The Azores Cruise

31 May 2017

The Azores Cruise covers the two middle weeks of the rally.  Located 850NM off the Portuguese coast this archipelago is not somewhere easily sailed to and their green, unspoilt beauty is a welcome landfall. The ARC Europe fleet sails this edition to three of the nine islands: Faial, Terceira and São Miguel, with the opportunity to visit Pico and S. Jorge by ferry. Each island is very different to the next and it is great to explore these islands rather than see it as just a re-fueling stop part way across the Atlantic.

On arrival in Horta on the island of Faial, plenty of sailors are more than ready to be ashore and head straight for Peter’s Café Sport to celebrate! The tradition of ocean sailing is alive and well in the pretty town and each year sailors add to the colourful harbour wall as it is considered bad luck to leave without first having painted your boat mural. A tour of the island takes in sights such as the ’Ponta dos Capelinhos’, site of the most recent volcanic eruption in 1957, and the ‘Caldeira’ an enormous crater at the top of the island.

Looming on the horizon across from Horta’s marina, Pico’s summit at 2,351m offers incredible views for those adventurous enough to join a guide for the climb. Offering a more sedate excursion, the vineyards, cheese factories and whaling museums make the 30 minutes by ferry ride across to Pico more than worthwhile.

The next stop is Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, a day sail from Horta. Crews can enjoy a guided walking tour around the UNESCO World Heritage listed city, shopping at the many boutique stores and a chance to see one of the traditional street bull running in a nearby village.

An overnight sail takes you to Ponta Delgada in S. Miguel, the bustling capital of the Azores. With a population of 50,000 it’s often the first city visited by participants in a while, all the trappings of which are a short walk from the marina. From here the majority of boats elect to sail to Marina de Lagos, perfectly situated and with ample facilities to prepare for a summer of Mediterranean cruising. A number of boats will sail straight to their home ports across Northern Europe, to the UK or into the Baltic Sea.