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Flores, Azores: Everything is green!

Flores, Azores: Everything is green!

Our first destination after our west-to-east Atlantic crossing was Flores, Azores.

Flores, the easternmost island of the Azores archipelago, is a captivating destination known for its stunning natural beauty. With lush valleys, dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and secluded beaches

In 2019 the Port of Lajes das Flores was partially destroyed by Hurricane Lorenzo, and efforts to rebuild are still underway. A result of this means that the harbor was not fully protected by a breakwater, and inside the harbor, there are only minimal pontoons for use. You can find some images of the destruction and plan for the future in this article.

Escapade and Saga, 2 Dutch boats we know, were already moored in the harbor and had the situation all figured out. We were not able to moor in the main body of the harbor, but were able to use the inside quay wall and also optionally the outside quay wall. Anchoring was also an option, but we really wanted to be moored!

We started off rafted up in 4 columns, and over the next few days, 3 of these rafts would be 3 boats deep, with the outermost raft being 2 deep. So 11 boats on the inside harbor quay wall. Upon leaving there were 2 boats also rafted on the quay wall next to the anchorage, and 3 more boats in the anchorage itself.

The harbor master is lovely, and after a few days of being on the quay wall, we were informed that a new rule would be in place for future boats visiting, where they would only be able to stay on the quay wall for 48 hours before needing to move on. The quay wall is high, so expect to used your dinghy to get to the ladders!

Step one for us being back on land, food (that we didn’t have to cook), and bed (that isn’t rocking around or leaning over)!

We tidied the boat, did laundry (5EUR wash and 5EUR dry), and had a lovely free warm shower.

Boats we knew continued to arrive the day after us, bringing the full list to include us, Blue Note, Extress, Saga, Escapade and Atlas.

Walking up the hill to the small supermarket we got a little taste of what the other Azorean islands were likely to look like. Rather beautiful.

Unfortunately, as we spent our first days exploring the area around the harbor, the weather forecast looked like it was going to turn and push a large low-pressure system over right over the Azores, and sending swell straight toward and probably into the Flores harbor.

Most of us decided that we wanted to leave the harbor before this weather in a few day’s time, so started planning a departure, but also a quick tour and hike around some of the most beautiful nearby locations.

We found a tour and taxi number on the wall which lead us to Sílvio Medina who is easily contactable via WhatsApp, Email, Telephone etc. After some negotiations for hike length and pickup time our Friday plan had formed. Starting with an early morning boat shuffle as some people in the rafts wanted to leave, followed by a 9:30 am pickup, driving tour of the 4 large lakes, hike to a waterfall, and back down to a town for pickup. And then, head off to the other islands overnight.

Firstly from Miradouro Lagoas Rasa e Funda we could see Lagoa Funda das Lajes and Lagoa Rasa, two lakes that are at dramatically different heights.

Next, we had another 2 large lakes, right next to each other. These were Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Comprida which are very different depths and also very different colors!

We were dropped in a car park where we could both start our main hike down into Fajã Grande, but first, hike up to a waterfall called Poço Ribeira do Ferreiro (Alagoinha). There was a beautifully maintained path to the fall, and a large still lake just beneath it.

The hike then took us through some of the greenest lands we have seen since being in the mountains of Santo Antão in Cape Verde. So many green fields, cows, European wildlife, water, and high green cliffs.

We continued down toward Fajã Grande, where we could see one boat at anchor and another that was just leaving to avoid some swell.

Just before reaching the town we stopped at one final waterfall.

Overwhelmed with our first “long” walk of the month, we headed into town to our pickup point for a burger and drink right next to the ocean.

We stopped in at the shop again on the way to the harbor, picking up some frozen pizzas for our night sail, and arrived back at the harbor at around 3pm and started getting ready to leave. We topped up our water tanks with a few jerry cans full of water, had a final on-land shower, and cast our lines to start heading on to the other islands.

After 30 minutes the lines and fenders were stowed, pizzas were in the oven, and the dolphins were back, escorting us on our night motor sail (not much wind at all).

And at the time of writing this, we are roughly 3 hours from our next port of call 🙂

Quick, To Dominica!

Quick, To Dominica!

In the last post, we ended up in Fort du France celebrating some smaller carnival festivities once again. Andrew has left us for a hotel and his flight, and we have another big night of Carnival coming up.

