We arrived yesterday morning at daybreak. Some variable wind had slowed us some, but that just put our arrival at dawn instead of the middle of the night. Cory was on watch when we hit our arrival waypoint and he woke me at 2 AM for final approach. We observed the island getting larger and closer and kept checking our radar and chartplotter to confirm our distance offshore. Distances at night can be deceiving and the island appeared a lot closer than it actually was.
We rolled up the genoa to slow us down and continued sailing under mainsail alone while waiting for daylight. Flores is steep-to and we were still off soundings a half mile off shore. I was watching the depth sounder closely waiting for the display to show something besides “—“. Finally we showed 627 feet, and then the bottom rapidly rose from there. Cory and I woke up Geoff and Laura and we dropped and furled the mainsail.
We motored into the anchorage and immediately found Kairos, a large catamaran that we had met briefly in Bermuda. They had arrived the day before us and Jerry, the captain, offered us a ride ion his dinghy nto the harbor to see if there was room for us at the marina. Cory and Geoff rode with him while Laura and I slowly motored through the anchorage saying hello to the other boats anchored out.
Jerry, Cory, and Geoff returned saying there was room for us. It was tight, they said, but doable. Tight. Great.
We decided to give it a shot. There was no current and no wind to speak of, so that was a big help. Jerry offered to come along in his dinghy to act as a tug by pushing us sideways if need be. We accepted gratefully. We slowly came into the harbor while Cory and Geoff pointed out the space available for us. Okay, I have to admit it, they were right. It was tight, but doable. But we had to back into the slip.
It took four people on the dock and two attempts, but half an hour later we were tied up. Sleep deprivation must make me a better helmsman, because we actually did pretty well. We didn’t hit anything, and nary a scratch on our new paint. It got close once or twice (remember, it was tight!) but nothing we didn’t correct and recover from. Finally, we are here.
The marina is only a couple of years old and in very good shape. Let me just say that it was designed for boats much smaller than ours. It costs us about $20 a night to stay here. The dollar is really strong against the euro, which helps. The price includes free electricity, water, and wifi. In Bermuda we paid $15 a night just for electricity, plus $30 a week for wifi and 15 cents a gallon for water. The differences between Bermuda and Flores are striking. While I was checking in with the port captain, a man drove up with fresh produce to sell. Laura and Geoff went out and spent the few euros we had to buy fresh vegetables and a small ham.
Flores is very hilly and everything is very spread out. We took a hike yesterday to get money (euros), visit the supermarket, and check out the hardware store. We stopped for hamburgers and a cold beer for lunch, and headed back to the boat. It was a real hike and we were very tired when we arrived. Everyone except Laura took a nap, and we really needed it. Laura woke us at 6:00 for wine, cheese and crackers in the cockpit. It was a very passable Portuguese red that we bought for $2.20 at the supermarket. While we were relaxing, a small truck drove up and honked its horn. It was the local bakery delivery coming to sell fresh bread to anyone in the marina. I ran over and got four tarts for breakfast and four fresh buns for lunch sandwiches. It just keeps getting better.
After appetizers we went out for a celebratory dinner. Absolutely delicious. The proprietor came out to ask what we would like to drink and we ordered red wine. It came in an earthen pitcher for the table. I guess it’s a european thing, but it was kind of cool. Cory ordered a steak with ham and a fried egg on top. He raved about it. The three of us ordered grilled fish and it was delicious. This was a very nice dinner and with wine and tip came to $66 for four. Better and better!
So first impressions are absolutely favorable. We are thrilled to be here safe and sound and are looking forward to seeing more of Flores.