John Log 10- Horta, Island of Faial, Azores

Posted by John Newhoff on Saturday, June 16th, 2007 at 4:49 am

I’m sitting in a small restaurant two streets back from the waterfront waiting for the rest of the crew to meet for lunch. David, Tni, and Jeff went back to Rosario to move her so that a boat rafted inside of us on the quay can depart for points unknown. We were three out from the quay last night with two more sailboats rafted to us for a total of five. Captain David wasn’t too excited about having people using Rosario as a walkway. The boats on both sides of us were from Holland. Tni and I helped a dutch couple moor to Rosario when they arrived. They seemed just thrilled to have finally arrived in Horta as we were.

I spent the morning wandering around the back streets of Horta by myself. The roads are all stone, paved with a basalt type rock and the sidewalks are inlaid with a white stone to create repeating patterns. Different patterns on different streets. Very picturesque. I imagine that rather quickly, you wouldn’t have too look at street names or shops, you’d know where you are by which pattern you were looking at on the sidewalks.

I spent a bit of time in the main church in town. All of the churches I’ve visited so far in the Azores are a bit different than Catholic churches in the US. The patron saint of the church gets center stage behind the altar, rather than Jesus on the cross as is typical in the US. I was the only one in the church this morning. Sunday Mass is at 11:00am tomorrow morning and I might attend, though of course I won’t understand much.

It started raining pretty hard for a brief while and I ducked into a very small market to wait it out. I ended up staying for 15 or 20 minutes along with a couple of other people doing the same thing. I had an iced tea while I was waiting. Didn’t seem polite to wait out the weather in this store without purchasing something.

The arrival here was uneventful yesterday morning. We arrived around 8:00am, having made over 7 knots during the passage from Flores. The weather continued to be partly cloudy and the 7000 foot summit of the island we were approaching was hidden in clouds.

At the customs/fuel dock we rafted up to Leocat and then Sarah Grace, two boats we’d had discussions with over the radio during the last week and a half. Leocat is catamaran from Quebec and had three crewmen aboard. Sarah Grace is a monohull out of Great Britain. Customs and fueling went very quickly and we motored over to our assigned moorage. David had us loading up with water and washing the boat for an hour or so.

While we were cleaning up the boat, someone from Bobo, another sailboat in the rally to Portugal that we are in, came by and invited us to lunch, which we did after finishing up the cleaning chores. The four of us from Rosario, two from Bobo, and one person from another sailboat named Cochise enjoyed quite an amazing lunch. We all sat in the cockpit of Bobo and had a first course of cheese, wine, prociutto, cashews, potato chips, and a small cheese pizza. This was followed by a delicious rice and onion dish (with a hint of curry) and chicken. Dessert was large bowls of fresh fruit.

After lunch, I was finally able to enjoy my first shower in three weeks. We had a couple of stops in the middle of the atlantic during calm seas where we took a dip in the ocean, soaped up, then rinsed off with a small amount of fresh water, but nothing to compare with a nice long hot shower. Flores had public showers, but no hot water, so I didn’t bother there.

For dinner on our first day in Horta we met up with people from several other boats (Leocat, Sarah Grace, Stella Maris) at Peter’s Cafe Sport. In the cruising world, this is a very famous bar/restaurant. I had a meat kabob that had pieces of beef, onions, and peppers on a skewer. They served it hanging vertically from a hook. Very tasty. Chocolate cake and ice cream followed for dessert. The walls are decorated with the flags of boats whose captains have tacked them up on the walls over the years.

Over dinner we all discussed the vagaries of the weather experienced during the passage from Bermuda. Leocat had done the same thing we had in diverting to Flores and spending a couple of days there. Sarah Grace and Stella Maris had both come straight to Horta and so had spent several more consecutive days at sea than we had.

The informal radio nets that boats use to communicate with each other on passage really build relationships quickly. Everyone (and I mean virtually everyone) listens to Herb (see report #1) every night, and then discuss via radio other weather reports (like the national weather service) and Herb’s recommendations, as well as exchanging position reports with each other. As a result, you end up knowing the sound of everyone’s voices and a bit about what they experienced during the passage before you ever meet them in person and it almost seems like a reunion rather than a first time meeting. Lots of fun.

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