We have created quite a little schedule for ourselves over the coming days as we are on a list to get hauled out of the water on the 23rd of February and the last big day/night of Carnival we want to attend in some way is on the 19th in Fort du France.

Between the 19th and 23rd we need to:

  • 19th Attend Carnival
  • Sail to Dominica
  • Explore Dominica
  • Sail to Terre-de-Haut to meet Teulu Tribe (another British ketch)
  • Sail to Guadeloupe Marina ready to get hauled out

First job, Carnival!

The parade walked a circuit around the whole of Fort du France, and we mainly watched from a large patch of grass near the dinghy dock, where ours, Extress’s and lots of our other boat friends’ dinghies were tied to.

We had decided to sail to Dominica on the same day as the carnival, well in reality this was just after midnight. So we headed back to the boat after lots of celebration at around 9pm eating some dinner and heading to bed.

Lying asleep in bed we heard some sound outside and went to investigate. Extress had rowed all of the way from the dinghy dock to Hannah to try and steal our boat flag (ensign). They rowed not only to make less noise but also had a broken outboard engine. Unfortunately for them, they made a bit too much noise in the process of stealing it and we heard and were able to keep it! We actually did a lot of flag “swapping” in Sal, Cape Verde but we forgot to write about it… Maybe next time Extress 😉

Midnight rolled around, our alarm went off, we had a little nibble and pulled up anchor.

To our surprise, we pulled up quite a large rock stuck under the rollbar of our Mantus anchor. We actually saw another boat have this problem a few days ago, but with a much larger rock, they basically pulled up half the sea bed!

We managed to get rid of the rock, pull up anchor, and be on our way.

Extress radioed us a few hours later to see how the sail was going and played us a little tune. The night started off calm, and with the main and Genoa out, we were making good progress in the flat seas with Adam on watch and Kathryn sleeping.

When the time came to switch roles, the sun was just rising, the wind picked up and we started coming out of the shelter of the island, so Kathryn had a bit more of an exciting sail, and Adam a bit more of an exciting sleep. Time to reef.

We arrived early afternoon into the same mooring area as Danae who were just one mooring buoy over.

We arrived over a festival weekend so most things had closed for the festivities but we managed to get a local guide to take us on an intense day of hiking with a refreshing dip in a gorge after.

The boiling lake trail is a volcanic hike to a thick grey lake at the top with an intensely boiling centre, supposedly well over 100 degrees in the centre and still over 80 at the edges. The trail leads to a flooded fumarole, a type of volcanic vent that emits steam and gas. The Boiling Lake is the world’s second-largest hot lake and is filled with bubbling greyish-blue water that’s heated by the magma beneath the surface.

The hike was about 15km in total and my phone thinks it was the equivalent of climbing up and down 239 flights of stairs!!

The first part of the hike was through dense rainforest, all the plants were vibrant greens and even some pink-leaved ferns.

After a little while the environment changed to more open mountainous views overlooking both sides of the island before dropping back down to a milky-coloured stream that ran over smooth rocks.

After yet another steep climb up we came out looking at sheer rocky cliffs stained with a rusty brown colour from all the minerals in the volcanic rock

As we descended another stream formed from a spring in the mountainside, as we got closer the smell of rotten eggs was intense from the sulphur bubbling out of the rock. The volcanic activity here causes the water to boil in many places along the little stream and you can even boil eggs in it!

Some areas were safe to touch so we got to experience the warm water.

As the stream continued it collected in natural pools in which you could bathe if you want, we didn’t really want to smell that bad for the rest of the day though so just admired them from the shore!

We finally reached the boiling lake summit and we were greeted with thick steam rising out of the lake. Every so often enough breeze would come through a blow the steam away for long enough to have a good look into the crater. The power coming from the centre was amazing, no wonder so much of the energy generated in this area comes from thermal power!

After the hike back again It’s safe to say my legs were dying for quite a few days, totally worth it though.

Hidden deep in the verdant wilderness of Dominica at the end of the Boiling Lake trail lies the enchanting Titou Gorge, a picturesque gorge formed from molten lava that cooled and split apart, it was then smoothed by a pristine river and waterfall. It’s a serene oasis that feels like a secret paradise, sheltered by towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and a stunning waterfall that cascades down into the dark pool below. With a life jacket, we swam through the clear, cool waters and marvelled at the natural beauty that surrounds them, enjoying the cold waters after a strenuous hike.

We got back to the village in time to see a little bit of the festival and its incredible costumes before heading back to the boat for a well-earned rest.

