When after a few days the weather looked reasonable we took off, first towards the Southwest, to get outside the traffic separation scheme off Sao Vicente and then straight for the Island of Santa Maria. As with most our trips towards the Azores, plenty of wind turns into almost none as you get closer. Still it just took us 5 days and two hours to reach the new marina of Vila do Porto on Santa Maria, the Southeasternmost of the Azores Islands.
We already saw the new marina in 2008 during our return journey from Brazil to Portugal. Again we found Santa Maria to be one of the most laid back places in the islands, but now with the best WIFI connection of any Portuguese harbor we know. For us Santa Maria is still one of the places we enjoy to return to and with the new marina it is really conveniently placed when coming or going from the mainland or Madeira.
During the passage to Santa Maria we had been in daily SSB contact with Pam and Dick on "Aliesha", another circumnavigating OCC boat that we had missed by a few days while in Langkawi, and now met at the Sopromar Yard. Together we rented a car to explore the island, before "Alisha" took off for Angra do Heroismo on Terceira, while we sailed to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, to meet two other boats that we had been together with, many times in various places around the world.
The friends to meet in in Ponta Delgada were Anne and Mogens on "Northern Star" and Angela and Wilhelm on "Belle Brise". Both boats had just arrived from the Caribbean where they had spent two seasons after we parted in Cape Town. So it was a great reunion, with lots of stories to tell.
And again two days of joint island exploration on Sao Miguel, before we parted to set off in different directions: "Northern Star" to the Med, "Belle Brise" to the Netherlands and we to Velas on the island of Sao Jorge.
For us it was an overnight sail to Velas on Sao Jorge, leaving the island of Terceira to the North, to visit there later on our way back.
When we visited Velas in 2008, the new rather small marina had just opened and few people knew about it. This time it was well filled, but the friendly harbormaster will almost certainly always find a spot for you. We were lucky that the second T-finger had just freed up as there are not too many places for a boat of Taniwani's length.
Again we waited for our friends from "Aliesha" to arrive, before starting another car tour around Sao Jorge.
With its green slopes, the beautiful Fajas and all the happy cattle, the island is maybe our favorite for land tours.
Being the forth time in the Azores and having seen all, but the westernmost islands, we planned to finally visit Flores and maybe Corvo this time.
This isn't so easy, as none of these islands has a safe harbor and anchoring at Lajes on Flores requires westerly winds or none. On the other hand, to get there from anywhere but the Caribbean means that an easterly wind would be good to sail the 150 miles from Sao Jorge. Well, we found exactly such a weather forecast, giving us easterlies until an hour away from Lajes, where we had to circle until daylight.
The anchorage was still quite crowded and with the light wind and differing currents we needed three anchoring attempts to end up well clear of other boats.
However on the last attempt our windlass broke, unfortunately beyond repair, and with the possibility of a wind change, we didn't feel safe enough to consider a land tour leaving the boat alone.
So after some rest we got the anchor up again with some tricks, left the beautiful island behind, and headed for Horta to organize a replacement.
While docking in Horta, the second 'disaster' struck: Our retractable bow thruster failed in a way that we can only get to the source of the problem with the boat hauled out. And so we decided to live without the convenience of the thruster for the rest of the season.
On this weekend the yacht club organized a regatta to Velas and back, but being finally well docked and a bit crippled we had to pass on it but went out to watch the windless start by dinghy.
We had to wait for more than a week to get a new windlass shipped in. Time to explore another wonderful island with our friends Pam and Dick from "Alisha" - the island of Pico, which is easily reached by ferry from Horta.
Not only the big mountain, but also the black lava slopes with interspersed green, makes this the most volcanic looking island.
Aside of volcanic scenery and excellent wine, the island is has a long whaling history and sports several nice museums reviving the memory of the whaling days.
Back in Horta, Pam and Dick on "Aliesha" left to sail home to England and end their 9 year circumnavigation.
Again we rented a car to pick up our new windlass from the airport and took the opportunity to drive out to Capelinas, the famous corner of Faial island, where in the 1950ies the isalnd grew by at least a mile due to volcanic action. And the lighthouse formerly on the southwest corner now stands out of the ashes quite a bit inland.
Since our last visit, a very nice underground museum had opened and we enjoyed the visit a lot.
Also, the old lighthouse had now been restored enough to now allow visitors a climb up the stairs.
Meanwhile waiting in Horta wasn't so boring as we could watch whaleboat replicas sail around the harbor,..
.... or restoring our 2002 painting on the harbor wall to new beauty.
In the end we had to stay a day longer to follow the interesting invitation of Lothar, the Transocean Port Officer in Horta:
To join a mega bread baking party at his house, together with a small number of other Trans Ocean members that happened to be in town.
The picture above shows phase one in the morning. Below Lothar shoving one of the many loafs into his oven.
