Published: July 27th 2012July 27th 2012
The Azores Archipelago is made up of 9 islands. When we first planned our trip to the Azores we had hoped to visit all of them, but as we took 3 weeks to explore Flores and we have already been in Faial for over a week we are sure we won’t be able to get to them all. They are divided into 3 general areas – the western area consists of Flores and Corvo, the central group is made up of Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Terceira and Graciosa. The eastern most islands are Santa Maria and Sao Miguel.
After a 28 hour sail/motor-sail we arrived in Horta on the island of Faial. Fortunately we were able to sail for part of it, but then the wind died and we had to use the iron jenny for the remaining part of the trip. We left shortly after our friends on Titom. Their boat is a steel boat so it’s heavy as well as a few feet shorter than ours. This enabled us to catch-up with them and as we passed we took the opportunity to take pictures of each other sailing. We now have some great pictures of Tsamaya under sail
Tsamaya under sail
Tsamaya on her way from Flores to Faial - thanks for the photo Christa!
with her new white hull – thanks Christa!
The islands of Flores and Faial are similar in size but population numbers are significantly different. Flores has a population of approximately 4,500 on an island that is 55.2 sq. miles in size while Faial has 14,875 people living on an island of 66.8 sq. miles. The marina is in the middle of the city of Horta which makes shopping and touring much easier. Unfortunately with the large marina and the large number of tourists visiting the island, Horta isn’t nearly as friendly as Flores was. We have been pleased with a wider selection of goods, being able to find an office that can send a fax, walk into a computer store and have someone fix our hard drive problem and finding an excellent selection of vegetables and fruits no matter what day of the week it is. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages of both islands, but we enjoyed Flores much more because we had a chance to become friends with several of the local people. We have always said that we are not sailors, we are travelers. As such what makes a place feel welcoming is the people we
The Island of Faial
Land ho! It was such a clear day we were able to see it about 6 hours before we actually got to the harbor in Horta.
It is approximately 130 nautical miles from Flores and from what we can see from the city of Horta a world apart. As quiet as Flores and Lajes was, the city of Horta is a lively change. First, the size of the marina is quite different, not the small personal touch that we left in Lajes, Flores, but still an efficient marina operation with over 300 slips for boats. We were fortunate to be able to get our own slip as many boats had to raft up, 2 – 4 boats deep. The cost of all of the marinas in the Azores is the same. For a 39’ boat it is equal to 12.88 euro ($15.71) which includes all the water and electricity that you use. You do pay extra for hot showers, but they provide towels and soap. With “free” water at the boat, we just use the shower on Tsamaya. A self-serve laundry is also available here which we have not seen since we were in the Bahamas. We are definitely going to take advantage of it; we have been hand-washing in cold water. The cost of laundry is 3.90 euros per wash ($4.75) and the
Definitely created by volcanic action
As we got close to the island you can definitely see the remains of previous volcanic activity.
same for drying.
One of the first places we stop when we reach a place is the tourist information center. We found out that there was going to be a concert in the park so went over to check it out. There was a great sounding band that did a wide variety of music. When we first got there we heard the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, then they went into the Jetson’s theme song (if you remember that TV show you’re as old as we are - sorry), the theme from James Bond 007, and they threw in a few that were not familiar. The end result was a great evening of music and dancing. Unfortunately we were the only ones dancing but it was a beautiful night and we had an excellent time dancing under the moonlight to a live orchestra in the Azores, now that’s cool.
It has been nice to re-connect with others that we met previously in Flores. Jennifer and Mark from Starlit who we had spent the 4th
of July with in Flores invited us over that first night and we were introduced to a neighboring boat. A nice welcome! Within the next
Wind Power in Use
Nice to see that they are using wind power on the island of Faial.
few days we ran into quite a few from the “family” of cruisers that we knew from Flores. It was nice to feel that we already had a few friends here and have made a couple more since.
A whale processing plant that was opened in 1943 and operated until 1974 is located within walking distance of the marina. It currently is a museum and marine center. We took a tour through and found out more about the process and the technology used in this process. It was a difficult time to build due to WWII, therefore had to find foreign sources for its machinery. Much of it came from Norway. We knew that the blubber was used to produce whale oil, but learned that nothing was wasted; the bones and meat were used to make bone meal and meat meal as they made excellent fertilizers for their crops and food additives for cattle. Like many other parts of the world where whaling was practiced and a significant part of the economy, the Azores is now turning its unique location into an asset by offering whale watching tours. During the summer months there is a constant flow of
The Harbor at Horta
We rounded the point and saw the harbor at Horta on the island of Faial.
boats taking tourists out to observe whales and dolphins.
