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Europe (from Portugal to the Azores, the Azores and then back to Belgium)

Date: 29/4 to 3/6/2016
(all pictures are clickable, and the videos are best seen full screen in HD)

There are 2 ways to get up north from Portugal: one is following the Portugese west coast, or to pass through the Azores. The first one means sailing against the northern winds there (uncomfortable), the second one is longer journey. I wanted to have a 'stopover' in the Azores. Until now, I've only visited the island of Faial (Horta) there. So I sailed from Portimão (Algarve, Portugal) to Punta Delgada (São Miguel, Azores). I had a mix of motoring and (very windy) sailing. I crossed in less than 5 days (distance 785nm with an, not so bad, average of 7.27kn).

A windless start... Damage during the passage: a traveler holding the top of my mainsail got partially ripped off...
Sunset... First images of São Miguel...

São Miguel is a green island with high peaks. Normally one see land at about 20nm (about 37km) distance, but because of the high peaks, I saw the island at over 50nm (92km) distance !

For those not used to the nm (nautical mile) unit, 1nm is 1.852km. The 'land' mile is 1.6km. And while I'm in a "teaching" mode, the aviation uses the same units as the boats, and, they use the same colour 'code' to show the sides and direction of the 'craft': green on the right hand side and red on the left hand side.

A friend of mine came for a week and we went visiting the island (unfortunately the weather was quite cloudy). Here are some images of this beautiful island:
Furnas & Lagoa das Furnas

Ribiera Grande
Sete Cidades
On the funny side, note the original name of the town located on the north-eastern side of the island: Nordeste !

We also went to the Terceira island, situated north-west of Sao Miguel. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't better there: lots of clouds and even fog/low hanging clouds, which made the visibility not that good... My friend and I moored in the beautiful town of Angra do Heroismo.
The fort at the back of the bay The harbour entrance in the fog The small marina of Angra
Terceira's highest point (in the fog... grrrr) Gruta do algar do carvao
While sailing around Sao Miguel, we've spotted several big turtles.

The next step was sailing back to Belgium. Another friend of mine came on board, which made the journey way more pleasant.
Initially the winds seemed favourable, but we didn't get much wind and motorsailed a lot ! (pffff) We had to avoid a disturbance northwest of Spain, hence the bend to the east. We had a brief stop in A Coruna, after a week (motor)sailing, to refill fuel and eat some tapas (yummy). The crossing of the Bay of Biscay went smoothly, and on engines... (no wind). We "managed" though, to pick up a fishing net in one of the propellers (damn !), had a plane of French Customs which flew over us (they did a routine radio check and quite nicely proposed to check to see whether they could see if we had a big net in our propeller) and finally had the pleasure, later, to have plenty of dolphins and whales around us ! We couldn't really see the whales, but could see their exhaling sprays all around us for 1h ! (see video below)

The most frustrating part, was that close to our destination, after motoring for 3.5 windless days, we got 25kn of wind ahead of us (passed Cherbourg and, way, above Le Havre). The waves and the wind ahead made our ride quite unpleasant (a catamaran can't beat this sea conditions correctly), so we decided to make a stopover in Dieppe. This stopover lasted 4 days as a storm was active above the North Sea. My friend left me, as he had professional obligations. I took the opportunity of a short break in the wind strength to motorsail to Boulogne. 2 days later I could finish my journey as the wind and the waves calmed a bit. All in all, it was not a pleasant journey back to Belgium, but luckily I enjoyed the company of my very experienced friend a lot ! The whole journey took 13 days on the sea (17 days in total).
Leaving the bay of A Coruna behind us...
The blo*** fishing net in my propeller ! Had to dive to remove it... French Customs airplane Encounter... Note the absence of waves and wind.
Dolphins feast... (and some whale sprays at the end):
Foggy conditions...