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.

What we pulled up in Horta!
Horta’s treasure! An old carpet, a few hooks, and a ton of leader-line

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.

Storm day...
…another writing day

We did everything we wanted to do in Horta, like hiking, writing, provisioning, and repairs, so the next obvious thing was to sail away.

Sailing into Sao Jorge canal
Sailing away from Faial

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.

Velas off the port bow
The town of Velas from the Canal do São Jorge, between Ilha do Pico and São Jorge

S/V SN-E Cetacea performed like a dream and we had the hook down long before the day was done.

Dena at home!
Captain Dena Hankins at home, anchored off Ilha do São Jorge

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 of California. She grew up hearing about the epic adventure so seeing the ghostly island of São Jorge from Faial was almost excruciating for her from across the canal.

Getting into the harbor at Velas completed a goal I (Dena) have had since James introduced me to the very idea of sailing back in Seattle circa 1998. We have been on a few boats since then and on many bodies of water, but it completes a cycle to have sailed our electric vessel across the Atlantic flow of the world ocean to these tiny islands in the middle of fucking nowhere.

Pico from Sao Jorge
Our Pico

We took in the town from the harbor for a few days. We’d arrived to late to check in on Friday, but a few days at anchor in a protected spot is a good time.

Velas, Sao Jorge, Azores, Portugal
The sun both sets and rises behind volcanic hills.

We had plenty of food. The harbor is wide open and good for making water.

Sao Jorge Light
The freighter Sao Jorge in Sao Jorge

Then there’s the self-reflective shot we can’t get without leaving the boat. We’ve gotten…I don’t know…hundreds of pictures, easily, of our boats looking gorgeous in amazing places. This, though, is one for the ages. Right up there with S/V Sovereign Nation in the anchorage off Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA.

S/VSN-E Cetacea hook down
The cliffs are home to Corey’s Shearwaters and other loud-ass birds.

Our first walk was modest and took us to the top of the marina wall. I (Dena) am always thrilled at how James sees me but, I have to admit with no false modesty, I felt just as epic and heroic and on top of the world as I look in this shot.

Captain Dena Hankins at home in Sao Jorge
…she is at home

This life is huge. We throw ourselves into the world and move along with its energies. We put up fabric and ride the wind; we put up solar panels and ride the sun. We do all this and more because we’re drawn to the questions and the answers, the states of uncertainty and the moments when we actually know something. Anything. Real.

And then we do laundry.

Using all the tools at hand
…and laugh!

One comment

  1. My heart! Y’all make me want to sing. BEAMING

    You launched yourself into space to seek a deeper sense of home. A pinnacle day in a lifetime of them. The reunion looks profound. So much visioning, labor, plotting, years and years in the coming. I hope you are high on fulfillment and pride.

    These are now my very favorite photos in this whole Captains’ Log.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.