Waiting for Dawn

Waiting for Dawn

I’m 38 minutes into my morning watch and the clouds are just showing some peek-a-boo light as we drift 8 miles off of Flores, our first Azorean island.

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Keeping an eye out for other watercraft, I see a catamaran will soon pass our stern as it most likely makes its way to the island of Fial, the most popular yachtie stop-over, roughly 135 miles to the east.

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This morning, around 7am, we’ll make our way to our second landing on this westernmost Azorean island, anchoring in the harbor of Faije Grande on the the northwest coast of Flores. It’ll be our second visit in less than 24 hours. We actually arrived yesterday early afternoon at Lajes’ new marina on the southern tip of this island only to leave four hours later to find a safer spot for Juanona (and us).

After thirteen days at sea we vacated our docking berth due to forecasted surge. This unpleasant and potentially dangerous condition is created by current rushing in and out of a harbor causing boats to violently rock to and fro. A British boat at the same dock showed us their lines that had snapped clean from a previous surge, which was more than enough impetus for us to plan a quick exit.

We weren’t unfamiliar with this phenomenon. In 2002 we had stopped at this same port but anchored in the little harbor. Getting ashore using one’s dinghy was akin to being spit onto land by the King Neptune.

Those four hours ashore, though, were productive. Not only did we meet cute customs guys

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but also filled one of our three water tanks, visited the post office, and purchased some fresh provisions. Dick, our great crew from Orr’s, sampled his first Azorean cheese

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along with some Portugese wine, the latter being something we all agreed would have been better if never opened.

The walk straight up a hill allowed Dick and I to admire the amazing flowers from which this island earns its name. Hydrangeas,

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birds of paradise, IMG 0986

even wild ginger (Ellen, I think of you when I see these :)

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lined the streets. The volcanic soil just burst with lushness, enticing us to literally stop and smell the flora.

The three of us also walked along the sea wall in search of the sign Max’s son Chris painted back in 2002.

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Putting one’s mark on the seawall was begun in Fial many years ago while a relatively recent activity in Flores. Ours was one of the first in 2002, and we really didn’t believe we’d find any evidence of it 12 years later, but we did! A bit faded but definitely there (if you knew what you were looking at).

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But, back to our exit. Max orchestrated our departure: Dick on board, myself on the dock, and Max at the helm. To say it was hairy is putting it mildly.

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I’m not one to easily get stomachaches from tension, but I did on this occasion. We had to time our tossing the lines with the wind and building surge only to have the engine quit while Max was backing us out within six feet of rocks. Why it cut out, we don’t know. What I do know is that it was not an event I hope to experience anytime in the future.

Now, five hours later we’re anchored in Faije Grande after following a group of dolphins along the west coast of Flores.

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We’ll go ashore later just to stretch our limbs.

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And, possibly, even most absolutely probably, we’ll open one of the bottles of good wishes sent with us from Maine and toast the completion of our first passage of Juanona Voyage II.