The OCC Azores Rally
Posted by yachtcamomile
I was really happy to discover the OCC were planning a rally in the Azores at the same time that we would be there. Peter Café sport was celebrating their 100 year anniversary and together with the OCC put together a week of events.
We arrived on Saturday 16th June a day behind Ken on Antaras. Our old friends Norman and Sara had arrived on Norsa a few weeks earlier. It was good to meet up for a meal later that day.
The start of the week began with the end of the Pursuit ‘race’ at 12.00 on 18th June and despite many boats having to motor to the Azores through lack of wind, there were quite a few boats crossing the line. I watched from the harbour wall. Time was allowed to check-in, collect badges from OCC rally control and generally catch their breath before the first event that evening. Jose was offering free wine, beer and gin & tonics before everyone followed the leaders to the fort in Porto Pim where a large pig was being barbecued.
There were speeches from the mayor in Portuguese, with a young lady interpreting, followed by a speech from John Franklin and Jose thanking every one. Several of the sailors had completed their 1000 mile qualifying trip on the way to the Azores and were rewarded with an OCC burgee. The food was very nice and plentiful, the setting in the evening sun was glorious.
The next morning we said goodbye to Norman and Sara because they were anxious to get back to the uk.
Meanwhile the group was divided up with some going on a guided walk in the morning but we joined the afternoon walk. Something was lost in translation because I, along with a number of other participants, thought we were going on a guided walk of the town but instead we were taken on a wonderful bus trip to the centre of the island and taken on an 8km route march! It wasn’t so bad and the views down towards the ocean were impressive. It was a fairly easy walk except for one area that had collapsed during a recent landslide and it was necessary to scramble down one side on pumice rocks which turned themselves into ball bearings, and then back up the other side which fortunately had steps cut into the hill side. After 3 hours we eventually re-joined the bus for the trip back to the harbour. There was just time for a shower and a quick change before a scrumptious dinner at Peter café sport courtesy of Jose.
The flowers in the hedgerows are beautiful here.
The forecast for Wednesday was cloudy so sadly the planned walk around the caldera was cancelled. Jose came to the rescue once again with lunch provided at Peter Café Sport. I, along with many others, although sad not to see the caldera, was quietly relieved at not having to do 2 walks in 2 days. That evening there was a visit to the Volcano museum with a reception which by all accounts was excellent but we chose an early night.
Thursday saw every one emerging from their boats early for the 15 minute walk to the ferry port to catch the 7.30 ferry to Pico. Once everyone boarded the trip took about 20 minutes.
The group was divided between 2 coaches, ones having lunch and those not. Having made our picnic we joined the no lunch coach although they travelled together. The first stop was to a vineyard but with a difference. The vines were being grown in clumps behind little dry stone walls expertly built, it reminded us of Lanzarote where the vines were grown in little hollows. The reasoning behind this is firstly it protects them from the wind and secondly the bricks heat up during the day and then during the night the cooling causes condensation and therefore making them self watering.
The beautiful red windmill in the centre looked lovely but probably didn’t function any more judging by the sails. Everyone took turns in climbing the little ladder to get a better view of the vines.
We stopped for coffee by a little roadside cafe who didn’t appear to know we were coming when he saw 2 bus loads of tourists descending on him but coped very well. The coffee here is really nice and only €1 a cup. They don’t know what cappuccino is but a latte is the same. The area was very rural with a lovely garden behind the cafe.
Eventually we arrived at Lajes and were taken to visit the whale museum. The group were shown into a video room to watch a video of how the whales used to be caught. I didn’t want to watch anything like that and chose not to watch it. I’m glad I didn’t because apparently it was fairly graphic.
After the museum visit the ‘lunch included’ coach gathered its group and left for a restaurant outside the town. Bill and I took our picnic and climbed up to an old fort for a wonderful view looking down on the harbour while we ate our lunch and had time to explore the pretty village.
Our coach joined the other one as we set off over the hill to the northern side of the island. A brief stop by a lake gave us some lovely photos but the mist was coming in so we moved on. The coach continued over the hill and stopped again before descending to Sao Roque do Pico for more photos.
We stopped at a natural swimming pool among the rocks. Unfortunately no one had brought any swimmers with them although a couple of people jumped in in their underwear – no not me!
The last stop was a little village with more splendid views. You used to be able to walk across this natural arch but it’s breaking up now so we viewed from afar.
There was a little distillery there and we were offered a free tasting. Bill couldn’t resist the old 51% proof Brandy and bought a bottle. It was back on the ferry and then back to our boats before another quick change in time for a delicious dinner in Praia do Almoxarife, a coach ride across the hill.
Friday was allocated to whale trips but we didn’t go although the ones that did had some excellent sightings. I went along to Peter Café sport for a tour of Jose’s Scrimshaw museum with Jose himself giving the tour. He has an excellent collection which was brought to life so much better for knowing the history of it all. I was fascinated and spent an hour peering into the many glass cases. That evening everyone dressed ‘smart casual’ for the final dinner and prize giving. It was amazing how everyone scrubbed up and looked wonderful in their smart clothes. We shared a table with Ken and Eiloo of Antaras II and James and Patti of LaAdventura. Ken won a prize for being the first single hander to arrive,. Speeches were made and prizes handed out before a wonderful buffet dinner was served.
Bill and I feel so fortunate to have been in the Azores the same time as the OCC rally. Let’s hope it isn’t 100 years before the next one.