It had been a tough passage… We were so close but still there was no time to lean back and enjoy the arrival. We knew that the wind would pick up again and were not sure what conditions to expect in the channel between Pico and Horta. Channels between islands are very often a wind acceleration zone and the real wind force is very often higher than the forecast. It was already dark and far away from ideal conditions but luckily we managed to dock at the welcoming pontoon just before the weather got even worse. What a great feeling to finally be in Horta, this legendary place! After 18 days passage we have arrived in Horta on April 12th late in the evening.
The following morning we cleared in and moved to a dock were we could stay as other boats were expected to arrive. Horta is a magical place… The whole breakwall is covered with drawings of all the yachts who made landfall there. We found many drawings of our friends who had crossed our path at some point… REDER BRO, MILANTO, MONFREID, MAXIM just to mention a few… In addition to the special atmosphere that all the Sailors yarn creates, Horta is a tidy beautiful little town on a stunning volcano island named Fajal, surrounded by the vast Atlantic ocean and… last but not least… it is Europe! After five years Mirabella was back in Europe. An unbelievable and undiscribable feeling… had it really been five years? Never have had a boring moment all this time… the only thing that makes you realize how much time had passed is the amazing difference when you look at your children… what a fantastic adventure we have had in the last five years!
Our friends arrived on the neighbouring island Pico on Thursday 14th of April and had booked a ferryboat arriving in Fajal at noon. We kept the children busy in the morning with some boat cleaning action and laundry which is always on the to do list after a longer passage. We arranged to meet halfway between marina and ferrydock. What a joy to meet here in Horta and spend a few says together to explore this beautiful island.
We ate lunch in the Mercado Municipal of Horta. A delicious selection of local cheese and dried meat. After lunch we went for a beautiful walk along Praia do Porto Prim and then up to the Miradouro do Neptuno, a stunning viewpoint. The scenery was incredibly beautiful on that sunny and very windy day. We ended this fantastic day with a delicious dinner at the restaurant “Canto da Doca” where you can enjoy fresh squid and fish on a hot stone.
On Friday we booked a taxi to take us to Vulcão dos Capelinhos where the last big eruption had taken place in 1957 and had almost lasted one year. We first hiked up the hill to enjoy the absolutely stunning views and made a picnic in the warm black sand. After we headed down to the Volcano Interpretation Center of Capelinhos where we found a lot of interesting informations about the last eruption. At the end you can even walk up the stairs of the old lighthouse and enjoy the view. It was a fantastic day. Back in Horta we had dinner in Genuino restaurante. Genuino was the first Portuguese who sailed the world solo. The restaurant is full of souvenirs from all the exotic places. Very interesting for us as well as we recognized one or the other thing..
On the last day together a hike around the Caldeira of the Cabeco Gordo was on our program. Another fabulous day in this beautiful nature. Fajal had really blown us away…. I would go there again without hesitation. The kids enjoyed kids dinner on Mirabella while the adults went for dinner in restaurant Atletico. Unfortunately we already had to say goodbye to Lisa, Chrigu, Jaromir and Nuria as they were heading back to Pico island to hike up the highest peak of the Azores. But maybe there would be a chance of meeting again for a dinner in Ponta Delgada before they would fly back to Switzerland and we would start our passage to Gibraltar….
But of course we were not ready to leave until the drawing on the breakwall was done… first of all, not easy to find a spot. There was hardly any empty space, every inch seemed to be occupied… but after a thorough search we found two good spots. One for Jael and one for Amina as she also wanted to make a drawing.
On the 20st of April we were ready to go. Jaël and Amina had done a great job on the breakwall. We were provisioned and a new batch of Bolognese sauce was vacumsealed in portions in the fridge. The plan was to stop in Ponta Delgada to meet Lisa and family the next day there for dinner. Bye bye Horta!
Our plan worked out perfectly well… when we arrived in Ponta Delgada, our friends were already waiting for us. It was very special as in 2009, when André delievered a boat for a friend from Antigua to Croatia he was sailing to Ponta Delgada together with Chrigu and I was waiting there for them to replace Chrigu on the last Atlantic leg from Azores to Gibraltar. So here we were again after 14 years.
The kids enjoyed again some playing time together and we had dinner together before we had to say goodbye. They flew back to Switzerland early the next morning and we decided to stay another day in Ponta Delgada as there would be less swell. There was a nice local market to stuck up on juicy local pineapples and vegetables and I found some great local cheese as well.
On the 23rd of April we left the Azores. These islands are a true natural paradise. Hopefully we can come back one day and discover more of them.