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On a Velas yacht charter with Borrow a Boat you can explore much of the Azores within an easy sail either with your family or friends. Whatever you want from an Azores sailing experience, from the whale watching to the volcanoes, a Velas sailing holiday is going to be an unforgettable experience.
Velas is the capital town of Sao Jorge island in the Central Group of the Azores. Administered by Portugal, it is a step aside from the tourist trail thanks in part to the topography of the island making it so difficult to get to. This is a blessing for nature on Sao Jorge as where humanity struggles, nature thrives.
Velas itself is a charming, small town that has been partially destroyed on occasion by the volcano on the island. The oldest building is Igreja de São Jorge that dates back to the 15th Century, nestled among the narrow alleyways that give the town character. The Town Hall is another quaint, if relatively young building dating back to the 18th Century. The Botanical Gardens just above the town are another attraction.
Either on bareboat charter or with a skipper, on a Velas sailing holiday you will likely be more interested in the sea and nature. Velas is the capital of the island thanks to its protected natural harbour with the small Velas Marina nestled inside. If you're on anything above 15 or so metres (a superyacht tender or a family yacht will just about fit) Velas is inaccessible except by mooring offshore. That keeps crowds away and nature is happy with that!
Sao Jorge is famous for its high cliffs, 1,000 metre ridge in the centre and its fajas plateaus that harbour all sorts of natural wonders from tasty clams at Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo to the rock pools at Fajã do Ouvidor. Bring your hiking boots as an ascent to the summit of Pico da Esperanca that is 1,053m high should be on your list, with unparalleled views of the islands nearby.
The 53km long island of Sao Jorge is one of the five islands of the Central Group of the Azores. Where else to go on your sailboat or motor yacht? The five islands in the central group of the Azores are within easy reach of a Velas yacht charter. On your cruise out of Velas, you can then explore the other islands in the group - Santa Cruz de Graciosa, Pico Island, Terceira, and Faial make for an excellent week-long Azores yacht charter holiday. All of these have a great mix of beautiful coastlines, volcanic terrain and settlements that reach back to the dawn of European exploration.
For those seeking civilisation as part of their escape, a visit to Horta on Faial is almost compulsory thanks to its importance in trans Atlantic sailing. For those who enjoy scuba diving the city of Angra do Heroismo on nearby Terceira is a good sailing destination too, with the Cemetery of Anchors nearby as well as a serious culture fix for those so inclined!
To the South East of the Central Group is the most populous island in the archipelago, Sao Miguel with its geysers and lakes and further south you will find the island of Santa Maria with its beautiful beaches.
Whale watching is something almost inevitable on your Velas yacht charter - in many cases they will come to see you! A population of sperm whales live in the region - the biggest carnivores in the world and given the size of the brains, possibly the most intelligent beings in the world... Dolphins will pay you a visit for certain - have your camera ready for their antics!
The Azores are about active, outdoor adventure. Scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking, caving and mountain biking are often the name of the game. Sao Jorge with its relative isolation is one of those places you can enjoy these to the max.
As we indicated earlier, it isn't extremely easy to get to Sao Jorge which is part of its charm. There is a small airport on the island that can't be accessed direct from Portugal. Here we'll look at how best to get to your charter yacht.
Flights come in from Ponta Delgada, which you can fly to direct from London or via Lisbon.
Velas Harbour - Ferries
You can fly in to nearby Horta via Lisbon and take a ferry the 15 or so kilometres to Velas Harbour.
This is a small yacht charter hub with boat owner offering crewed yacht charter as well as bareboat charters, monohull sailing yacht charter, luxury yacht charter, gulet charter, catamaran charter and motorboat charter.
Max Length 15m (50 Feet)
Max Draught 3.5m (20 Feet)
List of additional services: Shore power, water, WiFi, shower/WC, launderette, garbage disposal, cash machine, restaurant.
Whether on a sailboat, catamaran or motorboat on a bareboat charter or crewed luxury yacht charter you can explore Sao Jorge and the Central Azores islands on your Velas charter yacht. Let's look at what such an itinerary will involve.
7 Days - Central Azores and Sao Miguel: Your first leg is a shakedown cruise to Horta Marina on Faial where you can enjoy the nightlife and natural wonders of the island. After an early start the next day you've a long leg SE to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, the capital of the Azores - you will almost certainly encounter dolphins and great whales on this leg. Spend the next day exploring the island, perhaps heading to the geysers and fumeroles of Furnas and enjoying a Portuguese stew cooked in the superheated rocks. After a second night in Ponta Delgada, return NW, this time to Angra do Heroismo on Terceira where you can take in the pretty city and perhaps tour the caves of Algar do Carvão. Pico Island will be your next stop - get your walking boots on and prepare for a four hour hike up the biggest volcano in the Azores! Those less inclined can explore the Gruta Torres (towers cave) instead - or possibly as well. Perhaps a little stiff from your walk, pack up and return your charter yacht across the strait to the boat owner in Velas the next day.
The hottest time - and the most expensive time of year are the school holiday months of July and August. If you are limited to these months then be prepared to pay a premium on the boatyou are hiring and in the marinas you visit.
The sailing season in the Azores runs from April to October so it may pay to go earlier or later in the year. The weather is still a lot warmer than in Northern Europe - be prepared to smile in your tee shirt as you see locals bundled up in their winter jackets - but you will find the locals warmer toward you, the marinas cheaper and to have parted with less cash on the holiday in the first place. As a tip? October is better than April as the Atlantic Ocean is still warm from the summer months.
This dominates the weather in the region. For you the sailor you will find the temperatures around 23 degrees C between April and October and a bit cooler at night. Generally speaking you can expect F4-5 winds from the west between April and August then it coming from the NE - E and building in September and October as the high pressure moves north.
The main points to consider are what is your budget, have you got the necessary sailing experience and qualifications to manage the boat if it's not going to have a paid captain, whom you are taking sailing, where exactly you wish to go and what will the weather be like on the proposed dates of your trip. Address any questions you have to the boat owner via our team through the website.
Velas Marina is one of the smallest in the Azores, taking just 79 boats and vessels of up to 15 metres.
The sailing season runs from April to October thanks to the temperature and winds. This is a subtropical Atlantic archipelago with some of the best sailing conditions close to Portugal. If you want a quiet, more authentic sailingholiday, do try to visit outside school holidays - October is often the best with the sea still warm and the heat nowhere as fierce.
You will typically pay 50% of the final price up front on making your reservation for the yacht rental on our website and the balance on arrival. You will either pay a security deposit with your credit card to the staff on departure or can get insurance covering damage in advance. In some cases (such as the recent Covid situation) charter companies may be more flexible but this depends on the individual charter companies themselves.
If you are at sea and in danger, call MAYDAY on VHF Ch16 or ring the coast guard on your phone if you have reception. If you have a mechanical fault and can make it to or are on a mooring you will be able to phone a help line number given by the boat charter company.
You should consider do you have the experience to handle the yacht charter or boat hire before you book and where do you want to go along with what the weather will be like. Dress for warm weather but do have something for tropical rains - light but waterproof.
If you want to sail without a skipper then you will need relevant qualifications like RYA Day Skipper/International Certificate of Competence (ICC)/ASA 104 Bareboat certificate or the US Sailing Certificate. For small 'day boats' or if you choose to have a skippered yacht charter you typically don't require licences - just board the boat and off you go!
The main points to consider are what is your budget, have you got the necessary sailing experience and qualifications to manage the boat if it's not going to have a skipper, whom you are taking sailing, where exactly you wish to go and what will the weather be like on the proposed dates of your trip.