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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sail Sao Jorge to Faial 14 Sept 29012

WE had planned to stay in Velas for several weeks and explore the island properly. However, on checking the weather forecasts a tropical depression was rapidly transforming into a nasty hurricane and was starting to head our way. 
The predictions from the USA Hurricane agency NOAA indicated that the newly named Hurricane Nadine would most likely hit all of the Azores Islands in the next week.

 The Grib File predictions for a week's time showed that Nadine was developing into a much bigger system than Gordon, the Hurricane that came close a few weeks ago

So, as we had already experienced some swell in Velas Marina in relatively calm conditions we reluctantly decided to cut our stay short and head for the relative safety of Horta on the island of Faial, just 22 NMiles SW of us
So at 0945hrs on a sunny morning 14th September, we left Velas and had a pleasant few hours of downwind sailing on just the Genoa in a ENE 3 to 4 Bft wind
  On the way a pod of Dolphins crossed our course but unfortunately they were on a mission and did not stop to play as hey often do
The peak of Pico just visible through the cloud
 Moored in Horta Marina at 1350hrs after a 4 hour 22 NMile trip
Normally Horta is fairly full with sailing boats and one has to raft with other boats along the inside of the harbour wall. We were lucky that there was plenty of space and were even given a berth which is large enough to take magayachts - very fortunate with the weather we are expecting
So here we are, waiting for Nadine to pass through. The Aluminium catamaran motor vessel moored next to us is a deep sea research vessel which has a yellow mini submarine on board capable of diving to 1000 meters water depth.
 Horta Marina
 Larger scale chartlet of Horta Marina showing Dutch Link berth

Tourada a Corda Boa Hora, Sao Jorge

Terceira is the island where playing with bulls - the Tourada a Corda - was invented and is the island where it is mainly practised. However, it has also become popular on Sao Jorge and we decided to spend an afternoon watching the spectacle in the village of Faja de Sto Amaro situated  just before the Sao Jorge airport.
Caught the 1530 bus from Velas to Urzelina.

 As we were too early for the event, we decided to stay on the bus and walk the few kilometers back from Uzelina - luckily we had our waterproofs with us as part of the walk was in the rain. 
The photo below shows the airport runway which we walked past.
 The church of Nossa Senhora de Boa Hora which provided a grandstand view of the Tourada. 
The event was indeed part of the festa in honour of Nossa Senhora de Boa Hora

 The 4 bulls arrive in their crates on the back of a truck and are offloaded ready for the event

 The local band adds a festive note
 Please click on below arrow to play video clip - 

Note - unfortunately as the IPAD does not have Flash Player, this clip will not play on an IPAD

 Waiting for the firework rocket to signify the release of a bull
 The bull controllers handling the rope which is attached to the bull

 Threading the rope back into the crate so that the bull can be encouraged to reenter its crate
All in all a very similar event to what we have witnessed several times on Terceira

Hike Sao Jorge - Walks around Velas, Sao Jorge

We had planned to do several of the official hikes during our stay on Sao Jorge. However, the weather did not play ball - most days were rapidly alternating periods of sunshine and rain showers - just like what we expect in April in the UK except the temperature was in the lower 20's (C!).

So we contented ourselves with short walks around Velas
the first walk was through the streets of Velas until we found a small side road which went steeply up with a pedestrian only short cut halfway up involving many stone steps
with views over the town
 The objective of this walk was the Mirador (viewpoint) on the clifftop main road which gave superb views of Velas and its harbour
 Looking over to town to the 161 meter high Morro Grande - the objective of future walks

The next walk was up the same cliff which towers above Velas. This time, however, we explored each of the small side roads until we found one with what looked like a trail leading up from a large carpark
This trail was in fairly good condition to start with, zigzagging steeply up through the wooded slopes
 However, the results of disuse were soon apparent and most of the trail was overgrown - but still very pleasant, giving frequent glimpses of the town below
 Eventually we emerged by a wooden pole on the same clifftop road as we had walked on in the previous walk
 I include this photo of the number stamped on the pole in case we would ever wish to retrace our steps as the start of the trail from the top is not obvious
 Took the easy way back downd the road passed this small church
The next walk was an exploration of the 161 meter high Morro Grande hill to the west of Velas.
The walk starts from the back of a small church on the western side of Velas
 The small church
 The path up the hill is an obvious  4-wheel drive track which zigzags up the hill which ends in this small stone (ex-whalewatching?) tower

A small track continues along southwards the hilltopthrough the low heather trees
 some of which made progress a little difficult
 Views of the neighbouring island of Pico with its impressive volcano peak
and views of Velas
Back at the tower looking towards Pico
Our next walk on Morro Grande started from the same small church but this time we stayed low just below the small trees until we reached the cliffs around the sea filled caldeira to the north west
Views of the caldeira
Then we tried to find a path up the steep muddy slope close to the cliff edge under the twisted branches of the Heather Trees using the branches to help pull ourselves up..
We finally made it to the top but unless one wants a bit of an adventure, maybe one should stick to the 4-wheel drive track!
Once on the top the views were superb

looking over the small pasture land in a hollow on top of the Morro Grande hill (filled in caldeira?()

We returned via the easy way back down the 4-wheel drive track to the small church