Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Boats, Bones, & Bikinis - Tuesday In The Azores

I got to swim in the ocean again today, but this time it wasn't warmed by a hot spring. It is our last full day in The Azores and our postponed sailboat charter was scheduled. I was so excited to finally get to explore the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, but we had been told when we booked with Sailingside that we would have to swim into the centre of the crater on the islet because it was too shallow. The sail boat could anchor near the opening and wait for us.

This swimming idea did not appeal to Jason when the internet kept telling him that the ocean was around 16 to 17 degrees. We had done the Toronto Island Triathlon in similar temperatures, and Jason had bad memories of it being way too cold. So we woke up early this morning to go find him a wetsuit to rent. The major town that is just slightly down the road has a surf school so we set out to rent a wetsuit there. When we found it, there was just a number to call. They were set up on the other side of the island where the waves were better, but that was still on our way to the boat. When we met up with them, in a moment of weakness, I decided to rent a wetsuit too.

I am glad we held off going on the sailing trip because the weather today is much better for being out on the water. We got onto the boat and headed out of the harbour with our Skipper Pedro and First Mate Rui. We explored the coast along the way and finally made it to the islet. Jason and I went into the cabin to change and I decided that I would be fine in my bathing suit since the sun was shining and I don't really like the feel of a wetsuit. So this is why in the photo below taking by the skipper who stayed back on the boat - you can see me clearly but Jason blends in with the rocks in his head to toe black.

Jason (wetsuit) and I (bikini) in The Azores
Photo by our skipper Pedro
April 2017

We jumped off the back of the boat with snorkelling masks and breathing tubes, which I didn't know how to use so just ignored. Jason and I swam, through the thin entrance area and climbed up on the rocks inside the crater. We walked around, though the seagulls have taken over during the months when they don't run the ferries - so there were bones everywhere. There were also newts! Tons of them that were sunning themselves on the rocks but would run away when you got near. There were also quite a few crabs, including big red ones. 

Another couple had come in a sailboat too that was parked near the entrance and they were scuba diving in the lagoon area. They said that the previous day they had seen giant manta rays in the lagoon from the land and had come back to see if they could see them in the water. We didn't have any luck but we did see a couple of schools of beautiful silver fish. Jason saw other cools things since he is better at snorkelling than me, I think I kick too loudly.

We went into the town of Vila Franca do Campo for lunch before heading back to Ponta Delgada, this time sailing further away from the coast so we could get consistent wind. 

For dinner we went to an interesting restaurant, Quinta dos Sabores, that we had gone looking for earlier in our trip but required advance reservation. It was a farm to table style and they cook a five course meal just for those attending that evening. The food was good and we were hungry from being on the water all day.

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