The ARC Europe Transatlantic Rally
Moonstruck was a participant in the 2007 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
Horta, Faial and Sao
Sunday June 10th - Saturday June 16th, 2007
I can not describe the fascination I felt at the first sight of land after 16 days. It was so incredibly breathtaking! Faial truly is a beautiful island. First there were huge craggy cliffs rising out of the sea, which through the mist gave way to the most verdant of greens imaginable. Very much the way I would envision Ireland to look from the sea. The green became a patchwork, kelly green squares darkly outlined with rock walls, giving way to tiny villages, mostly white buildings, all with terra cotta colored roofs. Then around a headland and into the harbor of storied Horta, the stopping-off place of generations and generations of sailors, and we were THERE!
I can not discribe the pure elation I felt after climbing over 2 boats (we were rafted 3 out) and touching solid land! It was sensory overload! So many noises, so many fascinating things to look at. Namely, the thousands of colorful yacht names and logos painted on the quay.
I could have spent the entire day looking at each one. We were struck speechless and spent the day in a sort of daze, just looking, exploring, and walking. Then later that evening we were recovered enough to PARTY! At the famous Peter's Sport Bar, the hangout for yachties from all over the world. We had a blast, eating, drinking, catching-up and socializing with our ARC friends and making new ones. Alan and I had to laugh, after craving a cold, crisp salad for so many days, we ordered the caesar salad. It arrived hot, and limp, having been run through the broiler to melt the cheese on top! At that point, it was all good!
We only spent 3 very short days in Horta. Alan was able to pick up essential parts so that we can use 220-240v European power supply, in the very well supplied M.A.Y.S. chandlery. We walked a mile to a great supermarket only to find it closed, but the next day it and an outdoor market were open and we stocked up, washed the salt off Moonstruck, had our laundry done, shared sea stories, and SLEPT!
I regrettably, was unable to paint Moonstruck's logo on the wall because of rain and a lack of time, darn it!
Before we knew it we were off again to Sao Miguel, the largest of the islands. This time with an extra crew member! A pretty young woman with long blonde hair, Caroline McCarthy. As it turned out she is from Essex, England and the same town as Martin and Colin, and her father actually works for Martin's mother. How crazy is that? She found herself in Horta, after a harrowing 28 day sail from St. Martin (Caribbean) to the Azores without a boat to carry on her journey across the Atlantic. The boat she had been crewing on had a broken boom, sustained during a storm just off of Faial and they had spent 4 days just outside Horta, tacking to and fro but not being able to get in against the wind (and I thought we had it rough!). Being practically family, she joined the Moonstruck crew for the short 24 hour sail to Sao Miguel.
In Sao Miguel we met up with more ARC friends and the partying continued. We also did a little sight-seeing and took a coach tour of the island, to a pineapple plantation, and up into the mountains to view two lakes which were formed from volcanic craters side by side, curiously one is blue and one is green. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain and fog, so saw very little of the country side. The volcanic soil of the Azores and constant rain makes for a very rich, green environment for dairy farms. We passed hundreds of the fattest, most contented cows in the world! The Azores exports all sorts of dairy products, milk, cheese, and the richest, creamiest butter, to Europe. We stocked up on them as well! Lots of milk for the crew's tea ;-)
We explored the lovely European city of Ponta Delgada; shopped; had a few great seafood meals, and went to a wonderful cocktail party, hosted by the Minister of Tourism. Fun!
After another short 3 1/2 days, it was time to depart for Portugal, our last leg. Only 800 miles! Seems short after what we have done so far. We are back to our racing trim as Caroline was able to score a crew position on Belle, an all out racing 60' sled. Lagos, here we come!
Next....Transatlantic Crossing, Third Leg: Azores to Lagos, Portugal