Land-ho

Off in the distance, 20 nm, appears Mt Pico.  At least that is what thought.  Pico is a Off in the distance, 20 nm, appears Pico.  At least that is what thought.  Pico is a off in the distance, 20 nm, appears Pico.  At least that is what thought.  We assumed it was Pico with the peak covered by a thick layer of clouds.  As it turned out, we were mistaken.  Eventually, we saw a peak emerge off our starboard bow.  It is a serious mountain that goes up from sea level. Pico is a 7,713 volcanic mountain.

Last night FireFly showed up on our Chartplotter.  They were 8-9 nm ahead of us.  We slowly closed the gap, until the wind came up to about 15 kts on a beam reach.  Then we were averaging 8 kts, was 1 kt greater than FireFly.  For the next 12 hours the gap closed.  About 2 nm from the Horta harbor, we had FireFly on the starboard beam.  It was a great opportunity to take pictures of their boat.

Seeing the Faial and Pico was exhilarating.  For 12 days and 2005 nm, we saw nothing except blue water.  Suddenly, we are looking at rocky outcroppings surrounded by verdant hills.  The hills were terraced with crops.  From the distance I could not determine what the crops were.  They did not look like corn or soybeans.  It was a beautiful sight. I learned later the fields were grass that feed cows, sheep and goats.

Set among the fields were communities.  It was a rare house that was not white with red tile roof.  The effect was stunning.  It is something thing that Disney would copy.  It was the real deal.

Arriving in Horta was all that it was billed to be.  A marina jampacked with ocean bred sailboats.

Peter Sport Café is a legendary bar/pub that is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  Bungees from yacht clubs around the world adorn the walls and ceiling.  The place has the character you would expect in 100-year-old pub.  At 6:30 pm, Peter’s was the site of the first gathering in the Azores of ARC participants.  I arrived at 6:00 and found Roy enjoying a beer and salad.  We talked about how impressed we were with Horta, surely one of the best sailing marinas in the world.  The fact that everyone had responded to various winds and shared sunshine and storms created a strong bond.  After much time with only text messages to the outside world, the opportunity to converse with other crews and relive parts of the passage was fascinating.  It was also interesting to learn sail setups that worked well.  We also commiserated about what broke.  It was rare to speak with another crew whose equipment performed flawlessly.   Chaffed lines were common, and failed autopilots were taken in stride.

Diner at Peter’s was salad and couple of hours later and more glasses of local beer, I had meat chili.  If I had been in the U.S., I would have inquired as to what kind of meat.  It could have been the beer, but I really didn’t care.  The dish came with a large scoop of white rice in the middle of the plate.  The meat chili surrounded the rice and extended to the outside edge of the plate.  It had a pleasant, spicy flavor.  The only thing left on my plate was about half the original portion of the rice.