The first paintings, I can remember, on the breakwater of Horta dated from the very early fifties, and mainly done by the crews of the Portuguese Navy Ships based or calling at this port. Those of the patrol boats, usually depicted the ship, her name and number, and the crew list.
A little later, different paintings began to appear, done by many different artists, and nowadays the walls of the port and marina of Horta show a hallucinating variety of patterns, colours and messages following an endless evolution. About the Legend, mother of this phenomenon, much has been written in many different languages and by even more numerous authors.
Perhaps this legend was detonated by the vanishing of the kecth “Ariadne”, during the Spring of 1967. Though she had wintered at Horta, her skipper didn’t leave any sign on the breakwater or piers.
Searching old pictures, I found this one of the yachts “Silmaril” and “Namoey” which dates from 1976. The strange coincidence is that both yachts became victims of the curse that follows those sailors who don’t pay the due respects to this legend.
The “Silmaril” was considered one of the very best of the trimarans designed by “Bruce & Wilde”. She was fast, she was safe and this was verified during a few thousand miles she sailed while racing or cruising. She left Horta during October of the same year, being not painted on the breakwater, and to everybody’s astonishment capsized off the irish coast where she was bound to.
The wreck of the “Namoey”, when sailing to Halifax, could have been really tragic. Quoting a famous writer, one could consider her skipper, the singlehander Eddy Bryant, a “quiet american”, so he never had paid attention to the rumours about those paintings. After sailing through many fierce storms, on the 23rd of November, the “Namoey” is rolled by two waves. When Eddy recovered from the shock he thought he had became blind. Wading in a boat full of water, suddenly he recovered his sight. Both eyes had been “sealed” by the dried blood from a wound on his front. Just when the yacht began her last journey to the bottom of the cold sea, Eddy was rescued by a tanker which landed him at the Suez. With his passport and a fistful of dollars in his pockets, hitch-hiking all the way to Lisbon must have been quite an experience. But yachts, and other ships, that left paintings on the port of Horta are also lost at sea.
Then one wonders if the LEGEND is just a legend, or if these are the exceptions to confirm the rule.
João Carlos Fraga
"Silmaril” and “Namoey"
30-05-2007 - Num só dia 365 iates amarrados.
"Horta, in the island of Faial, is where most yachts stop. The town has been a meeting place for yachts and other vessels crossing the Atlantic for centuries. It offers one of the finest harbours in the Azores. "
Marina da Horta
Faial Island - Azores
"Faial is very popular amongst sailors. Horta's harbor is a mandatory stop for everyone who is planning a sail crossing of the Atlantic ocean. A legend tells that "if you arrive by boat and you want to have an easy trip back home you must leave a drawing on the jetty", so all the pier is decorated with augural paintings by sailors that call in the port, it's very impressive to see."