Velas, Sao Jorge

38:40.805N 28:12.170W Fri 20th Jul 2018. 65nm 10h45mins

 

Since our last post we’ve been back to the UK, primarily to greet our 5th grandchild Oscar, safely delivered to two wonderful parents and another bundle of joy in our lives.  It was a very short trip, necessitated by the outrageous cost of flights once the school holidays started, but we managed to fit everything in, including a trip to Cambridge to see an equally wonderful  granddaughter (and parents of course).  It was an irony, and possibly the first time ever, that the weather in the UK was much better than we have been experiencing on our travels.  We were properly hot for almost the first time this year!

 

Before we left for the UK we hired a car so that we could properly explore Terceira and tackle some of its marked walking trails.  We were rewarded with more wonderful views of its glorious scenery which offers lots of contrasts between gentle rural pasture with lots of contented cows, dense semi-tropical forest, steep slopes of lava boulders and hidden caldera lakes.

 

A “natural” swimming pool created amongst the lava rocks:

 

We got back to the boat on Terceira to find that it had been moved – another first for us.  All was well but it was a little irritating that the boat we had been rafted against wanted to come back inside us the night before we were moving on.  We decided it was easier to leave them their space and go out to anchor.  That gave us a pleasant evening and our first swim off the boat this year, but a change in wind direction meant we had a short night disturbed by an awkward short rolling/pitching motion.  Still, at least it was easy to get up early and head out for a longish sail.

 

We had planned to head NW to visit the small island of Graciosa, but the relentless north wind and a reputation of being an exposed anchorage persuaded us to head west to Velas on Sao Jorge instead.  We’d passed by a few weeks ago headed for an airport, when many other boats from the OCC meet had moved here, but its reputation made it worth backtracking to spend a while here.

 

We had a great sail to get here; 65nm in 10hrs45, having to play with various sail configurations as the wind veered around islands and gusted over headlands.  We were blasting along at nearly 9kts in perfectly flat water for a while which is always great fun.  We had already spoken to the manager of the tiny marina here, so he was very accommodating and we rafted up against a charter boat for the night.  When it left in the morning they chose the heaviest rain we’ve had for a while and we got drenched in the few minutes it took to let it out and re-moor.  Our entire first morning here has been spent in alternating heavy rain and hot muggy conditions, so we’ve yet to do very much, other than bemoan the really poor internet connections.  We hope to explore the island, famed above all for its cheese production, and maybe take in some more walking trails when the weather looks more promising.  We have been told that the Azores High which usually sits over the islands in the summer has stalled in the mid-Atlantic and this is causing this year’s unsettled conditions.