St. Miguel to Terceira, Azores

11th June - Punta Delgada

After breakfast, I had to go to check in with the marina office. As with Santa Maria, the marina is run by the port authority. The necessary details were quickly updated on the computer, and a printout produced and stamped containing all our information. This was presented at customs, in the office next door, where it was copied, and I was asked to sign the copy. The procedure was much the same at the immigration office, completing the entry formalities faster than we had feared.

We set out to explore the town, and were surprised by the size and number of old buildings and churches. When hunger got the better of us, we stopped for lunch. Mo chose beef steak, and I went for fish. We both had a very nice meal, with couvert and bread, and a drink for just over 17 euros. We were delighted to find an enormouse Pohutakawa tree in full bloom in one of the squares, and more of the trees along the sea front.

A magnificent Pohutakawa tree
locally called Metrocideiras
The church overlooks the harbour
and around the harbour.. .. large buildings predominate

We drew a bit of a blank at the tourist information office, and had a quote for silly money for car hire from Ilha Verde (tied up with Avis and Europcar). We decided we would go with Carlos who called by the boat the evening before.

12th June

We decided we would book the car from Carlos for that evening. I spoke to his wife, and texted him. We then went out to find the market, and bought some pineapples, avocados, and other fruit, as well as a good selection of fresh vegetables, and returned with this to the boat. Mo went up to the supermarket across from the marina and bought some bread for lunch, while I started to tackle the autopilot.

The autopilot linear drive was soon out on the cockpit table, and the covers taken off. There was nothing seriously amiss, although I thought the epicyclic gears were a bit loose on their shafts. As I put the covers back, I thought I detected some roughness on the linear drive itself: maybe it is a bit worn, but it did not account for the light clicking noise we had heard. On re-assembling it onto the mounting bracket, however, I reproduced the noise while testing it. I concluded that there was too much play on the mounting block, and inserted the tufnol washers, not without difficulty, between the drive and the block, with new stainless steel washers outside. This stopped the noise, and may have been the problem. We shall see.

Our funny little car
but with its 800cc engine we didn't use much fuel!

Carlos appeared around lunchhtime, and arranged to meet me at the marina entrance at 1700 hrs. He took me across the road, and down a ramp into what proved to be a hotel underground car park. He introduced me to Paul, who filled in the hire form, and they then showed me the car. It was a funny squat Opal, and had no petrol in. They said I would have no problem finding petrol on the outskirts. So out into the traffic, following my nose east, but no petrol stations in sight! Having worked my way through two villages, I started to find my way back along a different route. I followed signs back to Punta Delgada, and these led to a dual carriageway, along which I soon encountered what I needed, and put in 30 euros worth. Carlos had explained that the 'free parking' on his card was actually the marina's: he operates as a free agent it seems, as Paul's hire company seemed not to be directly connected. On arrival at the marina, I could not get through the barrier, and had to get the security man to let me in. I then dallied briefly at Boat and Sail Service. Mo found me, somewhat distraught as her imagination had begun to run riot. I had been missing for well over an hour on a seemingly simple errand. She recovered with a drink, and so did I from pedalling the thing.

13th June

Mo made up a packed lunch, and we set off in the little Opal, picking up the bypass and heading west towards the airport. The new road runs out at that point, and continues along the coast towards the north west corner. We were immediately struck by the vegetation, hydrangeas, and flowers in the hedgerows. We diverted off the main road into the village of Feteiras, and then continued on to Mosteiros, on the north west corner. There are natural swimming pools amongst the volcanic rocks, and a ramp from which fishing boats are launched.

The launching ramp at MosteirosRocks off Mosteiros, N. coast
The view from the rim down into the caldeiraThe church at Sete Cidades

We doubled back a short distance to Varzea, stopping for the view, and then headed up hill towards Sete Cidades. We were soon in cloud, but stopped off the road where a track lead around the rim of the craters to Vista do Rei. The vehicle was certainly not suited to the track, so we stopped and peered over each side of the ridge, the sea to the north, and the Caldera do Alferes to the south.

We followed the road down into the village of Sete Cidades, and stopped for a coffee in a popular spot, opposite the church. After coffee we looked briefly around the church and grounds, and called at the information/eco shop. After this, we found our way to the Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake), and then the green Lagoa Verde. We tried to find a track up towards the Caldeira Seca, without success.

The blue lake in the CaldeiraMore of the blue lake
Setting off on our walkThe green lake

We parked up and donned our walking boots, and set off up a track. Blossom, hydrangeas, and bird song simply crowded in on the senses. We were followed up the track by a young calf that had broken free, with a chain cruelly to us, perhaps, secured around its foreleg. When it attempted to trot it trod on the chain with its hindfoot, bringing it to a sharp stop. We chose a track that led up to a meadow and where some trees had been cleared. We climbed up into the cleared area, but failed to find a view the other side, other than over the meadow by which we had approached, as the far bank was tree covered.

