Sao Jorge
Click on chart to view at full resolutionOn Wednesday, August 3 we departed Horta and headed for the nearby island of Sao Jorge.  We planned to island hop across the Azores to our final island of Sao Miguel before departing for Lisbon.  After Sao Jorge we planned to head north to Graciosa then SE to Terceira and then finally SE to Sao Miguel.  We had almost three weeks to cruise the Azores before meeting Steve Angst in Ponta Delgado for the next off shore leg of the cruise.  Therefore we had plenty of time to visit each of the islands on the way.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThere are only two ports on Sao Jorge, at Calheeta and at Velas (which means sails) shown on the left.  Velas is the only one with a protected yacht harbor so we motored the 22 nm from Horta to Velas on a sunny but windless day.

Like most port towns in the Azores, Velas is built on the side of the hills leading down to the shore.  Also like most of these ports, it is not a natural harbor and can only provide reasonable protection from the seas because a long mole or breakwater was built out of stone and concrete along the eastern side of the bay.

Click on picture to view at full resolutionThis is a view of the anchorage at Velas taken from the town.  As you can see, the hills provide protection from the west and north.  The mole (out of the picture, not the small jetty in the center) provides protection from the east, but the harbor is open to the south.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionVelas is a very small anchorage, much of the harbor area must be left open for the ferries and container ships that frequent the port.  In order to provide space for the maximum number of yachts to visit at one time, the town put in free moorings.  On the left Sarah is riding on one of those moorings. 

This might have been a pleasant visit for us, except the anchorage turned out to be very uncomfortable.  The high hills on two sides, plus the restricted size of the harbor caused the wind and current to swirl in the anchorage.  This picture is of one of the few times most of the boats were all pointing in the same direction.  Even though there was only a slight sea running in the harbor, much of the time Sarah was riding abeam to those seas, which caused a lot of rolling.  Enough rolling to make sleep difficult and cooking a challenge.

Although Sao Jorge is said to be extremely beautiful, the harbor at Velas is far from picturesque and it was very busy with container ships and ferries in the two days we were there.

Click on picture to view at full resolutionSo, in spite of the hospitality of the town in putting down the moorings, we left Velas after only two (sleepless) nights.  We figured the harbor at Graciosa would be no more comfortable than Velas and decided to bypass that island and head directly for Terceira where we would take a berth in one of the two new marinas on that island.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionWhile there was a slight breeze on our departure, it was directly out of the east, the direction we were heading, so we motored down the Sao Jorge shoreline.
While motoring along Sao Jorge, we saw that is was truly a beautiful island with high cliffs, deep crevasse or fissures, and spectacular waterfalls.  The pictures below show some of those views as we passed just off shore. Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe town of Calheeta is the only other port on Sao Jorge, but not nearly as protected even as Velas.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionI assume these crevasse were formed by earthquakes after the island was formed.
Many of the crevasse contain rivers that turn into spectacular waterfalls when they reach the shore. Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolution