We arrived in Horta on the island of Faial early a Monday morning before the port office had opened. The night staff at the port asked us to anchor on the port and wait for the office to open at 8 o’clock for instructions on PCR testing. They want to know the boat’s name and how many people we are on board. We will wait to be picked up for transport to PCR testing. We are waiting and waiting…
We see the rib boat picking up sailors from several yellow-flagged boats around us. Apparently, the boats that came here during the weekend have had to wait until today to be tested, including the Swedish boat Sandvita which started from Martinique a few days before us and came here yesterday, Sunday.
When the rib boat has passed us twice without picking us up, we contact the port office again and wonder when it’s our turn. It turned out that they forgot us and it was lucky that we called them, we get to go on the last trip of the day. Everything is very well organized and we are back to the boat within 1 hour. We will get an answer tomorrow morning and will wait on board until then.
In the afternoon, an old whaling boat is training in the harbor. They can carry large sails as well and it seems like there are competitions where they have to find a buoy instead of a whale out at sea. Imagine what small boats they had to catch whales in the 19th century.
The next day the Swedish boat Amaran comes to Horta, they sailed over to the Caribbean at about the same time as us and we have met several times during the 2 seasons we have been there. They started from Sint Maarten a few days after us and it will be fun to meet them again.
Around lunch, we are informed that our PCR test is negative and we are welcome ashore for check-in. We want to dock at the jetty and hurry in while there is still room at the check-in jetty. After visiting the port office, immigration, customs, and the port office again, we are cleared into Portugal and get a place outside some other boats on the inner pier. There are many boats here and we are located in 3-double lines after the quays. We got a famous boat neighbor, Peter Smith, onboard the sturdy aluminum boat Kiwi-Roa. Peter is known as the designer of the Rocna and Vulcan anchors.
It’s always fun to come to a new place. Horta is no exception, even though it is a little cooler than we are used to in recent months. The Azores are an archipelago far out in the Atlantic, the islands have been formed by volcanoes on the border between some continental plates, the oldest island is around 8 million years and the youngest 270,000 years. Faial has formed about 700,000 years ago.
Other Swedish boats
During the two weeks, we stay in Horta, there are several Swedish boats that are on their way across the Atlantic that we meet here.
Lady Ann, an HR 352, with Caroline, Fredrik, and their 2 children on their way from the Caribbean to Sweden. They had a tough finish the last week and ended up almost in the middle of the low pressure that came after us. After repairs of the damages the boat received during the sailing, they will continue to Sweden.
Hafsorkestern, a Bavaria 30 with Niklas Krantz as skipper, is on its way to Sweden after sailing around the world. He got stuck in the Maldives during the beginning of the pandemic. He had to flee from there when IS began blowing up the Coast Guard’s boats. He was not allowed to land on St Helena, so he has had a really tough trip. As he continued from Horta up to northern Spain, he lost the mast. To get ashore, he got diesel from a cargo ship out at sea, unfortunately the diesel was of poor quality and clogged the fuel filter. But finally, he landed in La Coruna.
Divine, a Diva 39 with Oscar Ädel and crew on their way back to Sweden after a couple of seasons in the Caribbean. He will not sail Diva 39 next time. He does not tell why, but with the knowledge I have about Diva boats I can understand.
There are many restaurants here and we manage to visit some of them during our stay here.
You have to visit Peter Café when you have sailed here. We had heard about how they helped sailors with food when they came here after crossing the Atlantic when the corona pandemic had just broken out. We had also heard of them as a place that many sailors visit when they are here. They have good food and nice staff and good gin tonic, ask for their own gin, Peter’s Gin do Mar, it is spiced with passion fruit, and we think it is super good.
Atletico is a grill restaurant that had very fresh fish on the menu, we went here several times, you could sit outside and we like that, preferably during a corona pandemic.
By the bay on the south side is Genuino, a restaurant run by one of the few Portuguese who sailed alone around the world in modern times. He had sailed in a Bavaria and he would never recommend anyone to do it. He had had a lot of problems with the boat, even lost the mast. However, there are many Bavaria that sails long distances and that is doing well. Genuino has a lot of seafood on the menu and we liked the food and staff here, a little higher price than at Peters and Atletico.
We also tried Canto da Doca, a place where you fry raw fish or meat pieces yourself on a hot lava rock. I (Jonas) thought it was more different than good, the others liked the food more than me. The restaurant is also a little more expensive than Peter’s and Atletico’s.
Between boat fixing, pier painting, and socializing, we had some free time when we took the opportunity to do a tour of the island for a day. We arranged a rental car at Auto Turistica, which had an office just above the guest harbor and was open on Saturday and Sunday.
The first destination will be the volcano that created the entire island, Caldeira do Cabeca Gordo. Up here we are at about 1000 m altitude and it is much cooler than down at sea level. The crater is enormous, almost 2 km in diameter. Think, all the rock that forms the island has come out of this crater, just 700,000 years ago, enormous.
There is an 8 km long hiking trail up on the ridge all the way around and we see some people set off. We also see a path down to the bottom of the crater that is 400 meters below us. When you stand up here, it is difficult to take in how big it is and that the crater wall is 400 m high.
We stopped for lunch at Rumar, a restaurant above Praia do Norte. It was almost full, but we northerners have Viking blood in us and are not afraid of a little chilly air. The sun is shining, then we can sit outside!
After lunch we continued to the western cape of Faial, Ponta dos Capelinhos. There was a volcanic eruption for 18 months in the late 50’s. The eruption made the island a few square kilometers larger and destroyed, among other things, a lighthouse. Now the area is completely covered with ash and everything is very gray and dusty.
On the way back to Horta we drive along the south coast and stop for a coffee in Varadouro down by the water. Here the coast is very steep in most places, but right here the lava seems to have formed a small plateau where they built a harbor and the natural pools have been turned into a bathing spot.
Moving boat around
After about a week, several boats will leave Horta and continue to Europe or to other islands in the archipelago. So there will be a lot of boats moving and in the end, we ended up as the boat closest to the quay with two other boats on the outside. There is about a 60 cm difference between high and low tide, so long lengthwise mooring lines are required. The quay is protected with old truck tires and they are not kind to a white plastic boat, our own fenders turn black and then they leave black marks on the hull.
I have time to fix the high-pressure pump for the watermaker, it takes about a day with all the time to disassemble and put the pump back. I also take the opportunity to rebuild the bracket for the pump so that it takes up less space in the engine compartment. It will also be easier to access the space under the pump where the propeller shaft runs.
A tradition among sailors who are going or have crossed an ocean is to paint their boat name on the pier in the harbor. When we left Las Palmas we did not have time, but this time I felt I wanted to leave a trail behind us in Horta. The whole pier is already full of paintings, the oldest up to 20 years old and some are barely visible anymore. We found a place for our painting near where we were moored. I’m quite happy with the result. Wondering how long it will last.
We continue the Atlantic sailing with Lagos as the destination, a distance that takes about a week to sail. The weather forecast promises northerly winds, maybe a little strong winds (over 20 knots average wind with up to 30 knots in the gusts) for Carina to feel good.