“Damn, it’s so full in here!” I yell at Wietze. The wind howls in Horta Bay on Faial Island. Anchoring is the first step in getting in. Then test it, wait for the results, go through customs, and fingers crossed that they have a spot for you in the marina. I drop anchor in a suitable place as the rain passes horizontally. It quickly turns out that what is said in the navigation guide is correct: mooring worthless and we scratch happily. The next attempt goes a little better, but the boat in front of us seems to be scratching and we have to take off in no time. Wietze is fed up and goes back a little towards the entrance to the port. The ironwork goes in for the third time and as I wipe the wet strands of hair in front of my eyes, I feel with my foot on the chain that it’s right this time. When Wietze backs up, the chain is simple. Do nothing more. We are here!
Immediately we hear the VHF radio: “Anna Caroline, it’s Romlea”. We look at each other: Romlea? No bell will ring. We react and are surprised when we address us by our first names. We are curious about a working channel: someone knows us well and we have no idea who it is. Henk Dijk turns out to be a pleasant speaker and explains that he enjoys reading our columns. “I always feel like I’m by your side,” he says. We receive the compliment with red cheeks.
crazy in Love
Three days later, we are cleared to disembark. We celebrate this with Henk in the famous Peter Café Sport. “How many problems have you had because of Covid19? ” I ask him. “We were stuck in the Falklands for a year,” he says with Frisian sobriety. We fall abruptly. “And once we were able to get to Ushuaia in the south of Argentina, it turned out that there were not many options open there yet. My personal situation changed very quickly, so I had to hastily decide to hit the road. “Back to the Falklands? Wietze asks. “No. I sailed alone from Ushuaia to Saint Helena in forty days. I was not allowed to land there, they were still closed at the time. Nothing was allowed there. : no food, water or diesel and no dentist for my broken tooth. I sailed to Ascension where I received all the help I could, provided I left within 24 hours. We listen breathlessly. “And then over 3000 miles here, just like you” he concludes his tale. “Is that why you are so thin? I ask carefully. He nods,” I eat a little to gain weight. ”Her son will come on board in a few days to help her bring the boat back to the Netherlands.
The next day we lie down comfortably in the marina and start with the to-do list. First, the barnacles need to be removed from the shell. A carpet of these strange creatures throne on the port side: the leeward side during the windward part. We clean and scrub, fill laundry bags to the brim and go from “sea mode” to “land mode”. After a few hours of struggle, we leave for a beautiful walk on the docks painted in bright colors. A gentle, smiling man approaches us. “You’re Anna Caroline, aren’t you?” We give him a curious nod. “I’m Frans des Ailes lying there. Our mutual friend Wouter asked us to celebrate your arrival with champagne. See you later this afternoon! We smile at Wouter’s fun action and look around at the dozens of yachts resting here. Horta is a fantastic hub in the Atlantic Ocean. We see friendly boats that we know from New Zealand, but also boats that we have met in South Africa.
Frans and Amélie are at the boat a few hours later with the bubbles. Their daughters Milou and Robien run around the Les-Optimistes d’Horta yacht club. “Do you seem well established here already?” We ask carefully. “Yes, we are now returning leavers,” smiles Frans. Aemelie tells the story: “Last year we left the Netherlands with big plans for a big trip. Things have already turned badly in Cape Verde: we were stuck there in confinement for a few months. Going to the Caribbean was not an option. We decided to sail to the Azores, which gave us more opportunities to make follow-up plans. When we got here it turned out after a few months that everything was going to take longer than expected. We put the boat on Terceira to the side and headed back to the Netherlands. We have had a rental house here since January and we are slowly getting the boat ready for our second departure as departures ”. Frans points to his sailing daughters: “They have sailing lessons here, ride horses and have a good time. The Azores are great.
With a large shopping list we are looking for a water sports store. You don’t have to look long for this here in Horta. And once again we meet some nice Dutch people: Sandy and Marcel are the engines of a dynamic company that is fully equipped to solve all kinds of problems that sailors encounter. We go through our list and they put the cogs in motion. “Very practical,” says Wietze enthusiastically. “How did you get here?” I ask, hoping for another such interesting story. “We were ready for a turnaround and opened a B&B in the Algarve years ago, but while vacationing in the Azores we fell in love with Faial and wanted to live here. And then these jobs became available. We were blown away and will never leave this place, ”says Sandy enthusiastically.
The next morning it was a feast. We had already seen the masts of the Wylde Swan: a beautiful classic anchored offshore. The formalities have apparently been completed and they will be located on the quay in a beautiful location. “Look, this is how you do it,” Wietze says in awe as the 52-meter-long colossus comes to rest perfectly alongside the quay with a howling crosswind. On the aft deck, the coxswain is seen turning the bar like a top athlete while the rest of the crew registers things well like a well-oiled machine. A huge Dutch flag flies on the back.
We love to admire the beautiful ship. Captain Richard Slootweg walks by and we joke: “beautiful boat”. He smiles and we start talking. The Wylde Swan turns out to be a training ship: a group of children sails there for six months and learns while waiting. “It’s a lot of fun to do,” says Richard. “These children had to go to great lengths to get a place on board. They are motivated, eager to learn and enthusiastic. I still sail all the oceans with my sextant and it’s really nice to share this knowledge ”. I keep thinking “where do I know him” when the coin falls. “City of Amsterdam? ” I try. “Yes, I was a captain there for almost twelve years,” he says. “Absolute high level work in this world, I did it with great pleasure. But I wanted to do something different and pull a string more often. So now I’m a captain on a lot of different ships and I really enjoy the variety ”.
“What is a perfect day at sea for you? Wietze asks. Richard laughs: “Nice stable wind, good balance in the boat. So that the boat does it itself and you just have to feel that everything is fine. Delicious. “The three of us are silent with this perfect picture in our heads. How lucky are we.
Horta, Faial, Azores, June 2021
See previous columns HERE H
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