Category Archives: 2014 06 AZORES – Faial

What a smart thing to do

Talk about a smart thing to do… Horta’s marina seawall and walks are paved with paintings placed by sailors of visiting yachts. A tradition that’s grown over decades, it’s considered to be bad luck if you don’t create one of these landmarks commemorating your safe arrival in Horta. In Flores, where we first landed in 2002 and in 2014, there also is a growing practice of documenting one’s landing on a friendly shore. And, you get your marina smartly dressed for free.

Like many before us, we, too, have partaken of wall grazing. You know, the type of strolling that results in not looking where you’re going, suddenly stopping to take in a yachtie’s particularly stunning rendering of their boat’s name only to trip up the person behind you. It’s hard not to do for almost every surface is decorated with amazing artwork.

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We did one back in 2002 thanks to Chris’ handiwork,


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so, we went looking for our 12-year old sign. The only evidence of our having been here is seeing others around it that have persevered

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However, we did spot some Brazilian friends’ wall sign from that same summer





So, Max got the bug and decided we should do one.
On the second to last day here we purchase paint, brushes and a roll of paper towels for clean-up, most of which I needed.

He located a perfect spot, put on a base coat of white paint, came back to the boat, put pencil to paper and initiated the first draft

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then started practicing the drawing of a lobster by visiting http://www.howtodrawanimals. I must admit I was pretty impressed.

Next step, transcribing the lobster and some letters onto the wall in pencil. Once again his lobster was perfect. My letters, not so hot.

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[and, looking at this picture, I’m wondering when all of a sudden my arms needed hammocks; I already want a chin strap… god, got to love 60+. (Sorry, this is quite a girly thing to write. Next time, guys, I’ll do a warning first, I promise.
Now, on to the more enjoyable info.)]

I asked him, ‘do you think they look okay?’ He said ‘yes’, hesitated, then came ‘do you think the “M” of “Maine” is a little wide.’ I said, ‘Well, no, but you do.’ Again, my artistic husband is smart and did the smart husbandy thing by smartly keeping oh so quiet.

We left, both of us knowing the “M” could definitely use some dieting.

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Next morning bright and early before the sun would laser our eyeballs due to the bright white paint we were using, Max hopped out of bed (well, for those who know our boat, this movement is more like pretzeling out of bed), grabbed the paint, brushes, and the necessary roll of paper towels and headed towards our piece of the concrete rock.

After checking it out (ensuring the surface was not tacky), he returned to the boat saying he could sure use a narrower, smaller brush. I put on my thinking cap and started thinking, thinking, pondering different items we have stowed until a thought bubble rose to the surface of my brain along with an unspoken ‘dang it’. I have the perfect tool: my carefully stowed eyeliner brush.

Well, I kept mum until mentally I had exhausted all of the other possibilities, and then offered up my lovely make-up tool. At least I knew future raccoon eyes would remind me it was for a good cause.

Now back to the wall Max began his masterpiece (and, my serious hat on–I’m not kidding, it is!)

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Then, my turn; and, as I tried ever so paint-stakingly (I know, yuck-yuck pun) to outline the letters (alas, with my good eyeliner brush),

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my smart husband did the smart husbandy thing again (he’s quite wonderful, even if I do say so myself) and let me fust around until finally I, the non-painter, turned to him and said, ‘I think you may be able to do a better job’. And, my smart husband took the brush and smartly finished it off, but only after he assured me my work was fine. Did I say he was smart?

Our friend, Tricia, stopped by on her way to the market and took a photo (if you notice, he’s holding a brush; I’m holding a screwdriver) documenting the progress-to-date

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After two hours of this (most of my time spent looking, thank god) we stepped back and admired the final work

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Since it’s a wonderful activity to do while people of all nationalities are strolling about (we met vacationeers from Germany, Holland, Portugal, Netherlands), we asked a young man to snap a photo of the artist and helper

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Now, when we stroll by on the way to the marina bar cafe and back, we’re always casting our eyes port (to cafe) and starboard (from cafe) to this sign of Juanona. We’ll be remembering both of her sails to these islands along with crew members Chris (2002) and Dick (2014).

And, as I passed by it most recently on my way to take a shower, I did notice my “M” was a wee bit wide. Yet, somehow I knew if my husband thought the same, he would just say how wonderful our painting looked and keep us gently strolling by. Oh, what a smart (and lovely) husbandy thing to do.

I’ve created a monster: PART ONE

That’s what, I fear, I’ve done due to a combination of Max operating the GoPro camera and my insistence on christening certain events (mid-passage, Gail’s arrival, newly met friends aboard…) dancing to “Happy”. So, I’ve created a monster and it’s moi!

But, more of that later if you’re not offended by middle-agers prancing about in very small spaces.

