If all roads lead to Rome, all sailing routes lead to Horta

Surprisingly, it’s proving rather harder to write blog entries in a regular fashion in England than while cruising remote islands. But then I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at possible job opportunities and places to keep the boat.

Hopefully this will have been the longest gap, and I’ll probably start alternating between catching up on the time in the Azores and trip back (which I know is what you’re all waiting for..) and what I’ve been doing lately.

Historically Angra do Heroismo on Terceira was probably the more important harbour in the Azores – it was the calling point for Vasco da Gama returning from the first rounding of the Cape of Storms (later to be renamed the Cape of Good Hope) and for vast numbers of trading ships following the same route.

But more recently Horta on Faial has taken over as the main cross-roads for sailing boats, with well over 1,000 passing through every year. I planned on going there myself, but first I thought I’d take a look at it from the far end of Sao Jorge. Faial is the island on the right; Pico is to the left.

That end of Sao Jorge is also home to a big lighthouse and numerous outbuildings, all now abandoned since it was damaged in an earthquake.

Quite eerie.

The first photo was taken from near an old whaling look-out point – here’s the view from inside it looking the other way, north towards Graciosa.

The road away from the lighthouse was remarkably straight..

Having got very used to winding my way around a volcanic landscape it came as quite a surprise. Perhaps a Roman ship got blown out into the Atlantic at some point? The locals seemed a bit bemused by that theory though.

The countryside is largely open pasture (Sao Jorge cheese is very well known…), but near the end of my walk I passed through a woodland recreation area – also very beautiful, and a pleasant change to have some shade.

I stopped off for a galão

– a milky coffee similar to a latte, before getting the bus back down from Rosais to Velas.

After a bit of re-stocking the galley cupboards (definitely not forgetting some of the local cheese) I couldn’t help noticing there was still a rather nice wind blowing, though none was forecast for the next few days.

Having got rather frustrated in Angra I decided to take the opposite approach here and just go for it. Even if it did die before dark I ought to be able to get most of the way to Horta before then.

So, this is Velas disappearing into the background..

…and this is Faial appearing.

Horta is on the far left of the picture above, on the slightly lower ground just to the right of two hills. It was a beautiful sail, with the mainsail and one of the biggest jibs up..

… but the wind was dropping, and not long after I’d finished making a cheesecake (note – must check if this is unlucky at sea) it ded away fairly completely.

So I finished dinner (curry night, finishing off the final jar of mango chutney! and a raita made using wild mint I picked while out walking)..

..and then got the engine on to motor the last hour or so to Horta. It was taking a bit longer than I’d hoped as the tidal current in the channel between Horta and Pico didn’t seem to be changing as quickly as I’d expected, but it wasn’t too long past midnight when I got into the harbour and tied up alongside another boat with the help of the night watchmen.

Even at that hour I could see the paintings covering the breakwaters were impressive, but I thought I’d wait to take a photo till the morning. Time to help a Canadian couple who’d just arrived from the other side of the Atlantic tie their boat up, and then to go to bed.

I was looking forward to looking around in the morning, and hopefully finding at least one prior acquaintance. It’s nice to seek out isolated places like the beautiful anchorage off the Ilheu de Vila, but there’s definitely something exciting about being at a big crossroads as well.

2 Responses to “If all roads lead to Rome, all sailing routes lead to Horta”

  1. I think you ought to get a job as a newspaper headline writer!

    • maidofmettle Says:

      I’m not convinced, I’ll quite often end up spending days wondering what to title something and then writing it in an hour or so. I’d have to do features rather than news..

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