Ancestral Azores

We woke up early to sail from Faial to São Jorge because we had no idea what it would take to get that hook off the bottom. It was a good thing too! We’d been warned by the guides that there was shit to pick up, but the most dramatic stories involved chain and home-welded grapnel anchors. It didn’t take Dena much longer to weigh anchor, she just got a whole lot of funky garbage up with the chain this time. We’d been in Horta for what seemed like a really long time. I (James) don’t mean years, I mean weeks. After the 29 days crossing from Bermuda to the Azores, any time spent in any one place seemed like a very long time. We did everything we wanted to do in Horta, like hiking, writing, provisioning, and repairs, so the next obvious thing was to sail away. We had another incredible adventure between the islands of Faial and São Jorge! It was only 22 nautical miles but we were on a hard beat in 15 to 20 knots of wind with a double-reefed main and the staysail for about six hours. Finally, we were able to veer off to a close reach and take that all the way into the protected harbor of Velas. S/V SN-E Cetacea performed like a dream and we had the hook down long before the day was done. This was the big one, folks! We’ve been pointing the boat at the Azores and specifically São Jorge for about a decade now so, when we sailed into this harbor, we had some emotional gravity in our wake. Dena’s maternal family came from São Jorge by ship in the early 20th century then crossed the North American continent by thumb and train to the Central Valley[…]

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Enjoying Horta

I (Dena) just folded a long grocery store receipt and had one of those thrilling moments that is so very prosaic when it comes down to it. The receipt is in Portuguese. To figure out what it says, I have to apply my understanding of Romance languages (though English is not exclusively, well…that’s a long side conversation…and my grasp of Spanish is significantly un-fluent but definitely helping) for terms like alho (garlic) and queijo (cheese) and frita (fried). But then, there’s all the rest. I love this moment, this way of being, this foreignness as a comprehensible puzzle. This level of engagement with people and places and, yes, even receipts. I thought about avoiding the most highly trafficked sailor’s destination, in the mindset that we’re least likely to meet interesting locals there, but the family that created and runs it shares my maternal family name, Azevedo, so we went to Peter’s Sport Cafe, had a couple of the famous (and cheap) Gin do Mars, and ate a stunningly meaty grilled tuna steak that balanced on the edge of enjoyment for these two mainly-not-meat-eaters before tumbling decisively onto the side of relishing the flavor and appetite-fulfillment. The roasted sweet potatoes were also surprisingly pleasurable and there was almost enough sauce for these sauce-hounds. We took our first walks somewhat cautiously since Bermuda proved that atrophy at sea was a thing. Now, I don’t want to spend too much time talking/complaining about this part. Look for a Boat Projects post about how it all went. It all started with a rich fuck who fucked up, though, and ended with us being forced to raft on the marina wall through a contrary wind that eventually tore a section of our teak caprail apart. But…the beauty. From Horta’s harbor, the ever-changing, constantly engaging scenery[…]

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