Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Island of plenty
It's a great place to rest and recharge after a spell at sea, Sao Miguel. The produce of the islands is available in plenty and at little cost. What variety too! The quite extraordinary climate and fertile soil allows them to grow everything from bananas and pineapples to tea and tobacco and the dairy products, as Paula pointed out, are of the first quality. The cheese, oh, the cheese - full and intricately flavoured, beautifully complemented by the robust wine grown on ancient lava fields. They produce the only tea grown in Europe and without needing any pesticides or fungicide, as the islands are free of any tea-pests.
Another curious thing is that we have yet to come across any mosquitos here, though we've heard from others that there are a few about.
It's a very social scene amongst the sailing community. Everyone who arrives has had a long ocean passage and therefore have an immediate bond of shared experience. By the way, this is the only marina we've ever stayed in where there are no clanging halyards - a fine testament to the seamanship of those who venture across oceans.
There's no possibility of pigeon-holing the yachties passing through. Many nations and many social strata are represented but everybody (except the French, usually) all muck in together. We've met a 75 year-old Englishman who's sailed solo around Cape Horn and is still picking up pole dancers from the 'Gentleman's clubs'. His theory is that one doesn't age at sea, so he intends to simply keep on going.
Then there was the Canadian couple just out from the Great Lakes, having made the crossing with their 2 spaniels and a cat on board. They said the dogs generally do their business in the cockpit, unless it's rough. Can't imagine anything worse than having to clean up dog excreta belowdecks during a storm...
There's a slightly ramshackle Swedish vessel next to us at the moment, just having their engine re-installed before heading east. Another Swedish-flagged vessel, a 26-footer, has a Polish couple aboard who are on the final leg of their circumnavigation - 5 years at sea.
There are numerous Dutch boats as well, one of which - a fine 39-foot Hallberg Rassy - we spent the evening aboard yesterday pooling our experiences over a few glasses of tinto.
There's a surprising number of people out jogging around the world's oceans, all driven by the same sense of adventure and love of freedom and the sea.
We'll probably set off on the weekend for a little mini-cruise of the archipelago before we fly home on the 23rd.
Posted by Jim Brodie at 21:47