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21st February, 2015

Horta, Azores

The overnight run took us south of Pico Island, 90 miles or so in comfortable conditions and even though the wind picked up considerably as we came around ‘the corner’, it abated as we made the approach. I was particularly pleased to have the vessel secure alongside in good time as this was both a maiden call for the ship and myself. I met quite a number of charming local folk who came on board to represent their island, and the local pilot even offered me his car with which to take a drive around. I declined the offer suggesting he might not get it back in one piece.

I did, however, take the complementary shuttle bus into town for an hour in order to check out what those passengers who were not on tour might experience. I came across a number of pleasant coffee shops and other establishments where the ladies in particular would be happy to browse. I was also fortunate enough to obtain a place on an afternoon ‘Gardens of Horta’ tour, which turned out to be very popular and I could easily imagine that these relatively small gardens had never seen so many visitors in one go. By far the highlight was the drive up to the Caldeira, approximately 3000 feet above sea level. We passed above the clouds, but still had a magnificent view down to the harbour and Saga Sapphire looking so very tiny. In the distance the volcanic peak of Pico was clearly visible as was the higher parts of St. Jorge Island, both seemingly floating on a sea of cotton wool like cloud.

The view inside the Caldeira was equally impressive, it is 1,200 feet deep, very green and a small group of our more adventurous guests on another tour actually walked the 8 kilometre circumference. On returning to sea level we waited for a tour coming back from Pico and sailed as the sun was setting. It was a great day, the weather was favourable and the locals we met were absolutely charming, an excellent maiden call.

Captain Philip Rentell

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