All the way to Horta

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Fri 13 Jun 2014 15:18
N38:31:033 W28:44:001
GPS miles to go: 0, Zero, Nada, None, zilch, nil point, nothing yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Boat Miles done: 1842
Yabba dabba doo we are here.
We arrived in the harbour here about 11.30 this morning and anchored for a time as the office shut at 12 and the reception dock was busy.. Boo hoo we thought as we now had to get the anchor sorted and then the dinghy off the deck and into the water and then fingers crossed the outboard would work.
But first back to last night.  We had a wonderful afternoon enjoying the sunshine and doing a couple of little jobs when we weren't on the wheel.  We had lamb for tea and very tasty it was too. Andrew then bought up the large scale chart of the Azores and there was our latest position fix right on the edge of it - exciting.
After our meal we took the Mizzen down and then reefed both the genoa and the mainsail but almost immediately the wind almost died completely so out went the genoa again and one of the mainsail reefs.  We were half expecting that for most of the night we would have the engine on but through the evening the wind kept gusting up just al ittle bit.  Eventually we reefed the genoa right down again and just in time as it happened as the wind picked up earlier than predicted. Andrew has some sort of wind sixth sense, the number of times he has suddenly decided it is time to reef down and we do so and then the next minute up comes the wind speed.  But with the reefs in, Andromeda just romped over the fairly flat sea eating away at the miles, indeed a small sleigh ride. On one of the watch changes another yacht came up from behind us and overtook us too, she must have been a lot bigger than us but all we saw was her masthead lights.
It was a murky night last night with lots of cloud cover and so no looming lights from any of the islands we knew we were approaching, then just after 5 when I came into the cockpit Andrew said 'Look' and pointed forward and there in the misty gloom was our first glimpse of our destination the Azorean Island of Faial.
Our pulses quickening we scanned the horizon constantly for more views but frustratingly all we could see was cloud cover then once in a while, Pico, the volcano, could appear. Pico is the on the island of Pico and is located just behind Faial.
During the morning we turned the chart plotter on to check for any hazards etc on the coast and it was amusing to notice that we seem to be constantly two hours away from our waypoint as our speed went up and down in the dfferent conditions we had.  I was ever hopeful that we would be safely in harbour before the next batch of bigger winds arrived but no, they were just waiting for us and for this mroning especially they were from the South East so made a very choppy sea as we skirted the coast of Faial heading for the port of Horta.
The nearer we got to Faial the more forbidding it looked. Very green but quite stark, so different to the Caribbean islands we have been used to over the last few years. After round ing  a particularly striking headland things began to change as towns and the airport came into view and then round the next headland there was our destination Horta.
I was really quite surprised at the size of the harbour and am looking forward to exploring in a few days time. In the meantime we got on the radio when we were asked to anchor for the time beeing. On our second attempt we were happy with how we lay at anchor and had some lunch whilst things settled down.  We had of course arrived just in timeto do all this in some really big gusts of wind.  Lunch over, the dinghy was launched, the engine lowered and screwed into place and air was pumped into the various chambers.  Then wonder of wonders, only 3 pulls on the starter and the outboard engine coughed into life.
Reaching the reception dock we gingerly stepped ashore, its such a wierd feeling after a while at sea, you keep compensating for the ground moving, only it isn't so you feel odd and tend to stand there swaying back and forth, a bit like when you have been rocking a baby to sleep on your shoulder and when you put them down you carry on rocking.
Formalities done we went to find a diver to remove yet another rope round the prop ( yet another story). We bumped into Jan from Anna Sophia (another ARC boat) who is still here and will be for a couple of days. Having checked out the diver we then walked to the berth we had been allocated and found Jan again and he said he would help us get into it.  Heading back to Andromeda the sun began to appear and some of the layers started to come off...we were getting warmer again, after all it is June.
Norberto the diver arrived and in a very short time had extricated the recaltrant line from around the propellor (Andrew obvioulsy couldn't do this one with his sore cracked rib and the temperture of the water) and we were off having hoisted the anchor back on board. Paul from Iditi was there along with Jan to catch our lines and secure us as we rafted up next to another boat on the pontoon, called Low Profile, a British Moody boat.
Finally we could heave a sigh of relief.
Analise and Jan welcomed us to Horta and filled us in with a little bit of info and we shook hands with Paul, promising both parties that we will catch up tomorrow.
The cockpit canopy has been put up, the bunks are cleared, we arehaving some champagne to celebrate our eventual arrival and shortly we will go to Peter's Sports Bar for a meal, come back onboard Andromeda and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
More in due course when we wake up,
Susan and Andrew
Andromeda of Plymouth (reitred form dancing with waves at the moment)