This blog is now two islands behind but I’m working to catch up. The islands are addictive, though the Azores are not perfect.
Right now we are anchored in off of Graciosa the second smallest island in the Azores. There is a very small marina, almost full of the local fishing boats, but we don’t want to stay in marinas anyway. The anchorage was rolly when we arrived on Friday, but nothing we didn’t see in Prickly Bay, Grenada. Unfortunately this is the summer of “unsettled weather” as one European sailor said. Two of this island’s major attractions are small mountaintops and the views from them. We have west winds and low clouds; there are no views.
We also are having trouble with the outboard. We stayed in Angra in order for a highly recommended company to fix it; had to wait for parts, the highly recommended owner went on vacation; and the mice played. The motor was returned with the new part, but not fixed. EW almost blew a gasket. A different employee solved that problem, admirably.
Unfortunately he also didn’t check everything. We got to Graciosa, hunkered down for the night, and took the dinghy ashore on Saturday to check in and wander the town. When we returned to the dinghy it wouldn’t start. So I rowed. (EW’s right elbow is bothering him so I try to do some of the things that inflame it – like rowing. And I like to row the dinghy, when the motor is up and I’m alone. With a load in it, this inflatable sucker rows like an old iron tub.) Once I rounded the break wall, I was rowing into the wind and the current was pushing me beyond La Luna. That is not a good thing.
Ultimately two small pleasure boats came to our rescue and the first to arrived towed us to La Luna. The next morning, EW worked to see whether he could find the problem. He found the symptom: the spark plugs get gooped up after 15 to 20 minutes of use. He now has all 6 plugs available out and cleans them after each use. We take tools in to shore so he can change the plugs and clean things up, and he must repeat the cycle after every ride. I’ll not be taking the dinghy alone until it’s really fixed, but we’ll get to see Graciosa – that’s the main thing.
On our Saturday visit, we stopped by a little café and ordered “cheese toast” their translation for a grilled cheese sandwich. These were made with the local cheese – every island seems to have their own, all different and all delicious. There was a gentleman alone at the table next to us and a couple came and sat on his other side. We assumed they were Portuguese and gave everyone a cheery “Boa Tarde.” They smiled, replied in kind, and greeted each other in English.
Not just English but clearly New England accented English! You know I jumped in! Eddie now lives in California, but his family emigrated to Massachusetts when he was eight. He drops his “r’s” with the rest of us. Al and Olga are from the Lowell area. Al was born here, too. We all chatted about New England, accents, the Azores, and their families until Al and Olga had to leave. On their way out, they paid our lunch tab to welcome us to the island. Sweet!
We stayed and chatted with Eddie, who is a hoot. He now lives in California and is a retired construction worker. He and his two adult sons are fixing up a property he bought here on the island. When we had wandered one end of the town before lunch, I had been a bit dismayed to see so many “for sale” signs on run-down structures, and thought that this island my be having tougher times than the others. Eddie told us that the tough times were in the 70’s and 80’s when the Portuguese dictator wouldn’t allow people to leave and there were 15000 residents here. Now there are just over 5000 and according to Eddie, “If you want to make money, there is opportunity here. Folks do OK.”
He gave us directions to the restaurant with the best fish stew, a Graciosa specialty. After lunch we wandered the town, rowed to the boat, was rescued, and spent the evening marveling at the Azores once again.
These islands aren’t perfect, but they are magic.
At right, stairway art next to stairs to the top of the break wall in the marina. How cool is that?
Below, La Luna at anchor. That sunset the first night was off our stern.
AND the best thing about this anchorage? I have the WIFI antenna up and I’m on line on the boat. I love Graciosa!