Sao Miguel
Click on chart ot view at full resolutionOn Wednesday, August 17 we finally departed Angra for Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island.  This would be our final stop before heading to the continent.

Angra had been by far our most pleasant stop in the Azores.  Flores is more beautiful and rugged, Horta the most exotic and had the best facilities, but Angra combined beauty and comfort to top them both.

We had no illusions that Ponta Delgada would make the top of the list.  It is the primary tourist destination in the islands, and we expected to find high-rise hotels and high prices.  We were not disappointed in that regard, but discovered that Sao Miguel also had its attractions.

The trip from Angra to Ponta Delgada is a straight line of about 90 nm.  We departed around 15:00 in a light NE breeze.  We were able to sail for less than hour before the breeze died and the motor came on.  We motored the remainder of the distance in almost calm conditions with a slight ocean swell.

The most interesting part of the trip was passing close by the Banc D. Joao de Castro, a sea mount that rises from the sea bed over 2,000 meters to a depth of only 7 meters at mean low tide.  We were told that local divers sometime anchor their boats on the mount and spear fish the bank.  We passed within 2 nm of the bank in the middle of the night and could see one fishing boat on the bank.  You can see the depth contours of this sea mount by double clicking on the chart above to view it at full resolution.

Click on picture to view at full resolutionBy dawn the next day we were motoring along the southern coast of Sao Miguel, heading for the port of Ponta Delgada.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionPonta Delgada is one of the best protected ports in the Azores with a long mole extending the length of the entire water front.  Behind the mole is the Ponta Delgada Marinha, our destination.
Once we checked in with the Guardia and registered with the marina we were directed to raft off another boat at the end of B dock.  As luck would have it that boat was Ketch Ya Later our friends and fellow Pearson 424 owners from Maryland.

Click on picture to view at full resolution

Click on picture to view at full resolution

Photo by Mike Repass 

Steve Angst arrived the night of Aug 21, so our crew was complete for the sail to Lisboa.  However the winds were blowing 15 knots out of the east on Sao Miguel and blowing gale force off the Portuguese coast.  So we decided to stay in port for a few more days.  Mike rented a car and we took a several quick tours of this large island.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionDirectly north of Ponta Delgada and on the other side of the island is the village of Ribiera Grande.  By Azores standards this is a "grande" river.  The town appears to be a combination of a suburb of Ponta Delgada and a resort community for many Europeans seeking homes with ocean views.  We looked at the home prices in the window of a Ponta Delgada Real Estate agency and there are no bargains here.  €1M buys a home about the size and quality of a $400K home in the Greater Washington, DC area (not a cheap market).  Of course you can't buy an ocean view in DC at any price.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionFrom Ribiera Grande we drove to Furnas for lunch.  This town is located in the Caldiera (crater) of an old volcano.  While the volcano is no longer active the area is covered with active geysers and hot mud pits.   
These geysers are the basis for the distinctive dish of Furnas, Cozida das Furnas.  This a stew of mixed meats cooked in a pit dug into the ground above a geyser.

We stopped for lunch in Furnas and were tempted to try the Cozida.  We asked the waiter if he would recommend their Cozida das Furnas.  He was less than enthusiastic.  Some of the tourist guides for Sao Miguel describe this dish as an acquired taste.  Apparently it takes on more than a little of a sulfur-taste and aroma from the geysers.  Our waiter had lived all his life in Sao Miguel and did not appear to have acquired the taste.  It was unlikely we would acquire one that afternoon, we ordered steak.

Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolutionSete Cidades is a small village on the west end of Sao Miguel, located in the base of a large caldeira on the shores of Lagoa (Lake) Azul.  Below Lagoa Azul is the smaller Lagoa Verde.


Click on picture to view at full resolutionLagoa Azul may be blue on certain days, but this was not one of them.  It certainly looked green to us, but it was not as green as Lagoa Verde so I guess the names make some sense.


Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe village of Sete Cidades has a dramatic and picturesque setting, but little else.  We looked for a restaurant for lunch, but found none that interested us and moved on.


Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn of the economic successes of the Azores has been the development of their fruit agriculture, in particular the growing and exporting of Ananas (Pineapples).  Just outside of Ponta Delgada are a number of Ananas Plantations, one of which in the town of Faja de Baixo has been set up for the general public to tour. 


The Ananas are grown in greenhouses Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolution
After a week in Ponta Delgada, the gales off Portugal and the easterly winds between there and Sao Miguel had abated enough for us to depart for the Lisboa and the mainland of Portugal.