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Sailing Vessel Beruta Ship's Log

Sao Miguel - Santa Maria

10 July 2014

As I said in my previous Russian log, Ponto Delgado would not be on my cruising list in the future. I put the red cross on the capital of the Azore Islands because the marina was huge, half empty; hence, lots of seagull's droppings. No public Wi-Fi, only at bars and restaurants. Unpleasant swell. Many tourists; therefore, higher prices and overwhelmed number of places that served their needs.

I checked out the same day and avoided the marina 10 euro daily charge. In the office I needed to visit all three authorities, both on check-in and check-out, i. e. GNR (the police), customs and immigration. It did not take long time, just seemed pointless. My next destination was Vila do Porto on Santa Maria island. See the route.

I left at 19:00. Set the jib and half the main. The forecast was 17-23 kts of ENE wind. Making 5 kts, I would arrive at my destination 7AM but I was making 6 and waited sometime adrift for the dawn to enter the marina.

11 July 2014

I used the first available slip because the marina was still close. When the manager arrived around 8AM, he asked me to change to slip because this one was meant for bigger boats. I checked-in without a problem. This time it was only GNR in the same office as the marina manager. The prices in all marinas on Azores were the same, except Terceira where it was twice as cheaper as everywhere else.

The marina was well protected. Very nice indeed, no swell, no seagull's droppings. Free fast government Wi-Fi.

12 July 2014. Mountain biking from Pico Alto

I hit the road around noon. The island was small but beautiful. There were a few squares decorated with flowers along my way to Pico Alto. The elevation was almost 600 meters. The top of the mountain was covered with a cloud. A 10 km hiking trail was going down to Anjos Bay located on the north side of the island. The writings on the information board recommended it as the most proper way to discover Ilha do Sol, another words, the island of the Sun. Well, for three days I was here, I had not seen it. And if "the most proper way" meant "the most dirty", then sure they did not lie.

The trail map had 4 routes with different levels of complexity: from novice to most advanced. Number 1 was the easiest and number 2 - the most difficult. When I saw a post similar to this one, except that instead of route 4 there was route 2, I only found the trail for route 1. The arrow for route 2 pointed in the direction of a dense jungle with no visible path downhill!

The Azorian high standards of difficulty levels made me feel quite adventurous. As an amateur mounting biker, I chose the longest and the least steep trail among all four - number 1. Even that was too risky given my experience or rather a lack of it. As I said, the trail was wet and muddy. Brakes worked to a certain extent - at some point the wheels just began sliding down no matter what. My rubber beach shoes did the same. I quickly appreciated the mounting biking as a sport for brave souls. Plenty of adrenaline, I should say, besides mud.

The trail ended near some house ruins. Here was a sauna, I guess.

I continued my way around the island and soon came to what was known as Barreiro da Fanceca, or a valley of red clay. French sailors who travelled almost the same route as I did but on foot and a bus, called it Red Sea when I showed them the GPS position on my iPhone map - the valley was right where some bay was displayed but there was no water as I could see. I guess the free MapQuest street map of Santa Maria was not precisely correct.

To finish "the proper way" of discovering the island, I had to bike for another 6 km to Anjos Bay. It was already 5PM and started raining. The northern part of the island was an open area with some wind. Nevertheless, I rolled down to the coast, waited for some time until the rain subsided and headed home. The entire trip was around 30 km and took almost 6 hours to complete. Here is the track.

19 July 2014. Berries trip

Next Saturday while still waiting for the wind to sail to the Med, I decided to discover the south-east part of Santa Maria (see my track). The weather was warmer than last time and there was almost no wind. I felt a bit hot biking up and down the hills. But there was a reward for my sweating - lots of berries. Considering that I only had one perch in my backpack, it was the welcome surprise. First, I spotted the blackberry right along the road past Formosa beach where I had a pleasure to watch the surfers (see a little video on Youtube). Then while picking the blackberries, I found another unknown to me berries, which looked like a blueberry but was grown like a grape and had two twin cores, the same as in the grape. It tasted more like a blueberry though. And the last one was the grape itself! I had never eaten a fresh grape from a plant in my life. It was so good! On the downside, it was just getting to ripe, so there was not much of it.

I continued my trip to the east down to Maia where I could see Golcalo Velho lighthouse on Ponta do Castelo. I read on an information board that there was a highest waterfall in Azores (80 meters) on the river Aveiro streaming in this area but I was not able to find it. Only when I got to Santo Escrito near the church that was ready to put rings on a wedding couple, I read the directions to it. Because it was getting late and I felt tired, I decided to go there next time.

As usual, I saw beautiful flowers all the way and really nice resting areas in the mountains. The distance was around 33 km, the elevation varied from the sea level up to almost 500 meters. The entire trip took 6 hours.

All pictures from Santa Maria are on Google+.