HORTA MARINA Faial Island, Azores. N38:31.878 W028:37.516

Paul Downie
Tue 27 Jul 2010 10:29
We arrived at 1600 yesterday, Monday 26th.
After a few still, sunny days in Flores, a forecast of light winds 10-15 knots was timely for our departure to Horta at 1800 Saturday 24th - steady SSW/SE/S winds gave us a good sail close-hauled, but we had to stack to starboard at 1445 on Sunday 25th because we were getting pushed too far to the north of Faial Island. We held the tack for about 15 n.miles before tacking to port at 1945, at this point we were able to make out the top of the Volcano on Pico, the island just south of Faial, the highest mountain in the whole of Portugal at 2,352m. A large pod of dolphins crossed our stern port to starboard as the sun was setting, breaching and splashing, fast-swimming on their way. Through the night we sailed slowly until 0500 when the wind died completely - becalmed for 4hrs whilst we ate breakfast and I spent some time trying to find the new exhaust leak (no success) and adjusting the transmission.
At 0920 with main out 1 reef, we motored towards Faial, about 27 nmls distant (with port and stern lazarette open to dissipate the exhaust fumes away from the crew). At about 1140 Rosie was on the helm when she saw ahead a Whale body vertically pierce through the sea, followed swiftly by a second body, then some 10 minutes later a short angled- blow just 25-50 metres from Barada drew her attention to two Sperm Whales swimming by in the opposite direction to Barada's course... a great sighting. Just after that she also saw what at first looked like a branch floating in the water with one short mangled brown protusion, no bigger in whole than a dolphin it was a mammal, but what we have no idea and will investigate with knowledgeable whale watchers in Horta!
The last few hours the sun was hot, very hot and I couldn't stand in the cockpit in my bare feet. We motored into Horta Harbour, mooring first in front of the white Marina Office and then rafted alongside 'Lucky Loo' a 33' Nauticat, owned by a Belgiun couple from Antwerp, tied-up along the inner harbour wall. It is very busy in the marina with all pontoons full, but then it is the height of the season. We will stay here for a max of 10 days.