Yes, we made it!! Paul sighted Faial first about 2am on his watch. A thick bank of fog cleared about then to allow a faint glimpse of the lights looming from houses on the SW side of Faial. By the end of Paul’s watch @ 4am he could see the dark shape of Faial still some 40 miles distant. Faial like all the islands of the Azores is the top of a huge submarine mountain, with its highest peak being around 1,000m. The adjacent island of Pico is even higher at 2,300m or about 7,700ft. In fact this peak is the highest in all Portugal, which of course these islands belong.
It is very steep to near the islands with the depth sounder not registering until we were within a few hundred metres of the shoreline. Carmel got woken about 7am to come up and view our first sight of land since leaving Bermuda 15 days ago. She complained later about being woken too early as we didn’t make the marina for another 4 hours!
Fenders and shorelines at the ready we made fast alongside another yacht which was against the immigration seawall. We had intended to find a berth in the nearby marina but as this is over full (many yachts being 3-4 deep) we were instructed to stay where we were. $14Euro’s a night was a pleasant surprise to Richard after the US$150/night type charges being levelled in the BVI.
Finished with engines, it was a short walk along the dock to Mid Atlantic Yacht Services (MAYS) who Richard had engaged to carry out the importing of Adventuress into the EU. This necessitated an official coming aboard to carry out an inspection for valuation purposes – happily he agreed with Richard’s formal valuation which was done in the BVI. Once the VAT (15% of boats value) was paid we could then complete the clearing in process with customs & immigration. They have given us 19 days to leave the territory – we intend to leave in about 1 week.
Off to the Marina Bar for a beer (Paul had sparkling water – as he has been off alcohol for 2 weeks now) and then P&C went off for a walk up town. UP being the operative word – bloody grunt uphill to the top above town but fabulous views the reward. They paid for the walk the next day with unused thigh & leg muscles aching the next day. Then everyone met up later at Peter’s Café Sport which has been owned & operated by the same family for 3 generations now – servicing the hungry & thirsty sailors from the world over who call here.
Over 1,000 yachts visit here every year, most of them on route to UK/Europe from Caribbean/North America so the place has a real cosmopolitan feel to it. Needless to say the variety of yachts here is very eclectic, from 20ft singlehanded keelers to homemade catamarans with open cockpits to 200ft mega yachts! And most record their visit by painting their yachts name along the protective seawall.
The Portuguese here are very friendly and coupled with the relatively low cost of food & booze (after the shock of Bermuda) a nice place to hang out. We have met up with Howard and the gang from Aponivi who we had drinks with the day before leaving Bermuda. They made it in 1 day ahead of us and it has been nice to catch up and compare notes on our respective crossings.
Tomorrows missions are to get the laundry done, clean the boat down, rent a car, catch up on heaps of emails and phone calls to home and pick Phillipa (Richard’s partner) up from the airport at 7pm. Phillipa is joining the crew for the 3rd leg to UK and is flying in from UK via Lisbon.