Some like it hot

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Thu 8 Jul 2010 18:06
We left the lovely island of Santa Maria at 5am on 1st July – Andrew’s
birthday. It was an interesting departure as there was quite a bit of wind
and water movement but we seemed to get away without disturbing any of our
neighbours. We made our way out of the harbour and round the end of the
island and put up the sails in the slightly disturbed seas and headed for
Sao Miguel about 60 miles away. We expected our trip to take about 10
hours and so it proved. As the light improved the seas settled and the
wind steadied and we were tramping along at about 5.5 knots, a reef in the
main and the genoa.

About halfway across Susan surprised Andrew with a few gifts and a chorus
of ‘Happy Birthday’ sung very tunefully of course. We were expecting to
catch sight of Sao Miguel by this point but ahead all we could see was
grey cloud and mist. A light drizzle came and went getting Andrew
slightly wet on the wheel but didn’t last very long. The miles went by
but still no sign of land but we knew it was out there although we could
see no sign of anything at all. We did start to see larger birds flying
about and took this as a good sign peering into the grey clouds for our
first glimpse of this new island. Eventually with less than 5 miles to
go Andrew spotted a white building in the distance- hurrah- the island
really was in front of us. Slowly the coastline became clearer but such
was the visibility that it wasn’t till we were a mile away that we could
make out the harbour entrance and make our way to the marina.

We called up on the radio and someone responded and soon we were tied up
on the reception pontoon with another friendly welcome from the marina
staff. Once the usual formalities were completed we fuelled up and made
our way to our very spacious berth. The marineiro who was waiting for us
only wanted our stern line – and once we were alongside the pontoon we
realised why, the pontoon is actually longer than Andromeda – a first. We
were soon securely tied up, springs in place and set to work. We washed
down Andromeda’s decks, topsides, sprayhood etc. to remove the salt,
tidied all the lines and sails, and put the cockpit enclosure up just as
the heavens opened to make us soaking wet but it didn’t last long. Then
it was off to the showers (which were cold) before coming back to a great
chicken roll and birthday phone calls.

We suddenly realised the time and decided to postpone Andrew’s birthday
meal as we had just stuffed ourselves and went off to bed for an early

The following morning we awoke to sunshine and could actually see the
marina, including the big hill that was completely obscured the night
before. We also found out that there are 2 lots of showers here, the cold
ones you don’t pay for and the hot ones that you do and having paid for
hot water we duly went and enjoyed it. It was then time for a wander to
see what there was about.

It actually was a bit of shock, Ponta Delgarda is the biggest town/city we
have visited so far. Bigger than Gibraltar or Funchal and even has a
couple of shopping malls – a real surprise to Susan although she managed
to visit both and only go in the supermarket in the bigger one. There are
also numerous side streets and alleys with little shops running parallel
to the waterfront and will be explored (oh yes oh yes) at some stage, as
well as bringing along the camera to get some photos.

That evening we went out to dinner at a lovely fish restaurant overlooking
the natural swimming pool and inner marina and had a great meal to
celebrate Andrew’s birthday before making our way back to Andromeda for
another reasonably early night.

Saturday it was back to work after getting supplies for dinner and we set
to repairing the genoa as the loop holding it to the shackle at the bottom
of the furler had torn. This proved to be quite a long job but between the
two of us we were finally able to pull the sail back up the furler and
roll it away again. We then heard from Sue, Ju and Liz who had returned
from their trip to Flores and met up for a convivial evening meal to catch
up with all their news and regale them with ours.

Sunday was spent having a pleasant wander around the town taking photos,
there are some lovely buildings around but our favourite has to be the
blue palace – the governor’s residence. It is such a gorgeous colour and
really stands out. Sunday is always a good day to wander around most
places as there are no shops open (down little streets at least) and not
so many people about so you are able to have a leisurely stroll about
stopping to take photos without bumping into people or getting in the way
and we had a very pleasant time. Then it was back to Andromeda and after a
relaxing afternoon reading and passage planning we went round to Tamar
Swallow for a hearty and very tasty supper.

Monday we had a trip out chauffeured this time by Sue’s taxi friend
Carlos. Carlos was great company and a font of knowledge and drove us
sedately around the eastern end of the island. We went to one of the two
tea plantations on the island, the smell as we drew up was fantastic. We
had a tour of the factory which is very much like it has always been and
like going into a Victorian museum as all the machinery had been there for
years. We sampled various blends of tea and bought some leaves to take
back with us and watched as they were replanting some tea bushes whilst
elsewhere they were harvesting the leaves using what looked like a giant
flymo – yes really. We also came across a site where they are building a
new road that had just had two enormous concrete bridge spans delivered,
one of which we walked under to take in a beautiful seaview.

Our journey took us high up the mountain side to a miradour (viewing
point) overlooking a green lake in a volcanic crater. The colour of the
lake was surprising and really as green as in the photos. We could also
see where steam was escaping through vents and where we were going to be
going later on. Carlos negotiated all the twists and turns in the road at
a very gentle pace giving us ample time to delight in the many, many
hortensia’s (hydrangeas) that line most of the roads. The blue heads of
the flowers against the various greens of the fields, hedges, trees etc.
were a feast for the eyes. The road we were on meandered up and down the
valleys, taking us towards the sea again before swinging back inland to
the town of Furnas. Here we went to see the boiling hot springs, tasting
the metallic water as it came out of the mountain and then had a feast of
sweetcorn and sweet bread. The corn had been put into animal feed sacks
then boiled in one of the hot spring pools and tasted so delicious. Carlos
then took us the swimming area where the water comes up and mixes with
river water to make a lovely outdoor heated series of small pools. It was
just like getting into a bath, very relaxing and we could have stayed all
Our last stop was on the shore of the green lake where once again we could
see boiling water emerging from underground and along the shore pits had
been dug, lined with concrete and were available for cooking. At weekends
you have to be at the site before 5am to get your pots of food to into
the ground, then a lid is put on top and everything covered in sand and
left for about 6 to7 hours before lunch is served, under the trees, on
picnic tables nearby. Even though this was Monday there were a fair few
people around waiting for their meals to be cooked. We also saw area set
aside for the local restaurant, busy steaming that night’s meals .
Monday evening we entertained Sue Liz and Ju and Andrew made his goan
curry and a pleasant time was had by all.

Tuesday after breakfast we went round to Tamar Swallow to wave everyone
off as they are going up to Horta before heading back to Plymouth. We are
staying in Ponta Delgarda for a few more days before we decide where we
are going next meanwhile we are enjoying watching everything that is going
on in this busy harbour. Behind us they load and unload the container
ships and it provides endless entertainment and there are always people
arriving or departing, a few of whom we have met at previous stops, so a
good excuse to go and have a chat.

More in due course

Susan and Andrew
S/V Andromeda

ps wifi a bit iffy so delay in posting stuff at moment