Azores - Isles of Scilly
After 23 days at sea, seeing the island of Faial appear through the rain was a very welcome sight - I wish I had caught on camera the huge grin on Chris' face as she saw Horta harbour for the first time.
Horta was busy as expected but the harbour staff managed to find us a slot on the inside of the wall. We were surrounded by other boats but as we intended to stay a few weeks we were more than happy to settle down, plug into mains power and relax.
We spent 5 weeks in the Azores and enjoyed every minute. The scenery is fabulous, the locals are friendly and overall the cost of living is relatively cheap. We climbed Pico Mountain on a perfect clear day, cycled, rented a car on Faial and Terceira and walked to a village to watch the bull running. One chap definitely lost to the bull.
We left Terceira in a light southerly wind, bound for any port between southern Ireland and northern Spain. After five days of favourable winds we decided to aim for the Scilly Iles so continued north instead of closing mainland Europe.
We saw different types of whales nearly every day. Normally they surfaced about a 100 metres away, took a look at us then went on their way. However, on one occasion we were followed by 3 huge Fin whales for 50 minutes. They were around 24 metres long (our boat is 12 metres) and they continously came up to within 5 metres of our stern, surfaced and blowed. One rolled on it's back, went under the boat then surfaced 4 metres off our port side - quite remarkable. We became very apprehensive as they stayed with us. Eventually they left us just after we saw more water spout blows about a mile away. We think we may have sailed too close to their calves.
Ten days after leaving the Azores, we sighted Bishops Rock lighthouse in the early hours and by 8am we were anchored off Hangman Island in New Grimsby Sound. The view was as stunning and beautiful as anything we have seen in the last 3 years.
The following day, fully rested and refreshed, we rowed ashore to Tesco to meet up with Anne and Jim from Ocean Warrior who we had last seen in Portugal. Our first pint of beer in the New Inn was absolute bliss. Real ale and good company - a great welcome back to the UK.