Azores – Flores (May 30 – June 1)

We arrived to Flores after 13 days and 15h. Good routing contributed to a safe and comfortable passage, with only a couple of bouncy days. Although we were bound for a Northerly route, aiming at lat 36-38N before really turning East, a High across the Bermuda forced us to steer NE to keep going under sail, and we hit 38N quite late in the passage.

We crossed only 1 cargo during the entire passage, and no other sailboat.  2450nm in total. At times there was not much wind, and we had a mixture of fast and slow days. We have now heard of 2 collisions with whales on our route, so good the mammals were out of our way.

No relevant damages: we lost the loch on day 1 (a screw went loose), so had only apparent wind, and one of the blocks fixed on deck broke, but we replaced that with a loop and friction ring.

Arrival to Flores in a misty and cold morning (maybe 12C) is in stark contrast with the Caribbean. The anchorage in Lajes is not as simple as it may seem, as you are in 15m waters and relatively exposed.

Upon departure we had decided, weather permitting, to make landfall on Flores as opposed to the most usual choice of Horta. The next opportunity to visit the island, arriving by sea, is not for tomorrow, and all we could read were promising reports.

We saw land at around 5 am. The profile of the island is imposing, with steep, dark walls in misty surrounding appearing in the middle of nowhere. I expected to hear King Kong’s salute.  The entire archipelago is the result of volcanic activity, with very fertile soil and lush vegetation contrasting with black and reddish rock and beaches.

Lajes, the only protected anchorage is tucked into a stony bay looking NE. There is a tiny harbor with no maneuvering space for Keraban. We knew we had to anchor in the bay on 15m depths. The bay itself remains protected by a cargo dock, except from NE. It took 3 attempts to place the boat at safe distance from the cargo maneuvering area, the rocky walls and the other 2 sailboats, and we kept our fingers crossed we were not hooked to a rock. Diving would need to be in chilly waters.

The kindness of the locals, well described in our pilot book, is by no means overdone. Each person on our short way up to the local bar / restaurant overlooking the bay had a salute sign. They are mostly fishermen, enjoying the morning beer, and we did the same in coffee version. But the feeling, strengthened by the surrounding atmosphere, is of a very cozy place inhabited by proud and kind people. Clearance was taken care of (directly by the container storage area), and a local fishermen kindly let us a wrench to solve a small issue on our rudder….”just put it back in my boat when you are done”.

We rented a car for the next morning, which the officer for clearing will kindly arrange for and spent the rest of the day walking around Lajes, waiting for the inevitable fatigue to catch up. It was early dinner and bedtime.

The pictures posted corresponded to our daylong visit to Flores, in a clockwise direction. Unless you need a harbor after the Atlantic crossing, I can say it is truly worth it. We had the luck of fantastic company in the persons of Philip and Linda, a Kiwi couple that has been sailing around for the last 25 years…way to go….

 

 

Precedente North Atlantic Crossing - May 2017 Successivo Azores - Faial (June 2-3)

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