Having made our way back down to the car, we went to sit by the Green Lake for our picnic lunch. We then continued out of the valley towards the south east with brief glimpses through the clouds, but missing the Vista do Rei. We turned off to the Lagoa do Canario. It was closing soon after we arrived, at 1600 hrs, but as we drove along the track we noticed azaleas, now almost entirely over their flowering season, in the hedge at either side. Soon after this we took a secondary road, as what we supposed was an old aquaduct had caught my eye as we drove past. This led through steep lanes and magnificent scenery to the north coast at Santo Antonio.

We followed the road east, diverting at Capelas to the sea, until we came to Ribeira Grande. Here again the streets were decorated for Sao Joao with green fir branches. We parked up, and after a stroll through the town, with its arched bridge, church square planted up with more 'pohutakawa's, river and gardens, we found ourselves at a bar overlooking the beach. A football match was on, and the waitress insisted that if Portugal scored, the drinks would be on the house. I didn't think this was fair, and nor did the owner, as they did score, but we paid for our two rounds. The drive back from here to Punta Delgada, only about 15 km, proved to be quick and easy along almost motorway standard roads.

The gardens by the river at Ribiero GrandeThe arched bridge over the river gorge at Ribiero Grande

14th June

The church at Nordeste

We made an effort to set off early, again with a packed lunch, as the car had to be returned at 1700 hrs. We took the road out to Ribeira Grande, picking up from where we left off the evening before, and continued along the excellent roads to the north east. This brought us to the village of Nordeste, near the north east corner as you might suppose. Nordeste has a couple of nature reserves, but after a coffee, we found no clue as to whereabouts they might be. We found a sign at Pedreira directing us to a forest reserve, and followed a secondary road that climbed towards the peak of Bartolomeu (887m).

We stopped at the park, where several coaches of children had just unloaded, and walked up through the trees. Continuing south along the coast road, we encountered two magnificent lookouts over the coast. The first of these lay above Ponta do Sossego, and we were amazed at the beautiful, well maintained, gardens. They were planted up with different trees in formal beds surrounded by begonias, yet another 'pohutakawa'. Others were more informal, and contained varieties of flowers. There were picnic tables at various levels, with barbeques, and we were drawn to the smell from one that had been lit up to cook lunch. There we met an American family on a guided tour, and took mutual group photographs.

One of the magnificent lookout gardensAnother view across the gardens

We passed through the town of Povoacao. This is said to be the original landing place on the island. I would have liked to have stopped to photograph old houses on a ridge, but the narrow road snaking down the hill did not allow for this. We drove through, and stopped for our picnic lunch soon afterwards at a lookout overlooking the town and coast. We watched as cloud formed as it rose up the cliffs, and blew across the scene in front of us.

Our lookout picnic tableWe watched the cloud form,
looking east along the coast

After lunch we continued to Furnas. This is the site of geothermic springs. We parked and walked about between the first group, then continued on into the town. There were a lot of restaurants, but surprisingly few people about. We left the road at the lake, Lagoa das Furnas, where there were more thermals. Again a large car park, toilets, and no charges. At this spot they bury pots to cook in the ground, similar to the New Zealand 'Hunghi', but again virtually no commercialisation of this attractive spot. After that it was 'Home James'. We did not bother to visit Vila Franca do Campo, because at that time we planned to take the boat there for one night.
Hot springs at FurnasThe church at Furnas village
the village caters well for visitors
More hot springs by Furnas lakeSomeone's lunch is down there cooking

15th June

We decided that as there was a musical event at Vila Franca we would not after all visit. This meant we had a day to spare. After breakfast, we went in search of an electric kettle. We walked back and forth, and up the hill, without encountering either an electrical shop or a pharmacy. By now pretty tired and exhausted by the humidity, we finally managed to make it back to the water front at the western end of town. After I had had an icecream, stoically refused by Mo, we went to the tourist information office. The girl there indicated the shopping centre to the east, but nearer than that, just four blocks north, another supermarket. This sold us a very nice kettle, some fresh bread for lunch and some great looking mince. There was a pharmacy opposite, although it was too busy so we went to another we had seen on the way. We had managed to bypass the central business district completely in our wanderings, but we felt well exercised. Mo cooked the mince, and I topped up the water and cleaned the cockpit.

16th June From Punta Delgada towards Teceira

We visited the market, busier than usual being Saturday, but could not find more of the superb avocados we had enjoyed. I returned to the boat with the haversack of proceeds, and set to work as instructed to clear the bilges from the last two fills of fresh water. Mo returned to the supermarket for bread, and more mince as it had been so nice and such good value. (It had sold out, and the frozen mince Mo picked up later proved to have been made up of ground up offal, meat scraps and bone!). Then it was a case of checking out, first with the marina, and then with the 'three chapels' as he called them: GNR, Immigration and Customs. They all asked the same questions (where to and when, and had there been crew changes), then stamped my slip of paper which I duly returned to the marina office.

