Faial is the island of nautical sports and a must stop for all serious yachtsmen. Horta bay and the Pico-Faial straight, know as “O Canal” (the channel) to the locals, are privileged areas for practicing sailing, windsurfing and rowing. The curvy coast, the volcanic ocean floor, and the wealth of flora and fauna provide divers with hours of pleasure. But it is yachting that best defines its vocation as an island that lives for the sea.
Just a few short years ago, yachting was an infrequent stop and any arrival was an event. Now there are hundreds of yachts that make Horta their mandatory port of call for crossings the Atlantic or the vertex of a triangle that ends on the coasts of America or Europe. The island sees famous names in yachting such as Joshua Slocum: the first lone navigator to sail round the world. Tabarly, Sir Francis Chichester, Malinovsky, and Fougeron have also anchored their boats in the blue waters of the port on their historic voyages. Horta is also the port of arrival or call for international regattas. The Horta marina has expanded its capacity to receive and support large port yachts, thus consecrating the town nautical and sporting tradition and consolidating its role as a safe and welcoming port in the North Atlantic. Horta is the ideal starting point for a dream cruise round the archipelago. To unravel its secrets, spend pleasant days in good company, appreciating the vast clear horizons shaded by the greenery and masses of flowers of the islands.
The Myth of the Paintings
No one knows how and when it started, but one day several years ago, a crew member of a sailing ship anchored at Horta decided he should leave a painted memento of his stay in Faial on the thick wall of the dock. The first painting was followed by others until now they take up the whole length of the wall. New ones are painted over old ones, and that irregular dark surface has been transformed into a colorful mosaic of drawings and words recalling the many yachts that have docked in Horta. Over time a superstition began circulating with the locals which rumored boats that had failed to leave a record of their presence had suffered grave accidents. Therefore every yachtsman picks up brushes and paint and sketches out drawings and words referring to the boat or the trip, true “works of art” of modern sailors.
Fishing and the Records
The sea triangle made up of the islands of Faial, Pico, and Sao Jorge constitutes one of the richest big game fishing reserves of the Atlantic: a challenge to the skill of sports fishermen who want to break European and world records already set in its waters. Combative, large-sized sharks, bonitos, pecos, sword and tuna fish, are among the most frequent catches.
Fishing from rocks and line fishing from boats make it possible to catch the species that are most abundant in the waters of the Azores: common sea bream, sword fish, barracuda, amberjack, oceanic bonito, bluefish bream, snapper bream, tuna, congerl, moray, Jack Grevale, and mackeral. This can be best done in Laginha, Castelo Branco, Costa Brava, Cedros, Almoxarife, and Espalamaca.
Pico – The Neighboring Island
Only a few miles separate Faial from Pico, a distance that is overcome by speedy boats several times a day, with regular sailing from the port of Horta to the town of Madalena which lies opposite to it. You can leave for Pico in the morning and come back in the evening. The crossing takes about 30 minutes.
The Pleasure of Walking
Faial does not have heights and scarps that present a challenge to a climber or hiker. However, its lovely green landscape cut by masses of hydrangeas is an invitation to invigorating walks that offer the possibility of enjoying its charms and discovering small treasures of beauty that can be found at the top of a hill or on the slopes of a valley.