Leaving a beautiful place
Interview with Sports Byline host RON BARR: http://www.sportsbyline.com/, just click on the “Video Intervews” link.
More on the Ocean Planet Homecoming, in mainetoday.com by Deirdre Fleming: http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/sports/outdoors/fleming/050515fleming.shtml
It is always hard to leave!
Lying in our wake is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, and also one of the warmest welcomes that I have had in my long long voyages around the planet.
The last time I was in the town of Horta, on the island of Faial in the Azores, was in mid 2002 after my solo transatlantic qualifying sail for the Around Alone race. It was a real eye-opener to learn that for hundreds of years the Azores have been such a historic international stepping stone for sailors crossing the Atlantic. Many languages are heard as you walk around the modern marina in Horta! It is also nice to see that the local traditions tied to the sea still run deep, with sailing and fishing a major part of the culture.
Now, three years and two circumnavigations later, we headed for Horta to drop off one of our crew, repair a torn mainsail, and also hoping for the chance to see some of the island(s) that there wasn’t time to in 2002. So I sent an email to one of my American-Azorean acquaintances from my last visit, Victor Pinheiro, who lives in New Bedford, MA. He sent a note to a few of his friends on Faial, and set the wheels in motion…..we were greeted at the dock by a great group of well-connected people who made us more than welcome!
In another stroke of luck, it turns out that we arrived the day before the 80th birthday of the creator of the legendary local bar, Cafe Peter Sport (seriously, one of the most famous bars in the world!). So the very next day there was a huge outdoor party with at least 3 roasted whole pigs, and even FREE BEER. Our crew had a great time:
It was a great opportunity to meet many fascinating sailors from all over the world, many of whom followed Ocean Planet in the Vendee Globe.
The next couple of days was not ALL play, as we had to remove the mainsail for the repair work and do a few other minor fixit jobs. Thankfully our wonderful hosts not only helped us find materials that we needed (big thanks to Nuno & Joao!) but also insisted on taking us around the island to see the sights. In the late 50’s there was a volcanic eruption on the south side of the island, burying one of the towns (this is when many Azoreans emigrated to the U.S.) but adding a bit of real estate to the island in the process…;-) In the center of Faial is a huge Caldera (exploded volcano) crater, both of these testaments to the power of volcanos was awe-inspiring.
One evening we joined the local sailors for a fun race aboard their traditional sailing whaleboats. These whaleboats are very similar to the whaleboats of the U.S. northeast, and of course aren’t used for whaling anymore…whale WATCHING is now a big tourist attraction! But sailing aboard them is a really fun experience. Later this year, there will be a regatta of sailing whaleboats in the Azores, with at several crews coming over from New England/U.S.
I will be back!
But for the moment we are speeding towards Maine at 11kts. There is no time to lose as the official “Ocean Planet Homecoming” is on June 3rd. See you there!
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet