AZORES 2021

21st April to 15th June

A fine day at sea with dolphins

It was a long slow sail most of the way from Martinique to the Azores, not at all a straight line, trying to skirt high pressure areas of little wind and then with head winds. With a broken alternator as well and Hydrovane working loose, I was happy after 25 days to reach Horta Harbour.

Approach to Horta with cool rain and cloud

But I enjoyed most of the journey, my fifth time solo across the Atlantic. As you sail northwards from the Caribbean, hot tropical steaminess eases to fine sunny days and comfortable cool nights. Many dolphin, a distant whale, occasional seabirds, swooping shearwater, petrels and other gulls, and vast areas awash with patchy Sargasso weed, I love the feeling of senses awakened and of the reality – an insignificant human speck in the vast blue swelling ocean with sunlit days, and the endless timeless panorama of stars at night.

The harbour and marina of Horta are busy but efficiently managed. Several boats arrive every day and anchor at this maritime crossroads – boats from all around the Atlantic. A dayafter getting here we’re tested, confirmed healthy, form-filled and free to land. Being ahead of the main rush I was soon found a secure spot to raft alongside others inside the little marina. Henrietta’s now been here almost a month.

Horta harbour and marina

I like Portugal. It is surely the most civilised, interesting, friendly and underrated country of Europe. The Azores’s nine islands are especially lovely, uncrowded and unspoilt.

Days pass with walks along paths and up hills alight with hydrangea, wild rose and agapanthus ; sociable drinks and meals with the many Europeans here, including a happy chance meeting with friend of a relative, en route to the Mediterranean; and there’s always the inevitable list of boat maintenance work. I’ve perhaps grown lazier and slower, a day’s work taking a week, a long walk now a shorter one.

Dutch sailors, always friendly and fun

A day trip on local ferry to the neighbouring island of Pico took me to Portugal’s highest mountain. It too is named Pico, and at 2,351 metres, nowadays and until new body parts are fitted, too big a climb for me. It was instead a bright day of exploration on rented scooter through the lanes and villages of this hilly island, small colourful stone houses, tiny plots of vines in dark lava-stoned walls, and smiling greetings from gentle people.

Ferry trip to Pico island
Madalena the tiny capital of Pico
Tiny plots of vines enclosed by dark stone walls produce superb local wines

All I’ve seen of the Azores both now and five years ago, when I last sailed through, is enchanting. There are still two more islands to visit but they must wait till another time.

A day out with solo sailor friends, first met in Réunion

Now it’s time to sail on to England. I await more helpful wind.

A long tradition of artwork from boats passing through Horta

7 thoughts on “AZORES 2021”

  1. Hi Mike,

    Looking forward to the stories and photos and welcoming our neighbour back home!

    Debby & Craig x

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  2. Another great blog. I’ll miss these but they’ll be more than compensated by your return home soon.
    Safe sailing Michael and there’ll be so much catching up to do. I do wonder how you will adjust to living on dry land etc but time will tell!
    Love
    Margie x

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  3. Hi Michael, I so look forward to your posts and hearing where you are. What an inspiration. Skybird is where you last saw her, and I’m building a dinghy. Not quite as exciting! Cheers. Damien

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  4. Hi Michael. Yes indeed another interesting blog To hear the Azores has not been spoilt and still welcome sailors. Safe journey back
    Joyce

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