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Friday, July 29, 2011

Sail from Sao Miguel to Terceira 27 to 28 July 2011

On the morning of the Wednesday 27 July we downloaded the Grib Files and found that the best wind in the coming week to sail to Terceira, our next planned destination, was the next 24 hours, not on Saturday as originally planned. Later the wind was forecast to turn to the West - ie on the nose. So we quickly made the boat ship shape , did last minute shopping and checked out of Ponta Delgada.
At 17 15 we left our mooring, raised the mainsail with two reefs in, and headed west.
The first 10 miles was along the South coast of Sao Miguel. Initially, we had a NNE 4/5 and Dutch Link was bowling along at 6 to 7 knots with two reefs in mainsail and two reefs in Genny in calm seas in the lee of the island.

By 19:45 we entered the lee of the Sete Cidades Crater and the wind became very variable - one minute 30 knots, the next almost calm with the wind direction changing througjh 180 degrees. Tried following the gusts for a while then gave up and motored till we were clear of Ponta da Ferraria, the western-most tip of Sao Miguel.

By 20:20 we were clear of the island and could turn off the engine and sail on a beam to fine reach in a very pleasant NE 4/5 with moderate seas . The course to Terceira was 313 degrees true, a total of 90 miles.During the night, the wind gradually reduced, the reefs came out and eventually we were sailing at 3 to 4 knots with full sail. At 0800hrs the wind died almost completly, as forecast, and we motored the last 25 miles to Terceira.
Terceira comes into view.

By 12:15 we passed between the breakwaters of Praia da Vitoria which almost completely enclose the bay.
As the anchorage just outside the marina looked so appealing, we decided to spend a few nights at anchor before going into the Marina. The holding proved to be excellent in 8 meters water in sand.
After an hour or so, the Harbour Master dinghied out to us and asked us to check in when we were ready - however, in view of the fiesta the coming week, the marina was full so we would have to stay at anchor - no great hardship as it is very pleasant here. After covering the mainsail etc, we jumped overboard for a refreshing swim - heerlijk!

In the photo Dutch Link is conveniently anchored just to the right of the Marina breakwater.
View along the water front
and into the town with a wavey white limestone line in the black basalt pavement

Views of the bay and outer breakwater

Map of Terceira - Praia da Vitoria is on the east coast, just south of the airport

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hike Sao Miguel to Lagoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel, Azores 23 July 2011

Caught the 0800hrs bus towards Villa Franco on Saturday 23 July. At 0845hrs we were at Praia ready to start our first hike of 2011 in the Azores, from the Ponte de Ribeira de Praia to Lagoa do Fogo, the lake in the central caldera of Sao Miguel.
After 30 minutes boring walk up a steep concrete road we reached the proper start of the hike.
The walk was a steady climb on a farm track, initially through farmland and later through a pine forest

There were still many flowers to please the eye
although many of the many hydrangers had seen there best
Glimpses of the coast far below

Eventually, the track arrived at the end of a Madeira-like Levada water channel. This Levada used to feed a hydroelectric power station (built 1927) situated with a fall of some 290 meters which used to produce 600hp. Now the water is used for farming.
For the next couple of kilometers, the trail followed the Levada

eventually arriving at a dam and small pool
The high valley floor had been carefully developed into a complex of concrete water collection channels feeding the pool and hence the Levada.

The track then continued through a low pass
until finally reaching the beautiful lake in the Fogo caldera at an altitude of 610 meters. The Caldera is thought to have been created 5000 years ago, the last eruption was in 1563.
Time for lunch

More views of the lake

The return route passed fields with cows and Hydrangers, typical of the Azores Islands

The last part of the hike was reversing the steep initial concrete road - indeed to preserve our complaining knees we walked backwards down the slope - a highly recc0mended technique for anyone with knee problems!
Just missed the 1506 hrs bus. However there was a pleasant beach cafe by the bus stop which made the wait for the 1736 bus a pleasant interlude. Jeannette even went for a swim off the beach while Mike did some Sudoku over a cold Coke.

Sao Miguel July 2011

Have been enjoying our stay here in the Ponta Delgada Marina on Sao Miguel. The weather has not been as sunny as in the Canaries, most days being overcast with every so often some drizzle. However the temperature is pleasant being in the lower 20Cs.
We are moored next to S/V Limay , which we met June last year here in the Azores, and are having a very enjoyable reunion with Teresa and Luis. They are expecting their new mast in a few weeks time - the old mast was broken on their passage from the Azores to Lisbon last year.
During our stay we were entertained by the IRC car rally which raced around the island for a few days , each evening returning to its base along the marina water front.

Click on arrow below for a video panorama of the Ponta Delgada Marina

Went to a very enjoyable Alma de Coimbra all male choir performance at the old Coliseu Micaelense theatre. The choir was made up of old students from the university of Coimbra- very special evening.

A line of painted trees has been placed along part of the marina waterfront - a school competition.

The outdoor swimming pool complex and part of the harbour between the old and new marinas has been very popular.
Have happily met up with our friends from last years rally from Ponta Delgada to Madeira (see Blogs 9 to 17 July 2010) - J0a0 & Ana and family Joana, Alice, Gabriela & Luisa from S/V Dannyboy, Jose Serra & Claudina from S/V 5 Estrelas and Agustinho & Ana from S/V Desafinado who all live on Sao Miguel. We had some very good times together.
During the last two weeks we have been busy doing maintenance jobs on Dutch Link - investigating a slow leak into the bilge (fairly certain it is from the engine exhaust through hull fitting which is under water on starboard tack - quite a pile of salt crystals had built up on the stringer under the fitting inside the hull. Hopefully fixed it with sikaflex on the outside but may need to refit when we are out of the water).
Have also been sanding parts of the deck and cockpit floor where small pits had appeared due to stagnant seawater accumulating under the paint.