Ocean College

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The last Shore Leave

Date: 20.03.2021
Author: Sophia B.
Postion: Horta, Azores
Nautical Position: 38° 31,8N 028°37,5W
Etmal: 0 NM (12525 NM in total)

Today was our last day on the Azores, that also means the last Shore Leave for all of us on the voyage with Ocean College. Elisa and I decided that we didn’t just want to wander around in little Horta but to explore the whole island. That’s why we rented some e-bikes for the day.

Elisa and Sophia on tour

Fun fact: Before we even started our tour a bird pooed on Elisa. I don’t know how she managed it, but it was literally everywhere! So we wiped all of it off and continued our way to the rental-shop in a good mood. Isn’t there the myth that it brings luck when a bird poos on you?;)
At 11:00 am we were setup with the bikes, a map of Faial and of course a big picknick! We started our tour towards the north-east of Faial. Our plan was to stay on the main road of the island for most of the time and take some secondary roads and hiking trails to get to the sightseeing spots we wanted to see.

Elisa at the lighthouse

To be honest, it wasn’t that easy to read the map so already after about 30 minutes we took the first wrong path. We ended up in a dead-end and the worst thing of it was that we had to drive all the way back to the main road uphill. At this point we decided it is the right moment to use our first “power-boost”.
After returning back to the main road, we took the right path to the lighthouse “Farol da Ponta da Ribeirinha” which got destroyed during an earthquake in 1998. We took our first little break there and enjoyed the view on cow paddocks and the sea.

This first part of the cycle tour was really exhausting because it was mainly uphill and even though we had e-bikes we just took the lowest level of support to save the power for a later moment. So we were more than happy, that after a while, there was a long downhill passage. We really relished it to just race down the hill and actually achieved a top-speed of 57 km/h!
We kept fighting our way up and down the hills. I am always surprised how fast you loose your condition during the time at sea when we are barely doing exercise…so especially for me it was hard. Elisa who is from the hilly Switzerland and just came from the skiing-season when she joined us in January, had a bit of an advantage. But we motivated each other and at midday we searched a nice place for our picknick. We ended up on a cow paddock next to a street. Doesn’t sound so peaceful but actually it was really cool.

lonely cow

There were barely cars driving by, we had a wonderful view onto the cliffs and the ocean and the lawn smelled so good because there was mint growing everywhere. So we unpacked our picknick: Bread, cheese, yoghurt, fruits and last but not least chocolate! I could calm down for a few minutes and I really enjoyed the quite and peace up there. That’s not often the case on board so I am very grateful for this moment.
My favourite spot on the tour was the “Vulcao dos Capelinhos” and the lighthouse that’s placed there on the west coast of Faial. The history of it is very interesting: The last eruption of the volcano lasted 13 months from Sep. 1957 until Nov. 1958 and caused a big emigration-wave of the Azorean inhabitants to the US and Canada.

Sophia Hiking

This place looked very special. We decided to go for a little walk and it almost felt like we were walking on a landscape of another planet.
At 20:00 pm we were back in Horta, exhausted but happy. I really enjoyed the day and it was such a nice cycle route. I am impressed of the diversity of the nature on the island. We drove a lot along the coast nearby cliffs, through grassland, forests, beaches etc.
We ended our day with ordering Pizza. Perfect end I would say!

As I said in the beginning of this daily report, that was our last day of Shore Leave for the whole OC journey. Tomorrow we will continue our voyage towards the mainland of Europe, our homes, family and friends.
When I think of coming home again in less than three weeks I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I am really looking forward to my family, less rules, more space, making own decisions and of course a bit of luxury. Having a big bed, showering more than just every third day, being able to go wherever I want to, doing sports and eat whatever I want to.

Sophia at the helm

BUT I also know that I am going to miss this special life I am living at the moment. Always having friends around you, being on the wide ocean with nothing than water around you, seeing dolphins and whales, feeling the sea breeze and exploring the world in such a cool way! I could continue to list the things I’m going to miss when I am back home but that would extend the scope. Additionally the Covid situation in Germany makes the thought of coming home less attractive.
Little reminder for myself: Last week I dreamed that the journey just stopped and I didn’t had the chance to save the last weeks and days of the journey. I woke up with a very bad feeling. This dream was a big reminder for myself to consciously enjoy our last passage back to Germany and try to save as much memories as possible.

That’s it with my last daily report. Greetings to all parents and friends, I hope you are looking forward to the arrival of the Pelican and your loved ones in three weeks!

Sophia B.

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