Monday 29 June 2015

First day at Praia Da Vitoria

The beach and Marina at Praia Da Vitoria

Got woken up this morning by rain dripping on my face at 0600. Closed the hatches and went back to bed until 0900. Still raining, so had a cup of tea and then checked in at the Marina office. Another very efficient check in and this marina is the cheapest in the Azores which is why I'm leaving the boat here for my two week trip back to the UK on Thursday.

After the check-in it was still raining and so had a leisurely breakfast and did very little. It cleared up at 1500, so moved boat to the long stay berth indicated by the Marina manager with the help of a local.

Went out to scout around at 1600 and bumped into Ollie, on the return leg of solo Atlantic circuit in his 27.5 foot Albin Vega. We're going for a beer later. 

Now after the drinks with Ollie a Scott, Klaus, a Dane, Eric a Dutchman, and Celia a French woman. Very enjoyable. 

The town is pleasant but photos not uploading so no views at present.

Will get out for a proper look around tomorrow.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Arrived Praia Da Vitoria

Departed midday, arrived harbour entrance 2317, moored up, 0000. A great sail. Average speed over the 70 miles 6k. Not bad for an old lady.

Sao Jorge..and next...

Overlooking the bay at Velas

Is a beautiful island with inconspicuous levels of tourism leaving one absolutely charmed by its beauty - a mixture of rolling hills, cows, steep cliffs, Hydrangea everywhere and friendly people.

Yesterday (Saturday) I shared a hire car with Chris and Lorraine and we spent a day exploring the island. We covered most of the island except for the south eastern 1/4 and had a beautiful day taking in the numerous views and features from the old whale look out station at the extreme north western end of the island to a disused but well preserved water mill set into one of the numerous cliffs.

In the marina at Velas alongside Gryphon II (Chris & Lorraine)

Chris & Lorraine at the Whale Look Out Station

We went for a swim in the sea at the tiny harbour of Ribeira Seca on the south coast, little more than a concrete quay and a crane for hauling boats out.

We then had a fish lunch at a charming restaurant over-looking the bay before driving further east to the small holding and vineyard at Faja da Fraguieira.

Then back to Velas, the main town on the Island

Me and Tony before his departure on Friday

Will be heading for Prai da Vitoria on Terceria later today. May stop off at Angra. ETA at Paia da Vitoria Monday morning, if stop at Angra, eta this evening

Friday 26 June 2015

"Would you like to buy some fish?"

Was the question I was asked by a cute 6 year old Swiss girl at lunch time. She's very young for a fish wife was my first thought, dinner was my second, so yes was my reply. Well I was wrong about dinner. The fish in question were alive and about an inch long and cost 15 cents each. Having established that the fish would like company I ordered three and the gang of three kids sped back around the Marina to fetch the fish. They were back in 5 minutes with a small drink bottle containing the 3 small fish and advice to leave the lid off and change the water regularly. I did as instructed but alas when I wasn't looking one of the fish jumped out and I found him deceased next to the bottle. I looked around to make sure the kids were not around and let the other 2 fish have their freedom. 5 minutes later the kids were back with an offer of sea weed at no extra cost. I had to confess to my negligence at that point and to the fate of the other 2 fish. They took it very well.

Earlier Tony and I had our last cafe coffee and said our good byes and he was whisked away in a taxi to the airport for his 24 hour "flight" back home.

I then did a couple of jobs on the boat - tracked down and fixed the dodgy connection in the navigation lights circuit, re-attached the telescopic hinge on the fore Hatch that fell apart this morning and swam under the boat to check the bottom. Apart from a coating of slime it was clean. I also tried to free the rope around the propeller of Chris and Lorraine's boat but a sharp knife was needed and Chris finished the job later.

The above are scenes in the town the two below of the swimming "pool" with a view of Pico. I went in and very pleasant it was too.

Tomorrow I'm sharing a car with Chris and Lorraine for a tour of the island.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Arrived Vila da Velas

Arrived at 1830 after a lovely sail from Horta and what a contrast. The friendliest, most helpful and most efficient marina yet. Check in took 5 minutes. Our now friends, Chris and Lorraine, the previous owners of Arctic Smoke (but one) on the return leg of their circumnavigation, were there to meet us and we spent a most enjoyable evening in a very friendly restaurant.

Wednesday 24 June 2015


A bit of a disappointment!

We had a mixture of delightful sailing in almost flat seas, motoring in calms, and a bash to windward in a Force 6 on our final approach during which I cheated and motor sailed with a full main and 1/4 Genoa because I was too lazy to put a reef in the main for 1 hour's sailing.

We dropped anchor at 0800.