We rented a car for a day to explore. Faial is called the Blue Island due to the number of hydrangeas, but we found that the name should have been reserved for Flores as we saw more on that island. We enjoyed the scenery, but nothing compared to that of Flores. This island is much drier and the rivers were non-existent resulting in a lack of waterfalls as well. In 1957/58 there was a volcano eruption on the western end of the island at Ponta dos Capelinhos and they have built an excellent interpretative center which was very well organized, extremely informative and well designed as to not disturb the landscape. They were able to use part of an existing lighthouse structure that is still partially buried in ash, this lighthouse was less than 1 km from the eruption and took quite a beating. In the composite photo note the photo of the lighthouse today in comparison to what the lighthouse looked like before the eruption. We spent a few hours taking advantage of the guided tour and visiting the exhibits. It was quite a bargain at 10 euros ($12.20
Artwork by Cruisers
Horta is known for the artwork that each of the boats that sail to Horta leave behind. The tradition says that to ensure continued good luck you need to leave your mark on your first landfall in Europe. Horta is traditionally the first landfall of the Atlantic crossing therefore the number you see spans a number of years.
US) per person. When paying however Janice felt somewhat insulted as they first assumed she was over 65 years and gave her a 50% discount. Apparently wisdom is not the only advantage of getting older!
We continued around the perimeter of the island and then went into the mountains to see the caldeira here. It was a beautiful trip up, however, shortly after getting there the clouds came in and the rain started so we did not hike the trail. It is approximately 2 km (1.24 mi) in diameter and 400 meters (1,312 ft) deep. It was quite an impressive view.
One of the traditions in Horta is for boats that arrive here to paint on the wall the name of their boat and many have added amazing artwork to their “mark” on the wall. Tradition has it that you need to do this for continued good luck on your journey. As we did ours at our landfall on Flores we will not add to the wall here, but it has been fun walking around the marina to see the designs and check to see if we know any of the boats. We did look for a few
One of Many Churches in Horta
The Church of Nossa Senhora das Angustias was built in the 17th century on the site of a previous 15th century chapel.
in particular, but they had been here quite a few years ago so have been painted over. We did find by chance TeBheag that we traveled with down the Manamo River in Venezuela last fall. Some are as simple as the name of the boat with dates and crew names while others are pieces of artwork that you would easily want in your home!
We have walked around the area a few times to explore some of the older sections of town and found out that many of the older buildings are vestiges that remain from the time when the submarine telegraph cables lines were laid. Horta was in a favorable location in 1900 to serve as a relay station but also as an interchange for trans-Atlantic messages sent by cable. In the 1930’s fifteen cables linked Horta to the outside world which included France, Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Spain and US (NY). With so many foreign employees there were numerous elegant homes built here in Horta. Fortunately a number of these are still in existence today and still in use. During both WWI and WWII various cables were cut, but the end of the use of
Interior of Church
The interior of the church was quite impressive with its artwork and silver.
the submarine cables came about due to the trans-Atlantic radio phone service which began commercially in 1927, and more importantly the use of air-mail in the 1930’s. In the 1930’s Lufthansa and Air France used Horta for mail service and Pan American began its regularly scheduled trans-Atlantic passenger and mail service via Horta. This service continued for a 7 year period.
We have taken advantage of the services of the city to replace some of our sheets (lines to the sails), and hook into some fast internet at a nearby office to download software onto our computer. There also is an excellent ferry service that connects Faial to the neighboring island of Pico. We went over for the day to explore, but will fill you in on the details in another blog as it would add too many photos!
We are thinking of leaving Faial this coming weekend and heading to Sao Jorge - as of now it doesn’t look that great for sailing (very little wind & in the wrong direction) at least until middle of next week but as it is only 4 hours away we may go anyway. We heard there is a big festival
Friends we had met in Flores
We had a nice welcome the first day in Faial by an invitation onto Starlet by Mark and Jennifer who we had spent July 4th with in Flores.
here starting August 5th
so you never know – we may change our mind and stay, but looking at the calendar, think we will probably move on before that. Time will tell…
There are more photos below