Açores Pursuit Rally

Rallies are fabulous opportunities for sailors to enjoy the camaraderie of a passage and share the enjoyment of a new place. This rally, the Azores Pursuit Rally, organized by the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club), was unusual, as it had no specific starting place. Unlike most rallies, it was a bit of a race, with an ending spot and time. You “won” if you crossed the line at the Horta harbor entrance at exactly noon on July 18th. Some of the rules included having traveled at least 500 miles, and using no engine power for the last hour. Since we all had traveled so far, the timing of the endpoint was hard to pin down, resulting in many boats arriving days, even weeks, in advance, and some boats arriving days late or not even making it all. At least one boat turned around due to lack of wind and flew to Horta instead!

We came to Peter Café Sport soon after landing
The peak of Pico was our daily delight
Tie up on the wall was crowded!

We arrived two days early, and chose to take a berth on the wall rather than wander around in the ocean for the proper arrival time. This gave us a chance to clear customs, find the Peter Café Sport (where much of the Rally would take place), hang our fathers’ day flags, go for a swim, do laundry, explore the town, and rest before the festivities began.

We hung our Father’s Day flags. One letter for each of us
A local concert with children and senior citizens
Fabulous tile work on all the sidewalks
The crazy winds here caused this shape!

And what festivities! A full five days of dining, biking, hiking, busing, whale watching, and making new friends was organized to fill each day.

I carried the Rally flag to welcome the Rally boats arriving just on time

We cheered the boats coming across the finish line at the proper time and feasted on a classic Azores BBQ at a castle the first day.

Traditional Roast
9 new OCC members. 1000 mile sailing requirement was met

The second day we all worked on our paintings on the wall

Our last boat was Wings and my Dad’s name is Gus. This gave me goosebumps
A fabulous story here
A sad outcome for this boat after it sailed away from the Açores

before enjoying a special dinner at Peter Café Sport.

José’s hospitality here continued all week and beyond

The third day we rode bikes down from a volcano, all the way back into Horta.

1Biking downhill is easy
This fern was gigantic
Horses and cows mingling
Another fabulous church
Mossy home
A few of our marina from afar
Windmills now have no paddles
Part of our bike group. Blue Yonder and Indulgence

The fourth day was a ferry ride to the nearby island of Pico and a hike to the top. This is the highest point in all of Portugal, and quite challenging, so many chose to stay on the bus and enjoy a tour of the island instead. A fancy dinner was a lovely conclusion to this day. The final day was an exciting whale watching tour.

Our whale watch boat

We saw many breaching whales and came close enough to feel like they were playing with us. On the return trip, we entered some caves where birds nested. For our last evening, there was a grand dinner at an elegant club and prizes for all sorts of reasons were delivered to great rounds of applause.

Our final dinner with the large crowd of participants in the OCC rally

Final speeches were delivered to thank all of the people who pulled this large group together so thoughtfully. José Azevedo, the proprietor of Peter Café Sport, was properly thanked for his tireless hours of organization (and reorganization when things went haywire!) and his generosity with many meals, tours, gifts, and time. Jenny Crickmore Thompson was also thanked for her excellent leadership from the initial organization, through the final festivities.
When the rally was over, we remained in Horta for another hike up Pico

Soccer players on the ferry
A view from the top of Pico
Our hiking companions Bill and Laurie from Toodle Oo

, more exploration of the welcoming town, and the final touches on our painting on the wall.

It’s awkward to paint at this spot
Bill’s Mom, the artist, would be proud of his design

We also helped a rally member sew his torn genoa.

Taping the long tear
It took the three of us to jam it through my machine!

The local sailmaker was so busy with repairs from the many arriving boats, causing the queue to be many weeks! This particular captain was in a hurry to get to the UK to visit his mom who was unwell. How could I refuse to help him??
We bid farewell to many boats who left, and were grateful that we were not in a hurry to depart.

One of our favorite boats and crew!

I had a flight home to Maine in a few days, so Bill was lucky enough to enjoy Horta for another week. I half wondered if he would purchase real estate here; we could see calling this fabulous island our second home.

The view from the home

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