Azores – Terceira & Graciosa
We spent more time on Terceira than any of the other islands in the Azores. This island is the second largest with two major towns and the second largest population in the Azores.
|Starlet at anchor in Angra do Heroismo|
After an easy 52 nm run from Sao Jorge, we anchored in the harbor off the beach at Angra do Heroismo. This quickly became our favorite town in the Azores with busy cafés & shops and stunning views overlooking the harbor. Angra means cove in Portuguese; the town is built in the valley above the natural harbor created by the “tuft cone” of Monte Brasil projecting out from the main island.
|The beach in Angra|
We stumbled on a huge farmers market with good prices and high quality fruit and vegetables. Next door there was a very clean meat market - we stocked up for the first time since leaving the States. The fish market had all kinds of fish including whole octopus and moray eels.
Overlooking the town, the Outeiro da Memoria has a pyramid erected to honor King Pedro IV’s visit to Terceira during the constitutional revolt of the mid 19th century. From the memorial, a beautiful park follows the hillside down into the town.
Praia da Vitoria - August 4 to 6, 2012
|Overview of Angra|
Praia da Vitoria - August 4 to 6, 2012
Starlet made the quick two hour run east from Angra to the second town on Terceira, Praia da Vitoria. Sited on a natural cove, breakwaters were installed during WWII to create a large harbor to service the US air base nearby. Praia has become the party town in the Azores with vacationers drawn to the large beach.After Rhett Barker arrived from Lisbon for a 9 day visit, we headed to an open house at the Lajes Air Force Base. Jennifer’s father was assigned here in 1951 during the Korean War. He had a cushy job - education coordinator for the troops.
|Well behaved oxen|
A festival parade featured locals dressed in traditional clothing from several eras. They brought along ox carts, cows, a hog and two donkeys. One group staged a picnic and dancing - both Rhett and Mark were invited to dance in the streets.
Angra do Heroismo – August 7 to 10, 2012
We ran back to Angra to give Rhett a chance to see this city. Rhett is traveling before starting at the University of Florida this fall. He spent a week in Portugal before joining Starlet. In Angra on a hike to Monte Brasil, we saw the Castle of Sao Filipe. Built by the Spanish to protect ships returning from the New World, it includes 4 km of walls and gun placements ringing the bluffs.
|Don't mind us...|
Furnas do Enxofre is an area of fumaroles venting volcanic gasses. The Gruta do Natal is another cave system with hundreds of meters of passages winding through various structures created by lava flow.
Graciosa – August 11 & 12, 2012
The next day we found a cab to take us up to the calderia of
the main volcano. If you look in the dictionary for calderia, there should be a
picture of this place! A tunnel penetrates the sheer calderia wall providing
access into the 1 km x 1 ½ km bowl. A cavern in the middle is accessed by a
winding stairway leading down 100 m.
With Rhett on board, we made a side trip to Graciosa, a smaller and less populated island about 40 nm NW of Terceira. We anchored in the main harbor at Sao Mateus, and took off with the dogs to explore the quiet village.
|Below the opening|
It opens up into a 130 m diameter room with an 80 m high dome ceiling - the most impressive cave we visited in the Azores.
The same taxi picked us up and drove us down to the main town, Santa Cruz. A large town square was being prepped for the procession at the end of their festival. This involved creating a walkway of multicolored wood chips and petals.
Terceira – August 13 to 20, 2012
We made the 52 nm run back to Praia da Vitoria on Terceira in time for a final dinner out with Rhett. After he flew out on the 14th we ran Starlet back to Angra, the place Jennifer wanted to celebrate her birthday. Shopping, a mani/pedi – this town met the requirements! Before heading out for a birthday dinner, we had an impromptu gathering on Starlet with Bob and Janice from Tsamaya plus new friends Jim and Carole from Nepenthe. Those two are easing their way north through the Atlantic after spending 13 years going west from the US through the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Africa.
|At anchor in Praia and ready for Gordon|
We dropped the hook in 25 feet of water and 300+ feet from any other boat. Mark dove on the bottom and found the Rocna anchor nicely buried in firm sand. We had a day and a half for the storm to approach – so we went exploring!
Not a grain of sand anywhere. The seas were very rough but rings of boulders break the waves and form channels for swimmers. After lunch by the swimming rocks, we visited the local wine museum.
Gordon ended up no big deal! The eye passed right over Santa Maria, coming at closest 120 nm from us. We felt some swell in the harbor but saw at most 25 kt winds. No major losses in the other islands. On the 21st, a day and a half after Gordon passed, Starlet left for the overnight run to Sao Miguel.
Photo album links:
Angra do Heroismo
Praia da Vitoria
Lajes Air Force Base
View Starlet in the Azores in a larger map