Anyhoo, let me share with you some highlights of our recent time with Gail and Ricardo these past few days. As you may know it all began with her arrival in Horta where Ricardo met her at the airport (If you’ve got eagle eyes and her husband did for he took the photo, she’s third from the left in the back row of deplaning passengers).


A bit easier to spot with this one:


A few days later we’re off to explore Faial in a car rental. Fortunately all of us don’t mind taking detours because the first ten minutes showed us the one and only highway around this island doesn’t necessarily mean one doesn’t get lost. And, so we did, rather quickly, I might add, due to my back-seat navigation. I gave it up with happiness to Ricardo who managed to do a much better job.

We were also looking for an industrial hardware store (quell surpris). Our last stop asking for directions, I hopped out of the car with the scribbled store name to ask this young man working in his yard.

That part was fine. What wasn’t so good was he had a dog behind a fence that looked like it could crack concrete with its jaw and proceeded to show me those said jaws. Swallowing and trying not to show fear (more like terror), I cautiously approached, the man kindly came to the fence and with a smile and lovely accented english pointed me/us in the right direction. Unfortunately, the staff weren’t too helpful but now we knew where to direct any other non-Faialian to this shop (we think).

Our second stop was some natural park off to the right. They had landscaped a small picnic area with tables and stools for those much younger than I

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amidst ferns that were trees (Timothy Vail, your expertise, like your wife’s geological knowledge, is sorely needed)

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I should have asked Gail to stand in front of this so you could get an idea of just how big this fern was–at least 5′ tall–or travel with my pencil.

Not quite believing this was REALLY a fern, I stepped closer and, sure enough, there were the tell-tale signs

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The park also had an enclosure with deer, which we thought interesting but also a good thing they weren’t running wild (and, they think bunnies are bad…)

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and, plenty of perfect spots for portraiture

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In addition to the natural landscaped flora and fauna area there was an actual house set up as an example of a traditional rural one.

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Touring the small backyard we found, to us, a unique outbuilding labeled “Poco”. It could either have been a cistern or a Roman bath. The guys liked the first idea, Gail and I were all for the latter.

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It was interesting, but what we all really wished we had snapped a pic of was the sign with its hours for visiting: 11a-noon, closed for lunch, opening again 1-2p.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few groundskeepers but no one to answer any questions about anything other than where to use the loo, which I did. And, let me tell you, it was beautiful!

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I took a video of it for it was truly one of the loveliest public park restrooms I’d ever seen, which I ALMOST posted here much to Max’s fear.

Next stop was a site Max, Chris and I had visited in 2002: the lighthouse on the NW corner of this island. In September 1957 a volcanic eruption, along with associated earthquakes, occurred. Activity finally subsided by October 1958. By then a small village had been buried, a new headland over 300 ft had been added, and approximately 15,000 people had emigrated to the US (hence direct flights from Boston to the Azores).

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[fyi: I don’t know the people in the photo; but, I do know they didn’t fall off in spite of the guy sitting on the edge of the cliff, which, for me a fearer of heights, would be a nightmare and engender a trip to the loo.)

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The new visitor’s center was stunning, especially the concept of having it mostly buried into the remnants of the eruption.

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Inside we partook of some libations to fortify ourselves for the next round of sight-seeing.

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Exiting the center I couldn’t help but take some quick shots of the fine, silky volcanic soil covering everything on this point of land. For some reason I really love the idea of bringing the outside into my home (for once I’m being serious here so bear with me). Because of this I take photos of designs I think would work well for fabric, something I’ll never end up designing but at least like the thought. Okay, serious hat off, goof hat back on…

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While walking to our car, I spotted a manhole cover and my attention was diverted to a pic for Ellen, my manhole cover diva previously referenced in an earlier blog.

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Finally we’re off in search of the caldera (volcanic crater that is one of the reasons Faial is here) and, what else, more food.

It wasn’t with some relief we were leaving the eruption site for our sailor book on Azores has a paragraph headed with a red-lettered ‘Caution’. It suggests avoiding a certain area (with longitude and latitude coordinates supplied) NE of Faial due to “intense underwater seismological activity”, which had been detected in May 2010 (ATLANTIC ISLANDS, AZORES, MADEIRA GROUP, CANARY ISLANDS AND CAPE VERDES, by Anne Hammick, Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd., 2011, p50).

It also asks anyone to report anything unusual when sailing within that area and provides an address, telephone number and email. And, if you are so stupid, I mean, curious, as to venture within that area, please don’t forget to take photos of your boat being surrounded by spewing lava and pumice torpedoes. That’s if you’re lucky enough that your boat isn’t one of those spewing lava and pumice torpedoes.

So, we begin anew another ‘do you think it’s this road?’ search for the volcano crater sitting in the middle of the island.

We find a cafe along the side and eat our ubiquitous hamburgers and fries, although Gail and I offload the burger from a huge bun and push the fries towards the guys who never seem tired of seeing more of them.