17th June Angra do Heroismo, Terceira 107.5 nm logged

Having geared ourselves up to leave around 1600 hours, we delayed for a heavy rain shower that blew across as we were untying the boat from its berth. Outside the harbour, we raised our mainsail, and motored west to clear the coast of the island. I was mortified to find a NW breeze out there, with lumpy seas, instead of the SSW that had been forecast. NW was precisely where we needed to go, and it was not to be.

We motor sailed for some while. Gradually the wind backed as we cleared the island, and increased in strength, so that we were then able to sail properly. In due course it would back off further, so that we were sailing a little free, and bowling along between 6 and 8 knots. It rained on and off in buckets, not mm per hour, and an uncomfortable lumpy sea completed our discomfort. This continued as we reluctantly ate our supper, and into the early hours.

Huddled under the cockpit hood, I had I thought checked on AIS and radar often enough. Shaking myself out of my dozy corner, I was horrified when I peered around the hood to see two white lights in line, with a green and a red beside them, quite close. I was still thinking what to do: we were steaming along, and I flashed the torch at him, and soon after he changed course to starboard to pass behind us, probably half a mile away. It gave me a fright and kept me awake until Mo came on watch. It is surprising the number of close encounters we have had since leaving the Portugese coastal shipping behind.

Gradually the rain cleared, stars appeared rather briefly, and the wind became light and veered to head us, forcing Mo to bear away off our course. All this was very much as had been forecast. Progress was slow, but the wind continued to veer becoming northeasterly F3, so Mo was first able to tack back and then come up onto our required course and finally we sailed free. It was clear that we were not going to make it until late afternoon.

The fishing rod came out, but we were not to be rewarded, although at one point the line ran out for a short while suggesting we might have had a taste, rather than a bite.

We had understood that Angra was very busy with boats, and that there was unlikely to be any room. We wanted to head there if possible, so decided to take a look. As it turned out there were plenty of vacant berths. We were greeted by the marina guy, who directed us to a berth at the far end of the visitors pontoons. There was a lively surge that meant that the boat was moving around a lot as we attempted to secure lines - a slightly unnerving experience. We finally got Fuga trussed up to the pontoon and relatively secure. Formalities were minimal, accomplished by providing our check in document from Punta Delgada, with one or two ancillary questions - first port of call in the Azores was one. There was also a customs form to complete, and no one else to see. He gave us a leaflet with a map and local attractions, Angra do Heroismo is a 'World Heritage' site. He also told us about the festivities in progress over the next few weeks for St. John, the regatta this weekend, and the running of the bulls. It appears this is not just a one-off event. There is also a free wifi service in the port, with a login and password that he provided.

Our neighbours introduced themselves. Penny and Charles on Rosita are on their way back to the UK, having been in the Caribbean. We got talking, and suggested they came for supper so that we could talk about NZ, where they hope to visit in the near future. The engine control/monitoring instrument, a VDO Logic Combi, had succumbed to the rain overnight, and was showing condensation inside, as well as being unreadable. I took it off in order to dry it out to see whether it might recover. The tachometer does not really read correctly, and its main use is to monitor fuel, engine hours and oil pressure. It used to start the engine but as it was at that time showing signs of unreliability, it now only stops it! We have added a key switch to start the engine.

18th June Angra do Heroismo, Terceira

I spent a while messing with the VDO, reconnecting it to see if some warmth might help to drive off the moisture. We then needed to go shopping for some vegetables so that Mo could produce the supper I had talked her into.

I extracted some photos of New Zealand to show to Penny and Charles when they arrived for supper. Mo had made up a veggy chilli using the bargain mince that she had picked up, and it was tasty enough even though the ground up bone had to be picked out. The other pack she bought is going in the bin! We had a good evening, and hoped we had convinced them to visit NZ!

19th June

The gout that had threatened me the day before had become worse overnight. We had discussed torrent files, and downloading, where Rosita were experiencing problems, so I tried to refresh my memory. It seems that a lot of the torrent sites have been cleaned or closed. Charles and Penny decided to abort the programs they were trying to load, and we got their system back to where it had been before they started. Meanwhile I spent a lot of time investigating Ubuntu, and getting frustrated. By the end of the day, not surprisingly, I had a headache. Mo meanwhile was well through her second book.

20th June

The Logic Combi had gradually recovered, so I put it back together with silicone judiciously applied to improve its waterproof qualities. It then had to be connected up once again and secured in place. This took quite a bit of the morning, so we had lunch, and then set off for a walk around town. We called at the information office to get a map, and information about the bull running that is planned for the next week, as part of the festival for St John. By the time we had got to the memorial at the top of the town, and found our way back to the castle by the harbour, we felt we had done enough. A cup of tea back on the boat seemed pretty attractive. Charles and Penny have decided to rent a car, and we are going to join them.