that at least the propeller is protected whilst in port. A job for tomorrow.
The walk was quite delightful. I found the start of it behind the church as Linda and Andy had said and made my way up the hill, passing the first sheep I had seen in the Azores. Shortly after that a runner passed me and stopped and very kindly gave me some tips about where to head for. It turned out that he was Arnie - a German and from a boat on the same pontoon as Arctic Smoke.
Here are some views from the walk...
Those animals just noticeable in the above photo are goats and some of them sported some very impressive horns.
I also took a 3 videos of the walk which give a much better impression of the grandeur of the views. Have a look at them on the video page.
On Friday evening, my first full day in Velas, Linda and Andy from Coromandel came over to introduce themselves.They're into their 7th year of sailing all the oceans and have completed a full circumnavigation are have no intention of stopping any time soon. They invited me for drinks for the following evening and of course I gladly turned up. Many hours afterwards I nearly fell off their boat on departure and did fall onto Arctic Smoke; thankfully not into the drink. It was a most enjoyable evening and it was great to hear of their many adventures. Coromandel is only a couple of feet longer than Arctic Smoke and is a Nicholson 35 one year older than Arctic Smoke and has taken very good care of them over the 7 years. I returned the favour last night and cooked for us all. We, did I think manage to consume slightly less alcohol than on the first evening. Although of course I didn't have far to go so I may be wrong. They will be off to Angra soon where they will leave Coromandel for a few weeks while they fly home for a spell, before continuing on to South Africa. Interestingly, despite their wanderings to many places, the Azores are one of their favourites spots. They much prefer them to the Caribbean on account of the people being so friendly and easy to deal with. I have heard similar comments from a number of other long distance sailors now! Linda has kindly put me in touch with sailing friends of theirs who have visited Jamaica. I'm very much looking forward to picking their brains. I'm invited back for a Barbecue tomorrow which will be good fun I'm sure.
I've also heard from a couple of the long distance sailors I said good bye to in Pria de Vitoria a few weeks ago. Claus has got to Treguier in Brittany after a 14 day crossing to Brest and is working his way north via Guernsey. Olly is in Arklow in Ireland, half way between Wexford and Dublin. He sailed in company with Arik and Berbera on Symphony, who apparently had problems with the rigging and engine and Olly towed them for a while! Apparently they made it to Brighton OK and I hope to hear from them soon. Mark and Anna from Netherlands/Germany, on board "Ojala" left at the same time and I hope to hear from them soon too.