We arrived in the Azores yesterday at around 18.00 with around 20 L of diesel left in the tank. Phew! As we approached, the galley team shouted up the hatch that the cooker would not light signifying that we had just run out of gas too. The bottles that we had filled in South America had not lasted as long as we hoped and the prospect of eating cold chicken curry out of a tin has definitely spurred us on the last few days.
We first saw the Island of Sao Miguel about 30 miles out and were surprised that it looked green and lush. The island is only 30 miles long and we could see it end to end: fields of cows and an airport perched ontop of a cliff. We tied up in Ponta Delgada marina and opened a couple of bottles of wine.
4000 miles without a drink (with the exclusion of a wee sundowner on Lynda’s birthday) and we were ready for a party…. but first a shower! Most of us were pretty tired and our bodies still operating in the watch system so the evening got off to a sleepy start. Enthusiasm was helped by the arrival of our four new crew who had been waiting for us on the harbour wall. Though they had been waiting for us all day it seemed they were having dinner when we actually arrived so accused us of sneaking in under the radar. They joined us for a celebratory drink on Elinca before we all headed off to a local restaurant.
The food was amazing, I don’t know if this is because it is the first non boat cooked food in a month, because we could order whatever we liked or because it was actually amazing food… probably all three. In addition, we arranged for one of the restaurant owners friends to pick the crew up in a mini bus today to show them the hot springs and other highlights of the volcanic island. Then we went to a bar.
The events of the night are now classified and for more details I suggest you meet us in Falmouth at the coming home party and ask us in person. I can reveal that Bob Little did make it onto his flight this morning, that the remaining 13 lined up in customs and immigration in their pyjamas to wave cheerfully at the official looking man behind the desk (he was fighting hard to keep a straight face) and that over half the crew managed to make it onto the island bus tour.
To me it felt sad as always to end a long trip and say goodbye to the crew. There were parts in the middle for all of us where we would have gladly been airlifted to somewhere with air conditioning, showers and fresh fruit and veg but these moments were rare. Sailing 4000 miles to windward across the Atlantic is not something many people choose to do, it’s not the usual route and is a mental and physical challenge for even the hardiest sailor. This crew not only coped with the heat and the 30 degree sleeping/eating/peeing angle but at times they even seemed to enjoy it 🙂