Leaving the harbour of St Georges and through the Cut out into the Atlantic was very picturesque. The wind was quite good for the mono hulls so they quickly passed us. We spent most of the trip bringing up a fairly respectable rear. We managed to tear the gennaker along the sun block fabric line at both the foot and the leach (where previous repairs have been) so we suspect that what one sailmaker told us was true - that the South African sailmaker did not use proper sun shield and we had sun damage there. Anyway it meant that we could no longer sail directly downwind so we slowed up even more. The whole fleet experienced crazy weather patterns: no wind, too much wind and direction changes sometimes many times in a day! Fuel consumption got to be a bit of a concern but we dribbled along economically on one engine when we had to still using the generator to make water. Apart from the weather frustrations and a few uncomfortable days because of these we had a good time with lots of great meals cooked in turn by all and loads of fresh bread which Neil experimented with till he got a fabulous French loaf. Everyone on board has now seen a green flash sunset despite the rumours that there is no such thing. We caught one small tuna and saw lots of dolphins so everyone was happy. At halfway we had a little party with a few rums and wines, nibbles and pats on backs.
We arrived in Horta, Faial, where the boat all paint the names of their vessels on the dock and walls. We got over the finish line just in time to come second (out of two!). As usual there were a round of ARC drinking events and a prize giving before we headed off to spend nine days cruising 3 of the other Azores islands – Terceira, San Miguel and Santa Maria. Each quite different from the other. We particularly liked the UNESCO heritage listed port town of Angra and Ponta Delgado. The history in these islands is all about the voyages of discovery when Portugal was a world leader and they played a big role in provisioning stops and communications. Horta is still the 4thmost visited port in the world. The language is Portugese but with an accent that can’t readily be understood even in Portugal so the government is trying to get the school kids bilingual in English. Otherwise the place is fairly Portugese we even went to a bull running. Jesper jumped into the road and ran very fast then rather stupidly told his mother! We obviously haven’t scared him enough with the sailing!
Most of The Azores is very very green which tells you all you need to know about the climate……..lots of cloud and rain, damp and New Zealandy if you ask me. When you look at it, the latitude is not far off similar in the other hemisphere and the fact that they are both small islands in the middle of a big sea attracting the clouds.
We all left for the final leg to Lagos on 9thJune after a last provisioning run and refuel. The weather is once again variable so we have to allow for motoring.