Next, the caldera. But, we do have breaks from looking for road signs because we have Max demonstrating once again his prowess of wall walking

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which he has done before such as in 2003…

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and, more recently in Santa Cruz at Orlando’s case, which you may remember.

We arrived at the almost-top of the caldera after zigzagging up a road watching for descending vehicles, of which there was only one.

The caldera was huge and the wind effect was amazing: stand three feet away from the opening and you could hear yourself talk; stand on the cusp and it was ‘eh? what did you say?’

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On the way down and back to the marina and boat we stopped for photo pops of hydrangea-lined roads (didn’t need pencil as car served for perspective)

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hydrangea-walled fields

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more hydrangea-lined streets (with Pico in background)

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and, did I tell you we saw hydrangea?

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(sorry, couldn’t resist…)

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Okay, that’s it. I truly promise although I will still be taking photos of these as I truly can’t resist (obviously).

Another highlight during this past week was eating at this restaurant our friends Katie Wilkinson and Peter Stoops, both frequent visitors to these islands, suggested. It’s Canto da Doca, which serves its meals on hot stones on which you place your order and cook-to-order. It was EXCELLENT, and, as a review said, you can never complain to the chef…

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and, as is usual, the best part was butting into our neighboring table to converse, resulting in introducing ourselves to Edurado and Carla,

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both of whom quickly became an addition to our time in Horta. Don’t tell me you’re surprised.

We invited them to stop by the next day as neither had been below on a sailboat (had to tidy up a bit).

They arrived bringing even more wine (only the difference being Eduardo actually knew what kind to get), and it was, yes, another opportunity to dance to “Happy”. The night ended with invites to Portugal where they both live.

(am trying to find the pics I took and the GoPro video of, what else, dancing to “Happy”)

But, one of the best topics of conversation, at least for Gail and me, was the REASON they were in the Azores… it was yet another time Eduardo had surprised Carla (her birthday is coming up) with a trip where she only knew what clothes to pack. My friend Carol Williams had that happen to her for her anniversary just last month. Hmmm…. Max and Ricardo, are you picking up any hints? Of course, for me, I AM on one of those trips.

And, I am promised a land room with a TUB so blob blogger sailor girl can take a TUBBY. Cause for celebration! And, best yet, I have witnesses of this, Ricardo and Gail :)

[End of PART ONE with PART TWO soon to appear…]

Oh what a lovely view

Some might believe I’m talking about a spectacular view standing amidst exotic scenery, anything but a boat part. Yet, for my husband and crew member Ricardo (name changed from Dick once we hit the Azores) that’s exactly what those thingy-magigees on the mast are: a lovely view.

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I must admit they have spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to make a very serious repair to our mainsail mechanism thanks to Peter Stoops who had faced the exact same problem on the same passage 11 years ago.

He said I know what you need-a banding tool. Peter then contacted Tom Woodruff, owner of said banding tool, who kindly lent it and gave it to Peter who gave it to Doug Woodbury who gave it to wife Judy who handed it off to Gail (sherpa) who traveled to Horta who then reverently presented it to Max and Ricardo. Thusly, our boom shall never apart from our mast shall be (hopefully).

How this all transpired was Max noticed some bolts loosening around our mast roughly two days out from Flores (June 17). Now, I’m not too much of a sailor but even I, blob blogger sailor girl, realized that can’t be too good. Sure enough in a closer inspection Max said uh-oh.

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Actually he uttered something much more elegant and descriptive. Translated: the boom is becoming unattached from the mast. He and Dick (soon-to-be Ricardo) quickly relieved the pressure. We now had a broken wing on Juanona.

Doing research Max discovered this same sinful condition had occurred to fellow sailors, and a discussion of just what the heck to do was begun via the dial-up modem feature of the satellite phone.

A solution was found, a plan put into place, and Max and fellow sailors proceeded to coordinate a repair from Maine to Azores while continuing our passage to Flores under motor and sometimes jib sail.

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When we arrived in Horta from Faja Grande Max sought out someone to do drill the fittings on the existing gooseneck plate and boom vang plate (I’m ever so slowly learning the correct terminology) to fit the larger bolts being sherpa’ed over.

The boom now was placed ever-so-gently on deck in anticipation of being re-connected.

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With the arrival of Gail and the sacred tool and bolts (specially cut by a boatyard owner friend of hers) the actual repairs were put in place over several days

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resulting in a boom that won’t go boom in the night (sorry, pad pun, I know).

And, even I, blob blogger sailor girl, have to say, it is quite a lovely view.

Yahoo! Gail is here!

She arrived with tales of her adventure with Johnny from Sao Miguel (gave her a tour of the island during a 10 hour layover) and we are so very happy to have her here. Our Horta crew is complete and we’re celebrating with some excellent vino from friends Kym and Paul (we may need to send this bottle out to sea with a note like we did with Andrea’s).

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Now, off to spend some time with another female outlook. (And, yes, she did use her napkin last night like I did.)