Azores versus Caribbean
One way the Seven Seas Cruising Association communicates with its far flung members is via its monthly newsletter. The Commodores' Bulletin always has great info and observations on the voyaging life. Here is an excerpt from the June 2017 edition that points out some of the differences between cruising in the Caribbean and in Portugal's Atlantic islands, the Azores.
Top ten ways the Azores differ from cruising the Caribbean, by Barb and Stewart Hart
Courtesy of the Seven Seas Cruising Association. This is a condensed version of the original article.
Two thousand miles and 18 to 28 days at sea (plus or minus) depending on the route you take and the weather. We left from St. Maarten and arrived in Horta, Faial, after 21 easy days at sea.
In the Caribbean we chained the dinghy to the dock and boat, locked ourselves below when we went to bed, avoided some areas after dark, and other islands entirely. None of that is required in the Azores.
On nights when we have turned in early, music from onshore has invaded our sound space. In the Caribbean, that music was generally the relentless rhythm of Soca music, amplified so that all within five miles could move to the beat (or toss in their bunks). In Graciosa [Azores], we were delighted one evening to hear a local band—with horns, percussions and woodwinds – playing Sousa marches, anthems, movie themes and (absurdly) ‘New York, New York.’
|"Peter's Cafe Sport" musicians|
7. The buses
Except for Terceira and Sao Miguel [the largest Azores islands] the schedules don’t make it possible to easily get from one town to another and back in one day. There are taxis and rental cars, and cruisers on a budget will just have to make choices about which distant attractions are worth the expense.
We were usually the only boat at anchor, and there are no cruisers’ nets. We spent more time alone together than we had during three years in the Caribbean.
5. No trade winds
There seems to be no prevailing winds in the Azores, and if you sail the Azores you will get skunked by the weather gods on at least one passage. As one British sailor said in online discussion about sailing in the Azores, “I intend to assume nothing and take what comes.”
4. Safe anchorages
The Azores have few natural harbors, so you can’t drop the hook for the night when the wind has died out or turned against you. Consequently, if you visit the Azores you will spend more time in marinas than you did in the Caribbean.
3. Inexpensive marinas
All of the [Azores] marinas are government-owned and inexpensive, and all provide free electricity, water and Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is better in some marinas than in others, but strong, free Wi-Fi is available in all communities.
Hotel Marina Atlântico in Ponta Delgada
The tourists in the Azores are more like cruisers than those we encountered in the Caribbean. Tourists are aided by tourism offices proffering accurate maps and guidebooks; multiple national parks with well-marked hiking trails; historic buildings and museums; and clean, unlocked, free bathrooms in every community, swimming area and park.
1. The matchless allure of the Azores
The islands of the Caribbean are beautiful, but the Azores – with their sheer cliffs, volcanic craters, pastures bordered by stonewalls or hedges of hydrangeas; and European towns of white homes with red-tiled roofs and pattered stone sidewalks –are beyond compare.