Homeward Bound; halfway there.

Terry/ Nicola Flinn
Wed 20 Jun 2007 13:21
44:30.00N 17:38.00W
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Ponta Delgada, although it seemed to rain for the entire 3 days we were there. The marina was filled to overflowing because our arrival coincided with that of the 50 boats in the Azores and Back ( AZAB ) race. Nonetheless, the marina staff coped extremely well, with the minimum of fuss. The Club Naval, whose facilities are excellent, made us feel very welcome.
We met up with Terry's cousin, Alan Crockard, who was one of the competitors in the AZAB in his yacht Sea Spine and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening when we all went out to eat together at a superb fish restaurant.
As well as the usual cleaning, cooking, shopping and maintenance ( almost forgot to mention the partying ) we went on an organised bus tour of the island of Sao Miguel, which included a visit to a pineapple plantation; regrettably, we saw little of the described spectacular scenery as it was a very wet day with low cloud and mist.
We have been so impressed with the people and the islands, it's likely that Flinesse will find its way back to the Azores, for an extended cruise some time in the near future. 
At noon on Saturday 16th June, the ARC Europe fleet left the Azores, with most boats continuing on to Lagos in Portugal, with only 3 yachts heading for the UK; even so, we made our presence felt right up to the end by crossing the start line in 2nd place, just behind the leader. Most of the boats were able to settle onto a very comfortable reach heading for Portugal, while we of course, yet again, were faced with a 4 hour beat of 20 miles until we rounded the island. Obviously, our punishment for having had such an wonderful time in the Windward and Leeward Islands continues !
Thereafter, we eased onto a fine reach, making excellent progress in the Force 5 to 6 winds, with the occasional gust up to 40 knots; we would have preferred something a little less exciting, especially during the hours of darkness. We have been sailing at between 6 and 8 knots, making about 160 miles progress each day. The 3 of us are getting on extremely well, we are in good spirits, we are getting lots of sleep and have even managed to catch a couple of tuna.
We have now completed half the distance to Falmouth and hope that the favourable winds will stay with us for another 4 days.