Our Hardest Week

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Despite it being April the Azores was ‘hit’ last week by a ‘typical winter storm!!’

Louise, our hard working shorebased administrator, joined us this week for our Azores Island hopping.  When she rang from Lisbon to say her flight had been delayed and then cancelled, we were disappointed but not surprised, as it was fairly windy in the marina in Horta. 

SATA the Azores airline looked after Louise and all its passengers very well, booking them into a 4 star hotel in Lisbon and paying for all meals and transport.  Meanwhile we were in the harbour watching the wind speed increase, we had a steady 40 knots with gusts over 60 for 48 hours.  Louise’s flight was delayed a further 24 hours. 

She had no need to worry about us sailing without her, we were firmly attached to the harbour wall with as much mooring line as we had on the boat.  The local chandler was doing a very brisk trade in fishermans mooring line.  Just as suddenly as the wind arrived it stopped, and when Louise arrived there was a blue sky and sunshine. 

We have been in operation just over a year and this is the first time we have experienced such a delay at the start of one of our trips.  Wherever we go, we always build into the itinerary time for unexpected occurrences just as this and still have enough time to reach our destination.

We spent our first day sailing motoring in light winds to Sao Jorge, and spent the afternoon on deck in the sunshine.  The volcano on Pico managed to peek out from behind the clouds, it is so high here that there is still some snow on the top.

The wind continued blowing for the rest of the week and with very few sheltered anchorages we returned to Horta for a second time.  We ended up leaving Horta at 4 in the morning for a great 150 mile downwind sail to Ponta Delgada.  Despite missing 2 days of sailing early on we still managed 230 miles in the week,

We are now ready for our long sail 1200 miles from the Azores back to UK, the weather is looking favourable for the next 5 days at last and we are looking forward to coming back to UK.  There is nothing like making a landfall on your homeland after a long time away.

Around the Azores

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Thank you for allowing us to be the Azores guinea pigs, it added to the sense of adventure as we all came across anchorages and marina’s for the first time.
Thanks to Lin and Richard for meeting all of our sailing objectives, full marks for booking the weather appropriately.  Seriously thanks for all the excellent hospitality and care given especially in dealing with our allergy issues.  We had such a great time that we have already booked for next year!

Jim and Char joined us for Azores Island Hopping 1 as we sailed from Ponta Delgada to Horta.  As they are planning more long distance cruising in the future their objective was to gain miles and experience overnight sailing in varying weather conditions, that we did!!
 
We left Ponta Delgada in the sunshine, and with light westerly winds forecast to shift to south westerly we decided to sail the long way around the island.  We gybed downwind all afternoon to the eastern end of the island, motored north past the steep cliffs which stole the breeze and cleared the north coast of the island just in time for a glorious sunset.  The wind filled in from the south west and continued to shift, allowing us to close reach all the way to Terceira.  We fell into a four hour watch system for the night, and filled the time telling stories under the stars. 150 nm later we motored into the scenic bay at Angra de Heroismo and into the marina.

We spent the next day exploring Angra and walking to the top of Mount Brazil for some spectacular views.  Due to strong southerly winds the next day we continued to explore the island by taking a bus to Praia de Vitoria.

The wind shifted to the north and we left heading for the island of Sao Jorge. The wind continued to increase during the afternoon and reached 35 knots as we reached in the flat water in the ‘lee’ of the island.  We arrived in the shelter of Vila das Velas early evening and anchored for the evening at sunset.

Squally rain stopped us from leaving too early on the last morning, but once the squall had blown through we had a great downwind sail to Horta on Faial.  Mount Pico eventually peeked out of the clouds to show us it’s snow covered summit, and we arrived in Horta in sunshine.

250 nautical miles sailed in the week, in a mixture of wind conditions, upwind, reaches and downwind in strengths from 10 to 40 knots.  We were joined by various types of dolphins for much of the time, right up to arriving in Horta bay.   Although we always kept our eyes open this week the whales did not come out to play.

Velvet Lady Guest Book

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Just been flicking through the pages of our guestbook for the last year, and thought it would be good to publish some of the comments!

Here is a sample of what our guests have to say about us

…thank you for a fantastic weeks sailing and your great hospitality aboard Velvet Lady I’m sure I’ll be back…….

…we enjoyed Lin and Richard’s professional and welcoming approach to sailing and never stopped learning…………….

……….lots of varied sailing, good food and interesting company………

………You have been warm and welcoming and we have felt at home and had great fun….

……A well found boat with a knowledgeable and hard working crew lots of good food…….

Why not join us on Velvet Lady and find out for yourself.