With the new windlass fitted we sailed on back to Velas again, but this time we wanted to try our new anchor gear and so we anchored outside in very calm conditions.
This allowed us not only a great view onto impressive Pico, but also a new aspect on Velas.
After a few days we moved on to Angra do Heroismo, to us a well known place and by far the nicest town in the islands.
Here we would be waiting for the arrival of our friend Gerhard who wanted to join us for some passage-making experience on the trip to northern Spain.
In Horta we had met Katti from the German boat "Freiheit" who we had briefly seen in Langkawi, before her husband came to death in a traffic accident in Thailand. Since then she had carried on alone, also around South Africa and arrived at Horta this year a few days before us. We met her and her friend Gottfried, who came to join her on the last leg home, at Lothars bread baking party. Together we now toured the island of Terceira.
In a church not far from Amgra we met a very nice lady who was patiently recovering a rather old fresco and excitedly explained her work to us. She had been working on this fresco for the last three years!
There is another interesting spot on this island: An old volcano in which the lava flow had sunken back, leaving an interesting cavern.
Through a tunnel one can now enter the volcano and actually look out the crater.
It is not hard to spend a few days in Angra. While the marina tends to have some surge coming in, we had a berth quite far in and rather quiet, yet very close to town.
There are lovely parks...
... and beautiful streets to stroll.
After Gerhard arrived, we soon moved on to the second largest town on the island: Praia da Vitoria.
While it is hard to compete with the UNESCO heritage town of Angra, Praia is a favorite with live-aboard people, given the nice and very cheap marina offering launderette, internet, good shelter and a convenient small town.
We didn't go into the marina, but just anchored behind the large north breakwater of Praia, to wait for decent weather for the passage.
Decent weather would have been a depression going through which would provide for westerly winds. Statistically this happens often enough, but there was nothing like this in sight. Only strong Northeasterly winds caused by the Azores High and the thermal low over the Iberian Peninsula. This means wind from where we want to go and gale force winds closer to the mainland. With Gerhard and us having dates at the destination we had to go at some point.
So we had to sail North for two days before going on the other tack. Beate's question of "are we going towards England or Ireland?" was answered "we are going for Greenland right now!"
Worried about having to beat into very strong winds we headed further North than absolutely necessary.
In the end we overdid it and were able to reach into Bayona at great speed. But it had taken us 6 days and a few hours to cover 1005 miles on the GPS log and 1102 on the water log. The great circle distance would have been 860 miles!
We anchored for the first night and then moved into the Monte Real Yacht Club where a number of berths were already reserved for Rally Bayona Participants.
Gerhard left us the next day, while other rally boats were trickling in. One of them were our friends Silvelie and Jörg from "Trudel", German sailors that we first met in South Africa.
The two had planned a land tour before the start of the rally and asked us to join in, an offer we certainly didn't reject.
And so the hard land life started even before the rally.
We had to eat, drink, visit wineries...
... and stay over night in an old monastery.
Finally, the famous Rally Bayona started with a bus trip to the Monte Tekla, just North of the border to Portugal.
The view from here is grandiose. Looking South one can see the Rio Mino and the dangerous entrance.
Looking North the harbor and village of Garcia from where a large number of folks immigrated to New York and that is why one airports there is named after it.
Close to the top of Monte Tekla, the remains of an ancient Celtic village can be explored.
The rally gang in an old fortified church on the shore.
A wild living horse on the heights above Vigo and Bayona.
And a glimpse at the Yacht Club and Marina of Bayona, before returning to the boats. But that's not all for the day...
... as in the evening the whole gang plus friends of Alfredo Lagos, the organizer, were invited to Alfredo's lovely home for an unforgettable evening.
As always, there is no shortage of powerful liquids.
From Bayona it wasn't far to the nature preserve of the Islas Cies, three small islands almost closing off the entrance to the Ria de Vigo.
Fog seems a regular feature in this area and part of the rally fleet of 20 boats had to find their way to the anchorage with hardly any visibility.
But the fog patches also provide for dramatic pictures.
A friend of Alfredo lives on the island and allowed us to hike across and explore.
Our next stop was one Ria to the North: A small Ria called Aldan, just at the entrance to Ria de Pontevedra.
In same named town (Aldan) we were led to beautiful palaco with a nice garden, all barley visible from the outside.
And again wonderful food and drinks had been arranged by Alfredo (left in the picture) and his family. Alfredo, now aged 83, had been organizing this rally for the Ocean Cruing Club and Royal Cruising Club for many years. We had read about it in the OCC Journal and thought this would be a nice stop for us on the way back from the Azores. In the end it surpassed all expectations, both with respect to Alfredo's organization as well as the unexpectedly lovely cruising grounds of Galicia.
The next day a little bit more sailing: 23 miles to Caraminal again one Ria further North.
Most of the rally fleet was cramped into the Marina at Caraminal, Taniwani is one of the few boats anchored outside.
