DAY 23 or thereabouts – Friday 5th September

So after two and a half days on land, we’re all at sea again waving goodbye to the lovely Faial, determinedly trying to find our sea legs while we watch the lumps of land grow ever smaller…
We all said that we’ll be back to the Azores as soon as we possibly can be, walking, boating, fishing and generally relaxing with the very friendly, helpful, patient and laidback islanders. Faial was very pretty and pleasant – very rural and quiet, covered in little cafes and stunning scenery at every turn. Much of the landscape is covered with hydrangea bushes and magnolia trees, along with a whole range of other very colourful and fragrant plants – like a dense garden spilling out across the hills.

Sherwood and Norman left our mark in Horta with a new addition to the brightly painted pontoon (visiting boats decorate the walls and jetty with their own painted designs – EVERYWHERE!!) This artwork was started from the moment we arrived as everything had to be done in stages – base coat x2, pictures/text x2 and a final touch-up where a gull had left an impression of their backside on the wet paint (or the signature from a delivery truck’s tyre, depending on who you ask!) People made the very best of their short stay in Horta with adventures all over the archipelago; walking up to the caldera, or hiring cars, mopeds, and taxis for a more in-depth tour. Most of the crew visited the many volcanoes, from the very ancient ones to the newly-created land at Capelinhos which caused great devastation during its formation (massive hills of volcanic ash buried houses and farmland over 13 months of 1957-8; 25,000 people fled the island – 35% of the population never returned). Swimming was very popular in the delightfully warm water in the bays around harbour – half a dozen even took the opportunity to take a boat to sea to swim with dolphins for the afternoon.

Everyone took advantage of the many eateries, the much-needed proper coffee and access to wifi; some of us sought out the best of the bars and enjoyed as many of the establishments on offer as possible. Many of us didn’t want to leave!

This morning we had another birthday on board, Anne gained another metaphorical wrinkle and we had, guess what, chocolate cake, whoopee.

We’re all working on our facial hair (except the girls), topping up our tans and wishing the next dhobi day (laundry) would hurry up, whilst also excitedly looking forward to receiving the promised free PR T-shirts from our sponsors Norton Rose Fulbright upon arrival in London!

Stop press:
During a recent night watch it was discovered that two members of the watch shared the same birthdate. Bill and Rob, despite being several generations apart, wish to announce their rebirth as The Terrible Twins, Castro and Pollox. All watch lists should be amended to mark this auspicious occasion and akin to Samson; we fear Castro will go from strength to strength as his moustache takes an ever more dominant role amongst the watches facial furniture.

We all look forward to the sails being set and a favourable wind for England, Captain Chris, aka Neptune, if you can summon up hurricanes at the snap of your fingers, it’s up to you….. We’re heading due North from the Azores today into a big Northerly swell under motor – soon it is hoped that we shall turn Eastwards with the wind behind us towards Portugal – 1200 miles to go!

Love to all from Forward Starboard, watch leader/today’s galley rat, Bill (sorry, Castro) et al.