These festival celebrations were a little different to what we had seen before, each event we have gone to has slowly added more and more speakers and bigger trucks. Some of the trucks here were so loud, we really could have done with ear defenders and to think that the first event we went to in Saint Anne was mainly just instruments like drums etc.

We had to leave for Guadeloupe the next day but in the evening SV Danae snapped a great pic of us on our mooring just before all the light disappeared.

Onto Guadeloupe next and the fun of hauling the boat out in a foreign country 😲 stay tuned for next time!

Saint Lucia again (by land)

Saint Lucia again (by land)

We have already been to Saint Lucia once at this point, but both Daisy and Anna had a travel plan home leaving from Saint Lucia, so we sailed back to drop them both off.

The easiest place for us to do this was the Marina in the north called Rodney Bay Marina. This time however there was no space for us in the Marina apparently, as ARC January boats were just about to start arriving. (Even though when walking past the marina, our old spot was available for the duration of our time back here)

Anyway, we saved some money by anchoring… Much more beautiful than a marina anyway! (and the marina still had the same shower block codes ;P )

Beautiful piccy from Daisy

We hired a car for the 2 days we were planning on staying in Saint Lucia again.

On day 1 we would be dropping Daisy off back in the south of the Island, so wanted to explore the west coast some more on the way down and drive back up on the east coast. So roughly 1 lap of the lower part of the island.

Our first stop was Castries. The port area here was filled with numerous cruise ships. We explored a vibrant local market and indulged in some shopping. We couldn’t resist picking up some locally made soap and materials for making hot chocolate (the local way) for use back on Hannah.

Looking online while writing this post, its actually Cocoa Tea that we bought a kit for with a Cocoa stick. You can see a how to video on YouTube that goes above and beyond what we have tried.

A short drive further down the island we found a little view point that overlooked Castries.

Next we reached Marigot bay once again, this time from land! We stopped at another viewpoint for some nice cold drinks and snapped the below picture which really shows off the mixture of boats in the bay (including some sunk / grounded). You can also see why this bay is a hurricane hole for boats, as its nice and enclosed.

We enjoyed our time in the waterfalls in St Vincent, so went on the hunt for some more in Saint Lucia. A quick online search on our drive brought us inland to Anse La Raye Falls.

We parked at the end of an unpaved road and started hiking toward the falls. The cascading waterfalls tumble down a series of rocky tiers, creating a serene and tranquil oasis perfect for swimming and cooling off from the Caribbean heat, BUT there are signs that say not to go in the water as its used for drinking water, so we just went to look around.

Next stop of the tour was a choclate factory that we just happened to see as we drove past. The tours were pretty expensive, but we did enjoy browsing the shop and buying a few tasty treats. Anna bought a little thank you present for the 2 of us, and we can confirm these choclates were all delicious!

Nearing the south of the island, we stopped off at a few more view points and beaches before reaching the airport and having one final drink before wishing Daisy goodbye. 😘🙋‍♀️👋👋

It’s been quite crazy, but also great having 5 people on board once again, but it’s time to start reducing crew and speeding up our little adventure.

The first task of the second day was to say fairwell again and drop Anna at the more northern airport of Saint Lucia first thing in the morning. Its lucky that the airport was tiny as we got there much later than planned, Anna was the last one through check in. Who would have known there would be such traffic jams in the Caribbean! 🙋‍♀️😘👋👋

Now down to 3 crew total, we spent an awful lot of time driving aroud the north east of the island trying to find our way to a little beach and generally having a look around.

Google maps isn’t the most accurate in these parts so it took us several hours to find the right road to take us there and once there the route back to the marina would only actually take us 15 minuites.

The beach had a small resturant for a quick drink while we watched the kitesurfers go back and forth and generally thought about the plan for the coming weeks.

Also there was a rather cute dogo…

We returned the car in the afternoon, had one final meal out, picked up a few more provisions from the shops and headed back to the boat ready to sail back north to Martinique.

It’s also worth mentioning before moving on, Saint Lucia is one of those places that is quite heavily influenced by a love of signs, many of which seem to be irrelevant or ignored.

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St Vincent

St Vincent

Sailing around St Vincent around the end of January was a true adventure! From navigating crowded anchorages to discovering hidden underwater caves, we had a blast exploring this beautiful island.

