The harbourmaster in Flores warned us that the marina would become dangerous in the NE winds and swell due on Tuesday, so having done our sightseeing, we headed out on Sunday into very light winds. We did try sailing; all combinations of light downwind sails, but the Atlantic swell was too much and we just couldn’t make enough progress. We ended up motoring for 22 of the 23 hrs it took to get to Horta (132miles), accompanied at times by some of the biggest and most acrobatic dolphins we’ve seen so far.
This is one of those few ports which every long distance sailor knows about and everyone there is an ocean crosser. Until recently it was the only safe port in the Azores and it is famous for the paintings adorning every surface of the marina and port area. It has become a superstition that you must leave your mark – a picture of your boat, your names or a cartoon – in order to get fair winds for your onward voyage. We have to balance this against our complete lack of any artistic ability…
It’s an incredibly busy marina – every inch of harbour wall is thick with boats stacked 4 or even 5 deep. We were lucky with our berth assignment being only the 3rd from the dock and as one of these is a catamaran we are so far out into the marina we think they might not put another boat alongside us. Clambering over your neighbours is normally a good way of socialising, but our cat is unoccupied and the Italians next door have proved quite hard to communicate with. Yet again we wonder where are the intrepid Brits have got to. Most of the boats here are European (with a few North Americans & antipodeans). We see the occasional British ensign, but they are quite rare. Also pretty rare are the boats doing these passages with just a couple on board, so finding people on exactly our wavelength is hard.
We arrived in hot sunshine so promptly put the bimini back up. After a few hours the clouds came over and it’s been raining and “cold” (21C) ever since. We had some unusually good views of the volcanic peak on Pico, the island opposite which has a good reputation for its wines. Which reminds me, we need to find a supermarket to stock up, having now finished our US supplies.