24 days after we left Bermuda, we finally arrived in the Azores. Our first landfall was on a small island called Faial, in a port town called Horta. Horta is apparently the 4th busiest port in the world, and the way the boats were stacked alongside each other made it apparent! Horta is the first “Port of Entry” into the Azores, so you should make it your first stop in your crossing, as they have the full customs office to check into the island chain.
Aside from the paperwork and beauty of the volcanic islands, we had some special visitors as we made our way towards land: Dolphins.
We had gone such a long time without seeing them out in the ocean, only to find them in massive numbers around these islands.
It was impressive, and a little nerve wracking, to become so close to land without turning on our depth sounder. The islands of the Azores are volcanic and therefore are just the tops of mountains in the middle of the ocean. The steep cliff sides continue into the water at that same rate, and a few hundred feet from shore will be hundreds of feet of water depth! All you need to do is stay away from the land mass and you will find yourself safely situated in water that is over 4,000 feet deep!
Making landfall in the Azores truely was a wonderful experience, for it signified the fact that we had made it across the Atlantic Ocean. When we set out in October 2017 from the Chesapeake Bay, the Azores was our destination. Now, (after many detours which included the Bahamas and Bermuda) we arrived in the Azores in early August 2018.
We made it across and we made it safely. While 24 days is considered a long passage time from Bermuda to the Azores, the winds in 2018 had been rather weird. Most yachts felt the need to motor almost the whole time and averaged around 20-24 days, where usually people plan the voyage to take between 15-18 days purely under sail. We suddenly felt really good about our time as we did not motor across the ocean, since we have an electric motor.
It is important to know how to sail when you set out for bluewater cruising, as you might not always be able to rely on your mechanical propulsion source. Another yacht in the harbor, of similar size and vintage as us left Bermuda and soon had engine failure. His diesel was dead and apparently he couldn’t sail very well because it took him 40 days to make it across! If you have a sailboat, it would behoove you to know how to sail, as your motor is considered an auxiliary power source and not the primary (which are the sails).
Sailing to the Azores was a huge goal in our voyage, and now that we are here, we are going to enjoy the wonders that these islands have to offer and tackle some much needed boat projects.