The sail to St. Vincent was enjoyable and only about 10 miles from our last port of call, Bequia. We arrived at our chosen first anchorage to find it already busy with boats. Unfortunately, the boats didn’t shore tie so took up more space than necessary. So, we decided to move on to the next bay around. Although it very was small, we noticed an anchor symbol on Navionics and thought it would be worth checking out.

Adam snorkeled around the bay with a string line with a weight on the bottom of 2m in length, the idea being Adam could swim around with this, and if it touched the bottom it was too shallow. Meanwhile, Anna and I waited on board in deep water outside of the bay for a thumbs-up. We needed to ensure the chart was accurate and there was enough depth before entering as the chart said it might not have been deep enough in some places.

Luckily it was deeper than that chart stated, like many places around here the charts are not particularly accurate as the areas are not well surveyed. So knowing we wouldn’t scrape the bottom we entered the bay and got to work anchoring in the middle and shore tying to a central tree on the beach. It took us about an hour to complete the anchoring and tying procedure, but it was well worth the effort.

It was really beautiful.

The anchorage “Petit Byahaut (Small Cove)” is now on Navily with our review and pictures. 😊

We stayed there for a couple of nights and enjoyed some incredible snorkeling, including finding an underwater cave that we could swim through.

We also discovered bat caves in the cliff, which you can swim all the way through and out the other side however with a lot of swell coming in at the time we decided not to. We did see lots of the endangered Elkhorn coral, and a diverse range of fish and other corals and sponges.

Another boat we know called Vela also tried to anchor in the same bay with us, but unfortunately, their anchor didn’t hold well in the seagrass seabed and it dragged when setting up the shore tie, it was getting too dark to set everything up in time so they moved around the corner to find space for normal anchoring.

Vela got a great drone pic of us though.

After two nights there and lots of free dives through the underwater cave, we sailed on to Walilabou.

Although we initially planned to get help from a local, as the anchorage was fairly busy, to do the shore tie we declined when they demanded an exorbitant fee. So, we set about doing it ourselves, ending up with nearly all of our chain out due to the deep waters. I swam to shore with a big coil of rope and buoy attached to float it before tying it to a tree and bringing the free end back to the boat.

During the anchoring a number of locals on boats or kayaks hung around and finally once we were anchored, the boat was surrounded by locals trying to sell us vegetables, fruit, and fish. We bought some things including some tasty avocados and fish.

That afternoon we walked to some nearby waterfalls in the Wallilabou Heritage Park and paid a small fee of $5 each to get in to enjoy the refreshing waterfalls and natural pool. Whilst there, we encountered giant bamboo, lots of lizards, and the most enormous wasps we’ve ever seen.

Walilabou is well-known for having some of the Pirates of the Caribbean films set in purpose-built buildings in the area, particularly Fort Royale. This set was used for a number of the films.

After hiking back down from the waterfall, we went to see if a local guy who we’d spoken to earlier in the day was there, he’d mentioned being able to cook us a BBQ on the beach. He saw us looking but by the time he got there we had gone back to the boat, to our surprise he came over on a surfboard and was very happy to cook the fish we had bought earlier and made us a pasta salad.

We ate and drank into the night, with many of his friends also coming to help and say hello. We also tried the famous “St. Vincent Sunset” rum, which was 84.5%! Anna and I mixed ours with ginger beer but (insert name here) had it with only a chaser of water.

We then sailed to another anchorage called Paradise Beach in Troumaker Bay, where we shore-tied once again and anchored in about 20 meters of water. This time we got help from a kind local fisherman and later bought a big fish from him that we had for dinner.

Anna and I hiked up a hill to Troumaker village, whilst Adam relaxed in a hammock onboard and prepared dinner. We made it to the top of the hill sweaty and hot but the view from the top was breath-taking, and Adam managed to take a picture of us as little specs in the distance.

We went to a bar in the village for a cold drink and got some homemade fudge for $1 in the bar we met a lovely 10-year-old girl who had just finished school for the day and needed to wait for her mum who worked there. She was incredably chatty and talked about all kinds of things, including how they still use the whip for disapline in schools in St. Vincent and the girl’s dislike of the “popular” kids.

That evening, we ate the fish we had bought whilst watching the sunset on deck and it was delicious!

As the sun set, some local fishermen attempted to catch a giant shoal of fish, it was all very excting to watch, but it appeared that they missed their chance, and they came back empty-handed. I hope they caught some the next night!

Next we’re off to St Lucia and Daisy arrives!