Yesterday, we saw land for the first time in 25 days. Then we kept on sailing and never stopped. Our destination lays a few hundred miles further east.
As you can see, we chose to enter the south side of the island because the winds looked like they might start coming form the South. Yes, having a lee shore is not fun, but at the same time, fighting a wind shadow and then trying to short tack in a narrow straight is not fun either.
Over night, we had our best and fastest run ever! We averaged 6 knots and were doing over 8 knots for most of the night. This is wonderful because we were expecting to fly our light air sails that we had made for the Azores High. Instead, we were flying our regular sails with a reef in them. We were a bit overpowered and normally would have reefed down, but we needed to make all the miles we could while we had the wind. The next day was supposed to be very light winds and we wanted to make it to port before it got dark so we wouldn’t have to wait another night hove to outside of the harbor while we wait for dawn.
In the morning, we saw a sleeping sperm whale at the surface. The whale looked like a large flat log, only apparent when it exhales and creates a giant cloud of mist.
The distinct blow from a whale is easy to spot out on the distance which gave away their position in the times of whaling. Sperm whales were hunted with efficient strategies and hand launched harpoons from tiny boats all around these islands for hundreds of years.
As we rounded the SW point of Faial, a pod of dolphins came out to greet us. This was a very magical moment and as tired as I was, I could not help myself but stare at them as they swarmed around our sailboat.
It almost felt surreal. The first island we passed, Corvo, has no civilization on the northern shore, so to us it just looked like an island with fields partitioned with hydrangeas. Faial on the other hand is a settled island with many cities that were established hundreds of years ago. Seeing the very European architecture from the water felt like being transported back to another time.
The highest point in Portugal, Pico, is visible just to the left of the leech of our jib. That massive volcano reaches up from the bottom of the ocean, some 4000 feet beneath the surface and then stretches up several thousand feet into the air. If you took away the water, Pico would be an epic mountain!
The sounthern shore of Faial is so quaint looking. There are fields and buildings, all with a similar architecture; terracotta roofs with white walls, all set on the hillside.
As we neared the harbor, we were presented with a massive volcanic creation that helps shield the harbor from the ocean waves.
After being isolated from civilization for so long, this is now what we get to gaze upon. This quaint little town. We never got this kind of a welcome in the United States. When you enter a harbor, the waters edge is lined with factories, or ugly boxy buildings. There is no style, no form, and certainly no aesthetic value put into the shorelines of the American ports. The towns do not display their beauty towards the water. American towns are pretty (some of them) once you are walking around them, but from the water, they look boring and plain.
This town showcases the style of buildings you can expect to find in the inter-lands of the island. More importantly, this town was designed to be approached from the sea and therefore the buildings are set to face the arriving boats. You can tell that the goal here was to make the town pleasant to greet arriving ships and their passengers.
After almost a year at anchor, mooring, or sea, we are now tied up to a cement quay. We have traveled a long ways and we feel like we have accomplished a great feat, but every other boat in this harbor has also crossed an ocean to get here! This is a port filled with true bluewater cruisers.