Here is part of the group with Alfredo and grandson in the middle.
From many of the peaks there is a great view over the various Rias.
Per bus the rally participants are carried from one viewpoint to the next.
Back to the boats we only move a short distance across the Ria de Arosa, to Vilagarcia.
And from there to yet another viewpoint. But the lovely landscape of Galicia is worth every such trip.
Alfredo shows us a grappa distillery.
With an adjacent old vineyard, right in the heart of the town. The vine is grown on wires held up by ancient stone pillars.
Soon we realize that distillery and vineyard are just a small part of a wonderful palace that is reached via an old stone bridge across the street.
We learn that for the owning family the palace is an expensive heritage to maintain. They are considering opening it to the public to help recover some of the high costs.
We off course were given a tour through magnificent rooms...
... and up the Torre from where there is a nice view onto the streets of the little town.
A short distance further is yet another beautiful estate, where we get treated to great food and the nice local wine.
The scarce time between Alfredo's organized events is used to invite other sailors over or to visit other boats. Of particular interest to us was of course the Rival 41 "Margaret Wroughton" as Harald's father had a similar boat for many years. The very nice owners, Gavin and Georgie gave us the tour that brought back many fond memories.
In Muros the promised new marina was prominently missing, but Alfredo had arranged for the fleet to raft up in six bulks of three boats along the fishing pier. It was nice that we ended up with Margaret Wroughton alongside.
Leaving the boats in Muros, Alfredo had arranged a trip upriver via small, but fast fishing boats that took 4 to 6 people each.
A small fleet left Muros and sped up the Ria, eventually entering the relatively shallow Rio Tambre at high water. A trip with Taniwani would have ended at the latest at this bridge.
Soon the landscape changes and one feels far from the sea.
Our destination is at an old power plant ...
.... where Alfredo had already arranged for a massive amount of Sardines to be prepared over a big fire.
Lovely situated under huge old trees we can again enjoy great food and fantastic local whine.
The organizing committee
A last evening in Portosin's Yacht Club and then the party breaks up, with boats leaving in all directions, the better part heading north. We have a nice sail out the Ria and back down to where the Rally started, the Islas Cies.
No more pictures from the Islas Cies down south to Povoa de Varzim as woke up in think fog and hardly saw any land on the way.
From Povoa de Varzim with its convenient marina, there is a new fast train to Porto. Using trains and street cars for a whole days is just 5 Euros and so it is rather easy to explore the wonderful town of Porto.
One of the must see tourist attractions in Porto is the old book store with its rather unique stair case.
Or the picturesque river front...
... as well as the view from the bridge and many other delightful places. Our son Felix arrived to join us and so we had two trips to the nice town of Porto. Unfortunately it is not really possible to visit the town by your own boat, as there are no facilities or space to dock anywhere. The few docks are all reserved for tourist lounges.
Leaving Povoa de Varzim we encountered quite steep waves in the entrance despite a depth of not less than 8 meters. So it is probably not a practical harbor for all weather situations. But on the other hand it is a good place to visit Porto and most likely much nicer than the industrial harbor of Leixoes.
We off course enjoyed having our son Felix on board again, though he was probably a bit bored with just the old folks and no other youngsters as in the good old days.
Next stop for us is Aveiro, a large river and lagoon system. We only sail in a short distance and anchor in the basin of Sao Jacinto.
We spend a day exploring before we move on to Nazare, a harbor that can be entered at all weather conditions, but otherwise a pretty bleak place.
The next stop is much more enjoyable, the Berlenga Islands. A number of small islands and rocks not far off the Portuguese shore.
They feature an old fort that can be explored....
As well as high cliffs and many caves and tunnels, some navigable by dinghy, some to just dive through snorkelling.
Off course it is an open and rolly anchorage and when the swell started to come in from the Southwest we reluctantly had to move on to Cascais where we anchored the first night and later went into the marina to visit Lisbon by train
The famous elevator in Lisbon.
Felix watching movies.
A rather pleasant next stop was at Sines. While on the chart it all looks like a huge industrial harbor, (which it is), once inside the small harbor below the little town it becomes another world.
We enjoyed a nice evening strolling through the town and then another wonderful day before departing to round Sao Vicente and return into well known territory.
Sao Vicente, a well known place to Taniwani.
And just around the corner is a nice anchorage.
Most of our trip south was plagued by a lack of wind and it didn't change much along the Algarve.
We decided to spend the last week of our sailing season in the Lagoon of Faro and Olhao. While we have been there many times, we yet had to check out many new places inside this big sheltered lagoon.
Easy going and good food rounded off this stay.
Finally we had to sail to Albufeira where Taniwani is staying for the winter.
As always, all sails and running gear were taken off for the winter, and with cleaning and winterizing of various systems and engines, the last three days were spent hard working.
sailing round the world - Najd 490