First we got our anchor fouled on an old chain on the bottom and despite setting a trip line and trying to haul ourselves clear, we remained firmly stuck. Prior to that I'd donned the wetsuit and goggles I had bought especially for such occasions but lying on the surface looking down into 20 feet of water I bottled out and  in the end we had to ditch the anchor and chain after boying it. Then we squeezed into the Marina and went in search of something to eat. By now I was starving having pumped the dinghy up twice and stowed it all gone ashore, waited absolutely ages to get checked in (a computer problem) albeit by a very friendly chap. I took pity on a Spaniard I got talking to while waiting and given he only had to check out I let him go first. Half an hour later....

Then the computer seemed to be fixed and I was processed in less than 10 minutes.

Anyway then we went in search of world famous (in boaty circles anyway) Peter's Cafe where for 15 minutes we were ignored by two snotty waiters and finally after getting yet another brush off we got the message and left and headed back to a Cafe with a grumpy waitress, but at least we got served.

On the way I went in search of a Diver despite being advised that they weren't working today because it was a public holiday. Things took a turn for the better because I found one straight away and yes he could rescue the anchor if I came back at 4.30. Wonderful.

So after lunch served by Ms Grumpy we met up with the Diver and his two crew. Jumped in their rib and out to the anchor and we went.

After 20 minutes the diver came up shaking his head and said it was a real mess down there. However he handed his mate the line we had previously tied to the anchor and went down again. His mate hauled away with gusto and lots of bubbles came up and eventually to our surprise and relief so did the anchor.

They then took us and the anchor back to the boat. It cost €50 but I was happy to pay it despite the views if my youngest!

Events at and experience of Horta (with the exception of the divers) were though rather disappointing, particularly given the evocative scenes we enjoyed during our approach...

Cone on Pico Island

and after all we had read about how fantastic Horta was and in particular Peter's. Also, Angra Do Heroismo had so much more going for it, partly due to its festival. By contrast, despite a packed Marina, the town at Horta feels dull and empty. Maybe it will cheer up tomorrow, when by the way, we head for Velas on Sao Jorge to rendezvous with Chris and Lorraine the previous owners of Arctic Smoke on the return leg of their circumnavigation.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Angra Do Heroismo.... And Next step

.... an amazing place. As luck would have it we arrived in the middle of their summer festival so lots going on.

A very attractive town.

[Apologies for formatting later, cannot fix at present].

Yesterday evening we went to the "Bull Run". On the outskirts of town Bulls on the end of VERY long ropes are " coaxed" down the narrow streets in which the locals take turns at attempted suicide. Whilst it's only the men who are daft enough to try it the women egg-on the bulls and the men very enthusiastically. 

 It was really quite crazy, they had the bulls on a running down narrow streets with small front gardens down either side with makeshift barriers, into which us onlookers took cover. We moved from one to next door during the second Bull run and seconds after the Bull broke into the one we had just left and decimated it. Somehow everyone there managed to escape. The bulls are not harmed but needless to say back home everyone would have been locked up by the RSPCA. It was quite a spectacle but we were left feeling very uneasy about the whole thing. 

For those with the stomach for it there is a video on the video page.

After the Bull Run we returned to town and had a drink and Oyster like things - the local deliciously and quite disgusting. Rubber balls soaked in garlic. The stage was being prepared for a wind band and we stayed on to listen. They were good. Got chatting to a couple of Americans who play in a Portuguese band back in San Diego and who had been invited here to open the big dance parade which is tonight. Then dinner and then watched the music parade. Wonderful marching band and others. After the parade lots of local Folk groups playing music and dancing in the streets. Wonderful. Unfortunately by then my phone died and had forgotten my camera so no pics.

We're heading for Horta this afternoon with an ETA tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

Monday 22 June 2015

Arrived Angra Do Heroismo, Terceria

We had to motor a fair bit on the crossing due to calms. Moored up 0730. The town is very attractive but overcast this morning so will wait to take photos. Plan to stay today and tomorrow.

Saturday 20 June 2015

A bad paint job and next step

Well that's it I'm afraid. A good idea (maybe) but poorly executed - grey on grey not very clever. However at least we left our mark.

We leave for Angra Do Heroismo on Terceria this evening and expect get there early on Monday morning.

Friday 19 June 2015

Santa Maria

The above is of the Fort over looking Vila do Porto Harbour.

The island is geologically the oldest of the Azores' islands and is the longest settled. 

Geologically it is something of a curiosity consisting of both sedimentary and volcanic rocks - see the info boards below....

These boards were displayed around an old limestone quarry in which the kiln had been preserved for public viewing but unfortunately the whole thing had been buried under a recent rockfall and all that was left was some splendid stone steps leading down into a hole full of rubble!

The town was first established in the 16th Century and was constantly resisting pirate attacks which apparently explains it's long narrow development leading away from the sea - a narrow front being easier to defend.....

The countryside reminded me very much of North Wales but with areas containing much more exotic flora than one would see there. The following photos provides an indication but unfortunately my attempt to upload many others failed and so I'll have to add them at a later date...