Today (Monday), the Quinlan-Owens family from Kinvara on Galway Bay with the Atlantic-circuiting 39ft steel ketch Danu have been finally free to roam ashore as they please in Horta on Faial in the Azores, as the next phase in the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions in the islands is reached.
Portugal and its islands of the Azores have had a marginally better record than Ireland in dealing with the pandemic, and the outcome of this significant move, in a group of islands which have become the Atlantic crossroads and stopover port for ocean voyagers in vessels of all sizes, will be monitored with international interest.
Danu - with Vera Quinlan, her husband Peter Owens and their children Lillian (12) and Ruari (10), arrived into Horta on Wednesday after a 25-day passage from Antigua, their progress having been slowed by light airs and headwinds. While their welcome to the Azores was as warm as it could be (Azorean Pandemic Patrols manage to put a bit of fun into a tedious process), they were still obliged to anchor in isolation in the Outer Harbour under quarantine, but as Vera reveals, with a bit of the “Galway gab”, after a day or so they secured a pontoon berth inside the quarantine quay.
This allowed them freedom to walk or run or cartwheel or even try the conga (if you stayed in the family bubble) every last metre of the 300 metres of the Quarantine Quay. Most of us wouldn’t even look at it for a nano-second as an option for our daily constitutional, but after being hot and bothered and becalmed and all in the same boat out in the Atlantic, it seemed like boundless paradise………
But now, the world of Horta and Faial and the Azores is theirs to explore, and of course they’ll have to make their number in due course at Peter’s Café Sport, the heart of Horta for the ocean voyager.